Up to 4,000 racists and Nazis demonstrated in Berlin last Saturday—the largest such demonstration in the German capital in memory.
The demo was organised by Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD), a right wing populist organisation in which Nazis are starting to win influence.
Several recent AfD demos have had a significant presence from the more explicitly Nazi NPD.
Angela Merkel's government tried to tighten restrictions on Syrian refugees the day before the protest.
The European press has depicted Merkel’s position as liberal. Yet she has given refugees little practical help.
Merkel has sought to balance between two wings in her own party and in the German ruling class.
One wing is the part of German capital that sees refugees as a source of cheap labour to undermine a recently introduced minimum wage.
With them are pragmatists who saw a need to react to thousands of refugees camped on Germany’s border. They think allowing in a limited number of refugees and trying to disperse them throughout Europe is tactically better to physically dispersing them.
The pragmatists have also noted the reaction of many German people who have organised reception committees and signed up for voluntary work in refugee centres.
Merkel has zig-zagged between acknowledging this sentiment and the explicitly racist solutions from the AfD, Islamophobic protest group Pegida and part of her own party.
She has steadily restricted access rights for refugees. Yet the AfD has targeted her for not being racist enough.
AfD demos also attract some victims of the economic crisis who blame refugees for their problems. Anti-racists need to offer political solutions that break them from the hard Nazis while not allowing the marches to happen.
Here the movement in Germany is hamstrung by the absence of any permanent organisation actively fighting racism and fascism.
An ad hoc group, Nazi Free Dresden, successfully stopped what was the largest Nazi demo in Europe, on the anniversary of the 1945 Dresden bombings. However this group only ever existed for the few months before each annual demonstration and dissolved itself directly afterwards.
Left wing opposition party Die Linke has called a conference for activists helping refugees on Saturday 28 November. This could be a stepping stone towards the national coordination necessary to stop the disturbing rise of fascism.