17. August 2017

The hilarious way a German town turned neo-Nazis against Nazism

There isn’t a clear playbook for people who suddenly find their hometown filled with neo-Nazis. They can ignore them and hope they go away quickly. They can protest peacefully, and potentially put their lives on the line against armed and dangerous white supremacists. They can attempt to meet force with force, and risk men like Donald Trump blurring the lines between racist and anti-racist protests.

Three years ago, however, a small German town found a fourth option — you can involuntarily conscript Nazis into anti-Nazism.

Wunsiedel, a town of less than 10,000 people, was once the burial site of Nazi leader Rudolf Hess, former top deputy to Adolf Hitler. Though Hess’ body was exhumed in 2011 and the grave was destroyed, dozens of neo-Nazis still made an annual pilgrimage to Wunsiedel, marching through the town wearing black clothes and displaying green flags. (German law bans the display of Nazi iconography such as swastikas.)

In 2014, after enduring the annual Nazi march for over a quarter century, Wunsiedel residents responded with “Germany’s most involuntary charity walk” — a project of the Center for Democratic Culture in Germany (ZDK Deutschland).

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