Palestinian Solidarity Activists Attack Downtown Berlin Weapons Industry Targets

Berlin, Germany — In the middle of the night on Sunday, March 17, a group of anarchist Palestinian solidarity activists spray painted a building in downtown Berlin containing the offices of two entities currently contributing to the ongoing genocide in Gaza. The activists used a converted fire extinguisher to blast the building facade with red paint, and tag other parts of the building with pro-Palestine graffiti. 

The offices at Friedrichstraße 60 in Berlin are home to ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), which manufactures the Israeli Navy’s Sa’ar 6 corvettes, warships that allow the Navy to bomb Gaza from the sea.

Red paint seen on the entrance to Friedrichstraße 60 in downtown Berlin during the daytime on Monday, March 18, 2024.

The Friedrichstraße 60 building also contains the offices of Bundesverband der Deutschen Sicherheits- und Verteidigungsindustrie, a lobbying group for German weapons manufacturers known as BDSV

To find out more about the action and the broader context from which it arose, Unicorn Riot interviewed several participants who took part in the action, who responded to written questions collectively. All respondents requested to be quoted anonymously for their safety.

Unicorn Riot: Tell us about the recent action.

Anonymous Participants: Our autonomous crew has been researching arms dealers and locations of those responsible for what’s happening in Gaza, with the determination to hold them accountable. They have blood on their hands. Now we put it on their front doors.

We especially wanted to target this building after a recent demonstration on the 11th of March called “Stop Arming Israel,” led by other Palestine solidarity activists. It brought attention to this address being the headquarters to the largest lobby for weapons manufacturers in Germany.

BDSV is a lobby group that advocates for the interests of the German defense industry and represents many arms companies, including Rheinmetall, Diehl Defence, Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems, Kraussmaffei and more. Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems, whose office is in this building, builds submarines and warships for the Israeli Navy. These warships are being used right now to attack Gaza. 

UR: What motivated you to act?

Anonymous Participants: We are heartbroken and infuriated and couldn’t stay passive in the face of ongoing colonial violence and genocide. There are extremely high stakes in this fight. As anarchists, we believe fighting to free Palestine is fighting to free us all from the brutality of state power and settler colonialism. 

Everyday, we see on our screens people being killed by the hundreds. We see them dying of organized starvation or being bombed when waiting for food aid. We see hospitals, infrastructure, schools, being demolished in a clear attempt to leave nothing for the Palestinian people to return to, to clear Palestine off the map.

We often feel powerless at demonstrations in Berlin and will make those in power listen by any means necessary. It’s past time to escalate. We must ensure a stop of the genocide as fast as possible. 

And we will prevail. We are part of a bigger international movement organizing to stop the war machinery in its tracks: comrades shutting down arms factories in the UK and the US, the Yemeni blockading​​​​​​​ of the Red Sea, dockworkers in Italy, Belgium and Spain stopping delivery of military goods to Israel, Indian unions organizing against labor deals with Israel, boycotts and protests all around the Middle East, McDonalds losing huge profits in Egypt and elsewhere, etc. We hope that this is one of many actions that will take place in Germany, and that others will join us in making accountable the people in our city responsible for the murder of thousands of Palestinians.

UR: What is the connection between German companies and the ongoing ethnic cleansing occurring in Palestine?

Anonymous Participants: Germany is Israel’s second biggest arms supplier, supplying 28% of Israel’s weapons, including warships, aircraft, tanks, missiles, submarines, engines, and military vehicles. Weapons exports from Germany to Israel have increased tenfold since 2023, mostly since October. The German government subsidizes this as military aid and directly funds the weapons used to massacre the people of Gaza. For example, 1/3 of the price of the warships sold by our target ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems are subsidized by the German government. This is about more than trade. Germany is gifting weapons to Israel and actively participating in the genocide. 

Along with our target TKMS and arms lobby BDSV, the streets of Berlin’s city centre are riddled with the offices of German, U.S. and Israeli companies profitting from the genocide of Palestinians: Rheinmetall, Hensoldt, Diehl Defence, MTU Aero Engines, Lockheed Martin, Elbit Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries, as well as the German company Siemens, which provides technology and equipment to Israeli prisons and is in regular business with Israeli authorities for population and traffic control in the occupied West Bank. We hope our action inspires further targeting of these companies. 

UR: Is there a historical reason why it feels particularly important for Germans to act in solidarity with Palestine in this moment? 

Anonymous Participants: In part, the state of Israel exists because of Germany’s violence during the Holocaust and WWII. Germans therefore have an especially strong responsibility to fight the genocide that is happening in Gaza.

Despite this, Germany is once again on the wrong side of history. Germany has continuously backed Israel on a global stage, going so far as to claim this position as Germany’s “Staatsräson” (reason of state). Manifest here is a logic of German guilt: since we [Germans] were responsible for the systematic extermination of the Jewish people during the Holocaust, we [Germans] have a special ‘historical responsibility’ to support Israel.

With this being said, antisemitism is still alive and well in German society. It is seen clearly in the presence of right-wing extremists and neo-Nazi networks in the parliament and police forces, as well as in the troubling abstraction of Jewishness by those who have been trained to ‘remember’ the Holocaust in particular ways, but know very little about the history of Zionism nor the cultural diversity within the contemporary Jewish diaspora. The excuse that support for Israel apologizes for the horrors of the Holocaust has failed to address this deeper and ongoing antisemitism in Germany. 

