Health minister’s office vandalized by ‘Covid deniers’
German authorities are investigating after Health Minister Karl Lauterbach’s local constituency office in Cologne was vandalized on New Year’s Eve. He attributed the attack to radicalized Covid deniers and anti-vaxxers.
While state police have asked for witnesses to come forward, Lauterbach told the dpa news agency on Saturday that he suspected the same people had carried out previous attacks on the office and sent him threatening emails.
On December 10, the office had reportedly been smeared with slogans such as “Minister of Sickness,” “Murderer,” and “Psycho Lauterbach.” According to published reports and images of the second attack, a fist-sized hole appears to have been punched in one of the windows.
“These people do not represent society, where the overwhelming [majority] is really sticking together and trying to do everything against the pandemic,” Lauterbach, a member of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), said.
[The attackers] represent a very small splinter group that self-righteously believes that they have to take a different path here and that got lost in the process. That’s just sad.
Meanwhile, the office of Marco Wanderwitz, a lawmaker for the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) in the eastern state of Saxony, was also targeted. The windows of his office in the town of Zwönitz were heavily damaged, according to German media reports.
Wanderwitz told the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) that far-right radicals were “poisoning society” during the Covid-19 pandemic and had left “democracy in great danger.”
According to Deutsche Welle, Saxony and other eastern states have seen spikes in Covid cases, but are also among the country’s lowest vaccinated. There have also been heated protests in Saxony that grew more tense after the Bundestag passed a vaccine mandate for some professions in December.
There is also widespread skepticism over the government’s official Covid-19 data, with a new survey poll by Bild newspaper finding that 57% of respondents did not trust the statistics.