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