Germany Mourns Tugce Albayrak's Death, and When You Hear Her Story, You Will Too

This is a deeply sad story, but one which hopefully a whole lot more people will hear about in the coming weeks. It's entirely possible you haven't heard the name Tugce Albayrak before — it's easy to get caught up in what's happening here in America, and lose of sight of things out in other parts of the world, after all — but her tragic story of bravery and selflessness has gripped a nation. As detailed by the BBC, all of Germany is mourning the death of Tugce Albayrak, and when you hear how she died, you probably will too.

Albayrak died on Nov. 28 — her birthday — after doctors informed her family that she was brain dead, and she was taken off life support. The 23-year-old was critically injured back on Nov. 15, after she came to the aid of two teenage girls who were reportedly being harassed by multiple men in the bathroom of a McDonald's, in the German town of Offensbach. After disrupting the harassment, Albayrak was subsequently assaulted in the parking lot of the restaurant, and dealt a critical head injury. While reports conflict as to how precisely it happened — the BBC says she was struck either by a stone or a bat, while Deutsche Welle reported she was knocked down by a punch, and struck her head against the ground — the injury sunk her into a coma, and she never woke up again.

In short, Albayrak lost her life in the most selfless of ways — putting herself in the crosshairs of a violent man to try to prevent a couple of young girls from being harassed. Or, conceivably, something even much worse than harassment, considering the fate that ultimately befell her. At present, authorities are trying to track the two teens down as possible witnesses, but according to Deutsche Welle, it's not yet known what happened to them following Albayrak's interruption. At present, an unnamed 18-year-old is in custody as the alleged perpetrator of the attack.

Since news of her story and subsequent death has swept through both German and international media outlets, she's been rightly hailed as a hero, and a role model for upstanding citizens everywhere — the very personification of the so-called "good samaritan." German President Joachim Gauck expressed both his condolences and the sadness of a nation in a letter to her family.

Like countless citizens, I am shocked and appalled by this terrible act. Tugce has earned gratitude and respect from us all. She will always remain a role model to us, our entire country mourns with you. Where other people looked the other way, Tugce showed exemplary courage and moral fortitude.
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Memorials and vigils are still ongoing for Albayrak, especially in Offensbach where the deadly assault took place. And people would like some official recognition for Albayrak's courage, as well — the German government is being urged to award Albayrak the country's national order for merit, with an online petition netting over 100,000 signatures.

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