Authorities have stepped up security at the reopened market. Photograph: Michael Kappeler/EPA
Soft toys and prayer books were among the mementoes and trinkets left at the scene. There were the flags of Israel and Italy in honour of the two victims from those countries, Dalia Elyakim and Fabrizia di Lorenzo. Someone had placed a vinyl single of a song made famous by the legendary Berlin singer and actress Hildegard Knef: Das Glck kennt nur Minuten (Happiness is fleeting).
Mohamad, 25, visiting with his mother, Elham, 49, said he had been confronted by the carnage on his way home from work at a nearby sports-shoe stall. It was half an hour afterwards, at about 8.30, he said. At first I thought it must have been an accident then the reality sank in.
Born in Berlin to Palestinian parents living as refugees in Lebanon who arrived in Germany in the early 1990s, Mohamad said: These attackers are ruining the name of Islam. We have to come here to prove that there is another side to our religion.
A stallholder in his 40s selling cocoa-dusted chocolates on the side of the market adjacent to the Krfurstendamm, the citys largest shopping promenade, said he had suffered from insomnia since the attack. On hearing the crash, he recalled, he had run over to help rescue the injured and had stumbled over dead bodies.
I will never forget what I saw, and I cant begin to put it into words, he said. But he said he took some comfort from believing the consequences of the attack might have been much worse. There was a gas canister from a bratwurst stall, I think, which was punctured or leaking as a result of the impact, the owner shouted out that it might explode, he said, declining to give his surname.
While someone tried to turn off the supply I ran around telling stallholders to run, realising the chain reaction which might occur if it exploded, which doesnt bear thinking about, he said.
Friedrich Hilke, a 60-year-old businessman on an annual visit with his wife to Berlins Christmas markets from Uslar in Lower Saxony, said he would continue to do his Christmas shopping on the market as planned. Were still shaking inside, he said. But having spent two days shut up in our hotel watching the news footage of this, were glad to be able to come and demonstrate our solidarity.
He was angry, Hilke said, at those who had tried to put the blame for the attack on Angela Merkel for her open-door policy towards refugees and migrants.
On the contrary, she steered against much of the popular opinion in Europe to ensure the refugees didnt end up left stranded in the mud of Hungary, where lots of people wanted to leave them. We should be grateful we have a leader with such warm-heartedness, and be wary of the cheap right-wing slogans we hear these days, he added.
Around the perimeter of the market, a team of workmen, firefighters and police had erected 60 large concrete barriers ahead of the opening. Each was four metres long, 60cm wide and a metre high; they were needed to make people feel safe, said Michael Roden, head of Berlins stallholder and fairground association.
We need to get back to a state of normality as soon as possible and need at the same time to reassure people that what happened cant be repeated, he said. We spoke for years about the possibility of something like this happening Ive been working here for 30 years but never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined something like this.
At the place where the Scania truck had come off the road, cutting through the stalls and careering down the lane of wooden huts, the barriers were placed two or three deep.
A black-and-white canvas picture of the square resting on an easel marked the now-empty space where wooden huts destroyed in the impact had stood. Some of the debris from the crash was still visible behind red plastic sheeting broken beer bottles and Christmas decor, a ripped alpine backdrop and a shattered wooden canopy swing.