Berlin Wall crosses stolen to protest EU border deaths

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German artistic group Center for Political Beauty released a photo on November 3, 2014, of the so-called White Crosses memorial for the Berlin Wall victims hanging on a fence on the Bulgarian border with Turkey

German artistic group Center for Political Beauty released a photo on November 3, 2014, of the so-called White Crosses memorial for the Berlin Wall victims hanging on a fence on the Bulgarian border with Turkey (AFP Photo/John MacDougall)

Berlin (AFP) - Pro-refugee activists in Germany have stolen seven memorial crosses for people killed at the Berlin Wall and moved them to spots on the EU's borders, they and police said Monday.

The action was meant to protest the "murderous exterior walls" of the EU that had claimed many thousands of lives, said a spokesman for the activist art collective "Centre for Political Beauty."

The white, cross-shaped signs bore the names and death dates of people killed while trying to flee communist East Germany, a regime that collapsed after the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago next Sunday.

The seven signs were unscrewed from their frames set in a metal fence on the south bank of Berlin's Spree River near the site of the Reichstag building housing the lower house of parliament.

"We have moved the crosses to safety," said the group's Philipp Ruch, adding that some had been taken to EU borders in Bulgaria and others to the Spanish exclave of Melilla in North Africa.

Ruch also said the group and supporters would on Friday travel by bus to a secret place along the EU frontier with a plan "to dismantle the borders with bolt cutters."

On their website the group said the action would coincide with weekend celebrations marking the collapse of the Iron Curtain in Berlin a quarter-century ago.

"While in Berlin balloons will rise into the air and nostalgic, sedative speeches will be held, German civil society will in an act of political beauty bring down the European external walls," the group said in an online statement, adding that "the European Curtain must fall."

Berlin police said they were investigating the disappearance of the cross-shaped memorial plaques as "a particularly severe case of theft" with "a political motivation."

On Monday, at least 21 people drowned and a dozen were missing when an overloaded boat taking migrants towards EU waters sank in the Black Sea just off Istanbul, Turkish officials said.