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Protest marks anniversary of Rostock pogrom

August 27, 2022

Thirty years after a racist mob attacked migrants and asylum-seekers in the northeastern German city, people have gathered to show their opposition to racism.

Protesters holding up a banner saying "Remembrance means change"
Saturday's protest came days after a visit from German President Frank Walter-Steinmeier to the cityImage: Bernd Wüstneck/dpa/picture alliance

About 3,600 people attended a demonstration in the northeastern German city of Rostock on Saturday to remember and oppose the racist attack that broke out there three decades ago.

The riots broke out in August 1992, shortly after German reunification, and saw extremists attack the city's central reception center for asylum-seekers while local residents looked on and cheered.

The extremists also attacked a hostel where Vietnamese workers were living. Some 150 people faced mortal danger during the several days of racist mob violence.

The riots have been labeled the worst racist attack in Germany since the end of World War II.

Rostock remembers

The event was  organized by a local group that aims to keep the memory of the attack alive. The slogan for the event was "remembrance means change."

The head of the city's migrant council, Seyhmus Atay-Lichterman, told the EPD news agency that the riots had been caused by a failure of politics and the police. He said the memory of the pogrom must be kept alive.

Germany marks 30th anniversary of xenophobic riots

Imam-Jonas Dogesch, a spokesperson for the organizers, said refugees and asylum seekers are still largely excluded from society, with stricter laws making it almost impossible to seek asylum in Germany.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in Rostock on Thursday for a memorial event where he called the events a "disgrace for our country." He also said all political parties were to blame for the rhetoric they used in the 1990s.

Attack in Leipzig

Hatred and violence toward refugees and asylum-seekers in Germany are still far from extinguished, with neo-Nazis and far-right political parties enjoying considerable support, especially in certain parts of the country.

An example was given on Friday night, when an unknown assailant in the eastern city of Leipzig threw projectiles at a residence for refugees.

Police said that the attack resulted in only minimal external damage to the building, but the act still raised concern, with Saxony's Interior Minister Armin Schuster tweeting that "it is an alarming sign that such inhumane criminal acts are not restricted to the past." 

ab/fb (dpa, EPD)