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Marching against the Nazis
TEN THOUSAND people joined a noisy and determined demonstration to close down the neo-Nazi NPD (National Democratic Party of Germany) office in Kopenick, East Berlin, last Saturday. A significant proportion of the demonstration was local people.
By a member of Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE)
Anger against the far-right has grown in Germany because of the increase in neo-Nazi activity and attacks this summer. Eight people were murdered in these attacks.
The bombing of an underground station in Dusseldorf severely injured a number of mainly Jewish immigrants and led to a young pregnant woman losing her baby, was widely reported in the media.
In an attempt to intimidate local people, Jewish and immigrant communities, the NPD carried out an attack on a Jewish synagogue two days before the march. However, this only swelled the numbers of demonstrators who travelled from all over Germany.
Socialist Alternative Voran (SAV), the sister party of the Socialist Party in Germany, organised a contingent of 300-400 people together with the German section of YRE.
Michael, a school student who lives in Kopenick, said why he came on the march: "The NPD were a lot of skinheads in my area and it was dangerous going around. I don't like it. The YRE and SAV gave me a sheet of paper at my school, then I came to a few meetings with some information. After today we have to do a lot of work, more demos, we have to inform the people."
The march also visited a detention centre before marching on the NPD headquarters in order to show solidarity with the refugees and migrants imprisoned there and connect the fight against the far-right with opposition to racist policies carried out by the government.
Theo, from North Carolina, said: "I'm living in Frankfurt and so of course I've come to support of any kind of movement against the NPD. The antifa [anti-fascist movement] were also trying to make it a demonstration against state racism and deportations, so that's what made me come today."
Police provocation was used to try and discredit the march but in fact there was very little trouble. Water cannons were used against one section of the demonstration at the detention centre and there was some fighting at the NPD headquarters, which was only around 100 metres from the final rally. Of course, it was mostly the violence that made the news but it was a small part of a very successful, strong and disciplined demonstration.
A leaflet aimed at local people was distributed along the sides of the demonstration, with speeches, music and chanting throughout the march. Red SAV flags and YRE placards, and banners, made the contingent instantly recognisable, attractive and lively.
There is huge potential for this movement to grow. Not only could it close down the NPD headquarters but it could push back the far-right in Germany.
To achieve this SAV and the German YRE are campaigning for this to be a mass movement from below (similar to the movement which shut down the neo-Nazi British National Party's HQ in London in the 1990s).
However, a number of other organisations, including the Socialist Workers' Party's German section, are calling for the parties in government in Germany (the SPD and the Green Party) to be allowed into the anti-NPD alliance.
Some argue that marching to the detention centre was a mistake and that the campaign should not oppose social cutbacks because these things will scare the SPD and the Green Party away. But it is precisely state racism and anti-foreigner propaganda and the government's pro-capitalist policies that is adding to unemployment, poverty and social problems, thereby allowing the fascists to scapegoat immigrants and gain some support amongst young workers and unemployed who see no future prospects.
Vivien, a member of the YRE and SAV, and a school student from Prenzlauerberg (East Berlin), commented: "We're against involving the SPD and Green Party in the alliance against the NPD. We think that's very dangerous because these parties make the official state racism and we couldn't have confidence in them or the police to bring success to the campaign.
"The trade unions have to do more because they can organise many people but they don't do it. That's a very big problem.
"We will have more meetings, especially with the population of Kopenick. We go to the streets, handing out leaflets and talking with people. We have to do more, not just one demonstration."
In The Socialist 13 October 2000: