German police stop far-right concert over Nazi chants

Saturday's far-right rock concert in the eastern state of Saxony featured two bands and had drawn an audience of several hundred people. Under German law, Nazi-era slogans and symbols are illegal.

German police shut down a far-right concert Saturday after members of the crowd started chanting "Sieg Heil" (Hail Victory), a Nazi-era victory slogan.

German law forbids the use of any kind of Nazi slogan or symbol, such as displaying swastikas.

The concert, which took place in Ostritz, a small town in the eastern state of Saxony, had drawn several hundred people, police said.

"Two far-right bands played in front of several hundred participants," Saxony police said in a statement. "Around 11:20 p.m. (local time, 2220 UTC), the policemen guarding the event heard 'Sieg Heil' chants. Several locals also reported to police about it."

Law and Justice | 30.07.2017

"Police ended the concert around 1:10 a.m. and all participants left the area," the statement added.

Officials have opened an investigation into the incident.

Far-right groups regularly hold rock concerts in Ostritz, a small town near Poland. In April, hundreds of neo-Nazis gathered in the town to participate in a festival timed to coincide with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's birthday.

Read more: German punk band slams concert cancellation over right-wing extremists 

Far-right surge

Far-right groups in Germany have witnessed a rise in popularity since the start of a refugee crisis in 2015.

The fatal stabbing of a German man, allegedly by asylum seekers, in the city of Chemnitz in August, triggered violent far-right protests across Saxony.

Related Subjects

Germany's regional and federal police forces have come under widespread scrutiny in the wake of the Chemnitz protests.

In the first half of 2018, 131 music events organized within the neo-Nazi scene drew 13,000 visitors across Germany, according to a federal government tally provided last month at the request of the opposition Left party in Germany's parliament, the Bundestag.

Read more: Germany's Thuringia state on alert for neo-Nazi 'rock' concerts

Thousands attend Chemnitz concert against racism


More than 65,000 people turned out for the #wirsindmehr (literally "we are more") concert in Chemnitz to protest against neo-Nazi violence. Speaking at the start of the show, organizers said they wanted to show there was "no place in Chemnitz for Nazis." The lineup included a mix of local Chemnitz bands and was headlined by one of Germany's most famous punk bands.

Thousands attend Chemnitz concert against racism

A response to the far-right

The concert came after days of far-right anti-migrant protests took hold of the eastern German city following the death of a 35-year-old German man. Daniel H. was stabbed to death in the early hours of Agust 25, allegedly by a Syrian and an Iraqi national.

Thousands attend Chemnitz concert against racism

'Love instead of hate'

Punters waved colorful signs with messages of welcome and love as they walked into the concert. The show opened with a minute of silence in honor of Daniel H., while volunteers collected donations to be split between the victim's family and anti-racism initiatives in Chemnitz.

Thousands attend Chemnitz concert against racism

'You're not alone'

The line-up catered for what was a mostly young crowd, with acts including punk act Feine Sahne Fischfilet, rappers Trettman and Marteria & Casper, and indie rockers Kraftklub. "We're not naive. We're not laboring under the illusion that you hold a concert and the world is saved," said Kraftklub singer Felix Brummer. But it's "important to show that you're not alone," he added.

Thousands attend Chemnitz concert against racism

Campino in Chemnitz

One of Germany's most famous punk bands, Die Toten Hosen, headlined the show. "This is not about the fight between right and left, it's about basic decency," said lead singer Campino. "And it is very important to stop this conduct while it is a snowball and before it becomes an avalanche," he added.

shs/jlw  (AFP, dpa)

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