• Germany edition
 
Police brace for violence at May 1st demos
Demonstrators break the windows of a bank in Berlin during last year's May Day demonstrations. Photo: DPA.

Police brace for violence at May 1st demos

Published: 01 May 2014 08:44 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 May 2014 08:44 GMT+02:00

For decades "autonomen” - anarchists and far-left demonstrators - have held an annual "Revolutionary May 1st protest" in Berlin's Kreuzberg.

Past years have seen overturned police cars, Molotov cocktails flying through the air and hundreds of arrests and injuries.

This year promised to be one of the worst, as the extreme-right National Democratic Party (NPD) announced it would march through Neukölln, a multi-ethnic and alternative neighbourhood in Berlin, raising the spectre of street battles between ideological enemies.

But after hundreds of anti-fascist demonstrators blocked a similar march through Kreuzberg last Saturday, the NPD decided to cancel the Labour Day event.

IN PICTURES: Neo-Nazi march blocked in Berlin

Far-right and neo-Nazi marches will, however, take place in other cities throughout the country.

The Berlin NPD march has reportedly been moved to Rostock, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, where anti-fascist groups are already gearing up for a possible confrontation.

The blog nazisstoppen.eu reported that three counter-demonstrations and a bicycle protest would be held in the city.

"We can't let Nazis march undisturbed within sight of the Sunflower house," said the website, referring to the site of xenophobic race riots in 1992. "Let's be loud and creative and spoil their day!"

Police also confirmed to The Local that an NPD march would be held in Duisburg, in the industrial Ruhr area, where anti-fascist groups are also active.

Warzone Berlin

Even with neo-Nazis absent from the streets of Berlin, left-wing activists are still planning a range of activities that risk bringing them into conflict with law enforcement.

An unregistered protest is set for 5pm on Mariannenplatz in Kreuzberg, with the slogan "Fed up - demonstration for a good life, with access to housing, education and culture for everyone!"

Organizers explain that they have not registered the protest with police because they refuse to "ask permission of those... who throw us out of our houses with brutal violence when we can't afford the rent, who control people daily, and even detain and deport them, just because they don't like the colour of their skin".

They even sent a direct warning to the police stating: "We don't need police for our demonstration - on the contrary. So stay far away from us... lay in the sun and think a little bit about your rotten and evil job as a state employed thug. Or use your free day to write your notice and burn your uniform and weapons."

By 6pm the unregistered demonstration should join the main body of the Revolutionary May 1st protest on Lausitzer Platz in Kreuzberg.

Organized by numerous anti-fascist and socialist groups, the protest traces its history back to the 1987 Kreuzberg riots, which saw police cars overturned, clouds of tear gas and a supermarket set on fire.

The following year, 10,000 people marched through Kreuzberg in the first Revolutionary May 1st protest, which also ended in rioting.

Radical left-wing protesters use the event as a pretext to go to war with police, throwing bottles and stones, breaking windows and starting fires.

Police respond with water cannons, tear gas and brute force. One of the worst years was 2001, when 270 police officers were injured, leading to 289 arrests.

Massive police presence

The past few years have seen some decline in the level of violence, particularly due to a family-friendly festival that has been organized in the same area since 2003, drawing in enough peaceful bystanders to dampen the ardour of protesters.

"My-fest" is still decidedly left-wing, with punk music performances and comedy shows taking place blocks away from an "anarchist academy", but police are still not taking any chances.

Riot police from all over Germany will be streaming into the capital to keep the area under control.

Between 10,000 and 15,000 protesters are expected to attend this year, according to media reports drawing on organizers and police sources. Police are responding with a force of 7,000 riot officers, who will be heavily armoured with 22 kilos of protective gear.

‘Hamburg sees red’

Hamburg is also bracing for possible clashes on Thursday, as left-wing activists organize an event entitled "Hamburg sees red" in the alternative Schanzenviertel district.

May 1st last year saw about 1,600 riot officers on the streets of Hamburg.

Peaceful May Day celebrations will also be taking place across the country, with the Federation of German Trade Unions holding its main demonstration in Bremen.

