The Slatest

German City Declares “Nazi Emergency”

A neo-Nazi surrounded by riot police during a rally in Dresden, eastern Germany, on Feb. 13, 2013.
A neo-Nazi surrounded by riot police during a rally in Dresden, eastern Germany, on Feb. 13, 2013. ROBERT MICHAEL/Getty Images

The city council of the eastern German city of Dresden passed an alarming resolution this week declaring the city to be in the grips of a Nazinotstand or “Nazi emergency.” The resolution was put to the city council Wednesday, decrying that “anti-democratic, anti-pluralist, misanthropic and right-wing-extremist attitudes and actions, including violence in Dresden, are occurring with increasing frequency.” The city has a history of neo-Nazi activism and of late has proven to be a haven for the far-right, giving birth to the anti-Islam and xenophobic PEGIDA (“Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West”) movement in 2014. The state of Saxony, of which Dresden is the capital, is also a stronghold of the far-right Alternative For Germany (AfD), which finished second in state elections in September with a quarter of the vote.

“Among other things, the resolution calls on the city and civil society organizations to strengthen a democratic culture, protect minority and human rights, and help the victims of right-wing violence,” according to Deutsche Welle, “[focusing on] the causes and consequences of anti-Semitism, racism and position of extreme right to restore trust in democratic institutions and the appreciation of diversity and respectful solidarity.” The resolution was passed by the city council by a 39-to-29 vote, but was opposed by Germany’s current governing party, the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU), who rejected the resolution as a “provocation.”

The CDU chairman of the Dresden city council said the “vast majority” of Dresden citizens are “neither right-wing extremists nor anti-democratic,” as if that was the question being asked, before embarking on a pretty extraordinary both sides-ism explanation of their opposition to the BBC. “’State of emergency’ means the collapse or a serious threat to public order,” the chairman said. “Furthermore, the focus on ‘right-wing extremism’ does not do justice to what we need. We are the guardians of the liberal-democratic basic order and no violence, no matter from which extremist side it comes, is compatible with it.”