Neo-Nazi rock concert draws massive crowds in Germany

More than 4,500 fans traveled to the small city of Themar, in eastern Germany, for the controversial concert.

Attendee at Neo-Nazi concert, Themar, Germany, July 2017 (photo credit: REUTERS/MICHAELA REHLE)
Attendee at Neo-Nazi concert, Themar, Germany, July 2017
The small German city of Themar became home this weekend to a large neo-Nazi rock concert called "Rock Against Foreign Domination."
Several thousand fans showed up to the eastern city, the population of which swelled from 3,000 to nearly 6,000. The concert is Germany's largest neo-Nazi affiliated event, although the number of similar types of events appears to be growing. German media reported last year that in the first half of 2016, Germany had already been host to nearly 100 far-right wing cultural events like this weekend's concert. During the same time period the year before, only 63 similar events had taken place.
Concert attendees donned t-shirts emblazoned with slogans like "I Love Hitler" and "Hakenkreuz," the German term for swastika. While it is legal to write the word for the infamous symbol, it is illegal to show, wear, or otherwise publicly present Nazi symbols.
While the festival reportedly occurred largely without incident, over 1,000 police officers were deployed to Themar to ensure it as such. Some 20 illegal activities were reported, including verbal assaults, property damage, drug usage violations, and the presence of 'anti-constitutional symbols.'
Protests against the concert were much smaller in number than expected, with only a few hundred anti-fascist activists showing up to the site.
The rise of the far-right wing in Germany has been pronounced in the last several years. Much of its prominence is credited towards Germany's policy of accepting large numbers of migrants, most of whom are coming from Syria. The political party at the helm of the far-right is the Alternative for Germany (Alternative fur Deutschland), which holds 166 seats in regional parliaments. It holds no seats in the Bundestag, the lower house of Germany's parliament.