Antisemitic, homophobic, racist attacks on memorials in Germany linked

Antisemitism, racist and homophobic attacks on memorial sites in Germany have become increasingly frequent due to a nationwide sociopolitical climate, one that the AfD and its supporters create, in which an increasing number of people with far-right views are expressing those views openly.

Several attacks on memorial sites within a mere two weeks have created a stir in Germany, reports the DW. A book box dedicated to the Holocaust was set on fire, likely driven by antisemitism, at the „Platform 17” memorial in Berlin on August 12. An attack on the tent at the Ohlsdorf Peace Festival held in a cemetery where the victims of Second World War bombings in Hamburg are remembered. Someone attempted arson on the monument in Berlin’s Tiergarten Park, which commemorates the homosexual persons who were persecuted during the Nazi regime. Smashed windows at the headquarters of the Foundation for Memorials in Lower Saxony. Vandalism of the offices of a lesbian women’s group in the Berlin district of Neukölln.

Although there are no official nationwide statistics on the number of such attacks in Germany, there is a feeling that they are increasing, claims historian Karsten Uhl, adding that these are no longer isolated cases but the manifestation of a sociopolitical climate in which an increasing number of people with far-right views are expressing them openly.

According to Uhl, this right-wing extremist scene „feels emboldened by the AfD”, Germany’s far-right populist, right-wing extremist, anti-immigrant and homophobic political party. The historian laments that this extremist sociopolitical climate created by the AfD and its supporters might also lead to the escalation of verbal aggression into actions, not against people (yet), but to severe damage to memorial sites and property.

The fact that attacks are reported frequently throughout western and eastern Germany demonstrates that it is a prevailing problem throughout the country.

The attackers are currently focusing on cultural and memorial sites, not people, researcher Uhl said. But that could change. According to the Berlin Senate Administration, in Berlin, Germany’s capital city, at least 105 crimes or offences with antisemitic motives have been recorded in the first half of 2023, including 72 crimes classified as politically motivated violence from right-wing extremists. Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has already recorded about 960 antisemitic crimes this year, including 25 acts of violence against people.

In the meantime, the three attacks in Berlin between August 12-14 were linked, and the suspected perpetrator has been caught. The 63-year-old German was already known to authorities concerning incitement to hatred. He had allegedly left behind a crude, antisemitic letter of confession at the scenes of the crimes.