Are German free speech radicals neo-Nazi allies?

“Never again” referring to the Holocaust and preparations for it is a popular but worn out slogan. It is happening right now in Germany.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld , | updated: 14:30

OpEds Neo-Nazi protestors
Neo-Nazi protestors
Manfred Gerstenfeld

The more one sees developments in Germany, the more one realizes that they have to be watched even more critically. “Never again” referring to the Holocaust and preparations for it is a popular but worn out slogan. If German authorities had learned all the necessary lessons they should have, they would have forbidden post-war expressions of neo-Nazism even to the extent that it might mean limiting free speech. 

At the end of October 2019, the municipal council of the capital of Saxony, Dresden, voted in favor of a resolution declaring a “Nazi-emergency” in the city. Though mainly symbolic it meant that more had to be done against neo-Nazism. The town has for a number of years been seen as a hotbed of the extreme right. It is the birthplace of the anti-Islam Pegida movement (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West). Since 2014 neo-Nazi rallies have been held in Dresden. Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats voted in the municipal council against this Nazi-emergency resolution. The state of Saxony has also been a stronghold of the far right, national democratic party of Germany (NPD) whose worldview contains neo-Nazi ideas. 

Marches of neo-Nazis or extreme rightists close to them are not limited to Dresden. Sometimes, but not always, extreme antisemitic and/or anti-Israel slogans can be heard. This year on the evening of September 30, 70 neo-Nazis marched through the city of Dortmund. The slogans they shouted included: “Palestine help us, Israel still exists.” Police prevented attempts of blockades to hinder the march by Nazi-opponents. There were a hundred counter demonstrators. After complaints from the police, a court prohibited the slogan: “Here marches the national resistance."


The police had forbidden the use of the slogan "Never, never, never again Israel." The neo-Nazi demonstrators appealed to the court and won the case in both the first and second instance.
Since that date, each Monday neo-Nazis march in Dortmund. The police had forbidden the use of the slogan "Never, never, never again Israel." The neo-Nazi demonstrators appealed to the court and won the case in both the first and second instance. The higher administrative court in Münster decided that the slogan does not constitute incitement.

In August 2018, 170 right-wing extremists marched in two locations of Dortmund. Witnesses said antisemitic slogans were shouted, yet, the police didn't intervene. When there was criticism about the police, they answered that they had put conditions to the marchers, however the senior court in Münster had voided these conditions. 

In the beginning of October 2019, a thousand people demonstrated under the title “We for Germany” in Berlin. They shouted at counter-demonstrators: “If we want we will kill you.” Video footage released by the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Antisemitism (JFDA) shows that the event was in fact a hard-core neo-Nazi march.

Hundreds of neo-Nazis demonstrated in August this year in Berlin to commemorate the 31t anniversary of the death of the high ranking Nazi, Rudolf Hess. They carried banners with slogans such as "I regret nothing."  Police in riot gear fought protestors attempting to stop the neo-Nazis from marching through the city center. 

In April this year there was a march of extreme rightists in Magdeburg which drew 150-200 supporters. The number has decreased over the years. In 2012 there were 1200 such demonstrators and in 2018, 500. 

In February 2019, neo-Nazis marched in Nuremberg at the former field of the NSDAP, the Nazi Party. They did not receive permission from the authorities.  The demonstrators stood with torches on the platform where Hitler spoke. The police didn't intervene in order to protect itself. The Bavarian Minister of Interior, Joachim Herrmann (CSU) said that the police behavior was "not very fortunate. In future, such acts should be prohibited." One can add to these examples other neo-Nazi marches in 2018 and 2019 such as in Duisburg, Plauen and Köthen.

The limiting of free incitement speech also came up in another issue.

On May 17, 2019, the German parliament, the Bundestag, adopted a motion equating BDS with antisemitism. In response, 240 Jewish and Israeli masochist scholars wrote a letter rejecting this equivalence. They called on the German government not to endorse the motion and to protect and respect freedom of speech. Free hate speech in Germany has, not even hundred years ago led to the most extreme criminal acts against Jews in history. 

Another critic of the Bundestag anti-BDS resolution was Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Her office said: "The decision interferes disproportionately with the right of people of expression of political opinions in Germany, in particular to express support for the BDS movement in Germany.” 

Five rapporteurs of the UN also signed this message. One if these is Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory. The history of that function might qualify it as ‘antisemitic’ according to the IHRA definition of antsemitism.  If Bachelet wants to criticize the limitless far more severe ongoing limitations of expression of political opinions by dictatorial members of the UN she will have no time left for sleep.

The only way to fully expose the German government’s failures to act against attackers of Jews and Israel is to provide details in all the areas concerned.

  • Another failure concerns the lack of protection of many synagogues, which became clear in the failed massacre at Halle. Germany allows the genocidal movement, Hezbollah, to march and operate mosques.
  • The country supports many anti-Israel motions ate the UN General Assembly.
  • Germany is the largest importer of Muslim antisemites in Europe.
  • It cuddles up to the genocidal regime in Iran.

The more one investigates the country, the more one obtains a negative picture of its democratic leaders.




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