Foto: Berlin gegen Nazis/Florian Boillot

Documentation: “Abstand halten gegen Rechts“ protest campaign 2021, part 3

Yet again, from January to August 2021, residents, organizations, initiatives and alliances took a stance against right-wing, conspiracy-ideological gatherings in Berlin-Mitte and other districts, by means of banners, action campaigns, and rallies. We document this admirable commitment under pandemic conditions chronologically as follows.

By fall 2020, demonstrations from the conspiracy ideology spectrum had started to become more diverse. In addition to large, nationwide mobilizations to Berlin, there were more and more local gatherings in the different Berlin districts. This development continued during the first months of 2021. Here, we focus on documenting the protest campaigns which responded to the large conspiracy ideological mobilizations and we reference our previous protest documentation referring to smaller events. The documentation lays no claim to being comprehensive. (Documentations 2020 Part 1 & Part 2)

Protests against motorcades in several districts (February / March 21)

Photos: Berlin gegen Nazis

In the first months of 2021, conspiracy-ideological motorcades in the evening hours were the most commonly used format of gatherings, peaking in March. They continued to take place regularly in the summer of 2021, although with lower numbers of participants. (Background information here) At the end of January 2021, counter-protests by residents and civil society initiatives spanning several districts formed; in some cases with a large number of campaigns and events, e.g. in Lichtenberg, Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, and Neukölln. We have documented the protests in detail here.

Campaign against the anniversary of the first conspiracy ideological meeting in Berlin (28.03.)

Photos: Berlin gegen Nazis/Omas gegen Rechts Berlin

On March 28, as on countless weekends in 2020, Volksbühne Berlin at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz took a stance against conspiracy ideologies and anti-Semitism. This time, the occasion was the anniversary of the very first “Hygiene Demo” on 28.03.2020 and a corresponding conspiracy ideological demonstration (background information here) marching from Wedding to Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, which was already met with counter-protest at the starting point. At Volksbühne they would encounter the well-known Reptiloid counter-protest.

Neighborhood protests against “Querdenker“ tour through Berlin (April / May 2021)

At the beginning of March, a network of many micro-groupings from the conspiracy-ideological spectrum gathered under the slogan “Demo-Tour”,(background information here), which came to hold demonstrations regularly in various Berlin districts and continued to register gatherings until late summer 2021, although the numbers of participants dwindled from June onwards.

Counter-protests formed, for example, on occasion of the registration of a gathering in Spandau on April 10. More than one hundred residents of Spandau gathered in front of city hall at a rally organized by Spandauer Bündnis für Solidarität, Gesundheit und Demokratie (Spandau Alliance for Solidarity, Health and Democracy), and more than 35 people simultaneously joined online for a virtual demonstration against conspiracy ideologies. Many residents showed their protest on the streets along the route against the conspiracy ideology demonstration.

Photos: Berlin gegen Nazis / Licht-Blicke /Spandauer Bündnis für Solidarität, Gesundheit und Demokratie

Powerful counter-protests followed on April 24 in Kreuzberg. 500 residents with broad support from the neighboring apartment buildings protested against a conspiracy ideological demonstration of about eighty people, including several neo-Nazis. A protest rally of spdxhain at Willy-Brandt-Haus marked the start. On the registered demonstration route leading through narrow streets, the entire neighborhood had taken a stance against conspiracy ideologies by means of creative banners on the facades oft he buildings. However, the very small conspiracy ideology demonstration did not even reach these neighborhoods. Due to several spontaneous counter-protests along the route, it was rerouted using a short cut via Mehringdamm directly to the final location at Platz der Luftbrücke.

On April 25, more than 75 people protested against the opening rally of the conspiracy-ideological “Demo Tour” in Neukölln-Gropiusstadt. The speakers at the counter protests hosted by the alliances Bündnis Neukölln and Hufeisern gegen Rechts addressed shortcomings in regards to care work, the situation of Corona patients and their relatives, the inhumane rhetoric of the self-proclaimed lateral thinkers, and their connectivity to the majority of society. The attacks on journalists were mentioned as well as the threat and defamation of individuals involved in the counter-protests. A week later, on May 1, several hundred residents of Lichtenberg protested against a conspiracy-ideological demonstration through the residential neighborhood of Nibelungenkiez.

Symbolic protest against nationwide “Day X“ mobilization (21.04.)

