Last Friday, 48-year old neo-Nazi Henry Hafenmayer was laid to rest at the gravesite of professor Max Friedlaender who died from a stroke in 1934.
Though Professor Friedlaender’s remains were moved to a separate site in 1980, his headstone remained on the plot as it was declared a listed monument, reported DW. Burial plots in Germany are reused after the leases of the gravesites are not renewed after a period of 10 or 20 years, BBC reported.
The burial ceremony of Hafenmayer, held at Stahnsdorf South-Western cemetery in Brandenburg, was attended by rightwing extremists including Horst Mahler, who spent around a decade in jail for repeated incitement to racial hatred and Holocaust denial, a crime in Germany.
The attendants also placed a portrait of Hafenmayer in front of Friedlaender’s shrouded tombstone. Neo-Nazis also laid wreaths on the grave with nationalist messages and ribbons with Nazi-era cross symbols.
Conceding to misjudging the situation, Bishop Christian Stäblein issued a statement: “The burial of a Holocaust denier on the gravesite of Max Friedlaender is a terrible mistake and a shocking event in view of our history.”
He added: “We must immediately see if we can make up for this, and how.”
Samuel Salzborn, the official in charge of combating anti-Semitism in Berlin, launched legal action against the mourner and moved a criminal complaint at the justice department for allegedly disturbing “the eternal peace through interment of a Holocaust denier”.
Additionally, police arrested a man wanted on two warrants during an identity check in the vicinity of the cemetery. He apparently belonged “to the Reich citizen scene,” a group related to Reich Citizens’ Movement that rejects the legitimacy of modern German federal republic, reported DW.
According to the church, the representatives for Hafenmayer had requested a more centrally located burial plot. The request however, was turned down as the management feared that it would become a rallying point for rightwing extremist, reported the Guardian.
The graveyard management granted a follow-up request on the principle that every human being has “a right for a final resting place”.
Brandenburg Interior Minister Michael Stübgen also slammed the church’s decision saying “the allocation of this gravesite to a Holocaust denier is a fatal mistake and lacks any sense of tact.”