According to the police, about 150 thousand people protested in Berlin. people. However, the organizers claim that about 300,000 people came to the protest. persons.
Similar protests were held in many German cities on Saturday.
The wave of mobilization against the far-right party was sparked by a January 10 report by the investigative magazine Correctiv, which revealed that AfD members had discussed deporting immigrants and “unassimilated citizens” in a meeting with extremists.
Among the participants of the talks was the Austrian Martin Sellner (Martinas Zelner), the leader of the extremist identitarian movement. This movement subscribes to the so-called Great Replacement Conspiracy Theory, which claims that non-white migrants are conspiring to replace the “native” white European population.
News of the meeting came as a shock to Germany at a time when opinion polls show the AfD is gaining ground, months ahead of three key regional elections in eastern Germany, where support for the far-right is strongest.
The anti-immigration party confirmed that its members attended the meeting, but denied that it had taken up the “remigration” project advocated by Mr Sellner.
“All together against racism,” shouted the crowd in Berlin.
Some protesters carried placards reading “Heart instead of hate” or “Racism is not an option”.
“I don’t know if these demonstrations will affect AfD voters,” 53-year-old childcare worker Margret Hurth told AFP.
“However, it is important to send a signal because (…) we need more humanity and respect for our differences,” she added.
“I came to set an example,” said university professor Martin Raue, who came from Sweden to the rally.
The Berlin rally was organized by the “Hand in Hand” association, which consists of 1,800 organizations.
Early Saturday morning, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed the protests on the X social network.
“This weekend, many citizens are gathering again to demonstrate against oblivion, hatred and incitement to hate. This is a strong sign for our democracy and our constitution,” the chancellor wrote.