Up to 70,000 joined the anti-racist protest—compared to a few thousand who turned out on the AfD’s national mobilisation.
Some reports said the AfD has just 2,000, and they certainly were no more than 5,000.
Crowds of anti-racists from feeder marches streamed onto the Brandenburg Gate in the centre of the capital. People chanted “The whole of Berlin is against the AfD”, waved LGBT+ rainbow flags and carried placards saying, “Nazis, go away”.
Anti-racists couldn't bloc the AfD from marching, but they surrounded them from all sides and the drowned out their rally at the Brandenburg Gate.
“We want to be loud enough to drown out the racist speeches,” activist Rosa told RBB news channel.
Die Linke (The Left) MP Christine Buchholz said, “Today's protest against the onslaught of the AfD was a resounding success.”
It’s a big step forward to see such a turnout.
The protests were supported by over 120 organisations including the Labour-type SPD, Die Linke, the Greens and trade unions. Muslim organisations, refugee groups and theatre groups also turned out and 150 Berlin clubs organised a “Reclaim Club Culture—Bass the Nazis Away” rave.
One of the groups supporting the anti-racist demonstration is a charity that works with children with disabilities.
AfD MPs published a letter to the German government last month linking children with disabilities to immigration. It said that disabilities had risen by 0.9 percent over the last two years and were caused “among other things by marriage inside the family”.
After outrage erupted over the letter, AfD politician Nicole Hochst responded with racist bile. “Marriage inside the family, especially between first cousins, is most widespread among migrants from Arab and African regions,” she said.
Christine Buchholz MP said, “Today's protest against the onslaught of the AfD was a resounding success.”
The AfD march marked the first time the far right party has mobilised on the streets since its breakthrough in parliamentary elections last October. “Parallel to the parliamentary work, we take to the streets and give our members and supporters the chance to actively participate,” said AfD rally main coordinator Guido Reil.
“That's very important.”
The AfD began as broad church of right wing conservatives, racist populists and open Nazis, but it is hardening up. Around half of its MPs are now linked to Nazi groups, some conservatives have quit the party or been pushed out of leading positions.
The fact it has tried to mobilise on the streets is further evidence of its rightward trajectory—and the demonstration was made up of its hardcore elements. The AfD was outnumbered—but it is far from a spent force.
It was born out of the rightward shift in German politics in the wake of the refugee crisis and politicians’ concession to scapegoating. Its rise shows the need to mobilise against the Nazis and racists on the streets—and against the mainstream racism that feeds their rise.