Neo-Nazis & Anti-Semitic Displays at Berlin Coronavirus Protest

01 August 2020, Berlin: A flag on which various symbols from a Red Cross form a swastika is shown by a participant in the demonstration against corona restrictions in front of the Brandenburg Gate. The initiative "Querdenken 711" has called for the demonstration against the Corona measures. The motto of the demonstration is "The end of the pandemic - Freedom Day". Photo: Fabian Sommer/dpa (Photo by Fabian Sommer/picture alliance via Getty Images)

August 4, 2020

A mass demonstration took place in Germany’s capital city of Berlin over the weekend, bringing together roughly 20,000 people to protest restrictions related to the coronavirus. Many Neo-Nazi groups supported and attended the rally, displaying anti-Semitic imagery, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Dubbed as the “Day of Freedom,” many protesters displayed anti-Semitic signs while others compared the current public health restrictions to those rules imposed by the Nazi regime. The name of the rally is in reference to a 1935 documentary by Nazi propagandist, Leni Riefenstahl.

The commissioner against anti-Semitism for the Jewish Community of Berlin, Sigmount Koenigsberg said, “In retrospect, this demonstration has confirmed many of our fears. The Shoah was repeatedly relativized and anti-Semitic conspiracy myths were part of the standard repertoire.”

At the request of Jewish groups, authorities altered the pre-planned route of the demonstration at the last minute to prevent the demonstration from passing by one of Berlin’s main synagogues during Shabbat services. Koenigsberg said that the “search for scapegoats and spreading of anti-Semitic conspiracy myths has confirmed our view that this demonstration must be considered anti-Semitic,” and he applauded the mainstream political parties for condemning the anti-Semitic messaging that was prevalent at the protest.

One demonstrator was wore a t-shirt that read “FCK ZION” on the front, and on the back urged people to “read the protocols,” a reference to the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic hoax from the early-20th-century. Another protester carried a sign depicting a yellow star like the ones Jews were forced wear during the Nazi regime.

Berlin police eventually broke up the rally a few hours after it began, and arrested more than 100 demonstrators. About 45 police officers were injured by demonstrators. Charges are being pursued against the organizers for failing to wear face masks or follow other pubic health guides. The police are also investigating the use of Nazi party symbols at the protest, which are outlawed and unconstitutional in Germany.

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