AfD party congress: right outside torn

Party leader Meuthen takes on the radicals in the AfD. A slim majority supports his course.

Sharpen the fronts within his party: AfD leader Jörg Meuthen during the party congress Foto: Wolfgang Rattay/reuters

This speech can probably be called remarkable: At a party congress at which social policy should actually be the focus, AfD boss Jörg Meuthen read the riot act to part of his own party. He called for the end of an “increasingly uninhibited, increasingly coarse, increasingly aggressive” appearance and more discipline. And approached parliamentary group leader Alexander Gauland quite openly, even if he did not mention his name. None of this was spontaneous, on the contrary:

It was a well-calculated speech of rage that Meuthen gave. Does he mean – and also with actions such as the dissolution of the “wing” and the kicking out of right-wing extremist Andreas Kalbitz in recent months – that he can really turn things around in the party? Or is he possibly preparing to leave if the Office for the Protection of the Constitution should classify the entire party as a suspected right-wing extremist case in the coming year? So far one can only speculate about this.

But one thing is clear: Meuthen, who has long willingly made a pact with the “wing”, is no longer coming down from this course. The fact that the three candidates, who basically support Meuthen’s course, won the by-elections for the federal executive board, shows that the controversial party leader can still gather majorities behind him.

And that of all things the eloquent Maximilian Krah, close to the wing, who was sent into the race by the Saxon state chief Jörg Urban and Meuthen’s co-boss Tino Chrupalla as a successor to Kalbitz as assessor, was defeated – that is a massive defeat for the “wing” and his friends. But the elections all came out close. This shows how divided the AfD is not only at its top, but also among the delegates and at the grassroots level.

This does not change the fact that the party congress passed a social concept relatively quietly and thus closed a long gaping void in the party program. The lead motion is a compromise that has been fought for for months – and in the end everyone seemed above all to be happy that at least they finally got this cow off the ice without a scandal.

Almost a year before the general election, the AfD is a deeply divided party that does not know what it stands for and where it is going. So far, the coexistence of the different currents has been a recipe for success that has appealed to voters from the middle to deep in right-wing extremist camps. The conflicts were whitewashed by constant success. That’s all over. This recipe has stopped working.


Crash at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin: It’s no coincidence

A 54-year-old rams the fence of the Chancellery with his car. Photographers are on the spot immediately. That fuels the conspiracy myths.

The murder vehicle. On the driver’s side it says: “You damned murderers of children and old people” Photo: Christian Mang

BERLIN taz | The dark green VW Golf station wagon with license plates from the Lippe district is surrounded by journalists. It is the vehicle that a 54-year-old drove against the fence of the Chancellery on Wednesday morning. Not much has happened. The car drove at “very low speed,” says a police spokesman. Two iron bars of the fence and the bumper of the car are slightly bent.

The press coverage is huge. Camera teams, photographers, and writing guilds from home and abroad cavort in front of the Chancellery on this gray November morning. The 54-year-old driver, who is now sitting shielded in a fire service ambulance, had painted the vehicle with white paint. “You damn children and old people murderers” is emblazoned on the left side of the gulf. On the right it says: “Stop the globalization policy”.

Once before, in February 2014, the man had rammed the fence of the Chancellery in the same car. “No more human-killing climate change,” said the driver at the time. And on the passenger side a private message: “Nicole, I love you”.

A confused man – that much can be assumed. That it could also be a corona denier would not be a contradiction in terms. An article from the Austrian magazine lies on the passenger seat of the Golf Weekly look. It’s about the death of a “13-year-old woman wearing a mask”.

Daring theses

If the man is one of the conspiracy mystics, he won’t be the only one in the government district this Wednesday. In front of the Chancellery, a cyclist with a brightly checked vest has set up. He has attached a banner to the handlebars: “The PCR test cannot detect infection” it says in neon letters, “not” is underlined in bold. In the afternoon, Chancellor Angela Merkel will consult with the Prime Minister. Tougher corona measures should be decided.

An elderly lady of well-groomed appearance observes the events with interest. “The attack on the Chancellery is a controlled story,” she says. Why should that be so? The woman is convinced that new fortifications around the government district and a ditch in front of the Reichstag should be pushed through by those in charge of politics. She sees evidence of her thesis in the presence of the media. “As soon as the man went into the fence, the photographers were there.” That was no coincidence.

It is also not: Wednesday morning the spectrum around the chief conspiracy ideologist Attila Hildmann announced a rally at the Reichstag. 12 people took part, say the photographers who were there. They were then over to the Chancellery, where another meeting had been scheduled.

The demo turned out to be a pro-Merkel rally by two students from Korea. They held up a banner that read: “A. Merkel, run again for Germany ”. At that moment the golf driver drove 100 meters further into the fence. The photographers just had to turn around.


