The well-known neo-Nazi Patrick Schroder and the district chairman of the Regensburg AfD took to the microphone at Corona demonstrations in Amberg. The Alliance for Tolerance and Human Rights warns of a targeted infiltration of the protest movement.
Patrick Schroder, one of the best-known faces of the Upper Palatinate neo-Nazi scene, spoke for almost seven minutes at the demonstration of vaccination critics and measure deniers in Amberg last Monday. The district chairman of the Regensburg AfD, Dieter Arnold, is also said to have appeared there as the main speaker. And not for the first time, as the Upper Palatinate Alliance for Tolerance and Human Rights (short OBTM) has found out. Arnold had already used a demonstration in Amberg as a stage two weeks ago. The OBTM now drew attention to this in a press release.
"We’ve seen videos and pictures from the demo on Telegram, analyzed them, and now we’ve taken action. Because there was also the complete speech of Dieter Arnold shared and that of Patrick Schroder ", says Michael Sandner from the Upper Palatinate Alliance. Arnold presented himself to the several hundred listeners in Amberg as a "concerned citizen" and whipped up the crowd again and again with slogans of perseverance. Schroder, a former NPD activist and today active with his own right-wing extremist network of online video portals, web radio and as the founder of a right-wing fashion label, would also have used the stage offered to him in Amberg to incite against politicians and the media.
Thus, the scene in Amberg would now develop exactly as the Upper Palatinate Alliance had predicted: "Right-wing populist and right-wing extremist groups purposefully infiltrate the protest", it is called in the Presseinfo. It goes on to explain: "The approach is not new, but now seems to be working in Amberg, too: Unbedarfte organizers offer evenly unfortunately not only humans from the political center a podium, and a possibility of articulating their feelings and fears, but also right Stimmungsmachern."
Straw men for right-wing extremists
The demonstrations and rallies were properly registered, confirms Susanne Schwab, the press spokeswoman of the city of Amberg. But in the end, neither the police nor the authorities knew who was speaking at these events. "We fear that even the organizers of the demonstrations do not know for whom they are acting as straw men", Sandner describes. "They may not even be aware of the potentials they are playing with. That is the dangerous thing about it."
According to the OBTM, Patrick Schroder introduced himself at the rally in Amberg as "Patrick from Weiden", he did not mention his political activities at all. Instead, he had motivated the crowd to chant "lying press," ranted against former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and ridiculed the fight against Corona. Dieter Arnold had presented himself to the demonstrators on Monday as an ex-soldier, father and entrepreneur. "He staged himself in Amberg as an indomitable resistance fighter and emphasized how well he liked Amberg – he failed to mention his activities for the AfD, after all he was a candidate for the Bundestag in his constituency", writes the Alliance for Tolerance and Human Rights.
Warning against political pied pipers
So those who didn’t know Schroder and Arnold couldn’t place them at all and located them in the protest movement. According to OBTM, this is exactly the problem. "Right-wing extremists and AfD politicians gather sympathies here and thus push the boundaries of what is tolerable further and further to the right." The vast majority of demonstrators are unlikely to have known who they were cheering for. "In our opinion, there is an attempt to use these demonstrations structurally as a Trojan horse", says Michael Sandner. "Of course people are allowed to demonstrate, but they should know who they are following and not fall into the clutches of political pied pipers."
Hans Lauterbach, the spokesman for the OBTM, says that AfD politician Dieter Arnold in Amberg is quite obviously "fantasizing about a coup" had spread. In his speech he had demanded again and again, the "government must go away" or stresses that he will not let anyone tell him to shut up, "not even the police or anyone else". Neo-Nazi Patrick Schroder is said to have tried to put on as civic a face as possible and to have taken the side of the unvaccinated, according to the Upper Palatinate Alliance’s assessment.
Making a mark on society
"We understand people who are uncomfortable with all the constraints in the current situation, who would like to see the measures dismantled more quickly. And also an open-ended debate about the vaccination duty we advocate and demand", Lauterbach makes clear. "What we condemn, however, are deliberate false statements, disinformation and, above all, the infiltration of these demonstrations from the far right. We call on the politicians in the city halls, city and municipal councils, the representatives of churches, associations and clubs and civil society to consciously and resolutely oppose this development." The danger is real and can no longer be underestimated.
"That a neo-Nazi like Patrick Schroder is given a bourgeois stage here speaks volumes. Now it is up to all of us to enter into responsible discussions and conversations and also to pick up those whom the AfD and other right-wing groups are targeting: The people from the middle of society," the press release continues. A possibility to refer publicly position sees the Upper Palatinate alliance for tolerance and human rights in the "Amberger explanation", which was signed in the meantime by over 3800 humans.