Nazis silenced by impressive numbers on Rotkreuzplatz
What do you do if you throw a party and a bunch of unruly, disruptive guests arrive? That was the predicament for the NPD party when they held a rally at Munich's Rotkreuzplatz on Tuesday 31 July. The far-right party that has been in the news this year partially because of allegations of connections to the NSU, which is the National Socialist Underground (Nationalsozialistische Untergrund) that is accused of murdering ten people. Actually, the authorities are unsure of exactly how many people were killed, but some estimates say that it could be as many as twenty.
The NPD has apparently had enough of the bad publicity and have decided to go on the offensive. To make their case, they are driving their huge lorry to hold rallies in different locations in Germany with "Heimat bewahren - Einwanderung stoppen!" (Defend the Homeland - stop immigration) printed on the side. This openly anti-immigrant stance has made the NPD a target of criticism, and many citizens and politicians have called for a ban of the party. The argument against banning such an organisation is that it is much easier to observe them if they are not forced underground.
The event was registered and organised by Thuringia's state party chairman Patrick Wieschke, who in 2002 was convicted of bombing a Döner stand and sentenced to nearly three years in prison. Parties from across the political spectrum, including the SPD, the Greens, die Linke (the Left Party) and a lesser-known communist party, organised a counter protest. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported, even the CSU got in on the action and hung a banner criticising the rally.
The Bavarian police were well-prepared for both the rally and the counter protesters. Barricades were errected to keep the two sides separated, and the speeches that were held by the NPD were completely drowned out by whistling and banging of pots and pans. Although four people were taken into custody, there were no incidents in which the two sides ever came into contact.
Similar protests in other Bavarian cities have taken place with nearly identical results. The counter protesters regularly outnumber those taking part in the rally, and on leftist websites there has been an informal contest to see which cities can come up with the most counter protesters. It is unlikely that these actions will have any impact on whether the NPD continues with similar rallies.
However, it the signs all over Rotkreuzplatz that read "München ist bunt" (Munich is colourful) were any indication, the counter protesters will continue to make as much noise as they can.