Corona protests in Berlin: bottles and firecrackers thrown after the demo

Opponents of the pandemic policy demonstrate in Berlin, many ignore the corona rules. The police broke up the demonstration, but many do not want to leave.

Police water cannons are used near the Brandenburg Gate Photo: Paul Zinken / dpa

BERLIN taz | The police in Berlin have been using water cannons against corona deniers who are demonstrating in the Bundestag against the passage of the Infection Protection Act since noon. At a police cordon between the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, thousands of demonstrators had huddled in front of the police and the pressure on the chain kept increasing. In order to prevent a storm on the Reichstag, the demonstrators should now be pushed back.

Shortly before 12 noon, the police had dissolved the event, which had previously been allowed as an emergency meeting, due to violations of the Corona regulation, all requests to maintain distances and wear masks had been ignored. Again and again there had been clashes at the cordon, and police officers used pepper spray to hold back the crowd. With the use of the water cannon, however, more and more violent protesters gathered and pelted the emergency services with bottles and firecrackers, among other things.

We would like to show you some external content here. You decide whether you want to see this element too.

I consent to external content being displayed to me. This allows personal data to be transmitted to third-party platforms. Read more about our privacy policy.

After more than an hour, the police only managed to push the crowd back about 100 meters to the Platz des March 18th in front of the Brandenburg Gate. At the same time, other water cannons were also in use on the Strasse des 17. Juni from the early afternoon. More than 100 people were arrested by 3 p.m. According to the police, attempts were also made to set fire to an emergency vehicle using a grill lighter.

In the afternoon, more and more people, many completely soaked, move from the Brandenburg Gate in the direction of Potsdamer Platz and the Federal Council. There, the country representatives should also pass the law. The police have completely cordoned off Leipziger Strasse in front of the building. Nevertheless, protests are made within sight and hearing distance: from a shopping center opposite.

Extreme rights among the protesters

The area around the Reichstag had been cordoned off extensively since the morning hours, and events in the exclusion zone had been prohibited. From the early morning, demonstrators had gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Your battle cry of the day: “Peace, freedom, no dictatorship”. Initially a few hundred people, including anti-vaccination opponents, esotericists, angry citizens and neo-Nazis, had grown to at least 10,000 by noon. The Straße des 17. Juni was densely packed between the Brandenburg Gate and Yitzhak-Rabin-Straße.

On the street were numerous prominent representatives of the extreme right and the AfD, including the Holocaust denier and Youtuber Nikolai Nerling, who was taken away by police that morning, the right-wing journalist Jürgen Elsässer or Christoph Berndt, the new AfD parliamentary group leader from Brandenburg, and his predecessor Andreas Kalbitz.

The AfD member of the Bundestag Karsten Hilse was taken into custody by the police. He is said to have previously refused to put on a mouth and nose mask and resisted, according to the police.

Before the escalation began, a delegation made up of AfD members and employees distributed flyers among the demonstrators and promised to vote against the law. In parliament, AfD members protested with posters showing a basic law that was crossed out with a kind of mourning ribbon. People who had gained access to the building through the party are also said to have harassed members of several parliamentary groups and tried to break into offices.


FDP politician on the consequences of Covid-19: “That was the horror”

Karoline Preisler was sick with Covid-19 and is still struggling with the consequences. The FDP politician is looking for a conversation with corona deniers at demos today.

As soon as Karoline Preisler, here at a demonstration in Konstanz, unpacks the sign, conversations begin Photo: Bernd Wüstneck / dpa

taz: Ms. Preisler, you yourself have Covid-19 and are still struggling with long-term consequences. How are you doing right now?

Karoline Preisler: I got infected in March and also had to go to the isolation ward in the hospital. There I was given sleeping pills, painkillers and medication for my lungs, and oxygen helped me. Then I got better very quickly. But when I got home and left quarantine, I was far from healthy. I just wasn’t contagious anymore.

What else did you struggle with?

My hair went out eleven weeks later, and I had problems with my fitness and breathing. And I had speech disorders: I formed a sentence in my head, but when I tried to pronounce it, it didn’t come out the way I wanted. Words were then exchanged as if I had gone wrong on the bookshelf. For two days I said “brushing my teeth” incoherently in sentences and one day constantly “Brandenburg”. That was the horror. I can now manage my strength well and I believe that I will soon fully recover. I’m already looking forward to it. But sometimes I still smell things that are not there. For example, when I eat an apple, I sometimes smell fried chicken. But sometimes cigarette smoke too, that’s not funny. My heart muscle is attacked, which is also unsightly.

Karoline Preisler, 49, is an FDP politician in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and a lawyer. She has been a member of the FDP since 2013 and is now active in the State Committee on Interior, Law and Europe.

