As many as 15,000 people took to the streets of Bielefeld, Germany, on Saturday, as a show of strength against a neo-Nazi demonstration held on the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht. In a protest organized by Die Rechte (The Right) party, 230 neo-Nazis marched through the city to call for the release of Ursula Haverbeck, 91, who is currently serving her fourth prison sentence for holocaust denial. Thousands of counter protesters responded with demonstration of their own. Many formed a human chain around Bielefeld's synagogue, where they also held a vigil. Officials estimated that in excess of 10,000 people attended the demonstration, organized by Bielefeld's Alliance Against the Right, gathering under the banner "Fascism is not an opinion, it's a crime."Counter protesters strongly criticized city officials for granting the neo-nazis permission to march on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. One protester held a home-made sign reading 'Holocaust denial is a crime. Approving a Nazi demonstration on November 9 is too!'Andrew Kuper, the president of the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia, said counter protesters understood that the anniversary marked a day in which "our entire nation remembers the crimes of the Nazis, shocked and ashamed."That's why we are standing on the side of our fellow Jewish citizens — and not on the side of those who think perhaps that the crimes of the Nazis are a 'speck of bird shit' or who would completely deny them."His comment referenced a recent remark by the co-leader of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, Alexander Gauland, who dismissed Hitler's rule over Nazi Germany as "bird shit in 1,000 years of successful German history."According to official figures, 91 Jews were killed in the events of Kristallnacht, in which synagogues, Jewish homes and Jewish businesses were burned and looted, but recent investigations place the number of deaths far higher, if one takes into account those who died of their injuries and suicide in the weeks that followed. November 9 also marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Speaking at a memorial event held at the Chapel of Reconciliation, located where the Berlin Wall once stood, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "The 9th of November, which reflects in a special way both the horrible and the happy moments of our history, makes us aware that we have to face hatred, racism and antisemitism resolutely. It urges us to do everything in our power to defend freedom and democracy, human dignity and the rule of law."