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& # 39; We are the People! & # 39; The far right commemorates Germany's peaceful revolution



Around people are doing their business: the farmers market is in full swing, tram trucks are passing by, cyclists are weaving between meandering tourists.

"It wasn't like that," Kuehn says, flashing summer glare. "It was like black and white photos. It was dark."

30 years ago, this sprawling concrete square in the former East German city of Leipzig was the epicenter of the freedom demonstrations that swept the country and demolished the Berlin Wall.

Grainy images of 70,000 protesters in Leipzig wearing candles and chanting "Wir sind das Volk" – "We are the people!" – were aired worldwide on October 9, 1

989. The rally was a turning point in the fall of the Iron Curtain a month later.

Kune was one of the demonstrators who, in his own words, "longed for a free and united country". At the time, a 21-year-old locksmith working for a state-owned railway company, said the uprising in his hometown was "the greatest thing I've ever experienced."

Today he again draws inspiration from the peaceful revolution of Germany – this time, as a member of the far-right party Alternative for Domland (AfD).

Kühne is a candidate in the upcoming state elections for Saxony on September 1, where AfD is set to run in second, behind Chancellor of the Party of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Angela Merkel.

Now the African Party repackaged the 1989 Leipzig demonstrations for its political campaign in 2019 – reviving the same slogans, images and revolutionary rhetoric.

From billboards showing historic protest photos to posters emblazoned with the famous slogan: "We are the people!" The African Council calls on voters in the east to stand up, similar to the one against communism three decades ago.

  The candidate from Saxony, Africa, Jörg Küne, sits on the square, where 30 years ago he joined the demonstrations for freedom.

Then the protesters wanted to tear down the wall that divides their country. The East was eager to accept Western democracy and its promise of free elections, travel and a functioning economy.

Fast forward to 2019, AfD promises to barricade the nation against Europe's open borders, playing fears about migrants and world markets. This nationalist message struck a chord in Saxony and other countries in the former East Germany, where support for Africa is strongest in the country.

My grandfather would "turn into his grave"

Today, in his 50s and in a hurry to joke about his weight, Küne draws a picture of supporters of converted African activists who have been canceled too long time.

"We were not asked" about the replacement of Germany's national currency with the euro or Merkel's so-called open door policy on refugees, he said. "But we are the people. And of course, my party still uses that wonderful slogan of the peaceful revolution today." Road poster for African Africa in East Germany with the famous slogan from 1989: ” Ние сме хората! [19659018] Пътен плакат AfD в Източна Германия с известния лозунг от 1989 г.: ” Ние сме хората! ” ” class=”media__image” src=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190826110849-01-afd-germany-state-elections-leipzig-large-169.jpg”/>

You really drive the Berlin-Leipzig motorway and you see dozens of billboards, billboards who declare "We are the people!" and refers to the date of the 1989 protest.

Another billboard says, "The East is Rising!" and in the smaller Change 2.0 font.

The posters suggest that "if voters choose AfD, they can to finish the work of those who led the peaceful revolution, "says Christina Spore, historian and author of Post Wall, Post Square: Restoring the World after 1989."

"This is an abuse of history," she added. "What AfD wants – a nationalist, German-looking country – has nothing to do with what people wanted in 1989" [19659002] The AfD rib has not gone down well with everyone in Leipzig, a city that has a reputation for being a liberal stronghold in conservative Saxony.

Martin Neuhoff's grandfather was a photojournalist during a 1989 demonstration. , which then filled Karl-Marx-Plac, was used in the AfD billboards during the May local elections.

The photograph affixed to the photograph featured the words "Change for Leipzig" and the AfD logo.

"If my grandfather knew about it, it would make him turn into his grave," Neuhoff said of Friedrich Galbeck, who died 20 years ago.

  AfD billboard with photo of Leipzig protests of 1989 taken by Martin Neuhof's grandfather

AfD is "instrumentalising the Leipzig Peace Revolution," says Neuhoff, who as a child spends hours developing photographs in the darkroom with his grandfather, who worked for the East German state news agency .

Inspires Neuhoff's own career as a photographer in Leipzig, where he directs the Herzkamf anti-racism photo project – meaning fighting from the heart – with portraits of local activists.

The Neuhoff family is already fighting a legal battle with the African Union over the use of the historic photograph. Kune says the proceeding is ongoing, "but he thinks it is a" great idea "to use the photo in a political campaign.

It certainly did not hurt his own campaign – Kune was elected one of Leipzig's city councilors. And now he is one of the 11 AfD members on the Leftist Board.

"They thought everyone would drive a Mercedes."

