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German-Jewish sports exhibition vandalized, DFB 'horrified'

November 11, 2020

Vandals destroyed Plexiglas statues of Jewish athletes that were on display in Bochum as part of an outdoor touring exhibition. Germany's DFB football association suspects the attack had an anti-Semitic motivation.

The 'Between success and persecution' exhibition as seen in Frankfurt in 2017
The 'Between success and persecution' exhibition as seen in Frankfurt in 2017Image: Arne Dedert/dpa/picture alliance

Germany's football association (the DFB) condemned the destruction of life-sized Plexiglas figures in Bochum that depicted famous German-Jewish athletes.

The statues were part of the exhibition "Between Success and Persecution – Jewish Stars in German Sports up to 1933, and beyond." The rotating exhibition, which is partially operated by the DFB Cultural Foundation, had been on display since October 8 and was dismantled on Tuesday.

During the night from Monday to Tuesday, unidentified vandals destroyed the Plexiglas figures of athlete Lilli Hennoch and Olympic champion gymnasts and cousins Alfred and Gustav Felix Flatow.

The attack occurred as Germany commemorated the victims of the Nazis' November 9, 1938 pogrom, better known in English either as Kristallnacht or "the Night of Broken Glass."

"We are horrified and ashamed of the news of the deliberate destruction of several figures in the exhibition," said DFB Cultural Foundation chairman Göttrick Wewer. He said the timing and nature of the vandalism suggested an anti-Semitic motive.

The Flatow cousins' display had already been smeared with anti-Semitic slogans in previous weeks. The figure depicting Walther Bensemann, one of the founders of the DFB, had also been damaged earlier.

The outdoor exhibition, which portrays the life and suffering of German-Jewish athletes, has toured Germany since 2015. Bochum was the 17th stop of the nationwide tour. 

"The malicious destruction of the figures in this important exhibition leaves us stunned," Bochum Mayor Thomas Eiskirch was quoted as saying by the DFB. "Bochum was and will remain a cosmopolitan and tolerant city in which the culture of remembrance always has a place.

Read more:  Borussia Dortmund adopt new definition of anti-Semitism — but what does it mean?