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 owns the only piece of property directly adjacent to Höcke’s “hideaway” in Bornhagen.
„Someone who does something like this is a terrorist. The Center for Political Beauty is not an art collective, it’s a terrorist organisation!“
November 22, 6 a.m. The AfD leader Björn Höcke is startled awake by the sound of pouring concrete. His 500-year-old rectory quakes. 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 trembles. A cold day in November, a day of remembrance.
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.
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.
Every stela was made by hand, 18 by 13 meters, durable enough to withstand harsh weather as well as attacks from Nazis. A bulwark for a democracy that is prepared to defend itself.
“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
“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 such better people than they were, but to ensure that we do not perpetrate similar shameful acts. The Holocaust Memorial is a monument of 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.”
“Well intentioned, but poorly executed.”
“Political action-art primarily disrupts the division of departments in the minds of citizens: politics don’t get mixed 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.”
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 free-from-rationality Bornhagen.
“Civil society has made a monument for Germany’s premiere fear-mongerer. 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 civilisation will remain unanswered no longer.”
Center for Political Beauty
The holocaust memorial has set off an avalanche of lawsuits and criminal investigations. In order to not lose track of it all: who has sued us and what has become of it?
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.
The public prosecutor's office in Mühlhausen opens 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 calls 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.”
In the district court of Heilbad Heiligenstadt Nora Höcke attempted to hinder the publication of the Audio Walks. Her lawyers obtained a restraining order that keeps the leader of the Center for Political Beauty from coming within 500 metres 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 euros! District Court of Heilbad Heiligenstadt, Reference No. 5F665/17.
Our landlord went before the district court in an attempt to cancel our contract for the property.
Verdict: Won in trial court! The decision from the appeals court will be given in writing on April 12, 2019. The arguments cannot convince the court. In a last ditch effort, the lawyer for the prosecution has begun inventing laws that do not exist. District Court of Heilbad Heiligenstadt, Reference No. 3C 684/17.
An attempt by the 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.
An attempted temporary injunction against us by Höcke’s buddy Thorsten Heise. His reasoning is not without humour: “They have associated my name and politics, in a positive way, 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.
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.
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.”
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.”
You can also watch him make this statement in the video to the right (in German).
"The prosecution in charge states that numerous charges had been filed. The accusations ‚dissolved on after another‘."
"With Political Beauty, art returns to its origin, which is being a manual of statecraft."
Prof. Beat Wyss on Deutschlandfunk
The „intimate bestowal“ (Berliner Zeitung) – to Germanys first agitator. Here: From the perspective of Höckes garage.
The view from Höckes (hand chopped) wood on the holocaust memorial.
"Björn Höcke cannot see the Holocaust memorial from the street. Only when standing infront of this house, it becomes apparent, that this is not an open demonstration, but a rather intimate bestowal."
"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 shows that the knowledge about the nature of art and the inclined potential of freedom seems to be vanishing in our society."
Höcke has invited the media excessively 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 personal rights are in this case subjected to the freedom of art! 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."
In the „Dresden speech“, Höcke ridicules the memorial for six million Jews killed in Europa as a „memorial of shame“. He demands a turn of the politics of remembrance of 180 degrees“. In tone and contents, it is a speech, which could have been held by a drunk Gauleiter in a marquee. Höcke wants to abolish democracy by its own means. His actions remind us at 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 free tickets 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 at the 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 crossing of borders, it has shifted the limits of expression further and further. The ZPS answers with yet another border transgression. Where could this lead? In a spiral of constant new and increasingly blatant transgressions? And the end result? A civil war?"
Intellectual instigators need zones of calm to prosper. In picturesque Bornhagen, Höckes so-called „Büllerbü“ (Höcke according to NZZ on November 3rd, 2017), there is currently the most elaborate civil long-term observation of right-wing radicalism in Germany underway, which started after the Dresden speech. There are few places, in which the failure of state organs 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 NSU‘s killing spree has been made public, the federal state surrendered. According to political scientist Thomas Grumke, the Thuringia Office for Protection of the Constitution mostly goes without „the use of human sources“. Thuringia has therefore „become a shelter for right-wing extremists“.
In February 2017, we therefore founded the civil Protection of the constitution in Thuringia. The „early warning system of the state“ has since been complemented by an early warning system of the civil society. We will keep an eye on those questioning an 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 month long observation“ on Björn Höcke.
"Targeted symbol-political stalking – piercing, presumptuous, and immediate."
"Did the Centre for Political Beauty found a „civil Prosecution of the constitution“? It is hard to say what that looked like. One could also say that they did research. It is the distinction in wording that is important. It is a level of accuracy that counts."
