As Germany’s immigration crisis continues to grow, new German border checks with the Czech Republic have led to a large backup of traffic, including at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, where a convoy of trucks stretched about 2 kilometers into the Czech interior.
“Immer noch Schengen?” a Czech van driver asks in broken German, questioning if they’re still within the Schengen zone, which allows for free travel between EU nations. A few kilometers past the Czech border, he, along with other delivery vehicles and buses, is halted by a police roadblock. He’s not permitted to proceed further, according to the Czech newspaper Mlada Fronta DNES (MFD).
“Documents,” commands a German policeman with a rifle slung over his shoulder after the introduction of checks by Germany. Dozens of police officers inspect all vehicles throughout the night. Car drivers are generally fortunate — with officers simply shining a bright light into their vehicle interiors. However, van drivers face longer waits — sometimes lasting tens of minutes for their vehicles to be searched and documents checked.
A German police officer insists that he’s merely following orders.
“We can’t do anything, we’re just doing our job,” the Czech newspaper MFD quotes him as saying.
The checkpoint reportedly stopped five migrants, although the journalists noted they didn’t have full access to the entire checkpoint area. They described the loud behavior of the armed police officers and the long wait endured by passengers of one of the charter buses, who had to wait outside their vehicle despite the cold temperature.
According to the newspaper, Czech police officers serving on the Czech side perceive the German checks as a reaction to recent incidents involving vehicles of smugglers evading officers. In one particular incident, which took place on the A94 highway connecting Munich with Austria, a van full of migrants crashed during a chase, resulting in seven fatalities.