We are afraid for democracy, we are afraid of the return of Nazism – said participants of the thousands of protests in Germany. Where do these concerns come from? The main point is that the Alternative for Germany party, considered far-right, is growing in strength. Also important is a secret meeting during which representatives of this group were to discuss how to expel people of foreign origin.
Even the organizers of the protests against the far right did not expect such huge crowds. Up to 1.5 million people took to the streets in 100 German cities throughout the weekend. Organizers’ estimates say 350,000 people in Berlin, 250,000 in Munich, and Friday’s demonstration in Hamburg had to end early because too many people came.
The protesters did not bite their tongues and openly said that they were afraid of the return of the Third Reich. For them, the growing Alternative for Germany party is Nazis.
– What the AfD is doing reminds me of 1933, and if we don’t speak out now, we won’t be able to say later: “Oh, we didn’t know anything about it,” said one of the protesters. – We used to blame our parents and grandparents for being silent. We didn’t understand how it was possible that the NSDAP flourished. Now is the time to react, emphasized another protester.
Germans were greatly impressed by the reports of investigative journalists who documented a secret meeting of the far right, including AfD politicians, in Potsdam near Berlin. In November, they were to discuss the forced resettlement of people of foreign origin, even those with German citizenship. There was an idea to create a new state for them in North Africa.
The circumstances of the meeting brought back the worst associations in Germany. In 1942, in a similar villa a few kilometers from Potsdam in Wansee, the Nazis established a plan for the so-called Final Solution of the Jewish Question. – I think about what happened in the past and it can’t happen again. Nazis, right wing and fascists must not return to power in any form. We are on a very bad path. I’m glad that there are so many people here, said one of the protest participants.
The second force on the political scene
According to polls, Alternative for Germany is the second largest force on the German political scene. For now, there is no chance of taking power in the state, but it is no longer ruled out in individual states in eastern Germany.
In an appeal published on Sunday, German President Frank Walter Steinmeier called for the creation of an alliance of “all democrats”. The participants of the demonstration say that they are the majority that must stop remaining silent. – I hope that the political center will wake up and the extreme right will see how many of us there are – said another protest participant. – Here, in this square, their spiritual predecessors burned books. A few years later, they set fire to synagogues and murdered millions of people in gas chambers. They have led our country and our city to complete ruin, said Mike Josef, mayor of Frankfurt, at the demonstration.
For AfD voters, the most important thing is to limit immigration to Germany. There is great opposition to the so-called green policy and the rising cost of living. Especially in the former GDR, in towns such as Stützengrün, the party attracts previously moderate voters. – Not everyone who votes for AfD is an extremist. There is dissatisfaction with federal and state policy, explains Volkmar Viehweg, mayor of Stützengrün.
– All these populist parties, including the AfD, are based on creating a new identity and an identity threat for those who are different, who are anti-system, who are “really” Germans, “really” Poles. We know this from our own experience. Only those who vote for PiS are true Poles. Those who vote for AfD are real Germans – explains Prof. Arkadiusz Stempin from the University of Freiburg and the European University of Krakow.
AfD politicians are known for their anti-Polish statements, but Confederation MP Grzegorz Braun sees an ally in this party. German counterintelligence has repeatedly reported that the AfD receives money from the Kremlin and in return serves as its propaganda mouthpiece in Germany. – I am afraid for the fate of our democracy. Many people think the same way. AfD is Putin’s party and is not good for Germany, says one of the protesters.
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Main photo source: PAP/EPA/FILIP SINGER