Over the weekend, Germany witnessed a massive display of public dissent against the far-right, culminating in a demonstration in Munich on Sunday that attracted approximately 100,000 people, leading to an early conclusion due to safety concerns, as reported by local authorities. This gathering was just one among numerous protests held nationwide, collectively drawing hundreds of thousands of participants.
The rallies were sparked by recent revelations of a right-wing extremist meeting where discussions about the potential deportation of millions of immigrants, including German citizens, transpired. Some members of the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD) were reportedly present at this meeting, adding fuel to the nationwide outrage.
In Cologne, tens of thousands took to the streets, with organizers estimating a turnout of around 70,000. In Berlin, a protest garnered at least 60,000 participants, potentially reaching up to 100,000, according to police sources cited by a German news agency. Similar demonstrations occurred in Hamburg, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, and Hannover, each witnessing substantial crowds, emphasizing the widespread nature of the opposition.
While Germany has experienced anti-far-right protests in the past, the scale and reach of the recent demonstrations are remarkable, extending beyond major cities to encompass numerous smaller towns across the country. The significant turnout reflects a growing popular resistance against the AfD.
Despite the AfD’s strong position in recent opinion polls, holding second place nationally with approximately 23%, well above its 10.3% result in the 2021 federal election, the protests indicate a shift in public sentiment. The party’s prominence in eastern strongholds like Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia, where it leads in polls ahead of upcoming elections, underscores the urgency of addressing far-right ideologies.
The catalyst for these protests was a report from Correctiv, an investigative media outlet, detailing an alleged far-right meeting in November. The meeting, attended by figures from the extremist Identitarian Movement and the AfD, featured Austrian citizen Martin Sellner presenting a vision for “remigration” through deportations.
Prominent German politicians and elected officials expressed support for the protests, echoing sentiments already voiced by leaders from various political parties. In a video statement, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier emphasized the crucial role of those defending democracy against its adversaries, asserting that the strength of defenders, not the volume of opponents, determines the future of the nation’s democracy.