Berlin Museum Artifact Damage


Markus Schreiber

(Photo By : Markus Schreiber)

Karyna Hetman

On Saturday, October 3, 63 artifacts in the Berlin Museum Island were defaced, resulting in a crime that remains much of a mystery. The investigation is still ongoing for the suspect or suspects that are to blame for the destruction of Berlin’s precious artifacts in the Pergamon, Alte Nationalgalerie, and Neue museums. Theories are being drawn, connecting the damage to a German conspiracy theorist who might have prompted his followers to target a particular Berlin museum.

October 3 is a national German holiday because it marks the reunification of the formerly separated East and West Germany. Partially due to this holiday, over 3,000 people visited the Berlin Museum Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the Pergamon, Alte Nationalgalerie, and Neue museums. Authorities believe on this day a suspect or group of suspects stained 63 artifacts with an oily liquid that has been identified but is not being named by investigators. Investigators believe the staining of the artifacts was done by a water bottle, water gun, or clown flower to discreetly spray the historical pieces with the mystery substance. Among the damaged treasures were an Egyptian sarcophagus, 19th-century paintings, and stone sculptures–now all visibly marked and damaged. Investigators have not yet found any links among the objects that were damaged. Thankfully, none of the museums’ most famously known exhibits were touched, such as it’s 3,500-year-old limestone and stucco bust of Queen Nefertiti of Egypt. 

With the investigation still in progress, Carsten Pfohl, the criminal director at the State Criminal Police Office, says authorities have not been notified of any possible suspects caught from the security camera footage. Although visitors enter the museum in time slots, no one is required to leave personal information, and the only way this could be known is from visitors who make reservations online. Upon finding the damages, police asked that anyone present in the three museums on October 3 come forward with any information they may have that could lead to a possible clue. While this might look to be effective, Casrsten Pfohl says “To this day, we are not able to pinpoint exactly when the objects were damaged”, opening the investigation up for more possibilities as to when this could have taken place. 

There is a theory that this act of vandalism is linked to German conspiracy theorist, Attola Hildmann, who has, on multiple occasions, preached to his followers his suspicions about Berlin’s Pergamon Museum being connected to global Satanism. He supports the QAnon theories and sent a message to his tens of thousands of followers that called for mass destruction of the museum that hosts the Pergamon Altar, which the QAnon theorists believe is the throne of Satan described in the Book of Revelation. “Go for it, charge me”, says Hildmann to his prosecutors; however Officer Pfohl and the Berlin National Museums refuse to comment on Hildmann and his theories. 

Although the search for a culprit and proper explanation is still undergoing investigation, Markus Farr, spokesman for the National Museums in Berlin, says “The museums are open as usual throughout, and most of the damaged objects have been cleaned” and that damage “…would not be noticed”.