You dealt very aggressively with your illness from the start. You started sharing your experience on Twitter using the hashtag #Coronatagebuch. Why did you do that?

I got infected from my husband, he was corona-positive, but didn’t know at the time. When we found out, I immediately went into voluntary quarantine – with three young children. My husband is a member of the Bundestag, he was in Berlin, I in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Then I had to consider: How do you quarantine small children if you don’t have a balcony or garden, how do healthy and possibly sick people live together? I have not found any experience reports on Covid-19 and families on the Internet. So we wanted to keep a diary to share our experiences with others. Over 6 million people have now had access to it. For us as a family, this is a successful educational project.

The crisis The escalated demonstration in Leipzig puts the Kenya government coalition in Saxony to the test. Vice Prime Minister Martin Dulig (SPD) spoke on Tuesday of a “great burden” on the coalition. It is the task of the next few days to restore this trust, ”said Wolfram Günther (Greens), also deputy to Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU). Dulig and Günther had requested in advance to prepare differently for the demo. The left are calling for Interior Minister Roland Wöller (CDU) to be dismissed. On Thursday, the interior and legal committee of the state parliament in Dresden will deal with the demo in a special session.

Die Demo On Saturday, according to the police, around 20,000 protested at a “lateral thinking” demo in Leipzig, mostly without a mask or distance, rights ran with. The city of Leipzig dissolved the rally. There were scuffles and journalists were attacked. (dpa)

But there are also people who deny Corona. Are there any negative reactions?

There are people who say I should kindly die quietly. Or people who say: I am the best proof that Corona is not a terrible, deadly disease. I don’t take that personally. We only chose this extraordinary way of communication because of the extraordinary illness. For me, it’s not about my own fate, but about making an unknown disease a little better known. At the beginning of my corona illness, I wanted more information. They were missing.

They even travel to “thinking outside the box” demos and seek conversation. Last weekend in Leipzig, before that in Berlin. What is it that drives you?

So educating people about Covid 19 is one thing. But the demonstrations are registered under the heading “Criticism of Corona Measures”, but they also have a different subtext.


For example the selected dates. In Leipzig, the GDR government resigned on November 7, 1989. I come from the former GDR myself and for many people from the East this is an important date. In East Berlin and Leipzig there were demonstrations in the same squares and streets. At that time the peaceful demonstration took place, the lateral thinkers are playing with our culture of remembrance. You are abusing a historic feat of an entire country. The lateral thinkers consciously show pictures from 1989 and call themselves victims of dictatorship. I think it is important to discuss the proportionality of corona measures. And I think freedom of assembly is extremely important – after all, I fought hard for it myself. But when someone speaks of dictatorship today, in an age where we have a separation of powers and where every odd thought can be expressed, then he is perfidious and bold. This is how you really hit the victims of the SED dictatorship. That’s why I went to Leipzig with my perspective as a corona patient and as a former GDR citizen. The peaceful revolution of 1989 was based on responsibility and non-violence. These current demonstrations are not.

You always have a sign with you at the demos. It says, “I had Covid-19 and I’m worried about you.” How do people react to you?

As soon as I unpack the sign, conversations begin. That’s why I only unwrap it carefully. It is extremely well received. Almost everyone who goes to these demos has a concern. Unfortunately, there are also enough people who are blind in the right eye and want to make “Volkssturm”. But there are also demonstrators who want to talk about people in old people’s homes, about mask protection for primary school children. I listen, express my perspective, name a contact person, and sometimes strongly disagree. But I also point out other participants in the demonstration who are clearly recognizable as rights-wingers, hooligans or anti-Semites. I then say: You have such good reasons, but you are in such bad company.

And what do they answer then?

Many point out that they are wrong, that they want nothing to do with brawls. But I cannot release them from responsibility because they run side by side with extremists. In Leipzig there were an unbelievable number of people without masks and without any distance, with a lot of alcohol and a desire to break taboos. People who, from the outside and inside and with the language used, can be clearly classified on the right.

You and your family are already into neo-Nazis. Aren’t you afraid to unpack the sign?

I always weigh carefully what I am doing. My husband is also a politician and we have an appointment: there should only ever be one of us at an event that is risk-prone. The other has to be with the children. And I always stay near the police whenever possible and I am glad that such events are covered by the press.

Why is this important to you?

For example, I was talking to a television station and a man came in and said I was stirring up hatred. He said roughly that Germany needed resistance, that he had so much evidence of perversion of the law. That was a lawyer from Hamburg. Afterwards he wrote me an email that this should not be published. But I’m not a media representative. If he speaks into microphones then he has to contact the team that recorded it. He then replied that after our meeting he had sent “his boys” after me to watch me.

He wanted to intimidate you.

Exactly, I have now issued a ban on contact. My offer to talk is only for those who accept the basic rules of the culture of debate. My husband said later, don’t get upset, you are already on right-wing enemy lists.

