Their action at the weekend was aimed at fans attending a far-right German rock festival called Schild und Schwert Festival (Shield and Sword or SS) in Ostritz, a small town in Saxony on the German-Polish border.
Police had seized 4,400 liters of beer from festival-goers after an alcohol ban was imposed by a court near Dresden, which ruled the event had an “aggressive character”. The court felt there was a risk that alcohol could make violence more likely.
Das Alkoholverbot auf dem Versammlungs-/Veranstaltungsgelände des Neonazi-Treffens in #Ostritz wird durch unsere Kräfte seit gestern konsequent durchgesetzt. Alkoholhaltige Getränke werden vor dem Betreten des Geländes abgenommen. pic.twitter.com/swTsqvIX9U
— Polizei Sachsen (@PolizeiSachsen) June 22, 2019
Saxony police tweeted that they had confiscated alcoholic beverages.
But locals suspected that fans heading to the festival – known for “Rechtsrock” music, which promotes white nationalism – would head to the supermarket instead to stock up on alcohol.
So they reacted by buying up more than 200 crates of beer, leaving the festival attendees thirsty.
A resident taking part in the beer protest in Ostritz. Photo: DPA
An Ostritz activist, Georg Salditt, told German daily Bild: “The plan was devised a week in advance. We wanted to dry the Nazis out. We thought, if an alcohol ban is coming, we'll empty the shelves at (the German supermarket chain) Penny.”
Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung daily estimated that 500-600 fans attended the festival, compared with some 1,200 last year.
About 1,400 police were deployed at the festival, including hundreds from other parts of Germany. Saxony regional police said the operation went smoothly and there were just a few minor incidents.
Now locals in Ostritz, a town of about 2,300, are being praised for their action. A commentary in Spiegel ran with the headline, “Prost, Ostritz!” (cheers, Ostritz).
Tensions have been flaring up in Germany – and in the eastern state of Saxony in particular – following Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to keep borders open during the height of the refugee crisis in 2015.
A series of far-right demonstrations rocked the Saxon city of Chemnitz last year.
“We are glad that we were able to set an example of civic action,” Michael Schlitt, one of the organizers of the protest in Ostritz told DPA.
And now the locals have a lot of beer stored up, they are planning their own festival. “We will have a wonderful celebration shortly,” said Schlitt.