The best thing to report, when it comes to political demonstrations involving radical parties, is when there’s nothing to report. As I informed you all in my last post, two neo-nazi parties, ProNRW and the NPD, singled out Solingen for public rallies on May 1st.
The good news is: Nothing happened, no clash between left-wing activists and the Nazis. The better news is: The Nazis had to abandon both rallies after short periods of time, because the sheer decibel-volume of all counter-protestors made it impossible in both locations for the Nazis to hold speeches without getting a hoarse throat instantly – while still speaking over a PA. Well, yours truly also suffered from a sore throat the next day, as did many counter-protestors. But it was absolutely worth it, shouting these idiots down.
Yet the best thing is: It wasn’t just the usual left-wing activists (some of them dubious) who came for their average nazi rally-tourism, and a friendly “bash” with the police as they do so often. No, my friends, the whole CITY was on its feet. All political parties, from green, liberal, socialist to conservative, all unions, all churches and congregations, the mayor and high ranking town-officials, local companies, citizens young and old, hipsters, gays, lesbians, blacks, whites, Asian people, Solingers from the East, the West, and what have you places on Earth – everyone was there. Including some people I hadn’t met in quite a while, it was a bit like a school-reunion. There were bands playing, probably around 1000 people alone downtown attending the counter-demonstration, it was a good day for democracy in our town. Remindful of “No way back” by the Foo Fighters: “No more left and right, Come on take my side, I’m fightin’ for you…” It was really a colourful celebration of the best that our city and German society can aspire to be: A meeting place for many cultures and beliefs, kept alive by a spirit of mutual respect under the roof of our constitution.
Well, but one bitter drop there is: Of course we also have to thank 800 police-men and -women for doing a great job
on this day. Since of course, had they abandoned the two protective cordons for the Nazis downtown and near the main station, the peaceful demonstration would surely have turned into a street battle. Right up front with the hardcore antifascists, the real radicals, the atmosphere had heated up quite quickly, insults were shouted, battle hymns sung (some of them funny, I really liked taunting the Nazis singing “You lost the war, you lost the war” to a famous soccer-stadium melody), eventually there were three arrests, in one case because someone had thrown a bottle at a departing van full of Nazis.
Interestingly, there were fewer Nazis then expected. ProNRW managed to mobilize some 70 people instead of the assumed 200, and the NPD – well it looked like a small school-class, no more (those guys I could see better, when I was at the barricades in Ohligs with my buddy Zeli, the ProNRW rally was sealed off way better).
Around one p.m., the spook was over. Both groups had given up by then and left the town. Victory for “Solingen is
colourful instead of brown”, the driving force behind getting everyone up and saying no to fascism. Full credit goes to them, their committee really did a great job in getting everyone together and in action. Especially the NPD-rally in Ohligs gave me the creeps. Because it was in a spot that I walk by almost daily (right in front of my union savings bank-branch), and for a couple of minutes, you could hear the leader addressing his boot-boys. It sounded like a Hitler-speech. Weird and creepy. And I admit: It made me angry. Which is probably a good thing in this case.
I’ll leave you with a few quotes from friends of mine, whom I met at the demonstrations:
Uli Preuss, journalist and fotographer: “Ever since when in a right wing-case of malicious arson, five Turkish people died in 1993, Solingen has been especially sensitive and on its guard against right wing-tendencies. It’s part of the culture of our town, to defend ourselves against brown propaganda. Greetings to Canada and the Gumboot-readers all over the globe!”
Lilian Muscutt, freelance-journalist and novelist: “It’s somehow tough, that these two groups had the cheek to come
to Solingen. The past, i.e. the murders of 1993 make their appearance here unbearable.”
Dr. Markus Butz, neurologist at University of Duesseldorf: “I am here, because this city belongs to all the people living here. And I feel insulted as a Solinger, because nazi-extremists try to spread their hatred here. Especially the campaign against Islam appals me as a Christian.”
Some moving pictures from the day: Uli Preuss’s report for the web-TV of “Solingen Daily”: