Wunsiedel, a town in Germany, is an unwilling host each year to a neo-Nazi demonstration in memory of Rudolf Hess. Because of Germany’s history of counter-protesters turning violent, the people of Wunsiedel decided to counter-protest the wannabe fascists in a unique and brilliant way — by staging in involuntary Walkathon, forcing the demonstrators to participate in raising money against themselves.
Rechts Gegen Rechts (Nazis Against Nazis), the name organizers have given to the action, says:
This year, Wunsiedel decided to take a different approach and turn the funeral march of the neo-Nazis into the most involuntary walkathon in Germany. Without the knowledge of participants, posters, banners and ground markings were put up all along the demonstration route, giving it the look of a sporting event, complete with motivational sayings and typical competition elements such as start and finish lines. “Donate, walk!” or “Final sprint instead of victory!” on cheerful confetti-strewn posters were intended to motivate nearly 200 demonstrators, because walking was the very idea behind it all: for every metre walked, €10 went to Nazi opt-out programme EXIT Deutschland – money that was collected from private persons, companies and NGOs beforehand. The result? €10.000 and a lot of surprised right-wingers.
Here’s the video:
Rudolph Hess was buried in Wunsiedel, and although his body was removed and the grave destroyed to dissuade protesters, they flock there anyway. Modern neo-Nazis have a persecution complex, so they try to hold up Hess as an example of a wronged Nazi. Hess, at one time the third most powerful man in Hitler’s Germany, took a trip by himself and without official endorsement to try to seek peace with Britain.
His proposed plan was to stop fighting and allow Britain to keep her overseas possessions, in exchange for not interfering with Germany’s actions on the continent. So, not exactly a pacifist. Things didn’t go his way — he was arrested on landing by Britain, and ended up spending the rest of his life in prison.
Also, Hitler hated him for it. He considered it a personal betrayal, and took steps to destroy the credibility of Hess through the German media. The position Hess served in, Deputy Führer, was completely abolished, and Hitler ordered that if Hess should return, he should be shot on sight.
Germany has a history of right wing demonstrations being met by leftist counter demonstrations, and many clashes leading to violence. Now, neo Nazis make sure that their demonstrations are peaceful and noncombative, in order to further cultivate a sense of persecution and help them spread their poisonous message. Wunsiedel had the perfect answer for them.
A startlingly high number of commenters on the video weren’t so approving of the action taken by the town, though. Here are some highlights, but be warned — there is some offensive language:
A note to those last two intellectual giants — fascism is an extreme right-wing ideology with some left-wing elements. Politics is not a hard scale; it’s cyclical, and many schools of political thought incorporate elements of other schools. Nazi Germany is recognized almost universally among historians and academics as being on the extreme right.
And not that I expect these kind of people to understand nuance, but it’s not as simple as “more government is left wing” and “less government is right wing” either. That’s an American right-wing political talking point, but doesn’t account for extreme left anarchists, or socialist libertarians like Noam Chomsky. (I seriously doubt anyone would place Chomsky on the right wing of the political spectrum.)
Modern-day Nazi sympathizers seem to be fans of revising history and playing the victim, but they’re not fooling anyone.