Photo: Oliver Feldhaus

On April 21, the initiative “Geradedenken” symbolically opposed, as it had on November 18, 2020, the short-term nationwide “Day X“ mobilization to rally at the government quarter (background information) with 8,000 to 10,000 people participating. Due to the expected violent course, which proved true, many initiatives and alliances refrained from counter-protest on this Wednesday in April.

Protests in several districts against nationwide mobilization on Whitsun (21.-24.05.)

A group from the conspiracy-ideological spectrum, which had carried out several so-called silent marches with supra-regional mobilization in various districts under counter-protest of local residents in the fall of 2020, had been mobilizing over several months and nationwide to join their conspiracy-ideological gathering during the Whitsun weekend in Berlin. Over four days, there were to be motorcades (Friday), a “Sternschweigemarsch“ march (Saturday), a major rally at Tiergarten (Sunday), as well as further rallies in all Berlin districts (Monday). This mobilization proved to be a failure. Only about two thousand participants gathered. The central events on Saturday and Sunday were banned, and on Whit Monday there were only a few rallies in several districts with small numbers of participants. There were counter-protests on all days, with a focus on Whit Monday in four districts.

On Friday, residents protested loudly and visibly at Theodor-Heuss-Platz in Charlottenburg against the final event of four motorcades. The slogan: Science instead of conspiracy ideology. At the same time, the prelude to the weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, the Reptiloid counter-protesters took over the city center with a bicycle parade, with attempts at spontaneous gatherings from the conspiracy ideology milieu, which were quickly stopped or dispersed by the police.

Photos: Berlin gegen Nazis/Asta ASH (Twitter)/reclaimrosaluxemburgplatz (Twitter)/Omas gegen Rechts Berlin

On Saturday evening already, early departure from Berlin began, thus many “district rallies” scheduled for Monday were cancelled. Despite the cancellation of its local conspiracy ideology rally, the alliance Bündnis Neukölln held a powerful event at Richardplatz. On Mehringdamm in Kreuzberg, there were counter-protests continuously against a conspiracy-ideological rally organized by residents of the neighborhood, and in Pankow, Omas gegen Rechts Berlin protested. Alice-Salomon-Hochschule took a stance with a giant banner on its facade in sight of the conspiracy ideological rally with some „Reichsbürger“ ideologues and right-wing extremists in Marzahn-Hellersdorf. In Reinickendorf and Schöneberg, as well as at Mauerpark in Prenzlauer Berg, there were spontaneous protest utterances of residents.

Protest against provocation at the Holocaust Memorial (20.07.)

Photos: Berlin gegen Nazis

On July 20, the anniversary of Stauffenberg’s assassination of Hitler in 1944, a well-known video blogger from the conspiracy-ideological spectrum registered a demonstration leading from the German Resistance Memorial to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. To date, this registration represents the pinnacle of provocations at the Holocaust Memorial, most of which consist of Nazi trivialization in the context of conspiracy ideological gatherings near the memorial. (Background information here) Omas gegen Rechts Berlin responded with a protective gathering at the memorial and were supported by further initiatives, despite short notice mobilization. The conspiracy ideological demonstration, which ultimately consisted of seven people, was not allowed to close at the Holocaust Memorial, and following the protective rally of Omas gegen Rechts, spontaneous and loud counter-protest erupted at Pariser Platz. In the following six weeks, Omas gegen Rechts Berlin offered protection at the Holocaust Memorial twice more.

Campaign and protest against the first anniversary of Querdenken (01.08.)

On occasion of the first anniversary of the nationwide gatherings of “Querdenken” on August 1, 2020, large gatherings in the government district and the Berlin city center by protagonists of the conspiracy ideological spectrum had been announced from the beginning of the year. An initiative to start a city-wide poster campaign with emphasis on the government district was initiated from within the Berlin gegen Nazis partner network, which includes over eighty partner organizations such as companies, trade unions, cultural institutions, sports clubs and social institutions, associations and clubs. The poster campaign’s slogan read “DAS WIRD MAN JA NOCH FRAGEN DÜRFEN” (SOMETHING ONE MAY STILL ASK). (in-depth documentation of the campaign) The campaign put question marks behind the relevant questions in public space on screens and boards provided by more than ten partners (hundreds of billboards, facade monitors, balconies) of the city. It made the conspiracy ideological activities visible as bold and simple in the literal sense on the flat surface of the poster. Sometimes in an ironic way, sometimes taken seriously. The campaign reminds us of the true meaning of basic constitutional rights, such as freedom of opinion, by way of putting them in question. One’s own opinion is never protected against criticism and opposition and, above all, freedom of opinion has its limits where other people’s dignity is compromised. Around August 29, several partners took a stance once more in the context of the campaign.

