Next Sunday, Germany will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. One important memorial, however, is likely to be missing: a selection of seven crosses which were dedicated to people killed at the Wall while trying to flee East Germany. On Monday, political activists belonging to a group called "Center for Political Beauty" claimed they had stolen the crosses and distributed photos showing them at border fences that are supposed to prevent Middle Eastern and North African refugees from entering European soil.
The activists want to raise attention for the fate of those dying while trying to flee to Europe these days. Tens of thousands of people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea within the last years, and the EU is currently considering stopping its rescue program for refugees whose boats capsize before they reach European soil.
The activists who claimed responsibility for the action said Monday that they wanted to protest the "murderous exterior walls." On their Web site, the activists call upon policymakers to prepare for the fall of the "European Wall."
On Friday, the activists plan to travel to an unspecified part of the EU border, and to symbolically tear it down.
While the activists' plans might be more extensive, Berlin's police department is already investigating the theft of the memorial crosses as an incident of "particularly severe case of theft." However, the activists' plan has also found supporters. German news site Spiegel Online published an article pointing to the fact that at least $1.5 million will be spent on decorating the former course of the Berlin Wall with illuminated balloons Nov. 9, while refugees continue to languish in the margins due to a lack of funding and political willingness.
Whether or not the theft of Berlin Wall memorials is justifiable can be questioned. Some of the white crosses which were stolen were marked with the names of some of those who were shot at the inner-German border. Supporters of refugee rights nevertheless argue that drastic measures are necessary to raise attention for the suffering outside of EU borders.
The Monday PR stunt coincided with the discovery of 24 bodies in the proximity of Istanbul's Bosphorus strait. The victims are believed to have been on a boat carrying illegal migrants on their way to Europe.
Estimates of the number of refugees who were killed while trying to reach Europe vary widely. In one of the most frequently cited studies, a joint research project of European journalists recently found that at least 23,000 people had lost their lives over the last 14 years.