German artists build Holocaust memorial replica near far-right leader’s home


(JTA) — A group of German artist-activists have built a replica of the country’s Holocaust memorial outside the home of a leader of a right-wing populist party who has called on Germany to stop apologizing for its Nazi past.

Bjoern Hoecke, a leader of the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, in the former East German state of Thuringia, criticized the memorial in Berlin in January. “Germans are the only people in the world who plant a monument of shame in the heart of the capital,” he said.

He also suggested that more attention be paid to German victims of World War II.

The activists from the Center for Political Beauty on Wednesday unveiled their replica of the national Holocaust memorial, setting 24 concrete slabs in a garden next to Hoecke’s home in the village of Bornhagen. The group will be renting the property for at least the next two years with money raised in a crowdfunding campaign, AFP reported.

“We are doing our neighborly duty,” the group’s leader, Philipp Ruch, told the German-language Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper, according to AFP. “We hope he enjoys the view every day when he looks out the window.”

The group reportedly has offered to remove the installation if Hoecke “fall(s) to his knees” in front of it and sincerely asks for forgiveness, in a gesture reminiscent of then-chancellor Willy Brant in 1970 at a memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The memorial in Berlin was dedicated in May 2005. It is made up of 2,711 concrete slabs or “stelae,” arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field, resembling a cemetery.

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