Holocaust Memorial in Bornhagen

A monument against the creeping normalisation of fascism in Germany. The Center for Political Beauty secured prime real estate in the fight against modern right-wing extremism: the plot of land right next door to Björn Höcke, the leader of the AfD in Thuringia. Since February 2017 the Center for Political Beauty has owned the only piece of property directly adjacent to Höcke’s “hideaway” in Bornhagen.

Bornhagen, Thuringia

November 22, 6 a.m. The AfD leader Björn Höcke is startled awake by the sound of concrete pumps. His 500-year-old rectory is shaking. He rushes to the window and can’t believe his eyes: an extension of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is being built right in front of his house. Höcke is trembling. A cold day in November, a day of remembrance.

Planning

24 stelae, planned with a computer, the grounds measured with laser precision, the component parts prefabricated and delivered in a secretive operation over a period of weeks.

Team

A hundred-person construction co-operative built the memorial adjacent to this shameful site in a record time of five days. The biggest feat of all: Höcke remained oblivious.

Made to measure

Every stela was made by hand, 18 by 13 meters, durable enough to withstand harsh weather as well as attacks from Nazis. A bulwark of defensive democracy.

»The memorial in Berlin was erected to remind us of the millions of Jews who were murdered. It was erected so that we don’t forget what our grandparents and great-grandparents were capable of. It’s not there to pat ourselves on the back for being better people than they were, but to ensure that we do not perpetrate similar shameful acts. The Holocaust Memorial is a monument to our shame. We need it so that we don’t forget what we are capable of. Every single one of us needs it. The Center for Political Beauty has erected a private monument in the backyard of one of those people who would like to close their eyes to this reality. He should be grateful.«

Frankfurter Rundschau

»Well intentioned, but poorly executed.«

MDR

»A wonderful idea. To perform the operation so shortly before Christmas is a superb punishment for Höcke.«

Lea Rosh, initiator of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial

»Political performance art primarily disrupts disciplinary boundaries in the minds of citizens: politics don’t mix with art, and please don’t mix art with politics. The last resort of the self-proclaimed bomb squad: the more attention something gets, the worse it must be.«

NZZ

Violence Against Art

The property is under police surveillance, both from helicopters above and from the ground, because a holocaust memorial was expanded into Thuringia. After the first threats and damages to the new memorial, the police announced that they would not protect private property. The spokesperson for the Thuringian police was quoted as saying, »in Germany, each person is responsible for protecting his or her own property,« more or less an open invitation to the neo-Nazi scene. Nonetheless, the monument stands in defiance of wind, weather, and Nazis, making an emphatic statement for the constitutional guarantee of artistic freedom in »rationally liberated« Bornhagen.

"The ZPS uses methods of the Nazis! Artistic freedom stops where the freedom of others is impaired. This limit has not only been reached here, it has been exceeded by miles. Whoever plays down this totalitarian and fanatical terror of ideas as art is acting irresponsibly. Here the constitutional state must intervene with all means. We must stop the beginnings!"

Alexander Gauland

»Civil society has made a monument for Germany’s top fear-monger. The message behind it: we will no longer tolerate right-wing extremism. It is not normal. Racism is not normal. And this attack on our collective identity as a civilization will remain unanswered no longer.«

Center for Political Beauty

In Court

The holocaust memorial set off an avalanche of lawsuits and criminal investigations. In order to not lose track of it all, we compiled an overview: who sued us and what became of it?

Higher Regional Court of Cologne

A 16-page plea attempt by Höcke’s lawyers complete with interim injunctions, demands for damages, personal, image, and media rights.

Verdict: Won! The constitutional guarantee of artistic freedom outweighs Höcke’s personal rights. The decision sets a precedent: Higher Regional Court of Cologne, Reference No. 28 O 362/17.

Public Prosecutor Mühlhausen

The public prosecutor's office in Mühlhausen opened an investigation into coercion because we demanded that Höcke genuflect before the memorial and beg forgiveness for the crimes the German people committed in World War II.

