Once again right-wing extremists are planning a large demonstration under the banner “Merkel’s got to go!” in central Berlin. On Saturday, 4th March 2017 we could even see a hostile, anti-refugee march with over 1000 participants. As with previous demos, the extreme right group “Wir für Berlin – Wir für Deutschland” are responsible for organising the protest.
Although the number of demonstrators has continued to sink over the last four demos, it can’t be ruled out that there will be a big turnout after a break of several months since the last event. A surprising 3000 people came to the first demonstration back in March 2016, whereas just 500 extremists were able to be mobilised in November last year. The MBR (Mobile Beratung gegen Rechtsextremismus) is therefore working on the assumption that around 1000 demonstrators will turn up on 4th March. Mobilisation efforts on social media seem to support this assumption. After sinking following the original demonstration in March 2016, the number of people clicking interested or attending on Facebook is once more on the rise. Additionally, the organisers claim that they have distributed over 50,000 flyers in Berlin and Brandenburg, although this could be verified the MBR and it is unclear, whether any were distributed.
The people taking part on Saturday’s demo are likely from the same groups and structures as with previous demos: organised right-wing extremists from so-called “comradeships”, the NPD, the party “III. Weg” (“The Third Way”), the Identitarian movement, “Reichsbürger”, right-wing football fans and hooligans, members of the Patriotic Platform within the AfD party, supporters of right-wing splinter groups and initiatives hostile to refugees. The potential for violence therefore remains high.
Time and time again people on these demos have shown their willingness to use violence. Numerous demonstrators who had travelled to Berlin for previous protests were found to have pepper spray and passive weapons on them. In May, two members of the organised, extreme right scene in Berlin attacked a member of the Berlin senate in the main train station on the fringes of the demo. On the march, journalists were threatened and harassed, aggressive neo-Nazi chants were shouted and, according to observers, the Hitler salute was performed several times. Over the previous demos there has been a shift from a more mainstream, bourgeois hostility to refugees to open right-wing extremists and hooligans.
You can find out more information about the planned counter demonstration through our partner project Berlin gegen Nazis (Berlin against Nazis)