Neo-Nazis and anti-vaxxers join protest against coronavirus restrictions in Germany

Demonstration fell well short of 200,000 numbers hoped for by organisers

Tim Wyatt
Monday 05 October 2020 12:11 BST

Far-right activists, Neo-Nazis and anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists were among the thousands who joined a protest against coronavirus restrictions in Germany over the weekend.  

The demonstration at Lake Constance in the south of the country, close to the Austrian border, also attracted thousands of counter-protesters, although police said the there had not been any violence.  

Organisers of the rally, who opposed social distancing measures imposed to try and restrict the spread of Covid-19, had hoped to gather as many as 200,000 demonstrators to form a human chain around the lake.  

But the police said they had counted only about 11,000 people among the two protests. The counter-protesters also formed a “peace chain” around part of the lake.  

Germany’s far-right has been leading some of the backlash to coronavirus lockdown measures for months, which has prompted local authorities in the area to ban the imperial-era Reichsflagge.

The old flag used by the German Empire until 1919 has been co-opted as a symbol by Neo-Nazis, as the swastika flag has long already been proscribed.  

It was brandished during an earlier anti-lockdown protest outside the German parliament in Berlin in August and several of the Lake Constance demonstrators were also waving the red, white and black standard.  

Others held signs declared “Masks are child abuse” and “Freedom!”, while many of the counter-protesters waved rainbow and peace flags.

In comparison to most countries in Europe, Germany has so far weathered the pandemic well: about 9,500 of its citizens have died from the virus, compared with 42,000 in Britain.  

Under the country’s current lockdown restrictions, people must wear masks in shops and on public transport or face a €50 fine, private gatherings are capped at 25 people and public ones at 50. Regions which are seeing cases rise fastest are also imposing stricter rules.  

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