Verdict: Mühlhausen called off the investigation in November 2018. There were considerable doubts that the operation could have any influence on Höcke’s actions. Spokesperson Benedikt Ballhausen comments that it can be expected of a person in the public sphere »to calmly stand firm against such conduct.«

District Court of Heilbad Heiligenstadt, #1

In the district court of Heilbad Heiligenstadt Nora Höcke attempted to hinder the publication of the Guided Audio Walking Tour. Her lawyers obtained a restraining order that keeps the artistic director of the Center for Political Beauty from coming within 500 meters of her or Höcke’s brown house.

Verdict: Won! The court order was lifted in February 2018 and Nora Höcke was required to bear the costs of the lawsuit. Side note: to this day Mrs. Höcke still owes us €500.96! District Court of Heilbad Heiligenstadt, Reference No. 5F665/17.

District Court of Heilbad Heiligenstadt #2

Our landlord went before the district court in an attempt to cancel our contract for the property.

Verdict: Won in trial and in appeals court! In a last ditch effort, the lawyer for the prosecution began inventing laws that do not exist. District Court of Heilbad Heiligenstadt, Reference No. 3C 684/17.

Cease and Desist NPD

An attempt by the German Nazi party NPD to get a temporary injunction due to the use of an »NPD logo.«

Verdict: Won! We are responding with a cease and desist letter of our own. Their so-called party logo does not pass the “threshold of originality” required by § 2 of the German Copyright Act because »the design […] is limited to the reproduction of the letters NPD, without any particular graphical elements, in a bold white font on a red circle.« Reference No. 6627/17/B.

Regional Court Göttingen

An attempted temporary injunction against us by Höcke’s buddy Thorsten Heise (NPD). His reasoning is not without humor: »You have associated my client with a politician from a party that is further to the left.«

Verdict: Won! Heise must bear the costs of the lawsuit. Regional Court Göttingen, Reference No. 9 O9/17.

Building Permit Thuringia

Both the building authority and the town of Bornhagen have repeatedly confirmed the legality of our memorial: in the eyes of construction law it is perfectly legal and democratic. The memorial can remain on our property.

Gerald Schneider, county commissioner in Eichsfeld and responsible for building inspections, sees no violation of the law in Bornhagen.

Criminal Charges

The AFD-Thüringen disclosed that Höcke has submitted criminal charges with the public prosecutor’s office for: coercion, trespassing, formation of a criminal organisation, invasion of personal privacy, invasion of the privacy of correspondence, and stalking. At the extreme right-wing conference »Compact« on November 25, 2017, Höcke himself said: »The Center for Political Beauty is not an art collective, it is a criminal organisation! Indeed, a terrorist organisation.«

Thuringian Parliamentary President

The president of Thuringia’s state parliament Christian Carius (CDU) erupted at the very beginning of the operation saying: »[…] in a phone call I urgently requested the Minister of the Interior to immediately end this so-called surveillance and to open the necessary investigations. In the interest of an unrestricted exercise of my free mandate, I hereby declare a public interest in an investigation.«

»The prosecution in charge states that numerous charges have been filed. But the accusations ›crumbled one after another‹.«

Tagesspiegel

»With Political Beauty, art returns to its origin, which is being a manual of statecraft.«

Prof. Beat Wyss on Deutschlandfunk

The Memorial from Höckes view

The view from Höckes (hand chopped) wood on the holocaust memorial.

The »intimate gift« (Berliner Zeitung) to Germany’s top fear-monger. Here: From the perspective of Höckes garage.

»Björn Höcke cannot see the Holocaust memorial from the street. Only when standing in front of this house, it becomes apparent, that this is not an open demonstration, but a rather intimate gift.«

Berliner Zeitung

»Art needs freedom. And freedom needs art. The question, what art should or may do, is already a sign of a lack of liberality in society. The debate reveals how small the knowledge about the nature of art and thereby the potential of freedom in our society appears to be.«

Spiegel Online

Do Nazis have a right to privacy?