That’s pretty macabre.

Yes, but true. Today as a politician you have to expect that. It’s a shame it is. I also think it’s a shame that creating lists of enemies is currently not yet a criminal offense.

So much comes together: Corona, “lateral thinking” demos, right-wing threat. As an FDP politician and as a Covid 19 patient, how do you rate the current measures?

In addition to the suspension of parliaments, with which the separation of powers is weakened, there is another important point: the measures are very difficult to see through for the people who have to carry them out. In the beginning churches were closed, now they are open. Or: First the courts lift the bans on accommodation and bang, a few days later, like a defiant little child, the federal government closes all accommodation establishments. That’s a kick in the buttocks of the judiciary!

The Liberals want to derive the measures based on the local infection process. But that means that different rules apply everywhere.

You address the most sore point there is currently. Nevertheless: The responsibility lies with the federal states and there, too, we should react much more detailed to the infection process. Because: Federalism is protection against totalitarianism.

But it also promotes the confusing situation that you criticize.

I am in favor of regional solutions, but a common line to curb the infection rate. An example: The state conference of ministers of education and culture could very well define certain measures for schools, including hybrid teaching, smaller classes, ventilation systems and significantly better protection for teachers. We had the whole summer vacation time, but there is still no good concept, I complain.


What remains of Trump: delusion and reality

The temporary end of the Trump era has given us historical respite. We have to use it to understand what happened there.

Donald Trump leaves, but the specter of Trumpism continues to move around the world Photo: Carlos Barria / reuters

The clever Marilyn Monroe aptly described the type of her persecutors in the anti-communist witch hunt: “semi-fascist jumping jack”. The world seems to be getting rid of someone who can justifiably be called an apotheosis of the semi-fascist jumping jack. Uffa! Well gone again. No more four years of lies, baiting, narcissism and sheer stupidity. Or?

There is still this nasty aftertaste: Almost half of the American voters * have made nothing of everything that Donald Trump was guilty of in his reign. They wanted more of it! Trumpism as a post-post-democratic episode of decline will remain with the US and the rest of the world. And here? AfD voters, corona deniers, conspiracy fanatics, racists and toxic chauvinism everywhere you look. Not to mention the clandestine approval of all of this. We have already been so much further on the way to enlightenment, humanism, justice and tolerance! At least some of the societies concerned believed.

An alarmingly large number of our fellow human beings seem determined to follow people, ideas, and movements that cannot be rationally explained or morally justified. It is particularly frightening when you lose people to whom you have been friends for a long time, overnight, so to speak, to one of these anti-rational and anti-ethical milieus. The break with the great narrative of democracy and the rule of law, Enlightenment and humanism, reality and science goes right through the families, the neighborhoods, the working worlds, the clubs. Often this break is so fundamental that it can hardly be reconciled.

In any case, I personally cannot imagine sitting down at the table again with someone who whispers about Jewish world conspirators with 5G rays, explains the social responsibility of mask and distance to the “dictatorship” or considers it necessary, including for children shooting to deter “illegal immigrants”. And I don’t expect any reconciliation offers from the other side. But defining the fault line is not enough. We leave our descendants not only a planet in danger and a society in disintegration, but also stories, knowledge and images. It’s also worth fighting for. And if world history gives us a breathing space with the provisional end of the Trump era, then it must also be used for attempts to understand what happened there.

The greed to get as much of the cake as possible seems greater than the fear that it might be poisoned

There is the truth of materialism, which Karl Marx formulated in “The Holy Family”: “The ‘idea’ was always embarrassed to the extent that it was different from the ‘interest’.” selfish interest emerges. From this a simple guideline can be derived for the defects of this time: Follow the trail of the money! More universal is the credo: It’s the economy, stupid! But that can also be reversed: It’s the stupidity, economist! The (economic-egoistic) interest creates such a fundamental form of stupidity under pressure that it even turns against one’s own interest.

The Marx sentence can perhaps also be reversed: “The ‘interest’ is often embarrassed when the idea gets in its way.” In so far as an “idea” can be understood as a representation of deeper passions: desire, hatred or fear. Materialist rationalists can only shake their heads at the behavior of people who act contrary to their own interests. For example in voting booths or at street events. And what about writers, TV chefs, cabaret artists, actors, scientists, etc., who risk their contracts just to pursue malicious political fantasies? Interest (the hope to turn attention to money) or an idea (the risk of contagion from unscrupulous de-realization)?

So one could follow the trail of fear as well as the trail of money. Of course there are always points where both come together. The racism of the German right is based on solid economic interests and at the same time on the social legacy of fear and hate energies. The fear in neoliberalism is reduced to one issue: one’s own losses. Loss of career, loss of freedom, loss of sex and power, loss of fun. Just as one can observe in war, as a famous nurse once recognized, that the greed to kill is greater than the fear of dying, so in our present day the greed to get as much of the cake as possible seems greater than the fear of him could be poisoned.

