Thousands Rally in Berlin After Anti-Semitic Attack

  • The protest was called by the Unteilbar group, ("indivisible" in German), which has been organizing protests against the extreme right, racism, and intolerance.
  • Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel attended a vigil to give solidarity to the victims of the attack on Wednesday.
  • The perpetrator, identified as Stephen B., 27, confessed to the crime and admitted to having anti-Semitic and far-right motives.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Berlin on Sunday in protest against extreme right-wing violence and anti-Semitism, in a gesture of repudiation of the attack that left two dead this week in the east German city of Halle. The protest began on Bebelplatz square, in front of the Humboldt University in the heart of the German capital. It was in this square where, in 1933, the Nazis burned books by Jewish authors considered “subversive” by Adolf Hitler’s regime.

The Halle synagogue shooting was a far-right attack that occurred on 9 October 2019 in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, as well as nearby Landsberg. After unsuccessfully trying to enter the city’s synagogue during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the attacker killed two people nearby and later injured two others.

The protest was called by the Unteilbar group, (“indivisible” in German), which has been organizing protests against the extreme right, racism, and intolerance. After a minute of silence, the marchers set off from Bebelplatz toward the New Synagogue in the Mitte district. At the same location, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel attended a vigil to give solidarity to the victims of the attack on Wednesday.

In a statement, Unteilbar said, “the right-wing terrorist attack in Halle makes us stunned and angry, we remember the victims. We also understand this act as an attack on our society, a society in which we fight for social and human rights and in which all people can live free of fear and in self-determination.”

The present New Synagogue building is a reconstruction of the facade of what was once the main synagogue of the Berlin Jewish community, destroyed at the time of World War II. The address is today a Jewish monument and no longer functions as a synagogue.

Unteilbar organizers estimated the participation of 13,000 people in the protest in Berlin on Sunday, while police spoke to about 6,000 protesters. About 10,000 people had confirmed presence at the act. This Sunday’s march coincides with the anniversary of the first protest called by Unteilbar, which last year gathered more than 200,000 people in an action against the far right in Berlin following racist demonstrations in the east of the country.

The attack on Halle last Wednesday took place during Yom Kippur, the most important religious holiday on the Jewish calendar. The perpetrator, identified as Stephen B., 27, confessed to the crime and admitted to having anti-Semitic and far-right motives. Wearing a combat uniform, mask and helmet and carrying various weapons, the terrorist launched an explosive on the wall of a Jewish cemetery and tried to enter a nearby synagogue, but failed to get through the locked door. At the moment, about 50 people were at the scene.

The Bebelplatz (formerly and colloquially the Opernplatz) is a public square in the central Mitte district of Berlin, the capital of Germany. Following the war, the square was renamed after August Bebel, a founder of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.

Unable to enter, the attacker, who was broadcasting the live attack on the internet, began firing at pedestrians. Still, near the synagogue, he killed a woman passing by and shot at customers at a kebab shop, killing a man. The action left two dead from gunshot wounds, a 40-year-old woman and her 41-year-old husband. According to press reports, the homemade or improvised weapons used by the perpetrator failed several times, preventing him from killing even more. In the live broadcast, he repeatedly “apologized” for his failure to kill more people.

A demonstration is also taking place in Halle. After the march, space opened and people talked about the attack, and songs were played in honor of the victims. On Saturday, thousands of people protested in German cities against right-wing extremism over the attack. In Marburg, in the east of the country, about 3,000 people took part in a march, while in Hamburg one-act gathered 1,200 people.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.


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