Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Hanover and many other places: Hundreds of thousands of people are taking to the streets against the right-wing and the AfD – and the number is growing. An essential goal: “Defend democracy.”
Nationwide, hundreds of thousands took to the streets against the right and for democracy on Saturday. According to initial counts by the police and the organizers, at least 300,000 people demonstrated in total. In some cities, final figures from both sides are not yet available. According to police and organizers, there were 35,000 people in Frankfurt am Main and Hanover alone – one motto was “defend democracy.” Frankfurt’s Römer was full of people carrying banners with slogans like “All together against fascism” and “No place for Nazis.”
Tens of thousands of people also came together in other cities to protest peacefully – for example against the rise of the AfD. Tens of thousands more people are expected to demonstrate across the country by Sunday evening.
Demos in numerous cities across the republic
In Hanover, Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) called on people at the rally to take a clear stance against the right in their own environment and to stand up for human rights and democracy. “Let’s defend our democracy,” he appealed. The demonstrators carried posters with slogans such as “We are colorful” and “Fascism is not an alternative”. According to the police, around 15,000 people also demonstrated in Braunschweig.
In Dortmund the police put the number of participants at 30,000. In Wuppertal the police estimated the number of participants at around 10,000 and in Recklinghausen at around 12,000. In Wuppertal, the motto of the demo was “Together and in solidarity! Against exclusion, hatred and incitement!”. In Stuttgart, people gathered under the motto “All together against the AfD”. A spokesman for the organizer – the Stuttgart Alliance Against the Right – estimated the number of participants at 20,000 people – a police spokesman thought that was possible. According to the police in Karlsruhe, there were also 20,000. According to the police, around 18,000 people came together in Heidelberg.
Significantly more demonstrators than expected
In Kassel, the police spoke of 12,000 participants – twelve times as many as expected. Participants carried posters with slogans such as “Nazis and anti-Semites must be expatriated” and “Together against extremists for democracy”. According to the police, there were more than 12,000 demonstrators in Giessen.
Thousands of people also took to the streets in Bavaria, including at least 15,000 in Nuremberg, according to police. Chants shouted: “The whole of Nuremberg hates the AfD!” According to police and organizers, there were several thousand people in Erfurt. According to official information, around 16,000 participants demonstrated in Halle/Saale.
Already on Friday evening, a demonstration against the right-wing and the AfD in Hamburg had to be canceled due to the large number of people. One of the organizers cited safety concerns. The police said there were 50,000 participants, the organizers assumed there were 80,000.
CDU leader Merz against any form of hatred and agitation
Representatives of trade unions, associations, the Greens and the SPD in particular called for people to take part. CDU leader Friedrich Merz described the nationwide demonstrations as encouraging. “The “silent” majority is raising its voice and showing that it wants to live in a country that is cosmopolitan and free,” he said at the request of the German Press Agency in Berlin. “We stand by those who are committed to our democracy, our rule of law and our open society,” said Merz. “Let’s not allow discriminatory slogans or right-wing extremist slogans together. Together we will show a stop sign against every form of extremism and racism: against every form of hatred, against incitement and against forgetting history.”
International Auschwitz Committee thanks demonstrators
The International Auschwitz Committee thanked the demonstrators. “Survivors of the Holocaust are more than grateful to all those who are taking to the streets these days against the hatred and lies of the right-wing extremists. They see these demonstrations as a powerful sign from the citizens and a revitalization of the democracy that they have been waiting for for a long time hoped and waited,” said Executive Vice President Christoph Heubner.
North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) had previously thanked the people who demonstrated against the right across the country. This shows that there is “a broad alliance” at the heart of society, he said on Saturday in Düsseldorf. Wüst once again called for such a “centre alliance” in politics, which must be formed across parties and across all levels of government. “We need the Democrats to unite together.” Wüst described the AfD as an “extremely dangerous Nazi party.” On X, formerly Twitter, the CDU politician wrote that the AfD does not stand on the basis of the Basic Law. “The AfD is not a conservative party and certainly not a value-oriented party.”
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.”
Reporting on meetings of right-wing radicals as a trigger
The protests, which have been going on for several days, 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” in Potsdam. 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.
Faeser: “Memories of the terrible Wannsee conference”
Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) is reminded of the National Socialists’ Wannsee Conference by the meeting in Potsdam. “This involuntarily brings back memories of the terrible Wannsee conference,” she told the Funke media group. She doesn’t want to equate the two. “But what is hidden behind harmless-sounding terms like ‘remigration’ is the idea of expelling and deporting people en masse because of their ethnic origin or their political views.”
At the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 – exactly 82 years ago – high-ranking Nazi officials discussed the systematic murder of up to eleven million Jews in Europe. The aim of the meeting in a villa on Wannsee in Berlin was to accelerate the implementation of the genocide. It is considered one of the key dates of the Holocaust.
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.