Anyone who is so reluctant to have a “reasonable” level of interest needs an idea, an ideology, a phantasm – even more: delusion as a justification. It is not because someone believes in an ideology that they do everything to secure a short-term advantage, but on the contrary: because someone is looking for a short-term advantage at any cost, he or she looks for an ideology that allows exactly that. But the ideology, which is made up of greed and fear, becomes independent: Interest and ideas are inextricably tangled.

The semi-fascist jumping jacks of this world show how well one can hide one’s interest in ideology and ideology in interest, if only one succeeds in transforming greed and fear into “conviction”. Then one can indeed do without reason and morality. In reality anyway. Donald Trump is gone, but the specter of Trumpism continues to haunt the world.


Police use at demo in Leipzig: politically unwise criticism

The criticism of the police operation in Leipzig, particularly from the left, is too reflexive: Do we seriously want a police force that will strike immediately?

Police work on horseback at the demo on Saturday in Leipzig Photo:

Left-wing criticism of the police is particularly loud when it is directed against left-wing actions and projects. Then they are “bulls” or “bull pigs”, which are sometimes called after “Advent, Advent, a bull is burning”. But storm the police Not brutally a right-wing demo, it failed all along the line. This left reflex is wrong, fatal, and politically unwise.

The police did not react with violence in view of the heated and, yes, violent 20,000 to 45,000 demonstrators in Leipzig. For this she is criticized from all sides, especially from the left. It is true that left-wing extremist riots have been violently broken up in Connewitz for years, including with water cannons on weekends. But if the escalating stance is wrong here, it cannot be right elsewhere. And it is also true that left-wing protesters attack the police with stones and ignited pyrotechnics.

Imagine if the Leipzig police tried to violently break up the demonstration in Leipzig on Saturday with water cannons, tear gas and clubs. Imagine if an elderly lady, say a homeopathic advocate, was seriously injured. Like the pensioner Dietrich Wagner, who has been blind in one eye since the protests against the new Stuttgart 21 station because a water cannon hit him in the face. Imagine if someone who was trying to escape was caught by the police and brutally thrown to the ground.

What would you think Something like: It’s like in the US here, it’s pure police violence. And imagine further that you (or your son) might have been one of the officers and had opposed the angry and extremely aggressive mass of corona deniers, right-wing extremists, neo-Nazis and have to lift conspiracy logs. Would you have been afraid in your life?

Nobody wants a police that will strike immediately, not even when it comes to muddles and right-wing extremists.


Expert on conspiracy myths: “Every third party has losses”

Those who lose income in the pandemic are more likely to believe in conspiracy myths. Sociologist Bettina Kohlrausch on the danger that arises from it.

Above all, people with already low incomes are affected by losses Photo: Martin Meissner / ap

taz: Ms. Kohlrausch, you researched the income losses due to the corona pandemic in two surveys among more than 6,000 respondents. So who is particularly affected by financial losses?

Bettina Kohlrausch: Around 32 percent of those surveyed stated that they had suffered a loss of income in April and / or June. Losses in the corona pandemic often affect people who already have low incomes. Certain groups – such as parents, people with a migration background, self-employed, contract workers and mini-jobbers – also lost income more than average.

44, is a sociologist at the WSI Institute of the Hans Boeckler Foundation and a professor at the University of Paderborn.

Is that because people with low incomes mainly work in those industries that are particularly hard hit during the corona pandemic, such as retail and gastronomy?

Even if you factor out the influence of the industry, people on low incomes are more likely to have to forego salary. It is more likely that people with low incomes are the weakest in the company; they are most likely to be sent on short-time work or, if they are precariously employed as temporary workers or mini-jobbers, dismissed. These people can usually not do a home office like middle or senior employees.

Do people with a migrant background often work in low-skilled jobs and therefore lose income?

Respondents with a family history of immigration lost income almost 6 percent more often than respondents without this background. And this regardless of which school leaving certificate and level of qualification they had and in which industry they worked.

How can this be explained?

This is possibly an indication of discrimination processes. We know that people are more likely to protect those who are similar to them and to set themselves apart from those who are not. This means that it is conceivable that in companies in which the volume of working hours is reduced, employees with a migration background are more likely to be sent to short-time or part-time work or to unemployment than employees without this background, which would be a case of discrimination.

How does loss of income affect personal political attitudes?

Respondents who had lost incomes were not only worried about their own economic situation far more often, but also see greater dangers for social cohesion and democracy in Germany – and they are critical of the corona measures. Forty percent of these people expressed concern that “restrictions on fundamental rights” will not be fully withdrawn after the crisis.

