Hey! Remember that time Sigmar Gabriel, the German foreign minister, flipped off a bunch of neo-Nazis for calling him a “traitor”? That was almost a year ago. Well, he’s since lost his perspective pretty badly, particularly during the recent G-20 summit in Hamburg. He compared the German Antifa with the very people they’re against, which is not smart. (We’ll get to exactly why in a bit, if it’s not glaringly obvious to you already.) Antifa were being arrested in the streets; it was a real shitshow.
Meanwhile, in a northeastern part of the country, this happened…and nobody dared to stop it:
In the small Thurigian town of Themar, on the weekend, Germany’s largest Nazi rock concert in decades took place. More than 6,000 right-wingers from all over the republic and abroad came to the festival under the title of “Rock Against Foreign Invasion”. It was largely peaceful; the police eventually took just three persons into custody.
In the meantime, 43 charges have been laid, among others the use of illegal symbols and violations of the weapons laws. Between the band appearances, right-wing functionaries gave speeches, which is why the event, despite its largely commercial character, was protected by law under freedom of assembly.
Among the bands appearing were several whose racist lyrics have risen to cult status in the right-wing music scene, such as Sleipnir, Stahlgewitter, and the “Lunikoff Conspiracy” from Berlin, whose lead singer, Michael Regener, led an earlier band, Landser, which was sentenced as a criminal organization in 2003.
Among the speakers were well-known right-wing extremists, including 77-year-old former NPD representative and many-times-convicted Holocaust denier, Günter Deckert, as well as Thügida chief David Köckert.
A leader of the antisemitic group European Action (EA) was also among the speakers. He and other EA activists are suspected by the local prosecutor’s office of forming a criminal organization; just three weeks ago, there was an extensive search. Also on the speakers’ list in Themar was Denis Nikitin of Russia, head of the martial-arts club “White Rex”, who trains neo-Nazis in and out of country and supplies them accordingly with fashions from his own label.
There were many legal confrontations surrounding the event. The town and county were opposed to using public monies to secure access and parking for the visitors, and stated as well that the organizers demanded entry fees for the concert, and set up a whole row of concession stands on the grounds. The court, however, ruled against the municipality.
The right-wing organizers thus made good money: At 35 euros a ticket, tickets sales alone brought in more than 200,000 euros.
Parallel to the Nazi concert, on Saturday night several hundred residents of Themar held a folk festival and prayers, peacefully protesting the Nazi influx. Most of the hostels, hotels and retailers of the city hung out signs stating that they refused to co-operate with the Nazis.
Even if Antifa groups had showed up, local security forces were there to prevent counter-demonstrations on account of the danger. Some 1,000 officials from several states secured the area, a field on the outskirts of Themar.
The land belonged to the mayor of a neighboring town, who until two weeks ago had been a local functionary of the AFD. The AFD politician had left the party in the meantime, after the local AFD organization heavily criticized his standing with right-wing extremists.
Even from the early morning hours on Saturday, Highway B 89, which leads through Themar, was closed. The police set up a security cordon between the town and the grounds where the right-wing concert was held.
Visitors had to pass through numerous checkpoints to get to the concert grounds. While the police was checking them for weapons and illegal clothing, the festival organizer took particular care to see that no guests brought cameras or camera-equipped cellphones in. Apparently the organizers wanted to make sure that only audiovisual materials controlled by them made it into the public eye over the social networks.
Numerous representatives of the Left, SPD and Green parties of Thüringen came to Themar on Saturday to get a picture of the security situation. Press representatives and police officers accompanied them to the grounds.
Local parliamentarian Katharina König-Preuss reported that there were speeches railing against politicians and journalists. “I was yelled at and insulted, some reporters were spat upon, right-wingers even tried to strike at cameras and media representatives. There was an aggressive atmosphere and a great deal of hate,” she said.
Madeleine Henfling, of the greens, was disquieted above all by the broad spectrum of visitors. “There were representatives of various neo-Nazi groups there, from the Hammerskins to Blood & Honour, various clubs, even right-wing parties and organizations that usually undertake little or nothing together and often even work against one another,” she said.
Even right-wingers from outside of Germany were there, among them Russians, Czechs, Italians and Swiss, along with members of right-wing extremist groups from South Tirol, with whom Thuringian neo-Nazis have cultivated close ties for many years. Henfling noted that practically the entire age spectrum was on hand. “There were very young people, but also older men, 70, 80 years old. It was like a generational meeting of the Nazis.”
So there you go. While ol’ Uncle Siggy was comparing the Antifa to the Nazis they’re fighting against, actual fucking Nazis, neo and paleo, were partying it up with their illegal symbology and music, and even ones who’d been repeatedly arrested were there with virtual (and actual) impunity. And what’s more, the local court okayed it, even though Nazism is supposedly illegal in Germany.
And Siggy, when it comes to actual fucking Nazis, was nowhere to be seen. Or heard.
Jeez, it’s just like the SPD of a hundred years ago!