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Berlin counter-protesters stop Nazi march

Samantha Connolly

August 21, 2017

At 11am on Saturday, August 19, 500 Neo-Nazis and 1500 counter protesters gathered outside the Spandau train Station in Berlin, separated by police. 

The counter protest march was comprised by over 100 left-wing organizations, from various communist and anarchist groups as well as three political parties, including die Linke, the Greens and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). This parade marched through the neighbourhood and by Schmidt-Knobelsdorf barracks, a shelter for refugees. Here, the march chanted “say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here”, with great enthusiasm.

In contrast to the success of the counter-rally, the Neo-Nazi rally was cut short by a sit-in, organized by a second group of counter protesters. As the first rally wrapped up, counter-protesters joined in blockading the Neo-Nazis. After three and half hours, the Neo-Nazis had only managed to march 150 meters, and had to be surrounded and protected by police on all sides. Eventually, amid cheers of “Nazis go home”, the Neo-Nazi rally turned back to the train station to finish their speeches and head home.

This Neo-Nazi rally is a yearly occurrence in Berlin, commemorating the death of Rudolf Hess. Hess committed suicide while in jail, following his indictment at the Nuremberg trials. Nazi sympathizers claim Rudolf Hess was killed. These yearly Neo-Nazi rallies used to take place where Hess was buried, in Wunsiedel, until authorities removed his remains. This year being the 30th anniversary of his death, Nazi organizers attempted to have a much larger rally, bringing in people from other European countries, mainly Hungary and the Czech Republic. 

Police presence was also tightened for this years rally, particularly in response to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Unfortunately, much of the role of the police was to prevent anti-Nazi demonstrators from blocking the Nazi march, despite the fact that the blocking actions were peaceful sit-ins. However, the sheer numbers of anti-Nazi demonstrators meant that they were able to effectively surround the Nazi protest and police and keep them from reaching their planned marching location, the former prison site where Hess had been held and hung himself.

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