Höcke has excessively invited the media into his »Bullerbü« (Björn according to NZZ). He is also delighted about »the chat with neighbors about the small worries and needs« (we’re his only direct neighbours). He mentions his place of residence in every article. He already used to do that in the years 2011 and 2012, when he praised the NPD (National-Democratic Party of Germany) under the pseudonym of Landolf Ladig and denied the German war guilt. One day prior to his Dresden speech, he wrote a circular to AfD-members: »The Thuringian Eichsfeld has become my refuge. It is my safe haven for inspiration and regeneration.« Repeatedly, he has shown images of his home and staged his brown house. Images of his garden and the inside of his house have been made public. Höcke has made the private public and used it for propaganda purposes. The District Court of Cologne has dismissed his case and stated that his right to privacy and his personal rights are in this case subject to artistic freedom! Here you can find the last ten pages of this possibly groundbreaking verdict.

»However, the Centre does not claim to stand on morally impeccable ground. In case of doubt, they stand for destabilization. It is from this roughness that the ambiguity appears, which distinguishes the artistic play with morality from mere morality.«

FAZ

Germany 1928

In the »Dresden speech«, Höcke ridicules the memorial for six million Jews killed in Europe as a »memorial of shame«. He demands a »U-turn of our remembrance politics«. In tone and content, it is a speech that could have been held by a drunk Gauleiter in a marquee. Höcke wants to abolish democracy by its own means. His actions remind us of Goebbels saying »we will become members of the Reichstag to paralyze the Weimar spirit with its own assistance. If democracy is stupid enough to give us a free ride and per diems for this disservice, it is its own fault. […] We don’t come as friends, nor as neutrals. We come as enemies!«

Fascist movements don’t disappear on their own. In 1928, the NSDAP gained 2,6 percent in democratic elections. Four years later it was more than 37 percent. The holocaust memorial is a social contract. To abide by it, we must fight right-wing extremism.

»The AfD has risen from breaking taboos, with the constant overstepping of bounds, it has shifted the limits of expression further and further. The CPB answers with yet another transgression. Where could this lead? In a spiral of constant new and increasingly blatant transgressions? And the end result? A civil war?«

Jana Simon, DIE ZEIT

»Targeted symbolical and political stalking – piercing, presumptuous, and immediate.«

Berliner Zeitung

Civil Office for the Protection of the Constitution
Division Thuringia

Ideological instigators need places of calm to prosper. In picturesque Bornhagen, Höckes so-called »Büllerbü« (Höcke in an NZZ interview on November 3rd, 2017), the most elaborate civil long-term observation of right-wing radicalism in Germany got underway after his Dresden speech. There are few places where the failure of state authority to fight right-wing extremism is as apparent as in Thuringia – the breeding ground of the NSU and the center of life for right-wing radicals such as Björn Höcke, Thorsten Heise, and Götz Kubitschek.

After the discovery of the NSU‘s killing spree, the federal state simply capitulated. According to political scientist Thomas Grumke, the Thuringia Office for the Protection of the Constitution mostly goes without »the use of human sources«. Thuringia has therefore »become a safe haven for right-wing extremists«.

In February 2017, we therefore founded the Civil Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Thuringia. The »early warning system of the state« has since been complemented by an early warning system of civil society. We will keep an eye on those undermining open society. One of the fundamental lessons of the Weimar Republic is the necessity of a well-fortified democracy. We need to fight the enemies of an open society. In this video, we grant an exclusive insight into our »ten months long observation« of Björn Höcke.

»The Center’s whole project has nothing to do with art. This is […] morally concealed psychological terror, a scandalous attack on the independent mandate, the integrity of a person, his family and privacy under the cover of artistic freedom. The wiretapping of and spying on members of parliament and their families equals the methods of oppression of the Stasi. Nothing can justify that. The campaign is an attack on the independent mandate, the integrity of a family, and an outrageous interference in the life of an individual.«

Christian Carius (CDU), president of the state parliament of Thuringia

»Did the Center for Political Beauty found a ›Civil Office for the Protection of the Constitution‹? It is hard to say what that was supposed to be. One could also say that they did research. It is the distinction in wording that is important. It is the level of accuracy that counts.«