Union leaders will be placing attention on fighting against exceptions to minimum wage laws, improving pensions and opposing austerity measures across the continent.

But with all eyes turned toward the spectacles of violence expected elsewhere, such demands might be drowned out by the crash of breaking windows and the acrid smell of tear gas.

SEE ALSO: Police damage own water cannon with eggs

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

J. Arthur White (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Hamburg could take infected Ebola doctor
Liberian health workers in protective clothing bury an Ebola victim in early July. Photo: DPA

Hamburg could take infected Ebola doctor

A World Health Organisation doctor infected with the deadly Ebola virus while trying to help stop it spreading through West Africa could travel to a Hamburg clinic for treatment. READ  

Germany evacuates embassy in Libya
Black smoke billowing from a storage depot of fuel that was hit by a rocket the night before near the airport in Tripoli on July 28th. Photo: EPA/SABRI ELMHEDWI

Germany evacuates embassy in Libya

UPDATE: Germany pulled its embassy staff out of Tripoli on Monday, a day after advising all its citizens currently in Libya to leave the strife-torn country immediately. READ  

Police kill fleeing drug dealer with bad shot
Photo: DPA

Police kill fleeing drug dealer with bad shot

A policeman is being investigated for manslaughter after he shot a fleeing man, wanted on drug charges, in the back of the head. The officer claimed he had aimed for his legs. READ  

Germany's students fail to graduate in time
A German student protests against the Bologna reforms in Mainz in 2010. Photo: DPA

Germany's students fail to graduate in time

Leaked figures show the average student in Germany still takes around four years to complete a bachelor's degree, suggesting controversial reforms to higher education have so far failed to cut down the number of Germany's perpetual students. READ  

Lawmakers earn millions on the side
Bavarian lawmaker Peter Gauweiler made almost €1 million on the side. Photo: DPA

Lawmakers earn millions on the side

A quarter of all politicians in the German Parliament are making additional income on top of their parliamentary salary, a transparency group said on Saturday. Thirteen lawmakers have made more than €100,000 in the last few months. READ  

Schweinsteiger sorry for holiday video
Schweinsteiger has apologized after the video of him on holiday was posted on YouTube. Photo: DPA

Schweinsteiger sorry for holiday video

UPDATE: Germany’s World Cup winning star Bastian Schweinsteiger has apologized after a video emerged of him on YouTube leading a chant insulting Borussia Dortmund supporters and players. READ  

Sale stopped of oldest message in a bottle
Konrad Fischer with his find. Photo: DPA

Sale stopped of oldest message in a bottle

UPDATE: A fisherman who found the world's oldest message in a bottle tossed into the sea in northern Germany has failed in his attempt to sell it on eBay. The auction was stopped at the last minute. READ  

JobTalk Germany
Job seekers frustrated with application wait
Photo: DPA

Job seekers frustrated with application wait

A new YouGov survey shows job seekers in Germany are exasperated with the application process, complaining about poor job adverts and slow responses. Recruiters agree. READ  

Germany's biggest tabloid attacks Islam
Bild editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann said there was no room for such comments in Bild publications but stopped short of an apology. Photo: DPA

Germany's biggest tabloid attacks Islam

Germany's biggest newspaper, Bild, was forced to climb down over the weekend after a highly critical and controversial comment piece which attacked Islam as a barrier to integration appeared in its Sunday sister paper. READ  

Weather warning for stormy Berlin
Photo: DPA

Weather warning for stormy Berlin

Forecasters have put out a weather warning for Berlin and much of Brandenburg with thunderstorms and heavy rain set to bring an end to the heatwave. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825
Culture
Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
instagram.com/gotzemario
Gallery
Germany's World Cup stars share their holiday photos
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Sport
Yoga helped Jogi's boys bring World Cup home
Photo: DPA
National
Pressure on police over anti-Semitic protests
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Politics
View from Germany: 'Nobody will win in an economic war with Russia'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: Shutterstock
Features
Some of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make in German
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
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

3,219
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd