To counter-protest the neo-Nazi rallies in Chemnitz, several German bands organized a concert on Monday, 3rd September, with the motto #wirsindmehr. 

Image: Petar Marjanovic

Rise of violent far-right extremism in Germany poses a threat “Welcoming culture” – A report on the events in Chemnitz

In the night of Saturday, 25th August to Sunday, 27th August, a man with supposedly German-Cuban heritage was knifed by two refugees coming from Syria and Iraq after the Chemnitz city festival. Following the murder,on 26th and 27th August, and 01st September, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists rallied and protested violently in the East-German town of Chemnitz against migration and refugees. Videos taken by bystanders show that the neo-Nazis hunted people who seemed to have an immigrant background. The far-right protests on Sunday were organized by neo-Nazi ‘hooligans’ of the local soccer club Chemnitzer FC. They chanted race-baiting slogans, such as “Wir sind die Krieger, wir sind Fans – Adolf Hitler Hooligans”(“We are warriors, we are fans – Adolf Hitler Hooligans”),  applauded by several other protestors. The march on Monday was organized by the local far-right party Pro Chemnitz, which also has delegates in the city council of Chemnitz. Pro Chemnitz is shown to have connections to the militant neo-Nazi organizations in Saxony, furthermore, some of the party functionaries have established connections to the neo-Nazi terror group NSU in Germany.

 

On Saturday, two demonstrations were organized by the right populist party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and again by Pro Chemnitz. After the Pro Chemnitz demonstration ended, protesters joined the AfD’s demonstration, which shows again that the relatively new right-populist party AfD is not afraid to connect with militant neo-Nazis. While the police were unable to control the far-right mob on Sunday and Monday, Antifascists organized spontaneous counter-protests to the rallies on Monday and Saturday. During the protests, small clashes between antifascists and fascists took place as the police were unable to separate those two groups.

Not being able to control the neo-Nazi mob on Sunday and Monday was not the only mistake the government officials made: on Wednesday, 29th of August, the arrest warrant of the two murderers was leaked by a court official on the internet.

To protest against the uprising of far-right extremism and neo-Nazism in Germany, several bands, inter alia, Die Toten Hosen, Feine Sahne Fischfilet and Kraftklub, organized a spontaneous concert in Chemnitz on Monday with the motto #wirsindmehr (“#wearemore”). More than 65.000 people attended the concert from all over Germany .

“The events in Chemnitz show that the work of the antiracist movement must not stop and the apparent consensus that ‘the Germans at least learned from history’ is not valid” said Balint Josa, Programme Coordinator of UNITED. “Any spark can light the fire that is looming in Europe, however, with proper action, this fire can be extinguished.  Populism can easily lead to violence and the battle for the heart and mind of ordinary citizens is ongoing – in the media, in the parliaments and on the streets as well.  The fact that the positive reaction of the German society outweighed the support that Neo-nazis and the AfD could gain combined, gives UNITED hope and encouragement to continue its efforts. Showing that we are more is vital and the only acceptable way to win the fight one day.”

 

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Read more about what happened in Chemnitz here and here.

Image: People gathering for the concert protesting the uprise of far-right extremism. Photo by Petar Marjanovic