1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Standing up to neo-Nazis

August 30, 2015

Top German band Die Toten Hosen have turned on a surprise act in support of a couple who have defied local neo-Nazis. Birgit and Horst Lohmeyer have organized nine concerts for tolerance on their northern German farm.

Deutschland Die Toten Hosen spielen in Jamel
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Heimken

Frontman Campino said the punk band turned up at the couple's farm on Saturday as a "gesture of high respect" for the couple's long stand against neo-Nazis living in the same village.

The visit follows a series of suspected far-right arson attacks on intended and occupied hostel for asylum-seekers across Germany offset by widespread help for refugees given by volunteers at reception centers.

A thatched barn belonging to Bigit and Horst Lohmeyer, artists aged 56 and 58 respectively, burned down earlier this month in what police said appeared to be a case of arson with far-right origins. So far, suspects have not been arrested.

Since 2004, the Lohmeyers have lived in Jamel, a village with a reputation for being a far-right nationalist stronghold, near Wismar, in sparsely populated Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Deutschland Birgit und Horst Lohmeyer in Jamel
The Lohmeyers say they're staying putImage: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Büttner

The northern state with its long Baltic Sea coastline and historic trading ports was once part of communist East Germany.

Arriving at the pair's rural home, Campino said the band wanted to send a signal for the couple and "all the others, who don't turn away when Nazis claim space for themselves."

He said the couple's decision to stay put, despite far-right animosity and resulting emotional stress, "must be an unbelievable burden."

Award from trade union

During Saturday's open air festival, called "Forest Rock - for a colorful world," the pair was also honored with a 10,000 Euro ($11,181) civil courage prize from the construction and agricultural trade union IG Bau.

Birgit Lohmeyer said nationwide expressions of solidarity for their stand since the blaze had encouraged them not to concede to what she called "Nazi terror."

The union's federal chairman Robert Feiger said the award was for the Lohmeyer's exemplary determination not to be intimidated by far-right extremists.

Feiger urged authorities to be more assertive in pursuing far-right suspects. The pair had exhibited an alternative, by not trivializing and turning away, he said.

Federal Families Minister Manuela Schwesig tweeted this picture from the concert.

Pro-migrant march in Dresden

Several thousands of people attended a leftist protest march organized by the so-called Anti-Nazi Alliance in Dresden on Saturday following a series of violent anti-migrant protests in the region. The march stayed peaceful.

The crowd chanted: "Refugees are welcome here," watched by police in riot gear.

Dresden was the scene of anti-Islam protests by the right-wing movement Pegida earlier this year.

Last weekend, Heidenau, a town near Dresden, became the focus of Germany's effort to absorb asylum-seekers, when far-right protestors violently opposed the opening of a new refugee center.

Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Heidenau mid-week and said there would be zero tolerance for "vile" anti-migrant violence.

Poll shows optimism

German public broadcaster ZDF said in a poll it had found that 60 percent of Gremans believed that Europe's biggest economy was capable of hosting those arriving. Latest estimates are for 800,000 asylum-seekers reaching Germany this year.

The widely-toured Die Toten Hosen originated as a punk band based in Dusseldorf in 1982 and have published some 15 studio albums.

ipj/jr (AFP, Reuters, dpa)