Dresden declares 'Nazi Emergency' amid growing far-Right threat

Daniel Wighton
Policemen secure the area around the synagogue Dreseden on October 9. At least two people were killed in a shooting on a street in the German city of Halle - DPA

The Dresden City Council has officially declared a ‘Nazi emergency’ amid fears over the rise of far-Right groups in the eastern German city.

Voting in favour of an official motion, supporters said it was necessary to ‘strengthen civil society and democracy’ in the city.

The motion demanded increases in funding for education and civil engagement, while it also called upon council authorities not to approve any marches featuring far-Right elements.

In calling for federal support to tackle the crisis, the motion stated “anti-democratic, anti-pluralist, misanthropic and right-wing extremist values and actions, including violence in Dresden, are increasingly becoming apparent.”

The council is run by a Left-wing coalition, but has a strong Alternative for Germany (AfD) membership.  Leftist councillor Max Aschenbach, who developed the resolution, said the city needed to acknowledge extremism had reached crisis levels.

“This city has a problem with Nazis and we need to do something about it,” Aschenbach said.

“There's been five years of (right-wing rallies), terrorist attacks and terrorist groups – and everyday news reports on Swastikas and Hitler salutes.

"Politicians must finally be able to stand up and say ‘no, this is unacceptable’,” he said.

In addition to Aschenbach’s Die Partei (The Party), a satirical Left-wing party which has gained increasing mainstream support in recent years, the motion was also supported by the left-wing Greens and Die Linke (The Left), along with the centre-left Social Democrats and the centre-right Free Democrats.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats – along with the far-right AfD – both opposed the measure.

A spokesperson for the Christian Democrats criticised the motion, telling the German Press Agency that it was an exercise in “pure symbolic politics” and represented a “linguistic error”.

Councillor Holger Hase (Free Democrats), whose party supported the motion, was however critical of the language used – particularly as the city was one of the contenders for the 2025 European Capital of Culture designation.

Dresden, the largest city in the former East Germany, has had persistent problems with violence and far-right rhetoric in recent years.

The city has seen a number of far-right rallies and demonstrations, particularly in the wake of Chancellor Merkel’s pro-refugee policies were passed in 2015, while it is also the headquarters of the Pegida movement.

Pegida, which in German stands for ‘Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West’, calls for restrictions on Islamic immigration. Since being founded in Dresden in 2014, the movement has spread across the globe in recent years.