craig stennett

Photojournalist
   
Getty Images: Day of German Unity Protest
Location: Germany
Nationality: British
Biography: Graduating with a BA (Hons) in Photography from Trent Polytechnic in Nottingham, England in the Late 80′s, Craig went on to win The David Hodge Memorial Award Young Photojournalist of the Year with a story he had covered in Thailand. He... MORE
Public Story
Getty Images: Day of German Unity Protest
Copyright craig stennett 2022
Updated Oct 2021
Topics Activism, Civil Rights, Documentary, Editorial, Journalism, Media, Photography, Photojournalism, Politics, Protests
Some Background to the Counter Protest in Halle (Saale)

From: Bell tower News

The Day of German Unity is actually a mandatory date in every neo-Nazi calendar: In past years, numerous demonstrations from the right-wing spectrum have taken place throughout Germany on 3 October. Last year, for example, cadres of the extreme right-wing "III Way" wanted to march through Berlin-Hohenschönhausen under the motto "A people wants a future" - before they were successfully blocked by counter-demonstrators. Corona deniers and "Reichsbürger:innen" also gathered at the Brandenburg Gate to protest against infection control measures. This year, the holiday on 3 October falls on a Sunday - and the streets should be mostly free of neo-Nazis and pandemic-denying conspiracy fans. But parts of the scene are mobilising to Halle (Saale).

The occasion is the official nationwide celebration of German Unity Day in the city centre of Halle. Representatives of state and politics such as Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to attend. For Merkel, the day of celebration is likely to be one of her last major public appearances as chancellor. For Nazis and conspiracy fans, it is apparently an unmissable backdrop to shout "Merkel must go!" one last time. For it is about nothing less than stopping the "Corona terror", as the conspiracy scene proclaims on self-made flyers and posters on Telegram. The meeting place is "flexible", the demonstrations apparently unannounced. More detailed information is to follow via Telegram. Demonstrations organised along these lines have not been very popular recently.

Already on Saturday evening, a "proper political Oktoberfest" will take place in the neighbouring Kyffhäuserkreis with, among others, the right-wing scene lawyer Björn Clemens, the radical right-wing Compact editor-in-chief Jürgen Elsässer and the Corona denier media activist Thorsten Schulte aka Silberjunge - plus a buffet and face painting for children for 33 euros. The event is advertised as a "nationwide patriot meeting" and is organised by AfD functionary Doris von Sayn-Wittgenstein and ex-AfD politician André Poggenburg (now even further to the far right).

The mobilisation to Halle for Sunday, however, remains rather tepid and haphazard so far: There is hardly anything about the demonstration on the Telegram channels and websites of the "Querdenken" movement. Even among the usual suspects of the neo-Nazi scene and conspiracy bubble, there is a surprising silence regarding German Unity Day. Instead, only a small smorgasbord of anti-immigrationists, conspiracy gurus and Holocaust deniers are calling for the demonstration. How many demonstrators will actually turn up will only become clear on Sunday. The alliance "Halle against the Right" expects several hundred to possibly several thousand demonstrators.

One of the most active applicants for the demonstration is the well-known neo-Nazi provocateur Sven Liebich, who organises demonstrations against all kinds of things in Halle with obsessive regularity. Liebich, whose demonstration outfit usually includes an "unvaccinated" Jewish star and a copy of Anne Frank's diary, writes on Telegram for German Unity Day: "For the last time, the roll call will be sounded...The farewell parade for our GröKaZ (editor's note: "Greatest Chancellor of all times") will of course be in Halle. If the leader doesn't continue to run the government on a provisional basis because the formation of a new government is delayed by the old parties."

Liebich is mobilising to the Steintor at 12:00, but his following in the scene remains rather modest. According to the online portal Du bist Halle, Liebich himself expects only 150 participants. He wants to warn them in advance: they should rather not park at the demo starting point and also make sure that their cars are not marked with stickers. "And watch out for observers when you get out. Our ticks are horny for tyres," Liebich adds in reference to possible counter-demonstrators from the left spectrum.

