Corona demonstration: is the right-wing danger underestimated?

"Who has seen the disturbing images," says German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday morning, "who had to fear even worse." That it didn't come to that Right-wing extremists on Saturday not also still into the interior of the Reichstag building got – that had prevented those who are guests of Steinmeier this morning: Six police officers, representing the task forces that had protected the Reichstag building in Berlin over the weekend.

First in threes, later with reinforcements, they faced the onslaught of Neo-Nazis, Reichsburger and other radicalized demonstrators against. It's a sign of alarm that the German president is intervening so visibly after the weekend's escalation – and that's exactly how it should be understood: "Right-wing extremism is a serious danger," the head of state warns – and admonishes moderate demonstrators: "Those who seek to close ranks with right-wing extremists on the streets make common cause with them." Has the country once again underestimated the influence of the right wing?

Corona demo: Verfangsschutz warned of influence of right-wing circles

The concern is real that right-wing groups are completely taking over the Corona protest movement. Even before the weekend, the Verfangsschutz had warned that right-wing circles were increasingly trying to mobilize their supporters for the Berlin demonstrations. But: "So far, they have not succeeded in completely instrumentalizing the Corona protests for themselves," a spokesman for the Interior Ministry explained Monday.The group that stormed up the stairs to the Reichstag building on Saturday included not only neo-Nazis, Reich citizens and other right-wing extremists, but also protesters who "should be cautious about how they are classified.".

On videos, in addition to German imperial flags, for example, a Dutch flag and a Turkish flag can also be seen. Authorities have also investigated suggestions that the protests were partly incited by disinformation from abroad – but such influence "should not be overstated," the spokesman said. Read here: Corona demo: horror after right-wing escalation at the Reichstag

Police union sees parallels to Pegida

Jorg Radek has been observing the movement for months, he is deeply concerned: "Since the first hygiene demonstrations, the influence of right-wing extremist groups on the Corona protest movement is solidifying. The right-wingers are in the process of completely hijacking the movement," the vice-chairman of the police union (GdP) told our editorial staff.

Radek also sees a dangerous parallel: "There's a real danger that the 'Corona protest movement will evolve just like the Pegida movementIt is becoming more radical under the influence of right-wing extremist circles."With Pegida, too, there had been anger at the beginning about political decisions and a high susceptibility to right-wing influence. Read commentary on the riots: Protesters reveal their undemocratic stance in Berlin

Like the German president, the police unionist is also directing a Urgent appeal to the moderate Corona demonstrators: "Anyone who stays on now must ask themselves whether they want to join forces with the right-wing extremists and combine their personal concerns in the Corona crisis with the anti-democratic goals of the extremists."

Social milieus at the rallies are intermingling

Torsten Hahnel from the Working Group on Right-Wing Extremism in Saxony-Anhalt, on the other hand, accuses politicians of having misjudged the situation in advance: "It was simply impossible to overlook how clear the high presence of right-wing radicals would be. Only, for the umpteenth time, no one took it seriously," Hahnel told our editorial staff. In his opinion, even those who had seen the calls for demonstrations in advance would have been able to recognize "that extreme right-wingers, comradeships and hooligans were mobilizing here".

In the case of the Corona protests, Hahnel sees anyway a new development. It can be observed that the social milieus at the rallies are increasingly mixed, "the inhibition threshold decreases to go together with right-wing extremists on the street and to adopt even the most absurd arguments." There is hardly any demarcation taking place anymore, she said. "Anti-vaccinationists, esotericists, radical vegans and hardcore right-wingers" are coming together at the demonstrations and largely tolerating each other, he said. "This is a new quality," Hahnel said.

Conversely, this means "an increasing radicalization of the social center". Many of these people networked online and found like-minded people on the Internet, which massively accelerated development. Protesters would have known in advance whose company they would be in, and would have gone along anyway. "The slogans are also becoming increasingly similar," observes extremism expert.

For it is not only among right-wing extremists that there are anti-Semitism, "but also among esotericists and followers of world conspiracy ideologies.". Together they are "against those up there.

Federal and state police want to coordinate better

The demonstrators on the Reichstag steps are currently being investigated on suspicion of Trespass investigates. Investigations are now also underway against the woman who called for an assault on the building on the stage of a Reichsburger demonstration directly in front of the Bundestag. According to a media report, it is said to be a well-known representative of the Reich citizenship scene, who comes from the Eifel and is known as an esoteric healer works.

Senate and police in Berlin now want to clarify how such incidents can be prevented in the future. "These are shameful images," said Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) on Monday in the Interior Committee of the House of Representatives. There is now a need for appropriate coordination between the Berlin police and the Bundestag police "so that this is ruled out in the future," Geisel said.

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