Protests hit Frankfurt book fair in row over far-right

The presence of a leading member of Germany's far-right AfD party at the Frankfurt book fair triggered protests on Saturday, with police intervening to separate rival demonstrators.

Protests hit Frankfurt book fair in row over far-right
Photo: Daniel Roland/AFP

Several dozen leftist protesters shouted “Nazis out” while counter-demonstrators responded with “Everyone hates Antifa” (the anti-fascist movement), DPA news agency reported.

The protests were sparked by leading AfD member Bjoern Hoecke's visit to the annual fair to attend the presentation of a book by the hard-right publishing house Antaios.

Elsewhere at the trade show, a reading by two right-wing authors had to be cancelled because it was drowned out by protesters, DPA said.

The tumult comes just three weeks after the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) won its first seats in the federal parliament after taking nearly 13 percent of the votes in a national election.

Hoecke is one of the AfD's most divisive figures. He made headlines earlier this year when he said Germany should stop atoning for its guilt over World War II.

Organisers of the book fair, the world's largest publishing event, issued a statement condemning “the targeted provocations” between “left- and right-wing groupings”.

“The Frankfurt book fair thrives on diversity of opinion and is a space for free dialogue,” it said.

The presence of far-right publishers at this year's fair has been controversial, with critics accusing organisers of giving a platform to rabble-rousers.

The small publisher Antaios, which describes itself as “new right”, earlier this week complained that some of its books were stolen and others smeared with toothpaste and coffee in apparent protest actions.

It is the publishing house behind the bestselling book “Finis Germania”, Latin for “The End of Germany”, which news weekly Der Spiegel described as “extremely right-wing, anti-Semitic and historically revisionist”.


New army scandal: Germany vows to punish soldiers caught singing anti-Semitic songs

Germany's Defence Minister on Tuesday vowed to severely punish soldiers stationed in Lithuania who were accused of singing racist and anti-Semitic songs, if the allegations turned out to be true.

New army scandal: Germany vows to punish soldiers caught singing anti-Semitic songs
German soldiers training in Saxony-Anhalt in May. credit: dpa-Zentralbild | Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

“Whatever happened is in no way acceptable,” said Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Those implicated would be “vigorously prosecuted and punished”, she added.

The Spiegel Online news site had on Monday reported that German soldiers in Lithuania sang racist and anti-Semitic songs during a party at a hotel in April.

One had also sought to sexually assault another soldier while he was asleep, a scene which was caught on film, said Spiegel.

According to Spiegel Online, the scenes took place at a party at which soldiers consumed large quantities of alcohol. They are also alleged to have arranged a “birthday table” for Adolf Hitler on April 20th and to have sung songs for him.

It is unclear to what extent more senior ranked soldiers were aware of the incidents.

Three soldiers have been removed from the contingent stationed in the Baltic country and an investigation is ongoing to identify other suspects, said the report.

The German armed forces have been repeatedly rocked by allegations of right-wing extremism within their ranks.

Kramp-Karrenbauer last year ordered the partial dissolution of the KSK commando force after revelations that some of its members harboured neo-Nazi sympathies.

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