November 19, 2019

German Judge Fines Woman for Painting Over Neo-Nazi Graffiti

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A German judge issued a $330 fine on Oct. 9 to a 74-year-old woman for covering up an instance of neo-Nazi graffiti in December.

The woman, Irmela Mensah-Schramm, is known as the “Graffiti Grandma” for constantly covering such graffiti for years. A complaint had been filed against for painting over the words “NS-Zone” with a heart; the “NS” is short for national socialism, which is what the Nazis called themselves.

The court offered Mensah-Schramm a deal for her to give more than $500 to a series of charities instead of paying the fine; Mensah-Schramm rebuffed the offer, telling a German broadcaster that taking the deal would send a message that her actions were wrong. She plans to appeal the fine.

Mensah-Schramm first removed a sticker that read “Freedom for Rudolf Hess,” who was the deputy to Adolf Hitler from 1933-41, in 1986. Since retiring from teaching special education in 2006, Mensah-Schramm has ramped up her activism, carrying a scraper and spray-paint at all times in case she sees graffiti or stickers promulgating neo-Nazi messages.

Freedom of speech has limits,” Mensah-Schramm told CNN in 2016. “It ends where hatred and contempt for humanity begins.”