Photos: Berlin gegen Nazis /Florian Boillot

Starting on July 30, conspiracy ideological gatherings took place in Berlin, while, however, the main gatherings had been banned. (Background information) On Saturday afternoon, spontaneous counter-protests by residents formed against a rally at Nettelbeckplatz in the district of Wedding. In Charlottenburg, Schöneberg and Kreuzberg, spontaneous unannounced conspiracy ideology demonstrations took place on August 1, with a total of about 5,000 participants, aiming to march towards the government district. On the morning of August 1, up to 200 participants gathered to join the counter protests of the second protective rally in front of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe not far from Brandenburg Gate. Despite the assembly bans, many small groups from the conspiracy ideological spectrum gathered in its immediate vicinity. Many of them passed the rally organized by Omas gegen Rechts, with occasional loud utterances of hostility.

Photos: Berlin gegen Nazis/Florian Boillot/ locke_nk (Twitter)

The rally organized by Omas gegen Rechts Berlin was supported by Omas gegen Rechts Deutschland-Bündnis, further Omas from Hamburg, Halle, Kiel and Cologne traveled to the event. The Berlin chapter of VVN-B.d.A, IG Metall Berlin, Aufstehen gegen Rassismus, the residents’ initiative Anwohner*innen-Initiative für Zivilcourage – Gegen Rechts and many others were also present. The Reptiloid Counter-Protest also held a small demonstration in the city center and the Reptiloid Bike Parade took to the road during the weekend as well. In the afternoon, a rave party under the slogan “Geradedenken-Rave” took place in accordance with distance regulation and hygiene concept at Siegessäule.

Campaign and protest against the first anniversary of Querdenken (29.08.)

The advertised “Summer of Freedom” of “Querdenken” in Berlin did not take place. Since the beginning of the year, almost daily assembly announcements were announced over the entire month of August with prelude and conclusion on the anniversaries of the Querdenken demonstrations from 2020 on August 1 and 29. After the spontaneous demonstrations of August 1, which proved to be violent in part, causing disputes within the conspiracy ideological spectrum, however, a nationwide conspiracy ideological mobilization to Berlin was taken up again. Again, on Saturday and Sunday, there were spontaneous conspiracy ideological gatherings with a total of about 5,000 participants, some of them violent, passing through Friedrichshain, Prenzlauer Berg, Mitte and Moabit. (Background information)

Photos: Berlin gegen Nazis

Leading up to the last weekend of August, organizations, stores, and institutions in the districts took a stance against conspiracy ideologies and anti-Semitism by means of brightly colored posters. These posters were the result of a cooperation of half a dozen partnerships for democracy in Berlin’s districts supported by Berlin against Nazis. These posters were also put up in the vicinity of the vaccination center Arena in Treptow, which had been the target of conspiracy ideological gatherings multiple times. On August 29, a poster also appeared as part of the third protective rally organized by Omas gegen Rechts Berlin at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

Photos: Berlin gegen Nazis /reclaimrosaluxemburgplatz (Twitter)

Since the early summer of 2020, the target of the conspiracy ideological gatherings was the government district, the adjacent Tiergarten, and the city center east. As on August 1, almost all conspiracy ideological rallies had been banned there on the weekend of August 29. Nevertheless, there were hostilities from small groups at the rally organized by Omas gegen Rechts at the Holocaust Memorial with up to seventy-five participants. The central locations at the government district were also crowded with the reptilian counter-protests and small rallies, demonstrations, and a bicycle parade. A further “Geradedenken-Rave” at Siegessäule took place as well.

The third part of our documentation shows: Berlin’s civil society has consistently taken a stance against anti-Semitism and conspiracy ideologies during 2021. So far, a mass mobilization against the conspiracy ideology rallies has failed to materialize, which is also due to the continuing pandemic.

Documentation 2020 parts 1 and 2