This 70-Year-Old German Grandma Makes It Her Mission To Cover Up Hate Graffiti
Most people don’t like to see hateful graffiti, even if it’s not directed toward them personally, but they also probably don’t do anything about it. One Berlin grandma though has made it her mission to remove the hate graffiti she comes into contact with. Her method? She paints hearts over swastikas.
70-year-old Irmela Schramm has taken it upon herself to spray-paint hearts over neo-Nazi and racist graffiti in Berlin for the last 30 years. A self-dubbed “polit-putze” or a “political cleaner,” Schramm uses nail-polish remover, a scraper and spray paint to get rid of the hate graffiti she finds.
She spends 17 hours a week searching train stations, supermarket parking lots and playgrounds for such graffiti, which she then changes into a more loving image. She even hunts for hate graffiti in other cities and towns throughout the country.
Schramm carries her supplies in a canvas bag with the words “Against Nazis” written across it, a fitting message for a woman who actively removes banned Nazi symbols, anti-immigrant catchphrases and political stickers.
When she finds the hate graffiti, she takes a picture or makes note of it, sometimes holding onto hate stickers. Over the years she has removed over 130,000 signs and stickers put up by Germany’s radical right, and the German Historical Museum has even exhibited 80 binders of her collected material.
Schramm began removing the material in 1986 when she saw a sticker at her bus stop that demanded the release of Rudolf Hess, the imprisoned Nazi war criminal.
It bothered her all day long, and when she returned in the evening, she noticed it was still there. She removed it and felt better, and thus began many years of removing far-right propaganda.
Her good deeds sometimes come at a cost: She has been assaulted a few times, and she has even been threatened with fines by the police. But she also receives hugs and thanks from strangers, which make her good deeds more than worth it.