Last Wednesday, hundreds, if not thousands, of students ostensibly protesting poor conditions in German schools stormed the main building of Berlin’s historic Humboldt University: smashing windows, occupying seminar rooms, strewing rolls of toilet paper in the lobby and courtyard, and even setting at least one fire. Most astonishingly, the protesters also laid waste to an exhibit in the entry hall of the building devoted to the Nazi persecution of the Jews. The exhibit was titled “Betrayed and Sold: Jewish Businesses in Berlin 1933-1945.” According to reports on the German news site Spiegel-Online and in the popular German tabloid Bild, virtually all the poster boards making up the exhibit were damaged and, as photo evidence shows, some were fully ripped in two. Eyewitnesses cited by Spiegel-Online say that the rioters who destroyed the exhibit were adolescents around thirteen years old.
Interviewed by Spiegel-Online, a researcher at the university reported that when he informed rioters that the university had visitors from Israel and asked “What will they think?” one young man responded “F*ck Israel!” [Scheiß Israel] and proceeded to attack him. Reacting to suggestions that the students may not have realized what the subject of the exhibit was, police chief Peter-Michael Haeberer told Bild: “Leaving aside the fact that university employees and other witnesses pointed it out to them, even a dyslexic could not have failed to recognize that it was an exhibit about the persecution of the Jews. The perpetrators knew exactly what they were doing.” “Our assumption is that the exhibit was purposely attacked and that anti-Semitic motives were involved,” Haeberer added.
The incident occurred merely three days after Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German dignitaries solemnly commemorated the 70th anniversary of the infamous Kristallnacht pogroms, during which thousands of Jewish-owned shops and synagogues were destroyed throughout Germany. A German video report on the rioting from Spiegel-TV is available here. A six-part series of short amateur clips documenting the raucous scene inside and out front of the Humboldt building can be viewed here, here, here, here, here, and here. Spiegel puts the number of rioters at “up to a thousand.” But the video evidence suggests a larger number.