Dortmund, Erfurt, Hanover: Many people want to turn against the right with demonstrations all over Germany this weekend – with the express support of Chancellor Scholz.
Tens of thousands of people are expected across Germany this weekend at demonstrations against the right and for democracy. The organizers are expecting significantly more than 10,000 participants at a rally in Hanover on Saturday alone.
Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD), former Federal President Christian Wulff (CDU) and the chairwoman of the German Trade Union Confederation, Yasmin Fahimi, are expected to speak. Further larger demonstrations are planned for Saturday in Dortmund, Erfurt and Heidelberg, among others.
Protest in Hamburg canceled
A demonstration against the right-wing and the AfD in Hamburg even had to be canceled on Friday evening due to the large number of people. One of the organizers cited safety concerns. People collapsed in the crowd and the fire department couldn’t get through. The police spoke of 50,000 participants, the organizers of 80,000. According to police, more than 10,000 people took to the streets in Münster, 13,000 in Bochum, around 4,000 in Kiel and 3,000 in Jena.
The protests were triggered by a report from the media company Correctiv from last week about a previously unknown meeting of right-wing extremists in a Potsdam villa on November 25th. Several AfD politicians as well as individual members of the CDU and the very conservative Values Union also took part in the meeting.
The former head of the right-wing extremist Identitarian movement in Austria, Martin Sellner, said he spoke about “remigration” there. When right-wing extremists use the term, they usually mean that large numbers of people of foreign origin should leave the country – even under duress. Thousands of people have already taken to the streets in German cities in the past few days. Often significantly more people took part in the protest than were registered by the organizers.
Scholz supports demonstrations
Chancellor Olaf Scholz compared the “remigration” plans of right-wing extremists in Germany with the racial ideology of the National Socialists. “If there is something that can never have a place in Germany again, then it is the ethnic racial ideology of the National Socialists. Nothing else is expressed in the extremists’ repulsive resettlement plans,” said the SPD politician in the edition of his video series “Kanzler Kompakt” published on Friday. . “They are an attack on our democracy – and therefore on all of us.”
All people in Germany are called upon to take a clear stand: “For cohesion, for tolerance, for our democratic Germany.” Scholz expressly supported the demonstrations. “What we are currently experiencing here in our country really concerns us all – each and every one of us,” he said. “I’ll say it very clearly and harshly: Right-wing extremists are attacking our democracy. They want to destroy our cohesion.” He assured all people in Germany with a migrant background: “You belong to us! Our country needs you!”
Rallies are also planned beyond the weekend. A human chain was set up around the Reichstag building in Berlin on February 3rd as a symbol of a firewall against the right.
High poll numbers for the AfD
The President of the Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, welcomed the rallies. “I’m really pleased that the middle of society is standing up,” Schuster told the “Augsburger Allgemeine”. The President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, told the “Westdeutsche Zeitung”: “It would be desirable if the silent majority of our population took a clear position against extremism and anti-Semitism. And fortunately, many people are currently demonstrating against it.”
The federal government’s anti-Semitism commissioner, Felix Klein, was concerned about the AfD’s high poll numbers. “Unfortunately, we are seeing an erosion of democratic values, which I find very worrying. Hatred of Jews thrives on precisely this breeding ground,” he told the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”. He appealed to voters not to vote against their own interests. “Our economy depends to a large extent on free markets and on the fact that Germany is considered a cosmopolitan country.”
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.