Berlin to protect Holocaust memorial after vandalism
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany has promised to strengthen security at the Holocaust Memorial in the heart of Berlin after a video published on the Internet showed a man urinating and people launching fireworks from its grey concrete structure on New Year's Eve.
"The incidents are outrageous and to be deplored," German Culture Minister Monika Gruetters was quoted as saying by Bild newspaper on Thursday.
A foundation that supervises the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which was opened in 2005, will talk to police and arrange tighter security, Gruetters said.
On New Year's Eve, when hundreds of thousands of tourists and locals gather to celebrate at the nearby Brandenburg Gate, a man was filmed urinating from the top of one of the 2,711 giant concrete slabs that constitute the Holocaust Memorial.
Although the monument, which is next door to the U.S. embassy, has in the past been vandalized by neo-Nazis who daubed it with swastikas, police did not see a political motive behind the latest incidents.
"The behavior is disgusting, disorderly, stupid - but it does not constitute a crime," police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said, adding that they would not press charges.
Under German law, urinating in public can only be punished with a fine at most.
The memorial, which is not fenced in, is usually patrolled by two members of the foundation that looks after it, who were reinforced by four more people on New Year's Eve.
The memorial with its "Field of Stelae" honors the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis and was designed by American architect Peter Eisenman.
(Reporting by Thomas Seythal; Editing by Stephen Brown and Raissa Kasolowsky)
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