The grave of former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was defaced with swastika graffiti on Friday in Hamburg.
Police are currently searching for vandals who painted swastikas in orange paint on the grave of former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and his wife Loki on Friday.
The police said that the graffiti was “immediately cleaned up” and that an investigation has been launched to determine the identity of the perpetrators. Given the involvement of a former chancellor, German state security services are also investigating the incident, broadcaster NTV reports.
The vandalism comes amid a string of similar incidents throughout Europe following the October 7th Hamas terror attacks on Israel, with Stars of David being painted on the homes of Jewish people and swastikas being painted on Jewish cemeteries.
Interior Minister Nancy Faeser condemned the defacing of the grave, writing on social media: “What a despicable and historically illiterate act. Helmut and Loki Schmidt always stood up against inhumanity, racism and anti-semitism.”
Helmut Schmidt served as Chancellor of West Germany for the left-wing Social Democrat Party (SPD) from 1974 to 1982, the same political party as current Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Schmidt was a leading force for European political and economic integration, however, later in life, he was a vocal critic of the expanding power of the European Commission and attempts to expand the bloc. Before his death in 2015, Schmidt remained one of the more popular politicians in Germany.
Wir leben nun in einem Land, in dem selbst der Sozialdemokrat Helmut Schmidt als Nazi gilt.
Was ist los mit diesem Land? pic.twitter.com/BXJC7igtfJ
— Ali Utlu (@AliCologne) December 23, 2023
However, controversy remains about Schmidt’s life before entering politics, particularly his role as an officer in the Wehrmacht (the armed forces of Germany) during World War II. German historian Sabine Pamperrien has claimed that the former Chancellor also spent years as a leader in the Hitler Youth. According to Pamperrien, Schmidt received a commendation in 1942 for having “irreproachable National Socialist behaviour” and in 1943 was praised for having a “perfect Nazi attitude”.
For his part, Schmidt maintained that he was a “Nazi opponent” and said in a 2013 interview with the New York Times that he only discovered the true horrors of the Nazi regime, such as the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Dachau after the war was over.
The story of his life is further complicated by Schmidt having had Jewish ancestry, with his father Gustav having been the illegitimate son of a Jewish banker, a fact that was not revealed to the public until after Schmidt left office.
In a joint statement released on Saturday, the Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt Foundation, the Helmut and Loki Schmidt Foundation and the Loki Schmidt Foundation condemned the desecration of the grave of the former chancellor.
“Smearing swastikas on the gravestone of Loki and Helmut Schmidt is a criminal offence in several respects. Above all, however, this mindless vandalism is a massive attempt to damage the memory of the two who found their final resting place in the Ohlsdorf cemetery in Hamburg. Both Loki and Helmut Schmidt have always campaigned for freedom, democracy and international understanding. They resolutely rejected inhumane tyranny and anti-Semitism.”
Jewish Cemetery Set on Fire and Defaced with Swastika and Hitler Graffiti in Austria https://t.co/jCeVcfuQln
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 2, 2023