They demand freedom – and applaud Putin

On Saturday, tens of thousands marched through Berlin again, calling – largely peacefully – for an end to the Corona measures. In the evening, however, the situation escalated. A report by Jan-Henrik Wiebe

“Putin, Putin, Putin,” the crowd sang in front of the Russian embassy on Unter den Linden in Berlin. Even in Russia there is seldom so much love for the autocrat in public. “Freedom instead of arbitrariness” is written on a poster that a woman presents. Some fans of the Russian president are carrying the flag of the German Empire, others that of the US or Russia, calling for a peace treaty that supposedly does not exist.

Many of them are so-called Reich citizens, right-wing extremists and do not recognize the Federal Republic. You demand freedom from the anti-corona measures and you want Putin at the same time. A paradox that you encounter in many places on this day.

Sharp contrast with aggressive ‘Rijksburgers’

A group of hippies also want to inject a lot of love further down the street, at the intersection with Friedrichstrasse. They play peacefully with flowers in their hair, drums, guitar and flute. The contrast with the more aggressive right-wing “Reichsbürgern” could hardly be clearer.

Hippies were also featured at the Berlin protest – a sharp contrast to aggressive “Reichsburgs”. (Source: Christoph Soeder / dpa)

A large part of the people who have come to Berlin from all over Germany come from the middle class spectrum and fear what is happening, which becomes clear in conversations with them. They don’t understand the measures against the corona pandemic, nobody wears mouth and nose protection except the police officers and representatives of the press. This is also evident from the public transport on this day in Berlin.

Mask disturbs more than neo-Nazis

Many people ignore the rules, despite possible fines. It is still claimed that the coronavirus is no worse than the flu. The piece of cloth in front of their mouths and noses in the supermarket or on the train disturbs much more than the neo-Nazis who joined in their demonstration.

In addition to the identity movement observed by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, members of comrades have traveled from all over Germany. Representatives from the AfD are also on site. AfD Berlin posted a video of the demonstration on Twitter, calling it a folk festival.

3,000 police officers are far too few

About 3,000 police officers have a duty to enforce the authorities’ demands, but it is clear from the start that there are far too few officers to enforce any measure. This becomes clear when the police want to release a sit-in on Friedrichstrasse at noon after the demonstration broke down. The officers symbolically carry a dozen protesters off the street and then withdraw.

The police cannot even properly secure the Bundestag. Protesters holding flags of the German Reich – a distinctive feature of the far right – break through police chains, push rods aside and storm the portal. Only with a lot of pepper spray can the emergency services drive out the aggressive crowd and get the situation under control. Police later said no one entered the building, but stones and bottles were thrown at the officers. Nothing is known about the injured so far.

“I had Corona and I’m worried about you”

Videos on the Internet show that only a few police officers defended the home of our democracy from the onslaught of anti-democrats.

Hours earlier, the situation was completely different: Karoline Preisler wears a mask and poster on Pariser Platz in front of the Brandenburg Gate and wants to talk to the protesters. “I had Corona and I’m worried about you,” her poster says. She is the bravest illuminator on this day.

At the start of the pandemic, the lawyer and FDP politician from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was hospitalized in an isolation room for several days and had a fairly serious course of illness. Men and women with flags of the German Empire pass by. A man from the right spectrum has been harassing her, Preisler tells Chillreport.

Corona survivors seek conversation

“Most people don’t see Corona as the problem, but the fear of it,” said the Corona survivor. You have already had many good conversations, which, according to Preisler, have alerted some people. However, she could not convince anyone that people’s opinions were too strong for that. She says many have never interacted with people who contracted the virus. In conversations with people, she warns against the peasant catchers who represent right-wing ideas and are not interested in the corona issue.

In many places between Friedrichstrasse and the Victory Column loud techno music thunders from speakers you brought. People dance in the street, hold hands and hug each other. It’s like a little Love Parade, in the middle of the pandemic, but in a completely parallel world. Not the virus is dangerous, but the fear of it, says a woman in an interview with Chillreport.

Corona brings together wild mix on the street

She fears that people will get lonely and get sick as a result, she says. All anti-corona measures must be withdrawn, this is not only their demand, but the common denominator of concerned citizens, conspiracy theorists, right-wing extremists, hippies, Christians, esotericists, women in burqas, women with German flags with a Turkish crescent and Q-anon Conspirator shirt, Putin friends and men with Turkey flags. Without Corona, none of them would have taken to the streets together.

It’s a mix of fear, selfish hedonism and political activism. The mob in front of the Reichstag proved that the announcement of a “storm on Berlin” was no joke.

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