Art Collective Sues German Politicians Over Theft Accusations

The memorial for victims who were killed escaping East Germany Photo: Political Beauty

Politicians in Germany have sharply criticized the theft of a memorial in Berlin by an activist art collective known as the Centre for Political Beauty, RBB reported. Their actions have subsequently prompted the collective to respond with legal action against the Berlin interior minister.

Days before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the activists stole seven white crosses memorializing those who were killed attempting to flee communist East Germany. The collective repositioned the crosses along the EU border to raise awareness against the European Union’s immigration policy on asylum seekers. (see Collective Steals Berlin Wall Memorial Ahead of Anniversary)

Interior minister Frank Henkel of the center-right CDU labeled the theft a “despicable act” and accused the thieves of using art as a pretext for “sinning against the victims of the remembrance.” He also accused Berlin’s Maxim Gorki Theater of being complicit in the act, as the theft took place during a festival organized by the theater.

Following his robust condemnation of the theft, Henkel received bipartisan support for his comments. His CDU party colleague Philipp Lengsfeld told RBB “It was a very shameful deed. I find it incredibly brazen that these self-proclaimed artists tried to distinguish themselves at the expense of the victims.”

In response to the comments, the Centre for Political Beauty accused Henkel of defamation and filed a criminal complaint in conjunction with a cease and desist order against the interior minister. The activists have denied Henkel’s allegations of theft. The group insists that it never intended to keep the stolen crosses.

The crosses have since been returned and the memorial has been back on display since November 9th.

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