Spiegel Online

»The district administrator of Eichsfeld, Werner Henning of the CDU (Christian-Democratic Union), found (…) clear words. He criticized that AfD-politician Höcke called Bornhagen his Bullerbü but then brought disaster into the village with his sharp political rhetoric. ›I think that is outrageous. He’d better show consideration for others, who grant him exactly the kind of protection that apparently he does not find anywhere else anymore‹, says Henning.«

MDR

»The CPB claims that it has surveilled Höcke and will publish information about him, if he is not willing to kneel in front of the memorial. Even the left-liberal bourgeoisie found that difficult to swallow. The whole project could have been so funny if they had stopped right there. This poor man! Surveillance! How dreadful! – No. This is dreadful: it only takes Facebook 70 likes to know who you are. After 300 likes, Facebook knows you better than your partner does. If spouses know each other that well, they usually file for divorce. We accept data retention regimes. We don’t interfere with facial recognition at railway stations. But when the CPB claims to have surveilled Björn Höcke, the whole country stands upside down. Even the unbelievably stupid question ‘if art is allowed to do that?‘ plays into the hands of the AfD. Art is freedom and only where there’s freedom, there is art. But freedom’s best days are over. Only a country that is ready to completely give up on its own liberties in the name of the empty promise of absolute security can sincerely think of sympathizing with the most pathetic Nazi of our time.«

Florian Schröder, Comedian

Guided Audio Walking Tour

Follow the footsteps of Thuringia’s new Fuehrer, narrated by Shahak Shapira. Visit the places where Höcke chops wood, goes for a run, or shopping. Experience the German safe haven, where Germany’s most popular arsonist recovers from »hardships«.

»The debate about fear and surveillance is lopsided. Everyone listens anxiously when right-wing populists are singing their old, very successful victim song yet again. The disastrous thing is that this time, many voices all the way up to the feuilleton of eminent newspapers, have chimed in.«

Markus Reuter, Netzpolitik

DNA-Test shows: Höcke is an emigrated Portuguese

We allowed ourselves to test the leader of modern racism in Germany for his Aryan roots. Is he really a native German? Of course not. A genetic test in an Austrian DNA-lab showed four matches: Two in Portugal and Brazil, one in France, and one in northern Poland. The match in Portugal is to be interpreted »as an emigrated Portuguese«, said the director of the DNA-lab. Höcke, therefore, is no longer allowed to speak »for ethnic racism in Germany«.

»The replica of Berlin’s holocaust memorial on the property next to AfD-politician Höcke shall open for visitors on Tuesday. On Friday, access had been denied with reference to the lack of police protection – there have been death threats against the artists.«

Tagesschau

Defensive democracy

The basis for a well-fortified democracy is vigilance and civil society’s willingness to defend it. On its homepage »No web for Nazis«, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation lists four things to do if your neighbor is a neonazi:

1. Create a climate of watchfulness and intervention. Inform all residents about the extreme right-wing attitude of the neighbor.

2. For the investigation of criminal offenses, exact observations are necessary, which should be written down along with date and place of occurrence. This will help the police and the criminal proceedings in court. Does the right-wing neighbor threaten other residents? Does he swear at them? Or intimidate them with his gestures?

3. All residents should state clearly to the right-wing extremist that they find their presence frightening.

4. Right-wing extremist tenants should be persuaded to move out of their apartments. Others should give them the signal of not being welcome. Every criminal offence must be reported immediately. They will eventually leave, if they feel uncomfortable in their surroundings.

»For Höcke, this operation comes at an inopportune moment. At the upcoming federal party conference, he could run for the executive board. And it cannot be ruled out that, in case of new elections, he could run for German parliament. Now, the stelae point again to his Dresden speech in January.«

Berliner Morgenpost

Behind the scenes

A feature by Deutschlandfunk (German public radio) covers the origin of the holocaust memorial over one year – from the initial brain-storming to large-scale production logistics. »Are the members and accomplices of the CPB the heroes of our time, because they manage to enforce through art what politics has failed to do?«

»Whoever had the idea to install a piece of the holocaust memorial here was someone with imagination. I never would have had the idea to use this narrow space in that way. The CPB has the gift to convert the smallest template into contributions to the formation of public awareness.«

