The city of Dresden, situated in Eastern Germany, officially declared a state of “Nazi Emergency” on October 30th. 


By Venice Hancock.

The city of Dresden, situated in Eastern Germany, officially declared a state of “Nazi Emergency” on October 30th. 

Dresden has a long history of having to tackle far right movements. Since the 1990’s it has been the scene of many neo-Nazi demonstrations, including the commemoration of the severe bombing of the city by British and American forces during the Second World War. More recently, Dresden become the birthplace of the Pegida movement, an anti-Islam German nationalist far-right group. The state of Saxony, of which Dresden is the capital, has also been a long-term stronghold for german far-right  nationalist parties such as the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) and the Alternative for Germany (AfD).

The motion of declaring a “Nazi Emergency” was put forward by city council member Max Aschenbach as a way of tackling this growing issue. The idea was in part inspired by the global response to the climate crisis. Aschenbach, who belongs to a left leaning satirical party called Die Partei said, quite simply, “…this city has a problem with Nazis”. He also fears that the alt-right ideology has birthed an alarming amount of adhering movements and considers them a threat to democratic society, and to the safety of people belonging to minority groups. 

The proposition was put to a vote where it was passed and approved by 39 votes against 29 dissenting votes. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Germany’s governing centre-right party, voted against the motion. Jan Donhauser, the head of the CDU on Dresden’s city council, explained the party’s decision to the BBC, saying that: “…from our point of view, this was primarily an intended provocation”. He also said that the far-right groups do not pose a serious threat to public order in Dresden, rendering declaring a state of emergency counterproductive. 

This declaration comes at a point in Europe’s history where the popularity of far-right  nationalist movements are at an all-time high. Whether it’s Marine Le Pen’s shocking results in France’s 2017 Presidential elections, the sudden rise of the Vox party in Spain or Estonia’s EKRE which has become the third biggest party in the country, it’s clear that nationalism is gaining traction at a rapid pace all over the continent. Elected members of various far-right european parties also created a new group within the European Parliament after this May’s elections. The group, which calls itself “Identity and Democracy”, includes a total of 73 members, the majority stemming from Italy’s Lega party with 28 lawmakers, other adherents belong to Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, Austria’s FPÖ, France’s Rassemblement National, Germany’s AfD, Finland’s True Finns, the Czech Republic’s Freedom and Direct Democracy, Denmark’s People’s Party and Estonia’s Conservative People’s Party.  

This rise of nationalism in Europe is of course synonymous with the ongoing refugee crisis and the deep rooted fears it has revealed in many communities across the continent and the general disenchantment with regular political classes. In 2017, the AfD, led by Jörg Meuthen and Alexander Gauland, became the first far-right party to enter German Parliament since World War II. The party’s anti-Europe and strict anti-immigration stance has since become their defining characteristic. The peculiarity with German alt-right nationalism is that we have seen what it looks like before – and this is precisely why Dresden’s city council members passed the motion to declare the state of “Nazi Emergency”, in the hope of bringing attention to the issue at hand in a way that would emulate the success of the global climate protests. Mr. Aschenbach hopes that this state of emergency will make sure issues of neo-Nazism are addressed in a more urgent manner in the future and that more resources will be put into combating extremist far-right ideologies and groups.

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