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Berlin Holocaust memorials targeted by vandals as antisemitic incidents on the rise

Wreaths have been laid in front of the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism in Berlin.
Wreaths have been laid in front of the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism in Berlin. Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By Giulia Carbonaro
Published on Updated
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Two memorials to victims of the Holocaust were targeted by unidentified arsonists in Germany's capital on the weekend.

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Two Holocaust memorials in Berlin were damaged in two separate cases of arson within the span of a few hours, including one dedicated to the many LGBTQ+ people persecuted under the Nazi regime.

On Saturday morning, a yet-to-be-identified arsonist tried to burn a monument in Berlin’s area of Tiergarten, where the Berlin zoo is located, dedicated to the long-ignored gay victims of the Nazis between 1933 and 1945, as reported by the local newspaper Berliner Zeitung.

A man threw a burning object at the memorial with a note that contained a homophobic verse of the Bible’s Old Testament about gay people, local media report. The attempt at burning the memorial failed, and the monument, erected in 2008, didn’t catch fire nor suffer any permanent damage, police said.

The Nazis are estimated to have sent between 5,000 and 15,000 LGBTQ+ people to concentration camps, few of whom survived.

Later on the same day, a book box at “Gleis 17”, a platform in Berlin’s Grunewald station where trains carrying tens of thousands of Jewish people to concentration camps departed under the Nazi regime, was reportedly set on fire by an unidentified man.

Book boxes can be found all around Germany and serve as open-air mini-library where people can take or leave books for free. The one near Gleis 17 had an inscription dedicated to the victim of the Holocaust, and the book within it focused on the life of Jewish people in Berlin and their persecution under the Nazi regime.

German news agency DPA reported that an anti-Semitic note was retrieved from the site of the incident, but police have not revealed what it contained.

The attack was condemned by the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference of Germany, which said that the incident “shows the continuation of an increasing, alarming trend.”

“This time books from the memorial documenting the horror of Nazi terror were damaged,” a statement by the rabbis read. “But the arsonists will not be able to deny or downplay the Holocaust, because the historical facts speak a clear, deeply sad language about the abysmal deeds people were willing to commit and hopefully never will again.”

On Monday, the Berlin-Brandenburg Lesbian and Gay Association spoke against the arson of the Tiergarten monument, saying: “We are shocked by the inciting energy of both acts and hope that the person responsible will be caught quickly in both cases.”

According to a recent study released by Germany's civil society reporting office and referring to the year 2022, the number of anti-Semitic incidents considered extremely violent has increased, and it was the highest on record since 2017.

German police are currently investigating the incidents and trying to determine if there’s any link between them.

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