SOME OF THE POSITIVE STORIES COMING OUR WAY
Scrubbing out hate
SOCIETY Visiting cities all over Germany, 71-year-old Berliner Irmela Mensah-Schramm (pictured) spends several days a week searching for banned Nazi symbols and anti-immigration slogans, which she then erases. In her bag, she carries red paint, nail polish remover and a scraper. If she sees a painted swastika, she turns it into a red heart instead.
Her mission started 31 years ago, when she was shocked to discover a sticker at her local bus stop calling for the release of Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess. Finding it still there on her way home, she scraped it off with her keychain. Over the next three decades, she continued to take action against neo-Nazi propaganda, removing more than 130,000 offensive signs and stickers.
Her work is not without risks: she’s been assaulted a few times and last year was threatened with a €1,800 fine for defacing public property.
But she is unrepentant. “I’m really concerned by this hate propaganda. And I want to take a stand,” she says. “Freedom of speech has limits. It ends where hatred and contempt for humanity begin.”
“I am not here to be a champion. I am here to prove
that at 105 years old you can still ride a bike.”