The city council of Cologne in Germany has dismantled the long-standing memorial to the Armenian genocide in the city, bowing to the persistent demands of Turkish-led campaigns for its removal.
The monument, a poignant symbol of the systematic mass killings and forced deportations of the Armenian population by the Ottoman Empire during and after World War I, has disappeared under the weight of a municipal policy that, in what critics say is a disregard for ethics, succumbed to the sheer power of numbers and pressure from the Turkish government.
Cologne, with its significant Turkish community, has become a stronghold of the National Vision movement, which is openly linked to the Turkish government and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“The city of Cologne has finally removed a monument commemorating the Armenian genocide. Cologne has a small Armenian community, but above all it has a large Turkish community,” said French journalist Guillaume Perrier on his X account.
French senator Valérie Boyer also expressed concern, arguing that the removal was primarily a response to pressure from the Turkish government and concessions from the German right, in particular the CDU’s support for groups such as the Grey Wolves and National Vision to counter the influence of the left among Turkish immigrants.
The monument to the Armenian genocide, which is not recognised by Turkey, has been dismantled and rebuilt on several occasions due to continued hostility from Turkish nationalists. The city of Cologne had previously cited various reasons, including the creation of a cycle path or the risk of “social unrest”, to justify its removal.
The final blow appears to have come at the end of October during a demonstration by far-right Turkish nationalists, which prompted the city of Cologne to declare that “the monument must be removed”.
Germany recognised the Armenian genocide in 2016.