German Town on Alert Amid Neo-Nazi Festivals, Counter Events

German Town on Alert Amid Neo-Nazi Festivals, Counter EventsGerman Town on Alert Amid Neo-Nazi Festivals, Counter Events

Over the past two days, the tiny border town of Ostritz was turned into a heavily-securitized zone of compartments where different groups, under the watchful eye of police, descended to celebrate what they found worth defending: Adolf Hitler’s birthday, peace or a world free of fascism.

First, people from several European countries—mainly Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic—were scheduled to attend the “Shield and Sword”, or SS, festival—a two-day event of political speeches and music concerts topped with a mixed martial arts tournament and a tattoo convention, Aljazeera reported.

Organized by the ultranationalist National Democratic Party of Germany, the festival began on Friday, the 129th anniversary of the German Nazi leader’s birthday.

Thanks to freedom of assembly guaranteed by Germany’s constitution, the event was organized in accordance with German law.

   Antifascist Responce

In response, the local city council, dominated by the conservative Christian Democratic Union, decided to host a Peace Festival on the main square of Ostritz, a sleepy town with less than 2,500 residents just off the Polish border.

The apolitical event, featuring life music and family entertainment was meant to send a message of protest against the far right and show that the town would not succumb to Nazi pressure.   

“We want to show that protest against neo-Nazism and right-wing extremism is not only something for small left-wing groups, but that we do it across parties, across churches, with different associations, clubs, charities, NGOs, and citizens,” Michael Schlitt, the Peace Festival’s co-organizer, said during a press conference.

For local anti-fascist groups, however, the Peace Festival was not enough. Therefore, with the help of peers from cities in Germany and abroad, the local left organized the “Right does not rock” concert.

The three events, each located within a short walking distance from the other two, and each representing a radically different esthetics, dominated the town’s space.

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