Does this mean that people with income losses are more likely to feel like victims and then go in search of the culprit?

Among those surveyed with income losses, 45 percent agreed that the pandemic may be used by the elites to enforce the interests of the rich and powerful. Among those who had not suffered any loss, only 36 percent agreed with this sentence. For me this means that the receptivity to conspiracy myths is increased. Such attitudes can have a socially destabilizing effect. When dealing with crises, one must therefore always keep an eye on the perception of social justice.


Debate after the Leipzig Corona demo: Saxon loss of control

After the riots in Leipzig there was cross-party criticism of the Saxon authorities. Federal Interior Minister Seehofer is silent.

We were able to demonstrate almost undisturbed: Corona deniers on Saturday in Leipzig Photo: Björn Kietzmann

LEIPZIG / BERLIN taz | The demo fiasco reaches federal politics on Sunday. The day before, tens of thousands of opponents of the corona measures were raised in Leipzig, and with them neo-Nazis and hooligans. Face masks and distances were ignored, bottles and pyrotechnics flew, journalists were attacked, the police were overrun. A mess with an announcement. Now comes the political settlement.

Federal Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht (SPD) was one of the first to declare that the events in Leipzig “cannot be justified by anything”. “The freedom to demonstrate is not a freedom to use violence or to put others at massive risk.” The police should “not leave the field to marauding violent criminals”. Such scenes should not be repeated in the pandemic. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) agrees: For him, too, the violent demonstrators left “the area of ​​protection of this fundamental right”.

SPD leader Saskia Esken also calls the police “completely overwhelmed”. Many of the corona protesters are “only right-wing agitators, slanders and informers”. Green leader Annalena Baerbock draws parallels to Chemnitz and Heidenau. The police and the state would have allowed pandemic deniers and neo-Nazis. “That has to be clarified at all levels.”

The black-red-green coalition in Saxony is also boiling. In a special meeting, the Saxon Interior Committee is to work on what has happened. Vice-Prime Minister Martin Dulig (SPD) wants to address the issue in the cabinet “very clearly”: The state had “let itself be led through the ring in Leipzig by the nose ring”. The Greens are already calling for Interior Minister Roland Wöller (CDU) to resign. His “inaction” is “no longer acceptable”.

Neo-Nazis at the demo? Kretschmer is silent about this

But the criticism is rolling off for now on Wöller and his boss, Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer. In the late afternoon, both invite you to an online press conference. There are actually only two statements, questions are not allowed. And the two CDU men are noticeably withdrawn. Kretschmer accuses the protesters of “hubris”. Your elevator was “extremely dangerous” in these pandemic times. “For all of us.” But Kretschmer does not say a word about the neo-Nazis, the attacked journalists or the police who were taken by surprise.

Interior Minister Wöller just as little. Above all, he criticizes the Bautzen Higher Administrative Court, which allowed the Corona protest march in the city center on Saturday – after the city administration moved it to the outskirts. The decision is “incomprehensible”. It was clear that the protesters would not keep to masks and distances. The court had “approved the largest corona party with over 20,000 participants”.

Otherwise, however, Wöller defends the corona demonstration as “predominantly peaceful”. The police operation was also unobjectionable, and violent clashes with counter-demonstrators had been prevented. “Accusing the police of having failed is irrelevant and completely absurd,” emphasizes Wöller. “I firmly reject this.”

Criticism of the Bautzen Higher Administrative Court

A violent dissolution of a peaceful demonstration was and is not an issue. What should it look like, asks Wöller. “Use of coercion against senior citizens or water cannons against children?” Only there were right-wing extremists – which Wöller leaves out. He strongly condemns the burning barricades on the night after the demonstration in Connewitz.

In Saxon politics, and beyond, this appearance is also partially acknowledged with a shake of the head. Leipzig’s Lord Mayor Burkhard Jung (SPD) has long been “pissed off at how the municipal level has been left alone again”.

In fact, many questions still arise. Certainly also to the Bautzen Higher Administrative Court. Because it was actually clear that the “lateral thinkers” would ignore distances and mouth-nose protection – it is part of the concept and was common practice in previous protests.

After the nationwide mobilization, it was also foreseeable that the 16,000 participants, which the judges gave as the maximum number of participants, should not remain. 40 coaches from all over Germany alone rolled to Leipzig on Saturday. It is also noteworthy that the chairman of the OVG judge, Matthias Dehoust, is responsible for the editing of the Saxon administrative sheets heard – in which the coronavirus was recently described as “not much worse” than the common flu.

Police did not enforce requirements

Saxony’s Green Justice Minister Katja Meier directs the allegations to the police and criticizes that the conditions were not enforced. There they defended themselves that the demonstration could only be stopped with immense force. They have relied on de-escalation. Only: That the protest day would be difficult and that right-wing extremists mobilized widely to Leipzig was already obvious in advance. Still, the officers looked unprepared and taken by surprise.