Since October 7th, the existing state political discourse around ‘imported antisemitism’ has grown stronger. Despite the fact that the grand majority of antisemitic crimes in Germany are committed by the white German far-right–for example 95% in 2020–German politicians frame antisemitism as coming from the non-E.U. migrants that have moved here in the past decades. When in reality, it has more to do with the fact that Germany never truly de-Nazified.

Behind all of this ideology is Germany’s much longer colonial and racist legacy. There have never been reparations made or ‘justice’ served for the Herero and Nama genocide committed in Namibia in the early 20th century. And presently, the German state is a leader in Europe’s militarized border regimes and systematic anti-refugee/migrant discrimination. 

If Germans want to meaningfully undermine the genocidal legacies of empire, then the answer is clear: they must untangle themselves from the propaganda of the German state and begin to reflect on how deeply embedded racism is in the social being of German identity. If disavowing Zionism means disavowing Germanness, then perhaps it is time to consider this prospect. 

UR: Help us understand the context for this action. What is the Palestinian solidarity movement in Berlin like?

Anonymous Participants: The Palestinian solidarity movement here is in a difficult position because of Germany’s political culture around Palestine/Israel. Even the (non-international/non-migrant) left has aligned itself with the German political elite, based on the premise that Germany’s post-Holocaust responsibility requires the unconditional support of the Israeli state. As a result, the Palestinian solidarity movement has been marginalized and under attack both by repressive state actors as well as the white German left. 

Part of the left’s support for Zionism can be attributed to the prominent ‘Antideutsche’ movement, whose anti-fascism is deeply intertwined with their support of a Zionist state. While it may sound surreal to radicals the whole world over, it’s ‘normal’ in Germany to see anti-fascist flags flown next to Israeli flags at demos, or to have self-described leftists organizing demos in solidarity with Israel. People from the Antideutsch scene have physically attacked Palestine solidarity events and activists (including anti-Zionist Jewish activists), and called the cops on Palestinian people carrying Palestinian flags. Late last year, there was an attack by white leftists on a radical BIPOC collective space in Leipzig, where they broke their windows, threw pig fat, and left behind a statement claiming this Islamophobia was ‘anti-fascism.’

Even for German activists who are not outwardly pro-Israel, there is a widespread discomfort with being associated with any criticism of Israel, which has caused many political groups to fracture over the last few months. Most of us have gotten into fights at home, in our political organizations, in our friendship groups, and/or at work. Despite there being a small number of anti-Zionist German groups, the Palestine solidarity movement is primarily made up of internationals and migrants who may risk deportation after arrest. This gives the movement unique obstacles.

Lastly, Berlin is home to one of the largest Palestinian diasporic communities in Europe, and here solidarity with migrants should mean solidarity with Palestine.

UR: What has repression been like against Palestinian solidarity activists in Germany?

Anonymous Participants: Repression against Palestinian solidarity in Germany has been systematically enforced for a long time. From the streets, to the Parliament, to cultural and educational institutions. Yet since October, police intimidation, house raids, new laws, and arrests without clear legal basis have escalated to extremes. Police commonly follow protesters after a demonstration — mostly young Palestinian men, and beat them up or arrest them. Using a slogan such as “from the river to the sea” routinely results in arrests. Activist groups and individuals have experienced spontaneous police raids and the confiscation of electronics.

NGOs that support Palestine, and institutions such as the cultural center Oyoun, led mostly by migrants and BIPoC people, have been shut down and had their state funding cut. Artists and academics have been canceled from events or lost their funding for their solidarity with Palestine, even for social media posts. Notably, Jews make up about 1% of Germany’s population, but have been the target for 30% of ‘cancellations’ in German arts and culture, claiming that Jewish people themselves are antisemitic for supporting Palestine. ​​​​Activists have been the targets of mainstream media doxxing campaigns that threaten their safety, both Palestinians and anti-Zionist Jews. 

Laws are being proposed that make getting a German passport or visa extension difficult if the state can find evidence that you are pro-Palestinian. Student movements organizing for Palestine have been framed hatefully, with Berlin’s universities are currently debating a law to allow “politically-motivated expulsion” in the Higher Education Act. 

Even young schoolchildren have been impacted. Kuffiyehs are forbidden in schools, and flyers were distributed in elementary schools in migrant neighbourhoods that propose to ‘debunk’ the Nakba, calling it a myth, while propagating right-wing settler framings in support of Israel. This is psychic warfare against youth. In Nordrhein-Westfallen teachers are even asked to report to police if a child expresses that Israel is commiting genocide.

All this goes to say — the repression is extreme, fascist and out-right terrifying. And it’s only getting worse. 

UR: If there are Jews involved in your action, and you feel comfortable talking about that, please do. 

Anonymous Participants: There is one person in the crew with Jewish ancestry and a strong connection to Judaism. Their Jewishness only fuels their dedication to the liberation of all people, both Jews and Palestinians. We will not let our ancestors’ suffering be weaponized today in Palestine.

UR: Anything you want to say that I’m missing?

Anonymous Participants: If you want to understand more about the history of the situation in Germany, we could suggest the following resources:

Learn more about social issues in Germany! Check out Unicorn Riot’s 2021 mini-doc ‘One Year After George Floyd in Europe: The Deep Roots of Racism in Germany‘:

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