Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Berlin resident turns propaganda into expressions of love

Berlin resident Irmela Schramm is a septugenerian on a mission. Armed with a scraper, nail polish remover, and a can of red spray paint in her 'Anti-Nazi' bag, Schramm has turned hate-filled propaganda into words of love and support for more than 30 years. 

It all started for her one morning decades ago. A poster supporting convicted Nazi war criminal Rudolph Hess was plastered to a wall at her neighborhood bus stop. When it was still there on her return trip that evening, she was moved to act. She scraped it off with her house keys. She reports feeling fantastic afterward, knowing that she removed the 'mind pollution.' 

Since then she has single-handedly removed over 130,000 expressions of hate. She uses spray paint to turn swastikas into hearts. She changes the wording of posters and graffiti to include expressions of support and kindness. 

Her efforts has met with mixed support. She has been hugged by strangers and received threats from neo-Nazi groups. Police have at times been bemused and have at other times threatened charges for defacement of property. Some community members have decried her activities as destruction of free speech. 

Schramm doesn't see it that way. She told CNN, "Freedom of speech has limits. It ends where hatred and contempt for humanity begins."

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