In response to a German politician’s comments criticizing the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, the artist collective Center for Political Beauty built a replica of the monument next to the AfD party member’s home. According to Deutsche Welle, Björn Höcke, a senior leader of the right-wing group, called the memorial a “monument of shame” and said that Germany needs to make a “180-degree turn” in how it addresses its World War II history, in a controversial speech he gave in Dresden earlier this year.
The artists created the miniature monument with twenty-four cement stelae of varying sizes. It was built on private property beside Höcke’s house in the village of Thuringia in November. “We are doing our neighborly duty,” the group’s leader, Philipp Ruch, told the Frankfurter Rundschau. “We hope he enjoys the view every day when he looks out the window.”
Ruch added, “He will now have to deal with the fact that he has neighbors who don’t consider the Holocaust Memorial a ‘monument of shame,’ but who try to remember what had happened, to prevent it from happening again.” The group launched a crowd-funding campaign to keep the protest action going for at least two more years. According to the collective’s website, if Höcke shows remorse for his words by “falling to his knees” in front of the memorial and asks for forgiveness for Germany’s actions during World War II, as former chancellor Willy Brandt did in 1970 at a monument commemorating the heroes of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, it will take down the replica.
Known for its politically charged works, the Center for Political Beauty also made headlines this summer when it erected an artwork comprising a black Mercedes with a banner that showed Turkey’s president Tayyip Erdoğan’s face alongside those of Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and read, “Do you want this car? Kill dictatorship.” The work appeared before the German Chancellery in the days leading up to the G20 summit in Hamburg. The Turkish president was not amused by the action.