A mini replica of Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial now stands in the small German village of Bornhagen, outside the house of a far-right politician who described the original as “a monument of shame.” Installed in late November by a Berlin-based art collective, the concrete blocks are currently slated to remain for at least two years, according to the Washington Post.
They serve as an indelible reminder to Björn Höcke, a senior member of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, of controversial comments he made in January 2017 while giving a speech in Dresden. Höcke came under fire after he said that Germans “are the only people in the world that have planted a monument of shame in the heart of their capital,” adding that the nation needs to make a “180 degree turn” from how it remembers its Nazi past.
So, last month, members of the activist collective Center for Political Beauty erected 24 slabs, built to scale of the original, on a property near Höcke’s own — but turned 180 degrees. To ensure the longevity of their project, they rented the land it sits on through 2022, as the New York Times reported. The plan surfaced shortly after Höcke delivered his contentious speech, and the group worked for 10 months to scout out the village; preparations included registering a business to attain local license plates and putting up a tent on their rental property to install the memorial.
“We are doing our neighborly duty,” Philipp Ruch, co-founder of the collective, told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper. “We hope he enjoys the view every day when he looks out the window.”
More than just a strange attraction or talking point, the installation has already sent shockwaves through the small town of 300 residents. The Times reported how much regular life has already been impacted, from a surge in police street patrols to a drop in sausage sales for the local butcher. Most locals are not fans of the mini memorial for having dragged their town into a controversial spotlight .
The activists note that Höcke can have his normal view back only if he agrees to fall to his knees in front of the original memorial and beg for forgiveness. Thanks to a crowdfunding campaign, they have enough money — €28,000 (~$33,200 US) to maintain the installation for at least two years, but hope to raise €54,000 (~$64 000 US)to keep it up for five, according to The Guardian.