Reminders of the revolution are everywhere here. A giant mural painted on the wall of the Marriott Hotel in Leipzig depicts the 1989 protest in brilliant rainbow colors.

Gisela Kalenbach is a retired Green politician who also hit the streets three decades ago, listing the cartoon characters featured on the mural and voicing Kühne's words, "It wasn't like that. It was dark."

Protesters were engulfed in the air, "suffocated by smoke "from nearby lignite factories, recalls Kalenbach, who was then a 47-year-old chemical engineer and mother of three.

  The Green MP retired, Gisela Kalenbach, posed for a mural depicting the 1989 protests. 19659037] The deputy from the Greens resigned, Gisela Ka Lenbach, posing in front of a mural depicting the 1989 protests.

When the Berlin Wall finally collapsed, so did many East German aspirations. Some had "the illusion that everyone would drive a Mercedes," Kalenbach said.

The rallying cry of "We are the people!" has been replaced by "We are one people!" but reality does not live up to expectations, argued the historian.

Very quickly the feelings of freedom gave way to the feeling of being second-class citizens. "In principle, the West German political system [was] applies throughout Germany," she said. "Everything that is tied to East German identity is at its core," said Spore.

Until 1991, the Dispute states that the country has seen the rise of far-right parties.

Saxony and the neighboring East German states of Brandenburg (which also heads to the urns on Sunday) and Thuringia are fertile soil for Africa. These are working-class regions affected by the closure of their coal industry and still lagging behind in the West in terms of employment and wages.

While AfD took 12.6% of the vote nationally during the 2017 general election, it was twice as much as Saxony, where it was 25.4%. It is now the largest opposition party in the German parliament.

Look further to the right and you will find other movements that have been recycling slogans since 1989. The anti-Islamic group Pegida chants "We are the people!" during demonstrations in neighboring Dresden in 2015, and held rallies against Muslims every Monday night – a distorted version of Monday's Leipzig peace prayers all those years.

The slogan was renewed by protesters during violent demonstrations against refugees in the city of Chemnitz, also in Saxony, last year, which made headlines around the world.

"People forget what they have won"

AfD, like many populist parties invading Europe, channeled much of its fury to the European Union.

Kalenbach, who has been a Member of the European Parliament for years, has been quick to defend the EU, although he acknowledged that German leaders made "mistakes" in the unification process.

"I think people forget what they gained in the the last 30 years … a free, democratic state, "Kalenbach said today in his 70s with the shock of shiny red hair, lush earrings hanging in agreement.

Life in East Germany was drenched in fear and intimidation. Kalenbach no photos of himself at the famous demonstrations because it was so horrifying The shadow in Tiananmen Square was looming large and painfully aware of the tanks lining the streets of Leipzig.

  The Berlin Wall collapses in November 1989.

East Germans of all ages demanded "basic human rights", she recalled – things like freedom of speech, the media and travel that were broken down after World War II. [19659002] Now Kalenbach is determined to ensure that AfD does not return the clock to these hard-won freedoms by jumping on its wheel to hand out anti-far-right flyers in the state election.

The shocking pollution in East Germany was one of the reasons Kalenbach hit the streets in all those years. AfD is "poisoning the atmosphere in our society today," she said.

"Listen to the statements of their leaders. They are … racist, nationalist. They provide an atmosphere that you can compare to almost 30s," she said in connection with Nazi Germany. "I don't want to live in a country where this rhetoric is a common language."

AfD's Kühne rejected the comparison to a grim time in German history, adding "I completely reject the catch of" racism.

"People can protest AfD," he said. But they "should not attack us – physically or verbally. We are open to critical dialogue. "

" We'll see who the people are. "

When Christoph Wonberg, a 1989 demonstrator moving around on his bicycle, is shocking to learn that he is 75 years old.

The former pastor looks at the St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig, where he helps the peaceful prayers organized on Monday, which become the largest protest movement the East has ever seen.

In the early 1980s, people gathered in the big church every week to discuss causes close to their heart. As the threat of nuclear war increased, so did the number of cartridges.

  Pastor Retired Christoph Wonberger Outside Church

By October 1989, more than 2000 people were recruited, thousands more spilled into the streets.

The demonstrators were determined not to act aggressively to prevent the police from falling apart. Wonneberger believes that this non-violent approach – along with their huge numbers – was the secret to their success.

He recalled how "We are the people!" Actually arose. During a march there was a confrontation with the police, in which one of the streets was blocked. "The police are shouting through the loudspeaker: 'We are the police! "And the protesters responded, 'We are the people!' "

'Let's wait and see who the' people 'really are in the next election," Wonneberger said.


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