The protesters sawed off the top of the 15-metre fir in Berlin.
German climate protesters lopped off the top of a Christmas tree at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate on Wednesday, in a demonstration against fossil fuels. The group responsible has led a months-long campaign of traffic disruption and vandalism.
Members of the Letzte Generation (Last Generation) group used a mobile lift platform to reach the top of the tree, before cutting two meters off the giant Nordmann fir with a hand-saw. From the platform they hung a banner reading “this is only the tip of the Christmas tree.”
“So far we’ve only seen the tip of the underlying catastrophe in Germany,” activist Lilli Gomez said, according to a press release from Letzte Generation. “While all of Germany spends the week getting the best gifts from the biggest stores, others are wondering where to get their water to drink after drought and floods have wiped out their crops.
“There can be no peaceful Christmas when people are afraid for their lives,” the organization later wrote on Twitter.
Dieses Jahr war nur die Spitze des Weihnachtsbaums!
Wir haben die Spitze am Weihnachtsbaum am Brandenburger Tor gefällt, denn es kann kein besinnliches Weihnachten geben, wenn Menschen Angst um ihr Leben haben.#Weihnachtsbaum#BrandenburgerTor pic.twitter.com/hfxFuuUxxw
— Letzte Generation (@AufstandLastGen) December 21, 2022
The group’s two demands are that the German government reduce the national speed limit to 100kph and offer subsidized public transport. They argue that both of these measures would reduce the country’s carbon emissions and slow global warming.
To achieve this, Letzte Generation’s members have spent the year blocking motorways and city streets, disrupting sporting events, and vandalizing artworks in museums and galleries. Earlier this month, police in the city of Mainz had to use a jackhammer to dislodge one activist who cemented his hand to a busy thoroughfare.
The group was condemned for a road-blocking protest in Berlin last month, which firefighters said prevented a rescue vehicle from getting to an injured cyclist. The woman, who was caught under a truck, died.
While the square in front of the Brandenburg Gate has a permanent police presence, officers there were slow to react to Wednesday’s act of vandalism. A police spokeswoman told the Berlin-based Tagesspiegel newspaper that they assumed the eco-warriors were carrying out routine maintenance on the tree.
The female activist who sawed off the top of the tree was arrested and released, and is being investigated for causing damage to property.
Letzte Generation is a sister group of Just Stop Oil, whose members have gained notoriety by defacing artworks and blocking traffic in the UK in recent months. Both organizations are financed by the Climate Emergency Fund, a foundation started by billionaire oil heiress Aileen Getty and run by Trevor Neilson, an investor with ties to Bill Gates and George Soros.