The "city of peace" Augsburg is mobilizing against the AfD party conference this weekend. The demonstrators also include representatives of the CSU.
In Augsburg, a broad protest is forming against the AfD party conference Photo: dpa
The appeal is flowery: "Show yourself Augsburg, show your attitude, show your heart, show your courage and show your tolerance," reads the call for demonstrations and rallies against the AfD party conference. This will take place this weekend in Augsburg’s Schwabenhalle in the fairgrounds, five kilometers south of the city center. Officially, 2,500 demonstrators are registered, but meanwhile significantly more are expected. Nevertheless, the numbers are unlikely to approach those of the anti-AfD rally in Berlin with 25,000 participants or the protests at the last party congress in 2017 in Cologne, where about 12,000 opponents of the AfD protested. This may also be due to the fact that Augsburg has only 290,000 inhabitants and a very rural environment.
Already on Friday evening, there will be celebrations against the AfD in the inner-city clubs, and there will also be a rally on the town hall square under the motto "For a solidary Augsburg – together against racism". On Saturday, the main demonstrations will follow. With 2,000 officers in uniform and plainclothes, the police want to "clearly show presence," says Thomas Rieger, spokesman for the police headquarters of Swabia North.
The protest with the motto "Zeig dich Aux" is organized by the group "Bundnis fur Menschenwurde" (Alliance for Human Dignity) and supported by the Stadtjugendring Augsburg. The alliance includes, among others, various Augsburg politicians, including Matthias Lorentzen, a staff member of the Green Party member of the Bundestag and vice president Claudia Roth, as well as former member of the Bundestag Heinz Paula (SPD). Roth has her constituency in Augsburg and grew up in Bavarian Swabia.
"We are flying the flag for Augsburg as a city of peace and against hate," says Lorentzen. "Augsburg is not a city for right-wing populists." Helmut Jesske, executive director of the Stadtjugendring, tells the taz, "The alliance is broad-based. We have members from the CSU to the Socialist German Workers’ Youth." The DGB, the Protestant church and the fan supporters of the Bundesliga soccer team FC Augsburg are also involved.
Two demos against AfD and Pegida
There will be no less than two rallies on Saturday morning: starting at 9 a.m., there will be demonstrations at the trade fair. For 10 o’clock, another rally is registered in the city center at the union building. In addition, the centrally located Moritzplatz is occupied with information booths of various groups. The demonstration marches will then both head for Rathausplatz, for the central large-scale rally on Saturday afternoon. "In terms of content, they don’t differ," says Stadtjugendring man Jesske about the two demos. However, some participants would prefer to demonstrate against the AfD at the fair, others rather at the Center for a Tolerant Augsburg.
Another reason for two demonstrations is of a purely practical nature: in order to prevent possible pro-AfD demos by Pegida, for example, the alliance wanted to occupy large parts of the city area with the demos and information booths. Pegida Munich has also registered a rally. However, it is doubtful that this will be well received, as the Munich Pegida offshoot hardly exists anymore. Pegida had already occupied a section of the street in front of the building at the Antifa congress in Munich’s DGB building last November. Most of the time, however, there was no one there at all.
At the final rally of the counter-demonstration, the Juso chairman Kevin Kuhnert will then speak, as will Claudia Roth and trade union representatives. CSU member of the Bundestag Volker Ullrich and the Lord Mayor Kurt Gribl (CSU) will also speak here. The latter is even deputy chairman of the CSU. The alliance has so far officially raised no objections to cooperation with the CSU, which is currently very restrictive on the issue of asylum at the federal level.
There is speculation about whether there could be further actions by left-wing radicals and autonomists. Police spokesman Rieger tells the site: "The organizers come from the peaceful bourgeois camp." In the opposite case, the police have set up mobile detention centers in some places.