Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev Agence France-Presse Some 35,000 people gathered on Saturday in Frankfurt, the stronghold of German finance.
France Media Agency in Frankfurt
About 250,000 people demonstrated across Germany on Saturday against the far-right AfD party, whose members recently discussed the mass expulsion of people of foreign origin at a rally of ultra identities.
The largest rallies took place in Frankfurt, the country's financial capital, with 35,000 participants according to local police, gathered behind a banner “Defend Democracy — Frankfurt against the AfD.”
A similar number of demonstrators converged in Hanover (north), some holding “Nazis out” signs. Some 30,000 people also marched in the streets of Dortmund (west), and 16,000 in Halle, according to the police.
Demonstrations were also held in Erfurt, Aachen, Kassel and many other smaller cities, like the daily mobilizations this week.
In total, around 250,000 people demonstrated on Saturday to denounce the German far right in the country, according to public television channel ARD.
Other rallies are planned for Sunday, notably in Berlin and Dresden in Saxony, a stronghold of the anti-migrant and anti-system Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
Political leaders, religious representatives and coaches from the Bundesliga, the German football championship, called on the population to mobilize against this party, currently at its highest in voting intentions.
A massive expulsion project
The mobilization was triggered by the revelation on January 10 by the German investigative media Correctiv of a meeting of extremists in Potsdam, near Berlin, where, in November, a planned mass expulsion of foreign people or of foreign origin was discussed.
The Minister of the Interior, Nancy Faeser, went so far as to estimate in the newspapers of the Funke press group that this meeting was reminiscent of the “horrible Wannsee conference”, where the Nazis planned in 1942 the extermination of European Jews.
Among the participants were a figure from the radical identity movement, the Austrian Martin Sellner, and members of the AfD.
Martin Sellner presented a project to send back to North Africa up to two million people – asylum seekers, foreigners and German citizens who would not be assimilated -, says Correctiv.
This revelation shook Germany as the AfD soars in the polls, a few months before three important regional elections in the east of the country, where the party has the most supporters.
The anti-immigration movement confirmed the presence of its members at the meeting, but denied adhering to the “remigration” project led by Martin Sellner.
Many political leaders, including Social Democratic Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who participated in a demonstration last weekend, have stressed that any plan to expel people of foreign origin is an attack on democracy.< /p>
Mr. Scholz called on “everyone to take a stand — for cohesion, for tolerance, for our democratic Germany.”
Friedrich Merz, the leader of the conservative CDU party, said on
But in addition to members of the AfD, two members of the CDU, belonging to the Werteunion, the most right-wing wing of the party, also participated in the meeting disclosed by Correctiv.< /p>
The head of the Werteunion (“Union of Values”), Hans-Georg Maassen, announced his split from the CDU on Saturday. The group claims 4,000 members.
“By a large majority, the members of the Werteunion voted for the creation of a party of the same name”, which intends to run in the next elections, declared Hans-Georg Maassen.< /p>
“The party could already compete in the regional elections in eastern Germany and work with all parties […] who are ready for political change in Germany,” a- he added, not excluding cooperation with the AfD.