The village I am living in is a small and boring Steinhöfel, which is located around 60 km east of Berlin. On February 6th, I was just released from my mandatory 10 days quarantine after coming from Hungary and I was wondering why there were many large and luxurious cars parked around the Steinhöfeler church and many people gathered without masks at the "Ulmenhof" restaurant during the lockdown. I soon learned that Steinhöfel became a meeting place for right-wing extremists from all over Germany. In the meantime, further Alternative for Germany (AfD) meetings have taken place in the "Ulmenhof" and suddenly I started feeling unsafe to be here.
On February 20th, around 100 citizens of Steinhöfel and people from the surrounding area responded to the call by the "Bündnis für ein offenes Steinhöfel" and they demonstrated in front of the restaurant "Ulmenhof" against an expected event of the AfD. However, the planned event of the AfD at "Ulmenhof" restaurant was cancelled that day because of the demonstration. I was happy to see many people were united and stand for human rights and democracy even during the pandemic lockdown.
The counter-demonstration happened again on the Sunday morning of March 28th because the AfD organized their event at "Ulmenhof" restaurant again on that day. The police officers were protecting every AfD members from protesters until they enter the restaurant from their cars and protesters were shouting at them. AfD members were mocking the protesters and were taking pictures in front of their signs and protesters were incredibly angry. I could see the difference between the two sides that protesters were all wearing masks and following the rules of the lockdown while AfD members were not wearing any masks at all.
The demonstrators were also blaming the owner of the "Ulmenhof", Torsten Huth, who runs the restaurant with his family because he should not have rented his restaurant for the AfD gatherings. However, the owner says that he is politically neutral. People do not believe in him, and his business is on boycott ever since.
I could read the “Racism is no alternative” and “We don't want Steinhöfel to be a cosy place for right-wing extremists!” signs on the demonstration. They demanded that the responsible authorities in the community and office do everything possible to prevent something like this in the future! Furthermore, they demanded that nobody in Steinhöfel provides rooms for right-wing extremists! The AfD does not stand for a respectful, democratic exchange of opinions, but for racism, division, insult and inciting different population groups against each other. Citizens do not want that in Steinhöfel!
For those who do not know about Alternative for Germany, the party was supposedly disbanded at the beginning of 2020 because the Office for the Protection of the Constitution classified it as a suspected right-wing extremist. The meetings in Steinhöfel shows that the structures continue to exist, and this nationwide network of right-wing extremists feels comfortable in Steinhöfel.
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