German Museum Attacks Seem Inspired by Conspiracy Theorists

Authorities are stunned, after a series of German museum attacks on priceless historic artifacts and artworks. A liquid has been smeared on famous exhibits at three renowned  Berlin museums. It is believed that the attacks are linked to bizarre conspiracy theories, spread by right-wing activists. They have spread an idea that the museums are linked to  satanic rituals  and cabals. These incidents are the worst attacks on art in Germany since the end of  World War II .

All the acts of  vandalism took place on Berlin’s Museum Island. This is a network of five museums that have collectively attained the status of a  UNESCO World Heritage Site . Vandals smeared a mysterious oily liquid on 70 priceless artefacts. Some works have been damaged and bear visible stains, but thankfully, most of the  damage was minor. An employee of one of the museums told the  BBC that “most of the damage was superficial. Some of it we had to use a torch to find.”

Pergamon Altar

The objects damaged are held at the Pergamon Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie and the Neues Museum. Among the items smeared with what seems to be some kind of oil were  Egyptian sarcophagi , sculptures, and 19th-century paintings. The attacks were particularly concentrated on the Pergamon Museum.

This was specially built to house the world-famous Pergamon Altar. This remarkable object was commissioned by the Hellenistic King Eumenes II. In the 2 nd century BC  Pergamon, located in modern Turkey, was a regional power in Asia Minor until it was absorbed by the Roman Empire.

The BBC reports that “local reports said a 9th century BC sculpture had been attacked along with a 3D exhibit of the original Pergamon Altar, which is currently under renovation.” Now, this is not the first time that the  Museum Island  has been the scene of a crime. In 2017, the Bode Museum was raided, and a precious gold coin stolen.

Several dozen artefacts on Berlin’s Museum Island have been spattered with an “oily fluid” in an attack that may be linked to a bizarre conspiracy theory involving human sacrifice  https://t.co/GU8XkbmU1g

— The Times (@thetimes)  October 21, 2020

Was the German Museum Attack Motivated by Conspiracy Theorists?

The attacks took place on the 2 nd of October but have only been revealed to the public recently. Local police are quoted by the  BBC as saying that they “have been investigating the attack for a while.” For “strategic reasons” they had not notified the press until now. In any criminal investigation, it is important to establish the motive. The German police “could not comment on a motive behind the attack,” reports the  BBC.

The attacks are similar to an incident in Athens in 2018 when two Bulgarian women smeared artworks with oil because of a weird interpretation of the  Bible. There is also a potential link between the celebrations for German unification and the attacks. However, it seems more likely that the vandalism was instigated by  conspiracy theorists  who have been very active in recent months in response to the  Covid-19 pandemic .

Our @AFP update on the baffling vandalism attack on Berlin’s Museum Island  https://t.co/oVqT9HZ3UQ

— Deborah Cole (@doberah)  October 21, 2020

Off Their Rocker: Conspiracy Theorists Claim Museum Is Center of Satanism

One conspiracy theory argues that the Pergamon Museum is a center for satanic rituals. It argues that the reconstructed marble altar is being used for all types of abominable practices, including  human sacrifice . These ludicrous stories have been linked to Attila Hildmann, a former celebrity chef. He has become associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory which has been linked to the  far-right. This theory states that a Satanic group of pedophiles is trying to take over the world and want to overthrow President Trump. 

Hildmann, claimed that the German chancellor has ordered the altar to be used for human sacrifices, carried out by a cabal of Satanists. According to  The Guardian , the former celebrity stated on his Telegraph account, “Fact! It is the throne of Baal (Satan).” Over the summer he told a large crowd that the altar in the Pergamon Museum was the “center of global Satanists and Corona criminals.” The vast majority of people may find this all ludicrous, but some people are giving credence to the claims.

Fear of Attacks from Far-Right in Germany

The activities of conspiracy theories are causing great concern in  Germany, especially the security services. Members of the Jewish community fear that the lies spread by conspiracy theorists could lead to an increase in anti-Semitism. The attacks on the artworks serves as a warning about the growing power of right-wing extremists in Germany, which given the nations’ history is very worrying. The government of Chancellor Merkel has passed stringent laws on defamation on social media and this was motivated in part by the need to counter the disinformation of the conspiracy theorists.

Top image: During a mysterious German museum attack, at least 70 priceless artifacts have been damaged on Museum Island in Berlin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is made up of the Altes Museum, the Bode-Museum, the Neues Museum, the Pergamon Museum and the Alte Nationalgalerie, seen here. Source:  Anna Pakutina  / Adobe Stock

By Ed Whelan

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