"The Centre’s whole project has nothing to do with art. Under the cover of artistic freedom there was a scandalous attack on the independent mandate, the integrity of a person, a family and his privacy […] morally concealed psychological terror. The wiretapping of and spying on members of parliament and their families equals the methods of deconstruction of state security. Nothing can justify that. The action is an attack on the independent mandate, the integrity of a family and an outrageous interference in the life of a human."
Christian Carius (CDU), president of the state parliament of Thuringia
"The district administrator of Eichsfeld, Werner Henning from the CDU (christian-democratic union), found (…) clear words. He criticized on the one hand that AfD-politician Höcke called Bornhagen his Bullerbü and that on the other hand he therefore carries desaster into the village with his sharp political rhetoric. ‚For me, that is outrageous. He may well show consideration for others that grant him exactly the protection that apparently he does not find anywhere else anymore‘, says Henning."
"The ZPS 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 some left-wing senior teachers 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. Dreadful is this: 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 preservation. We don’t interfere with facial recognition at railway stations. But when the ZPS 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 in freedom art exists. 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 have the idea to sympathize with the most miserable Nazi of our time."
Florian Schröder, Comedian
Follow the footsteps of Thuringias new leader (speaker: Shahak Shapira). Visit the places where Höcke chops wood, goes for a run or goes shopping. Experience the German safe haven, where Germanys most popular arsonist recovers from „hardships“.
„The debate about fear and surveillance is lopsided. Everyone listens anxiously when right-wing populist sing their old, successful chant of sacrifice. The drawback on that is that this time, many voices leading up to the features of eminent newspapers, chimed in.“
Markus Reuter, Netzpolitik
We allowed ourselves to put the leader of modern racism in Germany to an Aryans test. 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 the 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.“
The basis for a well-fortified democracy is vigilance and the civil society’s willingness to defend it. On its homepage „No web for Nazis“, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation lists four measures on how to act if your neighbor is a Nazi:
1. Acquire a climate of looking precisely and intervening. 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 hey feel uncomfortable in their surroundings.
"For Höcke, this project 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 the German parliament. Now, the columns point again to his Dresden speech in January."
The Deutschlandfunk (German radio) covered the origin of the holocaust memorial with a feature over the course of a year – from the initial brain-storming to the logistics of the large-scale production. „Are the members and accomplices of the ZPS the heroes of our time, because they defeat with art what politics fail to do?
"Diese Künstler gingen genau dem nach, was Lewandowsky als Aufgabe der Kunst begreift: Sie spielen den Müllmann für den Dreck, den es in der Gesellschaft gibt."
"Die Operation Bornhagen jedenfalls fördert einen emotional aufgeladenen Widerstreit in den sozialen Netzwerken und anderswo zutage, der ohne sie verborgen geblieben wäre. Aktionskunst als Bergungsunternehmen, auch wenn es weh tut."
"Die Aktionen des Zentrums sind immer ein Coup. Klandestin vorbereitet, virtuos ausgeführt, publizistisch effektvoll begleitet (...)"
“Yes, it’s uncomfortable, (...) But then, Germany’s history is uncomfortable.”
"Die ZPS hat es geschafft, dass ein Ministerpräsident sich zum Teil einer Kunstaktion macht und anfängt, das ZPS für provokante Aussagen zu beschimpfen. Das ist schon großes Kino. Chapeau."
"Das Schöne ist doch: Landtagspräsidenten können die Tagesordnung feststellen, aber nicht was Kunst, Straftaten oder Stasimethoden sind.
"Kürzer gesagt: Ihr habt da eine in jede Richtung funktionierende dialektische Falle aufgestellt – und die darin sich verfangenden nolens volens zu Künstlern Eurer sozialen Plastik gemacht. Ihr lasst sehen, Ihr macht Aporien sichtbar – und das ist stets der Anfang, nicht das Ende des Diskurses."
"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 banned."
"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 ZPS has the gift to convert the smallest pass into contributions to the formation of public awareness."
"Suddenly, Höcke is a victim. He has been turned into one, like somehow everything that is done against the AfD is being turned into the mode of the perpetrator. Because they frame themselves to be the victims – which entails that they do so with justification. This discourse is so pervasive that at any objection one has to fear turning into dust."
Höcke has talked about the terror he faces though the memorial in his spspeech at the Sportpalast. Thereby, he praises the Centre of Political Beauty as a „terrorist organization“. Become a part of a terrorist organization that until now is only recognized by Höcke and be an accomplice. Nowhere else you will be able to earn as many uproar and dissent for every donated Euro.
Since the foundation of the AfD in 2013, Landolf Lading continues 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 also looked for witnesses and proof that Höcke is in fact Landolf Ladig, who – until the AfD was founded – has fought in numerous NPD-magazines for his people and Hitler.
"I will seek legal action against anyone who claims that I am Landolf Ladig."
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 Germanys youngest leader. We guarantee an unrestricted view and that the racists 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 Ladolf 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 art. The art of organizations such as Sea-Watch is permitted as well.