The initiative „Rechts rockt nicht!“ calls for a broad and united resistance against the neo-Nazi festival which is due to take place on Hitler’s birthday in Ostritz, Eastern Saxony. The initiative’s spokesperson, Sascha Elser, announces: „We’ll won’t surrender Ostritz to neo-Nazis but stand against their festival. We also call everyone to join the counter actions against this major event .“
From 20th to 22nd April, 2018 several thousand Neo-nazis are expected to turn the small border town Ostritz into a fascist no-go area. As previous events of this kind have shown, the massive number of aggressive and ideologically steadfast neo-Nazis results in a de facto ’nationally liberated‘ area – including the well-known difficulties for all those who speak out against their inhuman, fascist ideology. Thorsten Heise, the regional head of the NPD party in Thuringia, has registered the three-day meeting as a political assembly. On the grounds of the hotel „Neißeblick“ – a long-standing and well-known venue for hosting (major) events of the German right-wing scene since the 1990s – performances of several neo-Nazi bands will take place. Racism and xenophobia are only two ingredients to the toxic mindset of the Shield & Sword fest.
The date and location clearly show another aspect of this event: the celebration of Adolf Hitler’s birthday in shouting distance to a country which suffered extensively under the German National-Socialist occupation: Poland. The organisers are known to glorify National Socialist rule while trivialising or negating all Nazi(war) crimes committed in Poland and Central-Eastern Europe. Crucially, Ostritz is located on the border to Lower Silesia, a region which was justly and rightfully bestowed to the Polish people after 1945 and which the Shield & Sword organisers to this day describe as being under „interim Polish administration“. As the spokesperson Sascha Elser says: „Clearly, they want it back.“
A closer inspection of the program suggests that the political aspects of the festival are secondary to the large number of subcultural highlights, such as the martial-arts event „Ring der Nibelungen“, a tattoo convention and a variety of commercial sales stands. We argue that political statements and speeches are the fig leaf by which the event is to be protected by the German constitution. Political statements are the key requirement for the classification as a ‚political assembly‘ instead of a private event. The legal protection granted to political assemblies is extensive and brings with it considerable benefits for the organisers which will increase the financial profits. The festival in Ostritz is therefore not only an open celebration of Hitler and his ideology but also an event where the right to assembly is blatantly abused in order to generate funds for (inter-)national neo-Nazi organisations with the blessing of the German legal system.
As Sascha Elser explains the point of view of the initiative „Rechts rockt nicht“: „In our eyes, the the event in Ostritz will be the place where German neo-Nazis will meet to solidify and extend their cooperation with members of the Czech and Polish neo-Nazi scene. And they will turn their celebration of Adolf Hitler’s birthday into a funding event for their organisations – and all under the protective eye of the German and Polish cops. If Neo-nazis are able to gather and celebrate Hitler’s birthday without any interuptions there is something fundamentally wrong.“
The initiative „Rechts rockt nicht“ is a network of organisations and individuals active in the Görlitz-Zittau region as well as in the Eastern German countries Saxony, Brandenburg and Berlin.