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German police stop concert over Nazi chants

December 2, 2018

Saturday's far-right rock concert in the eastern state of Saxony featured two bands and had drawn an audience of several hundred people. Under German law, Nazi-era slogans and symbols are illegal.

T-shirts and hats with neo-Nazi symbols are sold at a concert in Ostritz in eastern Germany
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/D. Schäfer

German police shut down a far-right concert Saturday after members of the crowd started chanting "Sieg Heil" (Hail Victory), a Nazi-era victory slogan.

German law forbids the use of any kind of Nazi slogan or symbol, such as displaying swastikas.

The concert, which took place in Ostritz, a small town in the eastern state of Saxony, had drawn several hundred people, police said.

"Two far-right bands played in front of several hundred participants," Saxony police said in a statement. "Around 11:20 p.m. (local time, 2220 UTC), the policemen guarding the event heard 'Sieg Heil' chants. Several locals also reported to police about it."

"Police ended the concert around 1:10 a.m. and all participants left the area," the statement added.

Officials have opened an investigation into the incident.

Far-right groups regularly hold rock concerts in Ostritz, a small town near Poland. In April, hundreds of neo-Nazis gathered in the town to participate in a festival timed to coincide with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's birthday.

Read more: German punk band slams concert cancellation over right-wing extremists 

Far-right surge

Far-right groups in Germany have witnessed a rise in popularity since the start of a refugee crisis in 2015.

The fatal stabbing of a German man, allegedly by asylum seekers, in the city of Chemnitz in August, triggered violent far-right protests across Saxony.

Germany's regional and federal police forces have come under widespread scrutiny in the wake of the Chemnitz protests.

In the first half of 2018, 131 music events organized within the neo-Nazi scene drew 13,000 visitors across Germany, according to a federal government tally provided last month at the request of the opposition Left party in Germany's parliament, the Bundestag.

Read more: Germany's Thuringia state on alert for neo-Nazi 'rock' concerts

shs/jlw  (AFP, dpa)

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