The police submitted numbers on Sunday. Over the weekend there were 102 crimes involving 89 suspects, including 14 attacks on police officers and 13 others on other people. There were 31 arrests and 140 recorded violations of the corona protection ordinance. This was not broken down into the Coronademo and the counter-protest. Attacks on media representatives were also not recorded, although some were documented on videos. Verdi spoke of 32 journalists injured. The police asked them to report – so far they have no knowledge of it.

The question remains how to deal with the corona protest – nationwide. Because there were similar scenes in Berlin at the end of August. Kretschmer and Wöller announced that they want to adapt the right of assembly to the Saxon pandemic protection regulation. Otherwise they appealed to “reason and consideration”.

Corona protesters celebrate demo as a success

The organizers of the “lateral thinking 711” initiative from Stuttgart, however, are not to be hoped for. They celebrated Saturday as a success. Successful pictures were produced and a “very friendly and amicable cooperation with the Federal Police”, explained their lawyer Markus Haintz. “We will win!”

On Sunday, however, the organizers rejected questions about the neo-Nazis who had traveled as a “denunciation”. One is a “peaceful, non-partisan movement”, distances itself from right-wing and left-wing extremists, according to a statement. Whoever joins the protest can neither be known nor controlled. The NPD is not forbidden either. “We are not the demonstrators’ political guardians.”

About all of this was silent on Sunday: Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU). His ministry only referred to the “extremely heterogeneous” character of the corona protest, in which individuals “use violence to achieve their goals”. General statements on the protests have not yet been made.


“Thinking outside the box” demo in Leipzig: And the police are watching

Journalists were attacked during protests by corona deniers in Leipzig. For the police it was a “largely” peaceful event.

Sad police officers: have to stay at the ring while the others are allowed to go to Connewitz with water cannons Photo: Björn Kietzmann

Anyone who was on the street in Leipzig on Saturday and was not one of the 45,000 anti-corona demonstrators inside could actually only shake their head. What happened there was pure madness: a mass event in which people huddle close together without covering their mouth and nose. In the middle of a global pandemic, in the middle of a lockdown.

But of course, for those who demonstrate against the infection control measures, this is of course not a problem. After all, it’s about: Against the “Corona dictatorship”, against vaccination, against 5G radiation and against the political elite. Nobody here is afraid of being infected.

Neither the very simple families, nor the esoterics: inside, imperial citizens, hippies, revolutionary romantics: inside, not even the neo-Nazi hools, for whom the mouth and nose protection up to the eyes offers just the right amount of disguise. The fact that so-called corona skeptics are skeptical of the virus – no, that doesn’t surprise anyone.

But what is surprising – or better said: absolutely incomprehensible – is how tens of thousands of these people can roam an inner city and remain largely undisturbed. Yes, even being able to break through police chains and beat journalists to the ground inside, and nothing happens except for a little pepper spray and a few arrests. Sure, there is freedom of assembly in Germany.

Two levels of law enforcement officers: inside

And sure, the city has previously tried to move the meeting to a spacious parking lot outside of the city. And of course, a court upheld the organizers’ action, which is why the meeting had to take place in the city center. Sure, even the Saxon Interior Minister Roland Wöller (CDU) condemned this decision. But: That doesn’t justify the police acting as they did. Namely: as good as not at all.

No, the police watched as the participants in the broken up rally formed a group, which then attacked the police and reporters. She watched as that bunch finally marched across the inner city ring hours after the breakup. It was foreseeable what could happen that day. Because it was an escalation with announcement. Scenes like this already existed in Chemnitz in 2018. And they have consequences. Or, as the journalist Heike Kleffner tweeted:

We would like to show you some external content here. You decide whether you want to see this element too.

I consent to external content being displayed to me. This allows personal data to be transmitted to third-party platforms. Read more about our privacy policy.

“Great concern that #Leipzig is accelerating the radicalization of the next generation of #right terrorism. In the trial of the murder of Walter Lübcke, one of the accused neo-Nazis testified that the decision to act was made after racist mass mobilization in #Chemnitz 2018. “So what should one think about the priorities of the police when tens of thousands of people are close together in the midst of the high number of infections crowd and the police can’t get them home?

What should you think when aggressive neo-Nazi hools attack people and nothing happens? If, on the other hand, a few hours later left-wing people in Connewitz set fire to objects – but nobody is harmed in the process – and water cannons and evacuation armor roll up within minutes? It’s daunting to see scenes like Saturday’s. To experience how people radicalize themselves and are violent and the state power watches powerlessly.

Especially when the police spokesman says afterwards that the goal is to avoid acts of violence and to have a peaceful course of the event “largely achieved.”


