Progressive groups in Germany have denounced the ‘hygiene demos’ and anti-lockdown protests organized mainly by the German right-wing across the country. On May 23, Saturday, anti-fascist groups organized counter-mobilizations at the Rosa Luxemburg Platz/Alexanderplatz in Berlin under the slogan “Keep your distance against the right”. A large number of people gathered to protest the far-right demonstrations being held in the city on the same date.
Around forty demonstrations – mobilizations by the right-wing and counter-mobilizations from leftists and anti-fascists – were registered within Berlin on Saturday.
Far-right groups, including the Alternative for Germany (AfD), have also been organizing ‘hygiene demos’ across the country for the past several weeks, targeting Jews and immigrant communities for the spread of COVID-19 in Germany.
Along with hygiene demos, demonstrations against lockdown measures are also being organized by conspiracy ideologist, science deniers, hooligans, neo-Nazis, evangelicals, vaccine-opponents, esotericists and citizens of the Reich, etc. Groups like Querdenken 711, Widerstand (Resistance) 2020, Communication Center for Democratic Resistance, among others, are said to be involved in organizing these demonstrations.
According to reports, on Ascension Day, May 21, several right-wing rallies turned violent, especially in Saxony. Clashes with the police were reported from places along with damage to public property and attacks on immigrants.
In response, various progressive groups, including Stand Up Against Racism, Federation of Anti-fascists (VVN BDA) and Berlin Against Nazis, Germany’s Communist, Green and leftist parties, along with trade unions, youth groups, etc. have carried out counter-demonstration at several places with the call, ‘No place for Nazis, Beware of Hygiene Demos!’
Stand Up Against Racism has alleged that neo-Nazis, anti-democrats and racists, including the top brass of the Berlin AfD leadership, have long been involved in the weekly hygiene demos on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz.
Irmgard Wurdack from Stand Up Against Racism said in an interview to Junge Welt, “we had observed that the protests had long since been taken over by right-wingers. Neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers are present there, as are leading representatives of the Berlin AfD, NPD politicians, etc. The composition has an impact on the slogans chanted there. You can hear the sentence ‘We are the people,’ which is also popular with Pegida.”
“In these protests, some wore “Jewish stars” on them, on which “Not vaccinated” was written – in other words, clear historical fragmentation and trivialization of the Holocaust,” she added.
The VVN BDA stated, “in the past few weeks, so-called “hygiene demonstrations” have been piling up all over Germany. Despite all justified criticism of the restrictions on basic democratic rights, we must not be lost sight of who gathers there with which ideas”.
The left in Germany, and particularly the German Communist Party (DKP), have warned that the working class sections in the country have been devastated by the lockdown. Meanwhile, the government led by Angela Merkel is prioritizing saving big businesses from the crisis. The far-right sections in Germany have also been trying hard to cash in on people’s anxiety regarding the pandemic. The right-wing campaign is focused on channelizing this anger within the distressed working class into anti-lockdown protests against the government, through initiatives including racist hygiene demos with the intent to further divide the country along ethnic lines.