Nationalists Storm Reichstag After 70 Years of Occupation Government
250 patriots stand for a renewed, strong, racially-conscious nation; controlled media call them “hooligans”; 35,000 support nationalists on social media
A GROUP of far-right activists on Saturday tried to “storm” Germany’s Reichstag building on the day the world marks the 70th anniversary of National Socialist Germany’s capitulation. The demonstration was approved by the Interior Ministry despite harsh criticism from left-wing parties and organizations, which protested the rally’s “inappropriate” timing.
Far-right activists began their march at 13:00 GMT from Berlin Central Train Station, a few hundred meters north of the German parliament building, but counter-demonstrators assembled an hour earlier on the three bridges connecting both meeting points.
Police blocked all three bridges connecting the two sides and prevented leftist activists from reaching the other side. “You look like a leftist activist, you may not enter,” said a young policeman to a young man who tried to insist he was a simply a tourist.
German authorities described the demonstrators as “right-wing extremists belonging to the hooligan scene.” They also confirmed that one of the event organizers is a known far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) activist. More than 35,000 people said they would participate in the day’s events via social media, but police said that only around 200-250 actually attended.
Some 20 protesters tried to storm the Reichstag from the other side, behind police lines but were stopped without difficulty.
Several Facebook events were created for the demonstration, some of them calling to “storm the Reichstag” and overthrow the government.
“The Merkel regime and the federal government need to go,” a statement for one of the events read, while another called for “1,000,000 voices against the Islamization and Americanization of Europe.”
The demonstration’s official slogan was: “Together for Germany. For homeland, for freedom, and for the preservation of German culture.” On their website, the organizers declared that “we are against any radicalism and extremism. No Islamism, no Zionism, no violence.” Despite the militant comments linked to the website, security agencies emphasized they had no reason to assume the event would be anything other than peaceful.
“This is unacceptable to anyone who cares for a society free of racism, even though these statements are totally absurd,” stressed the organizers of the counter-demonstration, an alliance of the Green party, the Left, and several anti-racism organizations. Their spokeswoman, Nina Baumgartner, promised before the event that “we will do everything possible to prevent this provocation from the National Socialists, PEGIDA members, and supporters of reactionary conspiracy theories.”
“A National Socialist rally in front of the Reichstag, precisely on the 70th anniversary of the liberation from fascism, is an unreasonable demand for any freedom-loving people,” Baumgartner insisted.
Leonie Wunder, holding an Israeli flag told i24news: “We brought it to piss off the Nazis, but they are a minority here. Most are normal people, who want to show solidarity. Europe is at war in Russia because that’s what Obama wants, but we don’t see the Russians as our enemy. The fact that our government wouldn’t let the night wolf come here simply to lay flowers on the grave of their fathers is completely absurd.”
“Some Nazis who saw us with the flag stared at us and mumbled quietly ‘shit Jews,’ but on the other side it’s even worse,” Wunder said. On the other bank, occupied by leftists, there was no room for them. “They are even more anti-Semitic,” Wunder said. “They call us racists, spit at us and throw bottles.”
The far-right activists also included in their list of speakers a member of the Russian “Night Wolves” biker gang, which despite many attempts from European authorities to block them, managed to complete their 15-day journey from Moscow to Berlin. Only about 20 Russian nationalists reached the German capital after several were denied entry to Poland, Austria, and Germany, which labeled them as dangerous individuals.
Trying to retrace the Soviet army’s route during World War II, they rode waving Russian and other nationalistic flags in support of separatist forces in Ukraine. Their first stop Saturday in Berlin was the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park, where they participated in the official wreath-laying ceremony. They then proceeded in a motorcade through the city until they joined the right-wing demonstrators.
German media reported that earlier they met with the leader of the Islamophobic PEGIDA movement, Lutz Bachmann. The motorcycle club’s president Alexander Saldostanow is considered to be a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In total, there were 27 demonstrations taking place in Berlin on Saturday, with 1,000 policemen securing them.
End of war or Liberation Day?
On Friday, the German parliament held a special session intended to mark “a day that stands for a new beginning, and the double liberation from war and Nazism.” Yet the majority of Germans remained indifferent to the date and most of the newspapers devoted their headlines to the British election.
“The government and the mass media don’t like to celebrate this date as the liberation day, they speak of the end of war, even though this day symbolizes much more,” Stefan Natke said of the German Communist Party (DKP), one of the few organizations that still treat the day as cause for celebration. “But people here don’t want to look at the past,” he added, “they are taught only to look forward.”
Although the Communists weren’t the only ones to take part in the day’s festivities, most of the unofficial events were organized by leftist movements. One such celebration took place at a youth center in the Köpenick borough of Berlin, an initiative of the anti-fascism group Chili[tk].
“Many young people do not know what happened on the 8th of May,” the activists told i24news. ”There’s no official holiday or celebration.”
“We don’t have a culture of remembering this day,” they explained, “and that’s a shame considering its importance. The ‘new German identity’, which is promoted among the the young generation, allows them to distance themselves from ‘negative remembrance’ linked to German history, especially the time of National Socialism. The German government needs to do more than give speeches to commemorate this day. People need to remember that Nazis still pose a problem in this country. The fight against racism and anti-Semitism is not over yet.”
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