On Monday, August 19th, the first refugees and asylum seekers from Syria, Russia, Serbia and Vietnam arrived in the freshly inaugurated ‘refugee shelter’ in Hellersdorf, on the outskirts of Berlin. They were welcomed by antifascist comrades, who opposed a racist mob of residents as well as organized neo-Nazis that deployed in the same location during the evening, attacking refugees and solidarians. Amid industrialized apartment blocks with high potential of xenophobia and social conflict, the administration of Marzahn-Hellersdorf district decided in early July 2013 to transform an abandoned school into a mass dormitory for 200 refugees. Another building close-by will be opened in some weeks to be used as state facility for another 200 refugees.
One month ago, the administration of the eastern Berlin district Marzahn-Hellesdorf announced the establishment of a refugee dormitory. A racist and populist citizen initiative emerged immediately, stating that refugees and asylum seekers are not welcome, threatening to cause damage to the facility and inflict violence on the inhabitants. It didn’t take long before the fascists of the NPD party and the ‘Freie Kameradschaften’ intervened to take advantage of the situation in order to subvert this racist movement. They took the floor in public discussions, wearing t-shirts with a direct link to the neo-Nazi pogroms in Rostock-Lichtenhagen in 1992. People in the area were not disturbed by the neo-Nazi presence.
Just some days later, the NPD party organized a tour throughout Berlin against refugee homes. They also made a stop in Hellersdorf, where they were attacked by about 450 antifascists with paint and eggs. Their rally was pushed back and the Nazis had to leave earlier than they expected.
The racist citizen initiative called for actions to prohibit the dormitory’s operation the day it would open. This day was finally yesterday (19/8). Migrants from various origins arrived in the awful building, with minimum of living facilities. All day long racist residents expressed their refusal of foreigners in their district, screaming racist slogans, threatening refugees, and giving Hitler salute. Since this was expected, antifascists organized a gathering that would protect refugees from direct confrontation with the residents’ initiative. The organized fascists appeared as soon as it became dark, and launched attacks on arriving refugees and antifascists. They observed the area with several cars. They also have a local fascist haunt, a bar close to the metro station, where they seem to organize. At around 9pm, antifascists tried to hinder an attack on refugees in the metro station. At least five refugees were fleeing from the area, fearing for their safety. Police arrived at the spot much too late, and were only eager to arrest (at least) one antifascist activist.
Later in the night, 50-100 fascists were gathering near-by, this time in Lichtenberg district in another local haunt of theirs, heading altogether to the refugee dormitory — but never arrived there. Antifascists did not leave the place, holding an all-night vigil. Cops only allowed 15 persons to participate in the vigil. However, there were at least 30 antifascists holding the position until 2am, faced with a dozen of inebriated residents who constantly tried to provoke people in solidarity. Cops were present all night long as well.
The coming days
Today morning (20/8) the administration of Marzahn-Hellersdorf banned the presence of antifascists on the spot. The square close to the refugee residence is scheduled to be cleared in the following hours, because fascists of the NPD party announced a rally at the same place by 6pm. On August 21st, there will be another concentration of the ‘Pro Deutschland’ populist, racist party. Antifascists will attempt to stay until Wednesday (21/8), even though their gathering lacks permission by authorities.
Antifascists from Berlin and Brandenburg warn of the situation’s severity, given the fact that the anniversary of 1992 pogroms in Rostock-Lichtenhagen will certainly mobilize more Nazis in the upcoming days.*
Solidarity with migrants and refugees!
Smash fascists and racist residents everywhere!
* There are several other cases where racist aggression is on the rise (in Berlin district Reinickendorf, in Bremen, etc.). In Duisburg, in the western part of the Ruhr Area, where many Roma live in an apartment house for quite a while now, there have been aggressions against them for weeks with racist graffiti, and several attempts of right-wing parties to capitalize on the issue with demonstrations. In the last few days the tension has increased, and thugs launched vulgar threats against Roma people on facebook. Several people took action and stood in front of the house day and night to protect it from neo-Nazis, who have been seen driving by the house at night and approaching people with knives in their hands.