These pictures show a group of around 500 neo-Nazis marching through the streets of Germany, carrying torches and beating drums in an event rubber-stamped by local cops.
The march was organised by “Der Dritte Weg” (The Third Way), and took place in Plauen, a city in the Eastern German state of Saxony, a party founded in 2013 after its predecessor was banned. It describes its policies as “National, Revolutionary, Socialist” and has been branded “neo-Nazi” by Germany’s Central Council of Jews.
Around 500 people, predominantly men, took to the streets wearing beige party t-shirts, waving green flags and carrying torches as they held signs reading: “Stop the asylum flood”, “foreigners out” and “multiculti kills”.
The photographs have sparked fury across Germany.
Germany’s biggest daily newspaper Bild said: “They march in line to muffled drumbeats, their uniform T-shirts are reminiscent of the martial brown shirts of the SA [Sturmabteilung, the Nazi Party’s original paramilitary unit].
“They wear their hair short or parted, holding torches and green flags with the oak wreath around a Roman number three.”
Many political parties and Jewish rights groups also asked why the march, which was opposed by counter-protesters along the route, was allowed to take place.
President of the Central Council of Jews Dr. Josef Schuster said: “The images of the neo-Nazi march in Plauen are disturbing and frightening.
“Ironically, on the eve of the Jewish Shoah Remembrance Day, right-wing extremists march in Saxony in a way that evokes memories of the darkest chapter in German history. If the Saxon state government is serious about combating right-wing extremism, it must not allow such protests.”
Social-Democratic state MP Henning Homann said: “We cannot and will not tolerate SA-style marches.”
According to local media reports, German authorities blamed each other for the protest, with the office of Saxony’s PM Michael Kretschmer referring journalists to the Interior Ministry, which in turn referred them to the district office. Meanwhile the local police said they had no legal authority “to stop the demonstration”.
German law allows the local authorities to ban protests when they endanger public order or when protesters wear party-specific uniforms.
A separate German law also bans people from using the “use of symbols of unconstitutional organisations” such as the Nazis and to make propaganda for it.
Saxony’s police said on social media that they thought the T-shirts used by the protesters were not forbidden because “no reference to current or historical uniforms was apparent”.
Meanwhile, while a district office spokesman told local outlets that “an intimidating effect [from the uniforms] could not be proven”.
However constitutional law expert Christoph Degenhart of the University of Leipzig believes the authorities had the right to ban the protest in it’s current form.
“It would have been reasonable to ban the march,” he told local media.