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German police investigating arson attack on 'Platform 17', the Berlin memorial to deported Jews

Platform 17 in Grunewald Station, Berlin
Platform 17 in Grunewald Station, Berlin Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By David Mouriquand
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The monument, a "reminder of the systematic violence against Jewish people," has been attacked, as part of a rise in antisemitism across Germany.

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A man set fire to a box of books on Nazism in Grunewald station, Berlin, this weekend. The memorial was dedicated to the Jews deported by the Nazis.

The monument is known as "Platform 17", where 50,000 German Jews were deported to Nazi concentration and death camps at Riga, Warsaw, Auschwitz and Theresienstadt from 1941 onwards.

"Nearly all the books have been burned," the police posted on X (formerly Twitter), adding that they had opened an investigation into the incident. Police said two witnesses had reported seeing a man at dawn setting fire to the box of books – the “Bucherboxx”, an old telephone booth converted into a mini-library.

According to Helmuth Pohren-Hartmann of the Stumbling Block memorial initiative in Berlin-Friedenau, an anti-Semitic note was found on the site. Police have not revealed the content of the alleged note.

The "Bucherboxx”, from which anyone could borrow reading material related to the Holocaust, was the brainchild of sustainability activist Konrad Kutt, who came up with the idea of using decommissioned telephone booths as mini-libraries.

As part of the memorial, inaugurated in January 1998, Platform 17 now has 186 commemorative plaques alongside the track detailing the departure date of each train, the number of Jews on board and their final destination. The plates serve as a "reminder of the systematic violence against Jewish people," according to the municipality.

The Berlin city website explains that the undergrowth that has sprouted around the tracks forms part of the memorial.

"It is the symbol that no train on this track will ever leave this station again."

This latest incident of arson comes amid a rise in violent antisemitism across Germany, according to a report released by a Berlin-based watchdog organization with branches around the country.

In April, local police shot an armed, "mentally-confused" assailant who attacked patients and staff at a Jewish hospital in Berlin.

Additional sources • AF¨P, DPA

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