BERLIN—In early September, as the sun set on one of this city’s final summer evenings, dozens of activists gathered at a bar in the lively Kreuzberg neighborhood to devise a plan to try to save their country from the far right. Much of the discussion concerned the details of a march taking place tomorrow in Berlin that they hoped would help reinvigorate the open-society values they felt defined their country.
Plans for the demonstration were well underway before the stabbing death in late August of a 35-year-old German citizen, allegedly by immigrants, in the eastern city of Chemnitz. After the incident, cadres of far-right and neo-Nazi groups descended on the town. Along with Chemnitz citizens, they chased down civilians who appeared to be foreign, harassed journalists, and openly flashed Nazi salutes. Counterdemonstrations followed, prompting calls from politicians for a “silent majority” to oppose the actions of the far right. A concert organized a week after the stabbing, whose slogan was “There are more of us,” drew 65,000 people to Chemnitz eager to display their defiance of the extremist groups.
Tomorrow’s demonstration will be the first significant test of whether that opposition can be sustained. Its organizers think it can: They are preparing for a show of force in the tens of thousands. Their readiness to help channel the outrage of a newly engaged silent majority is tempered, though, by a growing frustration with Germany’s political class.