70+ artefacts damaged in coordinated attack on Berlin's Museum Island

70+ artefacts damaged in coordinated attack on Berlin's Museum Island

At least 70 objects housed in institutions on Berlin’s Museum Island have been deliberately damaged in an apparent coordinated attack, German police confirmed on Wednesday morning.

Vandalism in numerous museums in Berlin

One or more unknown perpetrators are said to have sprayed at least 70 objects in the Pergamon Museum, the Neues Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie and other locations with an oily liquid, in what German newspaper Zeit described as “one of the most extensive attacks on works of art and antiquities in the history of post-war Germany.” 

The damaged objects, which include Egyptian sarcophagi, stone sculptures and 19th-century paintings, have been left visibly stained. The incidents are said to have occurred on October 3, the public holiday that marks German Reunification (German Unity Day), but have only just been made public. It is unclear whether the day was chosen on purpose. 

At the request of Zeit and Deutschlandfunk, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and Berlin police confirmed that some artefacts had been damaged, and that investigations are ongoing. According to the Tagesspiegel, visitors who attended the museums on October 3 have been contacted by the State of Criminal Investigation (LKA) to ask for their assistance. 

Speculation about conspiracy theorist motives

Initially, nothing was known about the motives of the perpetrator or perpetrators. However, both Zeit and Deutschlandfunk have drawn attention to a number of messages written by Attila Hildmann, a known conspiracy ideologist. In September and October he had apparently claimed on his public Telegram channel that the Pergamon Museum was the “Throne of Satan” and the centre of the “global Satanist scene and corona criminals.” These speculations have not been addressed by Berlin police. 

Museum Island in Berlin has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. The Pergamon Museum, which is one of the island’s foremost attractions, bringing in well over a million visitors each year, celebrated its 90th birthday in October. It is named after its most famous exhibit, the Pergamon Altar, a monumental construction dating from the 2nd century BC that was part of the residence of the mighty kings of Pergamon. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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