Artists troll German right-wing politician with Holocaust memorial

Political activists erected concrete blocks modeled after a Berlin Holocaust memorial outside the home of nationalist politician Bjoern Hoecke.

By: AP

A group of artists has erected a Holocaust memorial outside the home of a nationalist politician who suggested Germany should end the decades-long tradition of acknowledging and atoning for its Nazi past.

The Center for Political Beauty, known for its provocative stunts, said Wednesday that its members placed 24 concrete blocks on a property adjacent to the home of Alternative for Germany lawmaker Bjoern Hoecke over the weekend.

The concrete blocks are modeled after those at the country’s main memorial in Berlin to the six millions Jews killed by Nazi Germany.

Hoecke, who heads the nationalist AfD’s caucus in the Thuringia state assembly, caused uproar in January when he described the Holocaust memorial in Berlin as a “monument of shame.”

The 45-year-old told an audience in Dresden that Germany’s “stupid policy” of tackling its Nazi past was paralyzing the country and called for a “180-degree turn.”

Hoecke’s comments were widely condemned, including by prominent members of his own party who called for him to be expelled. One of his critics, AfD’s former figurehead Frauke Petry, has since left the party after accusing it of flirting with far-right extremism.

Hoecke didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. But fellow AfD lawmaker Andre Poggenburg in a statement Wednesday accused the Center for Political Beauty of criminal behavior for observing Hoecke’s house in the village of Bornhagen over the past 10 months.

The group said it planned to publish information obtained from its surveillance unless Hoecke kneels down before the memorial in Berlin or Bornhagen to ask for forgiveness for Germany’s past crimes.

“This is unacceptable and I expect the police and judicial authorities to immediately ensure that these fascist methods are stopped, and the activity is prosecuted and punished,” Poggenburg said.

Memorial Not in Breach of Law

Local authorities said the memorial itself appeared not to breach any laws or regulations.

Gerald Schneider, the deputy head of Eichsfeld county, said authorities hadn’t received any complaints yet. “But they will probably come,” he told The Associated Press.

Lea Rosh, a journalist and activist who was instrumental in lobbying for the Berlin Holocaust memorial, welcomed the stunt.

“This is a wonderful idea,” German news agency dpa quoted her as saying.

The Center for Political Beauty gained attention two years ago for bringing the body of a migrant who had drowned in the Mediterranean Sea to Berlin, to protest what it described as the closure of Europe’s borders to people in need.