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Arts

Guerrilla artists build Holocaust memorial next to far-right leader's home

Renowned for ambitious guerrilla actions, the artist collective Center for Political Beauty unveiled their latest project: a replica of Berlin's Holocaust Memorial set up next to right-wing AfD leader Björn Höcke's home.

The Berlin-based art activist collective Center for Political Beauty (Zentrum für Politische Schönheit) is at it again.

Early on the morning of Wednesday, November 22, 2017, the group publicized their next action: to build a replica of the "Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe," on the doorstep of the AfD's Björn Höcke, a politician known for his sharp criticism of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

Before mid-day, the guerrilla artwork had been completed, with 24 cement stelae of varying sizes erected on a private property neighboring Björn Höcke's house in a village in Thuringia.

 

"My friends from @politicalbeauty have built a Holocaust memorial directly in front of Bernd [sic, the name has often been used for him by German satirists instead of Björn] Höcke's door. He does need it most urgently," tweeted Berlin-based Israeli comedian Shahak Shapira.

Höcke gained media attention after giving a controversial speech in Dresden in January in which he called for a 180-degree shift in the way that the history of World War II is considered, and referred to the Berlin memorial as a "Monument of shame."

Read more:Leading German politician calls AfD's Höcke a 'Nazi'

The comments sparked a furor for which the head of the Thuringian branch of the Alternative for Germany party later apologized.

The Center for Political Beauty has responded by setting up what they call a "civil society defense of the constitution" group in Thuringia, aimed at the "long-term tracking of right-wing extremists in Germany."

Björn Höcke surrounded by media professionals (picture-alliance/dpa/F. Rumpenhorst)

Höcke continues to grab media attention, most recently at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, after people protested his presence

A deal for its removal

As the artists explained in a video, "Because Höcke is a 'secret admirer' of the memorial, we are building one for him directly on his doorstep."

Members of the group of activists said they have been anonymously living as neighbors, "sharing a fence with the right's 'poster boy'" and would only remove the art, which is planned to remain through 2019, once the politician agreed to a deal: If Höcke were to fall to his knees in front of the Holocaust Memorial in order to beg forgiveness for Germany's actions during World War II, as former chancellor Willy Brandthad once infamously done, the collective said they would stop their action.

Kampagne des Zentrums für politische Schönheit (ZPS)

The Center for Political Beauty is known for their hard-hitting political commentary and slogans like this one, which reads "The dead are coming"

Center for Political Beauty: renowned for controversial actions

It is not the first time that the Center for Political Beauty has grabbed headlines for their guerrilla actions.

Most recently, the collective made waves with aG20 protest titled, "Kill the dictator."

Last year, they threatened to feed refugees to a tiger in a performance at the Gorki Theater in Berlin aimed at increasing awareness of the plight of refugees stuck in Turkey.

In 2015, the group laid coffins out in front of the Reichstag to highlight the refugee crisis, an action for which they received a Bobs Award from the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in 2016.

ct/eg (dpa, epd)

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