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'Mile of Democracy' opposes neo-Nazi march in Magdeburg

DDP/DPA/The Local · 17 Jan 2010, 11:25

Published: 17 Jan 2010 11:25 GMT+01:00

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Around 1,000 neo-Nazis had secured permission to march through the town to supposedly mark the deaths of the thousands killed in the bombing raids of January 16, 1945.

“The neo-Nazis who today make as if they are grieving for those Germans killed in the air raids perpetuate the sowing of hatred for other people and different ways of thinking,” said Interior Minister for Saxony-Anhalt Holger Hövelmann.

He said it was a provocation and an insult to all victims of the war that neo-Nazis should march on such an anniversary.

Some of those opposing the neo-Nazi march tried to stop it, attempting to break through police lines. A police spokesman said that 1,200 police officers were on hand and used truncheons at times to keep the neo-Nazis and their opponents apart. Eleven people were arrested.

Story continues below…

In 2009 more than 100 associations, volunteer organisations, church groups and other parties joined forces to organise the "Mile of Democracy" for the first time to oppose the annual neo-Nazi march.

DDP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:41 January 17, 2010 by ECSNatale
Bravo to the courageous citizens of Magdeburg. Free speech is one thing, a corruption of justice and hijacking of history for ignorant means is quite another! message is clear. Love the sign... tolerance does have limits!
14:51 January 17, 2010 by Fredfeldman
Congratulations on the sign and the sentiment if a bit crudely stated. Grieving is one thing and blaming others for the misfortune that you bring upon yourself is quite another.
15:19 January 17, 2010 by DavidtheNorseman
Honour to the citizens of Magdeburg. May we all have the courage to stand up for what's right as they have. Each of our national groups have periods of our past we have no right to be proud of. Like these folks from Magdeburg may we choose to reject defining ourselves by them and follow the better angels of our peoples.
18:30 January 17, 2010 by derExDeutsche
I really wish Germans could have a BIGGER PICTURE view on this issue. Freedom of speech is too important to 'Grenz' out because you don't like what another is saying. In fact, the best way to fight against these hate mongers is to have an open and civil discourse, so people can judge for themselves. In the USA we are so confident that the KKK won't again be a problem, we put whats remaining of them on shows like Jerry Springer and Geraldo. Nobody takes them seriously. On the other hand, if they were not allowed to speak at all, it would give them a rebel mystique, and a civil rights cause. Germany ends up look scared, which only gives the Neo Nazis more power.
20:48 January 17, 2010 by CPT/USA
Very,very well put, "der ExDeutsche.

You give fringe groups a forum like violating their civil right's and they attract attention.
21:40 January 17, 2010 by Celeon
@ derExDeutsche

I understand the american approach to the freedom of speech issue and the idea that only the total freedom of speech can be considered as just and matter of personal freedom.

But you also need to consider the historic background in Germany. We had a freedom of speech that tolerated the open and public incitement of hatred against ethnic, racial, religious or national groups for aslong as it did not threatened public peace.

Everything was allowed for aslong as it was something that a majority of people could agree with and therefore no real threat to public peace emerged from it. A sort of unwritten law.

Anti-semitism was wide spread in Europe. Was it a problem when someone stood on a chair in some bar and hold a speech about how the jews are responsible for the world war and are all part of a global conspiracy?

No , because thats the kind of harmless nonsense which your neighbour mumbles when he's drunk again or what the druggist from across the street says when he's in bad mood again. Or for that matter , the organised conspiracy theory stuff people post on the internet about 9/11.

So the authorities decided not to interfere in their public activities , grant them the freedom to say what they want partially out of fear that bans would just drive more people into their arms (rebel mystique as you already mentioned) and also partially out of sympathy for things they were saying.

The problem was that the nazis mixed their racial and nationalistic hatred with right-wing populism that found immensely fertile ground in post ww1 Germany.

The more they were allowed to speak in public and to the masses, the more public legitimacy the nazis gained for all of what they were saying. The more legitimacy they gained the easier it became for them to expand their agenda.

Suddenly the treaty of Versaille was not just a symbol for british and french arrogance and thirst for revenge. It was now just one piece of a world-wide conspiracy of jews to enslave Germany just like they already had enslaved Britain and France and pulled their strings.

Communism was not just a political movement, it was a weapon in a ongoing silent war to conquer Europe waged by jewish men behind the curtain.

Once this was all wrapped up in popular right wing political views regardig this and that people started to swallow everything along with it.

Freedom of speech had turned against the idea it was based on. It turned from a personal freedom to a tool for mass incitement and spread of propaganda.

This has left marks here. People are quite willing to surrender these special parts of their freedom of speech for the greater good.
23:23 January 17, 2010 by derExDeutsche
@Celeon thanks for responding

There is no denying that the era you describe is a terrible chapter in Germany's history. I do not, however, believe that censorship will make this go away. In fact, I believe it can only strengthen the neo nazi movement. I just wonder how long before Kids, who now wear Mao and Che t-shirts, to pick another anti-establishment revolutionary? With time, battle lines become blurred. And with censorship, Germany has officially relinquished its control of that terrible era to the neo nazi groups. They will now be the ones informing, educating and indoctrinating your disaffected youth. Nowadays, being a neo nazi in Germany, means being anti-establishment, anti-social and angry. All of which are hallmarks of youth. Therein lies the problem.

Germany has nothing to be scared of. It should strive for truth, and question with boldness. Not sweep it under the rug and hope it goes away. Because lies only grow when they are being suppressed.
03:26 January 18, 2010 by Davey-jo
I'm beginning to get the appeal of bombing people for democracy; it sounds so much more fun than bombing them because they bombed us first and we to get our revenge. The RAF and USAF have so much blood on their hands a hundred years of washing won't shift it.
05:03 January 18, 2010 by Geoff DeVere
I was in Germany recently and I was very impressed by how the German people confront the horrors of their past while continuing to embrace their many noble achievements.
05:20 January 18, 2010 by wenddiver
@Davey-Jo Did you do a bunch of acid in your hippie days?????

This was a real tradgedy both for the people on the ground and the men who had to fly those horrible missions. That said a large part of the industry of Europe had to be destroyed to stop it from feeding the NAZI war machine. With out this destruction the Free world that we and the Germans live in would not have been possible. Had the Super weapons reached full production and the synthetic and natural oil supply been unobstructed it would be a very different world for all of us.

The daylight bombing campaign of the 8th USAF was an absolute nightmare for all concerned the crew (many of who were Americans of German decent like their leader General Carl Spatz) and the unfortunate people on the ground who lived near the factories.

These people in the air and on the ground purchased our Freedom by their sacrafice. To make cheap shots at them is dispicable. We all owe the RAF a round of thanks for keeping the fight going until the rest of the free world could be convinced of the need to intervene.
11:40 January 18, 2010 by Fredfeldman
Well said Wenddiver.
23:30 January 19, 2010 by wxman
Likewise, Wenddiver.
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