Artist Guenther Schaefer stands in front of a covered section of the Berlin wall that included his defaced painting. (Paul Zinken/AP) (Paul Zinken/AP)
Berlin anti-semitic hate crime


The East Side Gallery in Berlin was defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti over the weekend, at the same time that Jewish athletes are in the city for the European Maccabi Games.

Vandals defaced a well-known Berlin landmark with anti-Semitic graffiti in what appears to be a hate crime as thousands of Jewish athletes are in the German capital for the European Maccabi Games.

Police said Saturday that a vulgar anti-Semitic slogan was noticed Friday afternoon on the East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall that became an open-air gallery known as an international memorial for freedom. It was founded by artists after the barrier dividing East and West Berlin was removed in November 1989.

The defaced section included the painting “Vaterland” or “Fatherland” — a work by artist Guenther Schaefer showing the Jewish star of David in the middle of the German flag.

Police say they currently have no suspects.

Schaefer has vowed to fix his painting as soon as possible. He added that this was the 51st time that his work was damaged in the past 25 years. About half of the vandalism was “anti-Semitic or Arab-religious-fanatic” motivated, he said.

It is not known whether the incident is connected with Berlin’s hosting of the Maccabi Games, Europe’s largest Jewish sporting event. Some 2,000 Jewish athletes are participating in the 14th European Maccabi Games, which are being held for the first time in Berlin – in the stadium built by Hitler.

Seventy years after the end of the Holocaust, a new report by the German Interior Ministry found that anti-Semitic crime spiked 25.2% in 2014.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff