Neo-Nazis in Germany gather for festival on Hitler's birthday

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 21, 2018

Thousands of neo-Nazis anticipated to gather Friday, marking Adolf Hitler's birthday bash, for a two-day event within a tiny far eastern German community in which anti-fascist organizations have pledged counter-protests.

The police in Germany and neighboring Poland are reportedly checking people arriving in the town for the so-called "Shield and Sword festival", which is expected to draw up to 1,000 far-right extremists from Germany, the neighboring Czech Republic and Poland.

"You will see police on every corner", the regional law enforcement chief informed a local magazine, with numerous police officers added coming from various other regions, while Polish powers throughout the Neisse waterway border in addition pointed out they would certainly move up patrols.

It comes amid a revival of a far-right and ultra-nationalist groups in Germany, with the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD) the third largest party in the Bundestag.

The Shield and Sword festival organiser is Thorsten Heise of the far-right fringe party NPD, which is openly xenophobic and anti-Semitic but a year ago avoided a legal ban because of its small membership and limited influence.

Ostritz is in a region where the AfD scored some of its strongest results in the 2017 elections.

Yet, anti-fascist or "antifa" protesters caution that 2,500-3,500 Neo-Nazis from all over Europe might turn up at this celebration, with countless numbers taking up a position just across the neighbouring Polish boundary.

"We will not stand and watch when neo-Nazis from Germany and the rest of Europe come for a party to celebrate the Fuehrer's birthday", the initiative "Rechts Rockt Nicht" pointed out on the internet, promising to "stand together as well as resist them".

'An inhumane ideology that glorifies Hitler and his deeds has no place in our society, ' say its organisers.

While neo-Nazis have long staged underground concerts for recruiting and fund-raising, a major two-day music festival with a tent city and tickets selling at up to 45 euros (£39) is seen as an escalation of an emboldened far-right movement.

Sascha Elser, a spokeswoman for Rechts Rockt Nicht, said that, ironically, Polish extremists were expected to flock to the festival, where German and eastern European neo-Nazis hope to "strengthen relations".

Also on the programme is a "fight night" event called "Kampf der Nibelungen", a reference from Germanic and Norse mythology, featuring boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts. 'At all times it was fighters who defended their clan, their tribe, their homeland'.

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