Organizers of the Essen march claimed Thursday's event was attended by 5,000 people who walked through the city center. Police estimated several thousand people took part in the rally that was "totally relaxed."
"Together we stand for cosmopolitanism, democracy, humanism and tolerance. We will not leave the street for the right," the protesters said.
The demonstration was the latest in a series of anti-racism rallies that have been organized following violent anti-immigrant protests in the eastern German city of Chemnitz that were sparked by the fatal stabbing of a 35-year-old German man in August.
The demonstrators united under the motto "wirsindmehr — Aufstehen gegen rechte Hetze," or "We are more — standing up against right-wing agitation."
"Wirsindmehr" has become a rallying call for anti-right protesters after a concert against neo-Nazi violence and racism in Chemnitz used the phrase as a hashtag earlier this month. More than 65,000 people turned out for the concert.
Essen also saw a much-smaller counter-demonstration — "vigil for Daniel H." — organized by the far right. Just seven people took part in the event, police reports said.
Daniel H. was stabbed to death in Chemnitz on the night of August 26. Two immigrants have been taken into custody as suspects. Search is on for a third suspect.
ap/sms (AFP, dpa)