• Germany's news in English
 
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

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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law
Photo: DPA

Ethics Council rejects assisted suicide law

The German Ethics Council said the law should not be changed to permit assisted suicide in a paper published on Friday. READ  

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin
Swan Lake. An abandoned ride in the Spreewald pleasure park. Photo: DPA

Abandoned themepark needs 14m says Berlin

The iconic ruined themepark in the centre of Berlin - a long-time favourite of hipster adventurers - needs a clean-up costing at least 14 million euros, the Berlin government has revealed. READ  

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer
File photo of Nuremberg main station: Shutterstock

Police nab Nuremberg station bomb hoaxer

Officers in Nuremberg arrested a man on Thursday evening after he called in a false bomb threat against the main train station READ  

Opinion
Angela, David...and Nigel
So near...and yet so far Photo: DPA

Angela, David...and Nigel

The rise of UKIP broke up what had been a good 2014 for Cameron and Merkel. READ  

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead
Dr Gunther von Hagens. Photo: DPA

'Dr Death' corpse museum gets go-ahead

A Berlin court has said that infamous human taxidermist Gunther von Hagens can open a museum in the capital - over objections from local officials. READ  

Presented by Phorms Education
Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech
Photo: Phorms Education

Phorms bilingual schools boast top-notch tech

As parents fret over children’s internet habits, a network of bilingual schools in Germany shows that putting computers in the classroom from an early age yields positive results. READ  

Networks scramble to patch mobile security
Chancellor Angela Merkel has herself been the victim of phone hacking. Photo: DPA

Networks scramble to patch mobile security

IT experts led by Berlin-based Karsten Nohl said on Thursday they had discovered security flaws in the mobile phone networks that would allow attackers to read users' messages. READ  

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport
Photo: DPA

Turkish 'spies' arrested at Frankfurt airport

Three men suspected of being Turkish agents have been arrested by police, federal prosecutors said on Thursday. READ  

Tax take jumps 7.3 percent in November
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is having an excellent month. Photo: DPA

Tax take jumps 7.3 percent in November

Germany collected 7.3 percent more in tax in November 2014 than the same month last year thanks to the strengthening economy, the Finance Ministry said in its monthly report on Thursday, while pollsters found rising consumer confidence. READ  

Ramelow bunks off his first Bundesrat sitting
Bodo Ramelow looking low on energy at a sitting of the Thuringia state parliament. Photo: DPA

Ramelow bunks off his first Bundesrat sitting

Controversial new Thuringia minister-president Bodo Ramelow of the Left (Linke) party missed his first session of Germany's second house of parliament, the Bundesrat, to go on holiday with his family. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Willy Brandt at his inauguration in 1972. Photo: DPA
National
Willy Brandt: the man, the chancellor... the airport?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles through December 19th
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
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

3,185
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd