People gather in front of the Reichstag in Berlin to protest against the Alternative for Germany (AfD) political party on January 21, 2024 (Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

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Protests erupt across Germany against ‘neo-Nazi’ AfD


Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Germany to demonstrate against the populist right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party, seen by many protestors as “neo-Nazi”.

The mass gatherings over the weekend of January 19-21 were in response to reports from the German non-profit investigative journalism group Correctiv about a meeting of AfD politicians.

Allegedly, the party members discussed deportation plans known as “remigration”, a term that relates to the forcible return of “migrants” to their countries of origin.

The AfD, currently leading in the polls, denied any accountability for the demonstrations.

Leading politicians expressed solidarity with the protestors. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz praised the demos, declaring that radical right-wingers are “undermining democracy”.

Protesters with placards and Palestinian flags are shown. The hard-left ANTIFA symbol was also prevalent, as was the “progress pride” flag showing its intersex inclusive redesign. (EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER)
Protestors with anti-AfD signs. (EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER)
Placards reading “Nazism” and “1933”, the year Nazis took power in Germany, were also seen at the demonstrations. (EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER)
A woman in front of the German Parliament Bundestag shows her feelings on the matter. (EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER)

The “Fridays for Future” movement and other non-governmental organisations organised the demonstrations, held under the banner “Defend Democracy”.

“For freedom and democracy, against hate and extremism”, placards read. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
Demonstrators in Frankfurt Am Main (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
Turnout was also significant in Munich. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
Many anti-Hitler references were seen on placards held by protestors. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

In Munich alone, around 100,000 people took to the streets. In Cologne, organisers claimed 70,000 people showed up and in Berlin between 60,000 and 100,000.

On January 19, 50,000 people protested in Hamburg, Germany’s second-biggest city although, given the huge numbers, it ended prematurely due to public-safety concerns.

Tens of thousands of protesters attended protests the following day in other German towns, including Stuttgart, Nuremberg and Hannover.

There were also numerous demonstrations in smaller cities across the country.

Observers said that the outpouring of anti-right-wing feeling showed that the AfD is proving highly divisive, despite the fact that, in the polls, it is performing ever-more strongly.

Some protestors called for an outright ban of the AfD, in the name of protecting democracy. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
“Human rights instead of Right humans,” read this banner. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
Some placards did not need translation … (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

“The future of our democracy does not depend on the volume of its opponents, but on the strength of those who defend democracy,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a video statement.

Those turning out to protest, he added, “defend our republic and our constitution against its enemies”.

A demonstrator holds a placard  reading:” Capitalism, Fascism”, during the demonstration in front of the Reichstag (Photo by Maryam Majd/Getty Images)
ANTIFA sympathisers in Leipzig, Saxony. (Photo by Craig Stennett/Getty Images)
A European Union flag and an anti-AfD sign at the demonstrations. (Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)