February 23, 2024

Hundreds of thousands demonstrate against the Alternative for Germany party

This weekend, people demonstrated against the right in several German cities. Among them were some members of the federal government.

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Hamburg and Dusseldorf alone. But the protests are also reaching smaller cities and leave the AfD in need of an explanation.

Achim Dointaster/Imago

(dpa) Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated again across Germany at the weekend against the right and the AfD. This means that national campaigns are still very popular about two weeks after they started. According to police, about 100,000 people were on their feet in Dusseldorf alone on Saturday. According to the Fridays for Future movement, about 100,000 people gathered in Hamburg on Sunday, including climate activist Louisa Neubauer – and police said there were 60,000 people. Participants chanted: “Hamburg hates the AfD” or “We are more.”

Complete nationwide participant numbers were not initially available. In many places, the events were supported by politicians. Baden-Württemberg Prime Minister Weinfried Kretschmann (Green Party) was particularly present in Sigmaringen on Saturday, and Schleswig-Holstein Prime Minister Daniel Günther (CDU) and Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) also demonstrated in Aachen. In Saxony-Anhalt, local Prime Minister Rainer Haseloff (CDU) took to the streets in Wittenberg. In Osnabrück, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) warned the AfD at a rally.

Comparison with the Weimar Republic

Police spoke of around 25,000 participants in the demonstration in Osnabrück, organizers put the number at around 30,000, and Pistorius said the AfD wanted regime change. “This means nothing but that they want to return to the dark times of racial madness, discrimination, inequality and injustice.” Compare this with the Weimar Republic, which was destroyed by the weakness of its friends, not by the weakness of its enemies. “Today we know better. History must not repeat itself.”

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In Dusseldorf, the demonstration took place under the slogan “Against the AfD – we will not be silent.” We don't look away. We act! The protesters included people of all ages, including many families with children. There were inscriptions on the banners such as “I don't like Nazis in general” and “Never again!” “If we don’t show our colors now, we will be heading in a direction we can’t get out of,” said a 69-year-old man, who said he was participating in a demonstration for the first time in decades. Outside.”

Düsseldorf Mayor Stefan Keller (CDU) said at the recent rally that around 1930 the dangers facing Germany's first democracy were underestimated. “This must not happen to us again,” he warned. “We shout to the extremists: You will never be in the majority again!”

Demos from Lübeck to Singen

In Kiel, police counted about 11,500 participants in a demonstration against right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism. In Trier there were about 10,000 people. According to police, there were about 8,000 demonstrators in Lübeck, up to 7,000 in Bremerhaven and Ludwigsburg, about 6,000 in Kaiserslautern, and up to 20,000 in Mannheim. According to officials, there were about 20,000 people in Aachen and more than 12,000 in Marburg.

But people also took to the streets in smaller towns, in a select group: in Singen, the police counted about 4,000 demonstrators, and in Sigmaringen there were about 2,000 people. In Neumarkt in Oberpfalz, officials spoke of about 1,500 people participating in an anti-rightist demonstration, and in Elmshorn about 6,000 people. In eastern Germany, Frankfurt/Oder (about 4,500 people), Zwickau (about 4,000 people), and Bautzen and Weimar (about 1,500 people each) stood out.

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Demos for a few days now

According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, more than 900,000 people participated in anti-right-wing demonstrations last weekend. It relied on police information.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) welcomed the numerous demonstrations against right-wing extremism. “Our country is currently standing on its feet. He said in his weekly video clip entitled “The Chancellor’s Charter: Millions of citizens take to the streets.” It is the solidarity of democrats that makes democracy strong. “Our democracy is not a gift from God. It is man made. It is powerful when we support it. They need us when they are under attack.

Sociologist Matthias Quint told tagesschau.de that the AfD is deeply concerned by the ongoing protests. “The far right is literally in panic mode,” the right-wing extremism expert said. Photographs taken at the mass demonstrations cast doubt on the aura that the AfD is the “people's party.” Attempts are being made to discredit these demonstrations as fake and staged. “But these narratives don’t really penetrate.”

The protests were sparked by revelations by the Correction think tank on January 10 about a far-right meeting in which some politicians from the AfD party participated as well as individual members of the CDU and the ultra-conservative Values ​​Union in Potsdam. The former head of Austria's far-right Identity Movement, Martin Sellner, said he spoke about “reimmigration” at the meeting held on November 25. When right-wing extremists use the term, they usually mean that large numbers of people of foreign origin must leave the country – even under duress. According to Correctiv, Sellner identified three target groups: asylum seekers, foreigners with the right to remain, and “non-integrated citizens.”

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