Unknown vandals defaced a famous mural on remnants of the Berlin Wall with anti-Semitic graffiti.
The attack comes during a week when several thousand Jewish visitors are participating in the first ever European Maccabi Games to be held in Germany.
The mural, originally painted in 1988 as a reminder of the 40th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom in Nazi Germany, features an Israeli flag superimposed on a German one.
The artist, Günther Schaefer, most recently restored the outdoor artwork last March. It reportedly has been defaced at least 51 times over the years - usually by neo-Nazis, extreme left-wingers, racists and Islamic extremists, but also by a-political vandals, the artist told reporters. He has documented many of the defacements on his website.
This time, police quickly covered the graffiti with a scaffold after the vandalism was spotted on Friday, and the artist restored his work on Sunday, according to German news reports.
Schaefer said in a Facebook post that the police reaction – to secure the mural with chain and lock – took him by surprise. He invited followers to join him on Sunday and help touch up his mural – once again.
German media has speculated that the incident has something to do with the visit to Berlin this week of some 3,000 Jews from around the world, including athletes and spectators of the 14th European Maccabi Games.
According to an online report by rbb broadcasting company, a group of Jewish youth was subjected to a verbal anti-Semitic attack near one of the sports venues, and in another incident police arrested a man of Arab background who hurled anti-Semitic insults at two guards outside the hotel where most of the athletes are staying. Security – already heavy – was further tightened, rbb reported.