• Germany edition
 
Citizens face off racist anti-asylum groups
Photo: DPA

Citizens face off racist anti-asylum groups

Published: 12 Jul 2013 12:05 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Jul 2013 12:05 GMT+02:00

A former school - which closed due to a lack of local children - is due to be converted into a home for around 400 refugees in the Marzahn-Hellersdorf area of Berlin. The plan has been greeted with hostility from some locals and sparked a campaign from members of the neo-Nazi NPD party.

An information event organized by the local council on Tuesday evening was dominated by members of the Berlin NPD party, the leader of which Sebastian Schmidtke held up a sign reading "Asylum home? No thanks." He was joined by fellow NPD members from across the city, the Berliner Zeitung newspaper reported.

More than the police estimated 800 people showed up, most of them not interested in the information but more intent on domination, the paper said. Repeated shouts of "Germany for Germans", "No to the home" and "What do I care for others' suffering?" interrupted those trying to speak.

"The atmosphere reminded me strongly of Rostock-Lichtenhagen where the asylum homes were burned," said Petra Pau, vice president of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, whose constituency is in the area.

She said she had spotted men wearing T-shirts printed with Lichtenhagen and the dates of the 1992 pogroms there - and told the police. Local residents were not neo-Nazis themselves, but were being used by those who were, she said.

Yet in a heartening twist, other people have started to organize support for the project and the people who would eventually live there. The Facebook page "Hellersdorf helps asylum-seekers" (Hellersdorf hilft Asylbewerbern) had, by Friday lunchtime, attracted the support of nearly 5,000 people.

The site warns of what it calls a dangerous atmosphere developing in Hellersdorf, and an “ominous” citizens' initiative against the refugee home.

The group says it aims to help to offer those fleeing war and daily terror a humane place to live, and the chance to integrate into society. "We are doing what should be done - regarding refugees as people, not as potential criminals, or a threat, or a burden," the site says.

The NPD is organizing several rallies around Berlin on Saturday morning to try to strengthen the mood against homes for refugees. Various groups including Hellersdorf hilft Asylbewerbern are calling for people to go to the rallies to take part in counter-demonstrations.

The Local/hc

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Berlin slams Italy Nazi claims court ruling
Italy's National Partisans' Association welcomed the court decision. Photo: DPA

Berlin slams Italy Nazi claims court ruling

Italy's constitutional court has ruled that victims of Nazi-era war crimes can sue Germany in Italian courts, rejecting a UN ruling and provoking a strong reaction from Berlin on Friday. READ  

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall
Photo: Paul Sullivan

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall

Two expats who walked the Mauerweg - the 160-kilometre trail that runs the length of the former Berlin Wall - have written a book about forgotten aspects of its past and present. READ  

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat
Photo: DPA

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat

Germany's biggest department store chain Karstadt will close at least six stores, putting around 2,000 jobs at risk, in a drastic bid by its new boss to return it to profit. READ  

Quiz
How well do you know Germany?
Photos: DPA/Shutterstock

How well do you know Germany?

Do you know your Saxony facts from your Saxony-Anhalt ones? Test your knowledge of Germany's federal states in The Local's quiz. READ  

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal
Pollution from a coal-fired power station in Frimmersdorf, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal

The UN's climate chief hailed a European agreement in Bonn on greenhouse gases on Friday as providing "valuable momentum" for a world pact to be inked in Paris next year. READ  

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth
Photo: DPA

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth

Germany will get an early Christmas present of around €779 million from the EU, thanks to weaker than expected GDP growth. READ  

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told
Photo: DPA

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told

It will take several days to find out what caused a massive explosion on Thursday which rocked a town on the Rhine, killing a builder and injuring 26 others. READ  

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'
An NH90 helicopter. Photo: DPA

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'

Germany's fleet of NH90 helicopters is undergoing engineering checks after one of them suffered a serious engine failure, in the latest blow to the country's military capabilities. READ  

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m
Rainer Schwarz at a court hearing in September into the case. Photo: DPA

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m

The man who was blamed for Berlin's miserable attempt to build a new airport must be paid more than €1 million - after being fired. READ  

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Kurds watching the attack on Kobane. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pressed UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to bring possible poison gas use by Isis in Iraq before the Security Council. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Politics
Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: Huge explosion rocks Ludwigshafen
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
Which high school cliche is your German city?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Storm hits southern Germany
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,532
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd