Dortmund demonstration against neo-Nazi-violence
On Saturday, 24 September, an anti-fascist demonstration took place in the city of Dortmund in the Ruhr area of western Germany. The demonstration marched under the slogan “Es reicht!” (“It's enough!”) referring to the increasing right-wing violence and neo-Nazi-terrorism in Dortmund, and elsewhere around Germany and Europe. Up to 2,500 people attended the demonstration.
More than 40 organizations, parties and trade unions participated in the Es reicht! campaign, a united action which is somewhat novel for Dortmund, a city of nearly 600,000 inhabitants, whose left-wing and antifascist forces have been divided for some time. In recent years many different antifascist alliances have existed in Dortmund with very different character. However, in the past all these alliances hardly ever worked together even though Dortmund has a major Nazi problem for the last 30 years, reflected in the fact that currently there are three far right and two neo-fascist members of the 94-strong local council.
However in the last few weeks almost all organizations in Dortmund which consider themselves more or less anti-fascist tried to overcome their differences to form a strong campaign against the strong and very militant fascist scene around the pseudo-party Die Rechte (The Right). This party, which has one local councillor, was formed after the banning of several militant Nazi groups, including the Nationaler Widerstand Dortmund (National Resistance Dortmund).
The reason all these groups came together is because of the shock of the escalation over the last two months of Nazi-violence in Dortmund, with five attacks on anti-fascists and left-wingers by Dortmund Nazis.
To list a few of these attacks: The first incident of this series happened on 31 July when eight members of SAV/CWI and Linksjugend ['solid’] where beaten up by a mob of around 40-50 fascists in Cologne after attending a demonstration against a simultaneous rally of supporters of the Turkish president Erdogan and a parallel Nazi demonstration. Just two days later, SAV members and a comrade from Socialist Struggle (CWI Israel-Palestine) where chased through the workers’ district of Nordstadt by Nazi hooligans armed with a hammer after a branch meeting about the situation in Israel and Palestine. The series of attacks climaxed in the attempted murder of a young anti-fascist who was attacked by three masked people with a knife in front of his apartment on Sunday, 14 August.
Despite the broad campaign, left-wing activists gave a left character to the demonstration. For example, the local ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD), whose members include the mayor of Dortmund, Ullrich Sierau, and the chief of police, Gregor Lange, who never did anything against Nazis in Dortmund, was not invited to be part of the campaign. In fact, the SPD avoided anti-fascist protests that blocked Nazi marches and ruthlessly criminalized anti-fascists over the last few years.
The first demonstration of the new Es reicht! campaign took place less than one week after the 14 August knife attack. Within two days anti-fascists from Dortmund organized a meeting and invited many anti-fascists groups from the city. More than 70 people attended. Within two days, the activists mobilized in their areas of influence for the first demonstration, which took place on Saturday, 20 August, with 800 people attending. The demonstration marched directly into the Dortmund-Dorstfeld district, where the Nazis have a very strong influence.
Members of SAV, die LINKE and Linksjugend ['solid’ – di Linke youth wing] played a major role in organizing the campaign and also were elected to the campaign committee to organize a second bigger and broader demonstration.
Last Saturday during the large Es Reicht! demonstration, German SAV comrades were supported by a sizable 35-strong delegation from the Blokbuster (Belgian anti-fascist campaign) and the Belgian section of the CWI (PSL/LSP). We formed a loud and powerful block, together with Linksjugend and die LINKE.
A SAV comrade from Dortmund made a powerful speech at the beginning of the demonstration, criticizing the federal and local SPD and police who did not prevent the rise of fascism and right-wing populism in Dortmund and Germany, as a whole. A Belgian comrade gave a spontaneous speech on the demonstration platform, sending international solidarity greetings to the demonstration.
The march passed the crime scene where a shop-owner of Turkish-Kurdish descent was one of the at least 10 people murdered by the Nazi-terrorist group, NSU, between 2000 and 2007; the former Gestapo prison, ‘Steinwache’; the site of the former trade union building in Dortmund which was burned down by the Nazis in 1933 and the train station where a punk was stabbed by a Nazi in 2005. This route reminded people of the threat of fascist terror in the past and today.
The closing rally saw the performance of a play ‘Mein Einsatzleiter’, music by a local punk band and by the famous Turkish protest band, ‘Grup Yorum’. The campaign was a great success but, of course, this is not enough. We need to maintain the structures of this campaign and to oppose Nazi-activities in the future. If the structures keep splitting, we are never going to be able to defeat fascism in Dortmund and elsewhere.
The demonstration should be only a beginning. SAV members strive to ensure that the Es Reicht! campaign continues to act together. The aim should be not only to mobilize against right mobilizations or to react to Nazi abuses, but to campaign to turn the mood in the city against the fascists.
The trade unions need to be more involved. If the unions participate in blockades against Nazi marches, and also mobilize in the factories, it would be a great advance. The campaign needs to clearly explain in workplaces the anti-working class character of the far right. Dortmund is one of Germany’s poorest areas. This is something the far right exploits. It is precisely the task of the trade unions, the left and the anti-fascists to work to explain the true cause of lack of jobs and poverty and show the way to fight back.