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Germany: Far-right group protests refugee housing plan

December 9, 2023

The protest by the extreme-right Aufbruch Gera group drew more than a thousand supporters in the eastern German city of Gera.

A police van sits across the street from a crowd of far-right protesters in the eastern German city of Gera on December 9, 2023
Police say over a thousand people attended the protest in the eastern city of GeraImage: Bodo Schackow/dpa/picture alliance

More than a thousand supporters of right-wing extremist group Aufbruch Gera held a protest in the eastern German city of Gera on Saturday against plans to build housing for refugees, police said.

More than 70 vehicles with about 150 occupants also drove through the city in a procession.

Public broadcaster MDR said the rally was mobilized by a group that supports right-wing extremist and agitator Christian Klar.

The domestic intelligence agency for the eastern state of Thuringia classifies the group, known as Aufbruch Gera, which might loosely translate to "awakening in Gera," as a "suspected extremist case."

The agency's chief Stephan Kramer has described them as an "extremist core group that expresses itself in a particularly drastic manner."

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party organized the vehicle convoy, MDR reported. The party has previously distanced itself from Aufbruch Gera.

Around 60 people took part in a counter-demonstration calling for solidarity with migrants and refugees — demanding they be treated with dignity.

Turkey: Asylum applications in Germany on the rise

Former hospital to house hundreds of refugees

Gera plans to house refugees at the former Wismut Hospital. The building will be able to house 200 refugees, the state government of Thuringia said.

The new facility will help relieve the overcrowded reception center in Suhl, a city to the west of Gera.

The former Wismut hospital had previously been used as a shelter for asylum seekers between 2015 and 2017.

In the run-up to the demonstration, Gera's mayor Julian Vonarb said that the heated debate surrounding the refugee housing was a major worry.

More than 250,000 migrants have applied for asylum in Germany so far in 2023, an increase of 76% on the previous year.

Several states have said they have reached their resource limits in trying to offer refuge to the newcomers.

With material from DPA news agency

Edited by: Louis Oelofse

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