On Saturday afternoon, the “Alliance Against the NATO Security Conference” demonstration at Munich’s Stachus began quietly, with a minute’s silence for the victims of wars and earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. This year’s Munich Security Conference is unique because war is raging in Europe and widespread worldwide suffering. And this time, the protest is different. Several groups of demonstrators from the left and right are gathering in Munich.
Before moving through the city, the left anti-Siko alliance formed at Stachus, the conspiracy romantic lateral thinkers scene on Königsplatz. They were the two biggest protests. According to police, 10,000 people gathered at Königsplatz, significantly more than the number of people who gathered on the Stachus. There were estimated to be 1300 demonstrators there.
People held placards that read, “Create peace without weapons” on the Stachus. They carried rainbow flags with the word “Pace” written in Italian for peace. The anthem “Imagine” by John Lennon was performed on stage with German lyrics. Organizer Claus Schreer exclaimed: “We are generally opposed to weapons. We keep our distance from nationalists.”
On the Königsplatz, flags with peace doves flew alongside numerous Russian flags. Diether Dehm, a left-wing politician, mentioned “Ukrainian killer gangs and Nazi fascists”, among other things. Former CDU politician Jürgen Todenhöfer was met with hushed applause when he stated that Russia’s war in Ukraine was “naturally” opposed. However, when he accused the German government of “madness,” he received applause. “The West wanted this war,” he yelled.
Throughout the demonstration, many flags and badges with Russian flags and the inscription “GERUSSIA” could be seen repeatedly. Furthermore, some posters mentioned the corona pandemic, which many participants denied or put into context. Slogans were directed against NATO and against the press, which is described as “warmongers”. One group wore orange overalls similar to those worn by Guantanamo detainees, chains, and masks depicting the Ukrainian president and German government officials. A “tribunal for US war criminals” was proposed. With one exception, the Russian president was not mentioned: “Hopefully Putin will keep his nerves,” one poster bearer wished.
The big day of protests against the security conference had already begun with a clash at the Old Botanical Garden in the morning. The AfD held a rally in Munich with the head of the right-wing extremist Compact Magazine. More than a hundred left-wing counter-demonstrators gathered at the barriers, chanting “Fascist pack” and “Nazi plague,” and a scuffle ensued. The Jusos, as well as the organizations “Munich, is colourful” and “Grandmas Against the Right,” protested the right-wing march. There were peace doves and pro-Russian slogans, but also “Ami goes home” signs and a poster depicting Jewish billionaire George Soros and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as an octopus – an anti-Semitic cipher. Around noon, the AfD demonstrators moved on to join the protest of the lateral thinker’s scene on Königsplatz.
Another protest occurred on Max-Joseph-Platz, with a few hundred people calling for Iran’s independence and freedom. Ukrainians in Germany congregated at Odeonsplatz. Yellow and blue are the dominant colours, with Ukrainian flags flying everywhere in the sun. In Ukrainian, English, and German, people called for help for their homeland, which Russia had invaded.
Politicians such as Anton Hofreiter (Greens) and Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP) spoke on the stage in front of the Feldherrnhalle under the motto “Together against war”. Hofreiter expressed his delight at seeing so many people on the Odeonsplatz, saying, “We need your support in the discussion about each tank.” Only by sending as many weapons as possible to Ukraine will Putin realize he is losing the war. The crowd erupted when Hofreiter asked, “How do people get the idea that the aggressor suddenly wants to negotiate?” Strack-Zimmermann also took part in the “World peace has been disrupted,” Slavi Ukraine yells. This is a European, a global disaster.”
On Saturday, the Munich police headquarters deployed 4,500 officers from all federal states to protect the security conference and demonstrations. Odeonsplatz demonstrated that more police would be present at a security conference than ever. At midday, team vehicles and police officers were parked close together. The police chain should keep fights between Ukraine supporters and NATO opponents at bay.
The protest march of left-wing Siko opponents became very loud as it turned the corner from Brienner Strasse and passed the Feldherrnhalle. “Go to Putin,” the pro-Ukraine demonstrators yelled. Participants in the counter-demonstration walked by calmly, looked around, and took photos. Outraged yells could be heard from the ranks of those flying the yellow and blue flags over and over. There were no physical fights.
“Ukraine needs more weapons,” blared the square’s loudspeakers. Some Ukrainian women began to cry when they saw the posters: “Negotiate instead of shooting” was written on them, or “100 billion for the climate instead of disarmament”. “No weapons for the Kurdish murderer Erdogan,” for example. A lot of things are becoming jumbled these days.
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