BERLIN -- An alcohol ban in the East German village of Ostritz ensured that Neo-Nazis attending the Schild und Schwert (Sword and Shield) festival would be starved of a favorite German concert-going beverage.
A court near Dresden called for a ban on booze at the music event, saying the festival had an “aggressive character” and that alcohol would make violence more likely, according to Saxony police. The event is well-known for a genre called “Rechtsrock,” which has promoted far-right nationalism.
The arrival of several hundred far-right extremists was unwelcome by many in the 2,300 person village near the Polish border, which prompted locals to take matters into their own hands.
Knowing that concertgoers would make a beeline to local grocery stores to stock up on alcohol, locals beat them to it, purchasing vast quantities of alcohol on their own dime.
Local activist Georg Salditt told German daily paper Bild that “the plan was devised a week in advance. We wanted to dry the Nazis out. We thought, if an alcohol ban is coming, we'll empty the shelves.”
He said they purchased 100 cases of beer.
According to Saxony police, 4,400 liters of alcohol were confiscated.
Around 1,400 police officers were deployed around the area, including some from German states outside of Saxony, and the atmosphere remained largely relaxed, Saxony police tweeted.
Around 500-600 far-right concertgoers attended, according to police, while 2,000 people took part in anti-festival demonstrations, according to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The state of Saxony has garnered a reputation for far-right extremism. Last year, the city of Chemnitz, located in the region, was the site of xenophobic violence and far-right demonstrations.
Still, 30 years after the fall of the Berlin wall, East German states still suffer from higher levels of unemployment and have lower living standards than states in the West, according to recent research, such as that of Duesseldorf’s Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI). As a consequence, anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has gained popularity in the region, where many are unhappy with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and particularly her decision to welcome refugees primarily from the Middle East into the country in 2015.
In the European Union Elections this May, far-right anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD) beat Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) in the polls to become the most popular party in the region.
Yet, as the weekend’s action showed, many Ostritz residents are eager to distance themselves from the far-right movement.
"We are glad that we were able to set an example for civic engagement," activist Michael Schlitt told German press agency DPA on Sunday.