Berliner Zeitung

»There are also people in Thuringia saying that they are thankful for the project. This kind of protest could only have come from the outside. If any Bornhagener would have dared to do it, he would have been socially ostracized.«

Tagesspiegel

»At any rate, Operation Bornhagen brings to light an emotionally charged antagonism on social media and elsewhere that would have remained hidden without it. Performance art as a salvage operation, even if it hurts.«

Frankfurter Rundschau

»After all, the mirror is the main instrument of art. Let's be glad that the Berlin artists put it up. They did it for Björn Höcke.«

Arno Widmann, Frankfurter Rundschau

»The operations of the Center are always a coup. Clandestinely prepared, virtuosly executed, accompanied by effective publicity [...].«

Deutschlandfunk

»Yes, it’s uncomfortable, [...] But then, Germany’s history is uncomfortable.«

New York Times 

»The district court forbade the landlord from any dismantling attempts, saying that otherwise there was a risk of ›irreparable damage‹.«

Berliner Zeitung

»Ironically, the outcry comes over the surveillance of Germany’s most popular right-wing radical. An outcry from the far right all the way to the Feuilleton. The CDU President of the Thuringia State Parliament fraternizes with the ›poster boy of the right‹, while Höckes supporters bombard the artists with death threats while screaming ›artists are Nazis‹.«

Netzpolitik

»Suddenly, Höcke is a victim. He is being turned into one, some say, as is apparently and peculiarly the case with everything that is done against the AfD. Because they frame themselves to be the victims – which implies that they do so with justification. This discourse is so pervasive that at one has to fear turning into dust when objecting to it.«

Frankfurter Rundschau

»While shock videos for children are waved through on YouTube, algorithms or overseers react super fast and mercilessly to an art performance that is directed against a political provocation and is itself provocative. That sounds anything but reassuring.«

WDR

»The CPB has managed that a Minister-President participates in an art performance and starts berating the CPB for provocative statements. That in itself is already epic. Chapeau.«

Helles Sachsen 

»The nice thing is: state parliament presidents can determine the agenda, but not what art, crimes, or Stasi methods are.«

Martina Renner

»To put it more briefly: you have set up a dialectical trap that works in every direction - and made those who get caught in it, nolens volens, into artists of your social sculpture. You expose, you make aporias visible - and that is always the beginning, not the end of the discourse.«

Daniel-Pascal Zorn, facebook

Shake things up - Become an accomplice

Björn Höcke has praised the Center for Political Beauty as a »terrorist group«. Get close to the action and become an accomplice to a terrorist organization so far sadly recognized only by Höcke, Erdogan, and the Free State of Thuringia! As an accomplice you will make an invaluable contribution to inciting public unrest in the service of aggressive humanism. Nowhere else will you receive more unrest and dissent for every donated Euro. 

Landolf Ladig

Since the foundation of the AfD in 2013, Landolf Lading has continued to work under the pseudonym of »Björn Höcke«. We have informed 12.400 households in Eichsfeld via direct mail that Höcke is a shadow man for the NPD. We have also looked for witnesses and proof that Höcke is in fact Landolf Ladig, who – before the AfD was founded – had fought in numerous NPD-magazines for “the German people” and Hitler.

Learn more about the NPD’s best man, peruse our exclusive merch shop and stay tuned on all writings from Höcke’s right-wing extremist double life.

»I will seek legal action against anyone who claims that I am Landolf Ladig.«

Bernd Höcke

Advertisement for Höcke

On the property of the holocaust memorial in Bornhagen is an advertising panel measuring 4x3 meters. Do-gooders and hyper-moralists can advertise their concerns, for example the European principle of non-discrimination, right before the eyes of Germany’s youngest Fuehrer. We guarantee an unrestricted view and that the racist will have to look at the ad while mowing his lawn.

He even started the idea himself. Höcke said: 
»I will seek legal action against anyone, who claims that I am Landolf Ladig!«

We will rent the space on a monthly basis for a net cost price. Of course, this is not an advertising space subject to approval, but it is art. It is legal just like art by organizations such as Sea-Watch is.