Prohibition of imperial war flags: the flag of the bad guys

With the Reich War Flag, the democratic parties have found an object for rustic symbolic politics – regardless of basic rights.

Already on October 3, 1990, a popular combination with some: the Reich war flag and the Hitler salute Photo: Jochen Eckel / imago

The largest federal state is now also there. Last Thursday the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia demanded by an overwhelming majority that the Reich war flag be banned. The request for a decree by the state government came from a very large coalition of the SPD, CDU, Greens and FDP. Only the AfD was against it.

Bremen and Lower Saxony had previously instructed the police to secure Reich war flags and to impose a fine on the users. Rhineland-Palatinate followed on Friday. There are already plans in Bavaria. And Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) put the topic on the agenda of the Interior Ministers’ Conference in December. A nationwide procedure is to be discussed there. Until then it will probably continue like this. Sometimes the initiative comes from the SPD, sometimes from the Union. And the liberals of the FDP and the Greens march well.

“Reich war flags are regularly put on display by right-wing extremist organizations in public and have thus become a symbol of identification for these groups,” said NRW in support of the reason.

It’s not about real Nazi flags at all. Showing the Reich war flag, which was used in the Third Reich from 1935, has long been a criminal offense, as a swastika is emblazoned in the middle. The current bans only concern the forerunners from 1867: the war flags of the North German Confederation, the German Empire and the democratic Weimar Republic. The flags should be banned because they are used as symbols by right-wing extremists.

USA: Far right and Hawaiian shirts

But do you reflexively forbid everything that Nazis use for self-expression? In the US, right-wing extremists are currently using Hawaiian shirts and igloos as identification symbols. Is there a Hawaiian shirt decree coming soon? One has to distinguish: It is rightly forbidden to use Nazi symbols because as such they stand for the rule of violence and arbitrariness. But it is not forbidden that today’s Nazis use any symbols.

The Federal Constitutional Court even sees “the spread of National Socialist ideas” and the “radical questioning of the current order” in the area of ​​protection of freedom of expression. Bans can only be justified if specific legal interests are at risk.

But so far the proponents of the ban have little to offer apart from indignation at the provocation. In the Bremen decree, the showing of the Reich war flag is described as a “danger to an orderly civic coexistence”. The use should be punished as “nuisance to the general public”, as “grossly inappropriate behavior”. “If the Reich war flag is used to provoke, then that’s all over,” says North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU).

Provocation as a yardstick

What provokes and harasses is banned, that is how the attitude of the countries can be summarized. An understanding of fundamental rights that makes the attitudes and provocability of the majority the standard, is usually found in Eastern European countries. In Germany, such thinking would normally meet with great outrage – if it weren’t for right-wing extremists.

Instead of presenting figures, reference is usually only made to an incident at the end of August when the stairs of the Berlin Reichstag were stormed on the edge of a coronademo. Photos show that black, white and red imperial flags were waved there. Nonetheless, today people mostly speak of “Reich war flags” – probably because it sounds more reprehensible. However, Bremen and Rhineland-Palatinate even want to prevent the old Reich flag from being shown if it is used provocatively, in NRW, on the other hand, they limit themselves to the Reich war flag. In practice, such subtleties do not matter. In the three weeks after the Bremen decree came into force, not a single flag was seized, neither the Reich nor the Reich war flag. It is probably just a matter of “showing the flag” against flags, a kind of double symbolic politics.

“Reich flags in front of parliament are shameful,” tweeted Foreign Minister Heiko Maas after the Reichstag storm at the end of August. Deutschlandfunk commented: “These pictures should never have existed”. The dismay is reminiscent of a discussion 20 years ago when federal politicians wanted to prevent Nazis from demonstrating with torches at the Brandenburg Gate. Right-hand elevators in “symbolic places” would “seriously damage the reputation of the Federal Republic of Germany abroad”, it was said at the time.

Example of the Brandenburg Gate

But fear for Germany’s reputation is neither a valid reason to ban certain demonstrations, nor can it be a justification for banning certain flags. In order to avoid a defeat in Karlsruhe, there was no legal ban on demonstrations at the Brandenburg Gate. In the case of the ban on the Reich war flag, however, there is still no constitutional insight.

Instead, NRW Minister Reul justified the ban on the Reich war flag with the protection of the corona demonstrators and their concerns. But that’s completely twisted. Wasn’t the scandal in the fact that the corona skeptics had no problem with right-wing extremists walking along with them with visible symbols? The “lateral thinkers” could certainly have banished such flags from their demos.

It is rather good when everyone can see with which circles anti-vaccination and mask opponents are teaming up. Right-wing extremists should therefore be able to continue demonstrating visibly with their self-chosen symbols. For the purposes of anti-fascism and the protection of the constitution, a state-prescribed forced camouflage would even be counterproductive.