Berlin Police Crack Down on Art Activists Burying Migrants on Merkel’s Front Lawn

Thousands joined the protest, neary 100 arrested.

The crosses bore slogans such as 'borders kill' Photo: DPA via Süddeutsche Zeitung

Led by the Center for Political Beauty, a controversial German collective of performance artists and activists, about 5,000 protestors marched onto the Kanzleramt, Angela Merkel’s residence in Berlin last Sunday.

Armed with wooden crosses, floral wreaths and three (empty) coffins the procession was prevented from accessing the chancellor’s front lawn by a heavy police presence.

Demonstrators carried (empty) coffins. Photo: Vice

Demonstrators carried (empty) coffins.
Photo: via Vice

Unable to access the Kanzleramt, Der Spiegel reports that the protestors settled for storming the lawn of the Reichstag, the German parliament, by tearing down a flimsy aluminum fence.

There they dug holes for the crosses which bore slogans such as “EU Kills” and “Borders Kill.” Many participants were dressed in black.

Police arrested some 91 protesters on charges of trespassing, breach of peace, criminal damage, assault, and offense.

Protestors push over a fence to access the Reichstag Lawn Photo: Vice

Protestors push over a fence to access the Reichstag Lawn
Photo: via Vice

Last week the group announced a plan to turn the German leader’s front lawn into a cemetery for migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean.

Unsurprisingly this was forbidden by the Police and officers searched all vehicles and coffins prior to the demonstration.

Participants buried headstones and crosses into the grass causing € 10,000 ($11,200) in damages  Photo: Vice

Participants buried headstones and crosses into the grass causing € 10,000 ($11,200) in damages
Photo: via Vice

The German government’s commissioner for refugees, State Secretary Aydan Özoguz, criticized the collective, telling Die Welt “With all due respect for the anger of the activists in the face of thousands of refugees that drowned in the Mediterranean; to stage a spectacle by burying corpses surpasses a moral boundary.”

“Such actions exceed the limits of piety,” the chairman of the Bundestag Committee on Internal Affairs, Wolfgang Bosbach, said in agreement. He added that it was regrettable “that the important and sensitive topic of refugee protection was being treated in this way.”

About 90 protestors were arrested. Photo: Vice

About 90 protestors were arrested.
Photo: via Vice

“It is immoral to dump the dead European migrants into massgraves, stack them in refrigerated warehouse for months (as happened in Italy) or to even hastily bury them in ordinary landscapes (as happened in Greece),” Tilda Rosenfeld, of the Center for Political Beauty, told artnet News in an email.

“It is not, immoral, however, to identify the dead, get in touch with their relatives and, with their compliance, bring them to the heart of Europe in order to give them a dignified burial,” she added.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics

artnet and our partners use cookies to provide features on our sites and applications to improve your online experience, including for analysis of site usage, traffic measurement, and for advertising and content management. See our Privacy Policy for more information about cookies. By continuing to use our sites and applications, you agree to our use of cookies.

Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.

You are currently logged into this Artnet News Pro account on another device. Please log off from any other devices, and then reload this page continue. To find out if you are eligible for an Artnet News Pro group subscription, please contact [email protected]. Standard subscriptions can be purchased on the subscription page.

Log In