Above all, the day apparently serves Liebich as a business opportunity: on his webshop "Politaufkleber" Liebich sells T-shirts and hoodies in the colours of the Nazi flag, but with Merkel's rhombus instead of the swastika. In addition, the inscription in fracture: "Geil Merkel" and "Merkeljugend", along with the date and place of the demonstration. Liebich has already used the motif for past demonstrations. On Telegram, Liebich published a photo of eight children, some of them only a few months old, wearing the motif as a T-shirt and showing outstretched arms with fists. Added to this is the caption: "Free German Merkel Youth". A children's T-shirt costs 6.66 euros in the webshop.

Attila Hildmann - vegan chef, Hitler admirer and now also fugitive from justice - is also beating the proverbial advertising drum for Sunday: On his website he had promoted the "large-scale demonstration" in Halle with the slogan "Finger weg von unseren Kindern" (Hands off our children) before his internet presence was paralysed by the hacker collective Anonymous Germany as part of "Operation Tinfoil" and "Operation Lonely Wolf" (Belltower.News reported). But with his Telegram channel, only with half as many followers as a few months ago and no longer accessible on mobile devices, Hildmann still wants to promote the demonstration: "MERKEL, SCHÄUBLE, STEINMEIER AND THE OTHER PSYCHOPATHS ARE IN HALLE ON 3.10.!", he writes, for example. Hildmann also shares various demo posters, apparently crafted or even handwritten in MS Paint, posted by "Understand and Act" - a Telegram channel with just under 24,000 followers that has striking orthographic and stylistic similarities to Hildmann's own Telegram presence. Hildmann himself will not be allowed to attend Sunday's demonstration, as he is wanted in Germany on an arrest warrant and has fled to Turkey.

Last and definitely least, "Anti-Antifa Germany" is also calling for a demonstration on Sunday in Halle. Under the motto "Prevent forced vaccination antifa!", the small right-wing extremist group from Berlin wants to gather at the main railway station at 10:00 and "march off" at 11:00, as the group informed its approximately 1,500 subscribers on Telegram. Participants will only find out where they are going once they arrive. "Let's see how many we are. Maybe to the anti-Merkel parade," commented one user on Telegram under the call. Anti-Antifa Germany" also claims to have insider information - and posts a short list of names without further information, including Roland Tichy, Sahra Wagenknecht and Thorsten Schulte.

The list, which "Anti-Antifa Germany" describes without evidence as a "death list", also includes Sandra Gabriel of the conspiracy-ideological political sect "Freie Linke" (see Belltower.News). According to "Anti-Antifa Germany", an attack against the "Free Left" in Halle is planned for the weekend. Sandra Gabriel is one of "our activists", the group writes, and needs "protection". Gabriel, who repeatedly seeks to close ranks with neo-Nazis like Sven Liebich, is also calling for a demonstration this weekend: On Saturday, 2 October, she wants to walk through Halle under the motto "For Unity, Freedom, Brotherhood".

However, the fact that the number of participants on Sunday is likely to be small is no reason to sound the all-clear: Sven Liebich's demonstration route passes the "Kiez-Döner", a target of the right-wing terrorist attack in Halle on Yom Kippur 2019. After the attacker wanted to storm the synagogue there heavily armed and shot the passer-by Jana L., he moved on to the kebab shop in Ludwig-Wucherer-Straße, where he shot Kevin S..

Also for Sunday, the "Halle against the Right" alliance is organising a counter-demonstration under the slogan "No unity with the extreme right": From 10:30 a.m. the alliance wants to gather at August-Bebel-Platz. "We will stand in the way of the extreme right on Sunday, who will attempt a show of force here, because every right-wing mobilisation without opposition makes the extreme right stronger," Valentin Hacken, spokesperson for "Halle gegen Rechts", tells Belltower.News. Hacken is also critical of the official ceremony in the city centre: "Unity celebrations that hide the fact that right-wing, racist and anti-Semitic acts of violence and murder stretch from 1990 to today tell an incomplete story." The alliance therefore also wants to remember the at least 213 victims of right-wing violence since 1990.

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