German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has criticized the apparent vandalism of local constituency offices on New Year’s Eve, German media reported Sunday.
Lauterbach, a member of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), said a window in his office in the western city of Cologne had been smashed.
The vandals also targeted the office of parliamentarian Marco Vanderwitz, a center-right Christian Democrat (CDU) MP in eastern Saxony. The windows of Vanderwitz’s office in the town of Zwenitz were severely damaged.
Marco Vanderwitz’s office in Zwenitz was severely damaged on New Year’s Eve
Minister: ‘These people do not represent society’
The federal health minister told German news agency dpa on New Year’s Day that he assumed the new attacks were from people angry over coronavirus restrictions.
His office in Cologne was also attacked on December 10 with slogans such as “Sick Minister”, “Murderer” and “Psycho Lauterbach”.
And on January 1st he said:
The perpetrators of these attacks “represent a very small sectarian group,” Lauterbach added.
democracy under attack
Meanwhile, Mr Vanderwitz told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) that these incidents showed that far-right radicalization during the COVID pandemic was putting democracy in great danger.
“The Free Saxons, a group of right-wing extremists associated with the NPD and the AfD, have been polluting Saxon society for months,” the lawmaker said, citing the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) and the far-right alternative For Germany (AfD).
Saxony and other East German states have been hit hard by the surge in COVID cases, but they also have some of the lowest vaccination coverage in the country. After Congress passed vaccines mandatory for some occupations last December, the state saw violent protests that turned even more aggressive.
Politicians such as CDU Secretary General Paul Zimiak, Green Party Michael Körner and the newly appointed East German parliamentary secretary Carsten Schneider (SPD) all expressed solidarity with Wanderwitz.
“There is no reason to justify [the violence]This attack is not a form of protest, it’s just a criminal act,” Zimiak wrote on Twitter.
Mr Kellner echoed those sentiments, posting on Twitter that “violence is not a debate for democracy.”
German authorities are currently investigating and are asking potential witnesses in both cities to come forward.
This report was written in part using materials from the news agency dpa.
Editing: Rebecca Staudenmeyer