When the Neo Nazis Come to Town, Turn It into A Fund-raiser

Traveling Minds - - Table Of Contents -

A town in north­east Bavaria used to be one of the top stops for Neo Nazis in Ger­many, but not any more.

The town, Wun­siedel, had at­tracted many of the white su­prem­a­cist sym­pa­thiz­ers for years. Af­ter all, it was once the place where Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Ru­dolf Hess, had been buried.

In a coun­try which would much rather put that hor­ri­ble chap­ter of their past be­hind them, they had tried ev­ery­thing. They had at­tempted to block both the vis­its and the col­lec­tive marches of the neo Nazis only to cre­ate more pub­lic­ity for those they were try­ing to block. They tried anti-nazi protests. That too back­fired. Do­ing noth­ing had of course been fail­ing for a long time.

Then in 2014 those try­ing to stop them came up with some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent to put an end to the vis­its. They turned the Neo Nazi gath­er­ings and as­so­ci­ated marches into a ma­jor fund-raiser where spon­sors do­nated money for each step the Neo Nazis took in their marches. The do­na­tions went to pro­grams that fight Nazis and those who stand for the same val­ues.

That was ab­surd enough. It took an even weirder turn when the lo­cal anti-nazi or­ga­niz­ers started putting up ban­ners wel­com­ing the Nazis to their “Nazis Against Nazis” walkathon. In­stead of protest­ing, the anti-nazi gath­er­ings cheered on the Nazi marchers to en­cour­age them to walk more, and then raise more money for their own anti-nazi cause. They even put out food such as ba­nanas, to en­cour­age the ac­tual Nazis to keep go­ing – and march even fur­ther.

The Nazis also watched, likely in hor­ror, as they dis­cov­ered there were num­bers painted on the ground along the planned pa­rade routes, show­ing how much they had raised in anti-nazi money at each point along the Nazi ‘walkathon’ route. At the end of the marches, those act­ing against the Nazis even awarded the ones who fin­ished the marches with mock cer­tifi­cates show­ing how much they had raised and thank­ing them for their ef­forts in mak­ing it all pos­si­ble.

A ma­jor part of the monies have gone to EXIT Deutsch­land, an ac­tivist group that as­sists neo-nazis in de­fect­ing from their move­ments – and re­join­ing the rest of the world.

The sheer em­bar­rass­ment and od­dity of this anti-neo Nazi ap­proach has been so suc­cess­ful that more cities in Ger­many with sim­i­lar neo-nazi gath­er­ings have be­gun copy­ing it.

Those an­tic­i­pat­ing the next Char­lottesville de­ba­cle in the United States, take note. There may yet be an­other path here to stop­ping hate-mongers in their tracks.

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