Right-wing extremism in Germany: When will peace return to Chemnitz?

Laura Hornberger

Following a demonstration by the right-wing alliance “Pro Chemnitz”, there have once again been xenophobic attacks in Chemnitz, a city in Saxony, Germany. Demonstrations will continue the coming weeks. Not just against immigrants, but also against the media and the government, two local reporters say.

“We are the people!“ One oft he slogans at the demonstration oft he right-wing alliance on the 14th of September.
Photo: Straßengezwitscher @streetcoverage

On Friday evening, 14 August, the fifth demonstration of the right-wing populist civic movement “Pro Chemnitz” took place in Chemnitz. Two weeks ago, on September 1st, a 35-year-old German man died of knife wounds. Two asylum seekers are suspects in this case. Since then, left-wing movement “Chemnitz Nazifrei” and right-wing group “Pro Chemnitz” have been demonstrating on the streets, in the cities of Chemnitz and Köthen in Saxony.

“An end of the demonstrations is currently not in sight”, says Johannes Filou, the chief reporter of “Straßengezwitscher” an association which focuses on live coverage in ​​Saxony on Twitter. They are against racism and xenophobia.

According to the police 3,500 people took part in the “Pro Chemnitz” demonstration on Friday the 14th of September. Last week, on the 7th of September, around 2,300 people came to join the right-wing movement protest “Pro Chemnitz”, while around 1,000 people followed a call from the counter movement “Chemnitz Nazifrei”.

“I think that the number of participants will decrease in the coming weeks. But I’m sure that there will be more demonstrations the coming weeks to keep the monument upright”, says Filou.

“The current demonstrations are different from the ones right after the crime of September 1st in Chemnitz because of the slogans. On Friday they were more directed against politics and the press”, says Mosca Goretta, a freelance journalist from Italy. She lives in Saxony and works as a correspondent for an italian radio station. She has been present at all previous demonstrations in Chemnitz.

According to police reports, the slogans on Friday, August 14th, 2018, were: “There is no right to Merkel propaganda”, “Away with Merkel” and “Lying Press”. The demonstration itself was largely peaceful. The fact that a counter-demonstration did not take place helped maintain order.

“Participants were asked by a speaker of “Pro Chemnitz” to refrain from doing the Hitler salute and to not to attack journalists. I think that the alliance wants to mitigate the impression that all members are right-wing”, says Mosca Goretta.

According to Mosca Goretta, Chemnitz citizens and right-wing extremists took part in the march. However, they could not be distinguished from one another. “In the past, Nazis were recognized by their looks, today it’s more complicated and not so obvious”, she added.

After the demonstration, around 9:15 am, a xenophobic attack happened. A group of fifteen people, who called themselves vigilantes, surrounded seven teenagers on the castle pond in Chemnitz. According to the police report, racist statements were said, and a 26-year-old Iranian was slightly injured. Six people have been arrested.

“Smaller groups of right-wing extremists currently feel empowered, when they are together. They think they are executing the people’s will”, says Filou.

Demonstrators of the civic movement “Pro Chemnitz“ and the party AfD shout to the police on the 1st of September Photo: Straßengezwitscher @streetcoverage

“Pro Chemnitz” has already announced a demonstration for next Friday. A counter-demonstration hasn’t been announced yet.