A Personal Essay from the Streets of Eastern Germany


Hana Levi Julian

A young activist living in Germany wrote the following personal essay expressing her deep concern over the increasing escalation of anti-Semitism in the country.

Tens of thousands of very angry extreme right-wing hooligans have been marching through the streets of (mostly) eastern German cities. People with the “wrong” apparel no longer dare to leave their houses. This happened, for example, in Chemnitz, (see video clip) where I was recently; this was not a myth or something, it was 8,000 neo-Nazis in a hunting mood being tolerated by police.

While this is not really surprising to me, the unbelievable thing is the reaction of Saxony’s ministry of interior, who has been trying to play it down as “clashes between right-wing and left-wing extremists.”

The really disproportionate reaction came from the police who were mostly standing by and watching while people got chased and beaten by an angry mob. There haven’t been more than 1,000 counter-protesters in the streets. The neo-Nazis outnumbered us by a factor of 10 and police stopped protecting us!

It’s not that they don’t have the resources — in a protest against open-cast-mining earlier this year they sent a SWAT team right away, police were carrying semi-automatic guns. In the current situation police were unarmed and didn’t intervene, to the degree of refusing to file complaints against the neo-Nazis even from prominent journalists (who got beaten up as well).

Are things that bad, that Saxony’s government is too afraid of acting against the Nazis because one of them might get hurt and that may trigger more escalation?

Only now, more than a week after the initial escalation, people are ‘waking up’ and going to the streets against racism in higher numbers.

However, it took a very long time, and needed to be a spectacular event with music and shows and everything to actually get 65,000 people to the streets. Finally however the proportion has indeed flipped and now there are 10 times more humanists than neo-Nazis.

To me, Leipzig used to be a nice place, but now I’m afraid that the next election in Saxony this October may result in the AfD extreme-right party becoming the strongest fraction in parliament (predictions range around 20%-30%). This would obviously change the quite liberal attitude of authorities we have been exposed to until now.

I will not risk my life fighting them, but rather escape early and help others to escape when needed.

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