After nearly 3 weeks of secrecy, the German authorities announced that the Museum Island in Berlin had been subjected to a sabotage attack that targeted about 70 artifacts and artifacts at the site, which includes 5 famous museums and is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Center, causing irreparable damage.
German press sources speculate that the attack – which occurred on 3 October – may have been carried out by supporters of conspiracy theories and elements of the German hard-right right, which views the Corona pandemic as a vicious plot planned.
And Reuters news agency quoted museum officials as saying that attempts to remove the vandal stains were successful, although traces remain visible.
Museums – located a stone’s throw across the river from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s home in the city center – have been at the heart of the conspiracy theories debate in recent months, and have been the focus of discussions of people refusing to wear masks and prevent Corona measures.
Attila Heldman – a well-known vegetarian chef who spreads conspiracy theories about the Coronavirus – wrote to more than 100,000 followers on the Telegram app that the Pergamon Museum is home to a giant altar reconstruction from the ancient Greek city of Pergamon that contains a “Devil’s Throne,” according to Reuters.
He described the museum as the center of a global conspiracy of “criminals.” Corona, “and wrote,” Here they make human sacrifices at night and defile children. “
On Wednesday morning, police confirmed reports by German media – including the Der Tages Spiegel newspaper and the Deutschland Funk radio station – that unknown perpetrators sprayed an oily liquid on dozens of pieces at the Pergamon Museum, the Neues Museum, the Alte National Museum and other sites.
A spokesman for the Berlin police confirmed that unknown persons sprayed oil in museums during the visits period, without yet knowing how they did so. The vandalism affected Egyptian artifacts, including sarcophagi and old paintings, and the material used by the vandals caused visible stains on the antiquities.
Berlin police reported that they had investigated the attack, but had not made it public for reasons that it described as strategic.
The memory of unity
Media reports indicated that the crime took place on October 3, the day of German unity and the 30th anniversary of the reunification of East and West Germany.
The German daily Die Zeit wrote that the vandalism was “one of the biggest attacks on artworks and antiquities in the post-war history of Germany.” Among the damaged pieces were Egyptian stone coffins, sculptures and a number of statues, and the liquid left visible spots on artworks and antiques.
The attack included artifacts in the new Berlin Museum, which includes a bust of the Pharaonic Queen Nefertiti.
The German Minister of State for Culture Monica Grüters strongly condemned the deliberate damage to dozens of works of art on the Museum Island in Berlin, and considered that the attack was directed against German cultural heritage and against democratic principles.
A long formal silence
The German press questioned the secret of the mystery and silence of the authorities about the crime for nearly 3 weeks.
According to Der Tages Spiegel, the state Criminal Police Office (LKA) wrote to people who visited museums that day and asked if they had seen something suspicious.
A preliminary investigation has been opened into the damage to the holdings since then.
The third of October was also the first day that the museum was opened since March 2020, when the Corona pandemic forced it to close its doors.
The five museums – which make up the Museum Island in the heart of Berlin – are among the most important in the country, as the cultural complex became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
The Pergamon Museum celebrated its 90th birthday at the beginning of this month, and it is one of the most famous museums in Germany, attracting nearly a million visitors annually, thanks in large part to the Pergamon Altar, which dates back to the second century BC.
The issue of Museum Island security has been the subject of constant criticism, and in 2017 a gang succeeded in stealing a 100-kilogram (200 pounds) gold coin called the “Big Maple Leaf” worth 3.75 million euros (4.38 million dollars) from the iPod Museum, including the complex robbery peacefully. And a wheelbarrow and an escape car.
The Minister of Culture said that the security precautions for Berlin state museums should be investigated again, and she requested a comprehensive report on this issue.
“It must be clarified how great the damage could have gone unnoticed, and how such attacks can be prevented in the future,” she added.