Outrage: City of Cologne removes genocide memorial

The administrative court rejected an urgent request from the Cologne initiative “Remembrance of genocide – preventing wars”. This had demanded that the memorial, which was left on April 24 after a commemoration on Heinrich-Böll-Platz, could remain there. According to the court, however, there was no permission to erect the sculpture there in reference to the Armenian Genocide of 1915/16.

No driving license

In principle, a permit under traffic law is required to install the sculpture in the public space of the street. The administrative court announced that the applicants had not made the request before the erection of the sculpture.

The initiators have been trying to anchor the sculpture in Cologne’s public space since 2018. But the city has regularly dismantled them, including this year. “After the memorial ceremony on April 24, the memorial remained standing at the request of many well-wishers”, announced the initiative. Because the city is after “four years of conversations, inquiries, requests, submissions, resolutions” not moved, the decision was made to withdraw it again.

Özdemir with heavy criticism

Also Minister of Agriculture Cem Ozdemir (Greens) attended the commemoration and laid flowers. He criticizes the decision of the administrative court as follows: “The retreat of liberal democracies, for fear of big and small dictators and their local representatives, must finally end”he tweeted at Cologne lawyer and publicist Ilias Uyar, one of the initiative’s supporters.

About 1.5 million people murdered

The memorial bears the inscription in Armenian, Turkish, German and English “This pain affects us all“. In the Ottoman Empire, approximately 1.5 million people of Armenian descent were murdered in 1915 and 1916. For decades, Armenians demanded that the international community recognize the atrocities as genocide. The Bundestag the did in a resolution in 2016. Turkey has refused to do so to this day.

Deliberate proximity to the Kaiser equestrian statue

According to the initiators, the Cologne memorial was deliberately erected near the equestrian statue of Kaiser Wilhelm II because the German Reich did not prevent the Armenian Genocide in 1915/16 and even participated in it.

Cologne lawyer and publicist Ilias Uyar tweeted his dismay at the sculpture’s immediate removal: “The first German memorial, which deals with Germany’s complicity in the Armenian Genocide under Wilhelm II, has been removed by the city of Cologne with immediate effect, despite ongoing proceedings before the Higher Administrative Court. The anti-Semite and the Guillaume II genocide on the pedestal can remain!”

The initiative now hopes that the higher administrative court will overturn the decision of the administrative court.

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