Tania Bruguera’s Reading of Hannah Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism” Disrupted by Pro-Palestine Protestors
The artist and activist Tania Bruguera’s non-stop reading of Hannah Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism” at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin was halted on Saturday (10 February) after pro-Palestine protestors disrupted the event. Bruguera’s 100-hour reading of Arendt’s analysis of the conditions that led to the Nazi and Soviet totalitarian regimes began on 7 February and was due to end on 11 February. She invited artists, activists, members of the public, and more to take part in the reading, which took place around the clock.
Protestors Interrupt Performance
A statement posted on Instagram by Hamburger Bahnhof says: “On 10 February, Hamburger Bahnhof was attacked twice by members of a political activist group who disrupted Bruguera’s performance entitled ‘Where Your Ideas Become Civic Actions—100 Hours Reading The Origins of Totalitarianism’.”
Incidents of Hate Speech and Violence
The statement adds: “The first incident occurred between 2 pm and 3 pm when the group who had registered to be part of the reading took advantage of the performance to use hate speech. The second incident happened between 8 pm and 9 pm when members of the same group returned and used violent hate speech towards one of the readers and one of the museum directors.
Closure of Performance
“In these circumstances, the open dialogue that is the intent of this performance is no longer possible. This morning, the artist decided to close the performance in standing up against hate speech and any form of violence.”
Controversial Slogan Criminalized
The journalist Mirna Funk said in an Instagram story that “Hamburger Bahnhof was completely unable for 12 minutes to get rid of a group who openly screamed the prohibited phrase, ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’… Bruguera tried to tell them how much she has done for Palestinians.”
The use of the controversial slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” has been criminalized in Berlin as it is seen as a form of incitement to hate.
An account known as Thawra posted a film showing the protestors shouting “no more normalization of Zionism” in front of people attending the reading. Bruguera is