Berlin Woman Who Has Spent 30 Years Spray-Painting Hearts Over Nazi Graffiti Said She Has No Intention of Stopping, Despite Police Warnings
A Berlin woman has spent the last three decades spray-painting over neo-Nazi and other forms of racist graffiti with images of hearts, CNN reported on Saturday.
Irmela Schramm said she has removed or covered up more than 130,000 offensive signs across Germany and in six other countries, including Poland and Austria. The 70-year-old spends her time scouring the streets for offensive graphics with a scraper, nail polish remover and a can of red spray paint in hand. According to the report, she spends up to 17 hours each week transforming such “art.”
“I’m really concerned by this hate propaganda. And I want to take a stand,” said Schramm, who calls herself a “Polit-Putze,” or a “political cleaner.” She told CNN, “I could look at that swastika and and say, ‘Oh, that’s awful’ and walk by… Well, I don’t want to wait for someone else to do something about it.”
Schramm said her personal mission began 30 years ago, when she used her keys to scratch out a flyer supporting convicted Nazi war criminal Rudolph Hess, which was posted on her bus stop. “I just scrubbed the hate away until it was all gone,” she said. “It was a fantastic feeling afterwards. The mind pollution was gone.”
Schramm said she has been criticized for her actions, even receiving death threats from neo-Nazi groups. Police have warned her that she could be fined for her “provocative” defacement of public property. But she said that she intends to continue anyway.
“People tell me I am intolerant, that I don’t respect the far-right’s freedom of speech,” she said. “But I say, ‘Freedom of speech has limits. It ends where hatred and contempt for humanity begins.'”