German City Foils Neo-Nazi Festival by Confiscating All of Its Beer

Cops confiscated more than 4000 liters of beer from the Sword and Shield festival in Ostritz, while activists bought out the local supermarkets' stock.
June 25, 2019, 11:00am
German City Foils Neo-Nazi Festival by Confiscating All of Their Beer
Photo by Daniel Schäfer/picture alliance via Getty Images

When a group of neo-Nazi sympathizers planned an event in the German town of Ostritz, the local government didn’t refuse to issue a permit, the residents didn’t start to panic, and retailers didn’t quietly remove the tiki torches from their store shelves. Instead, a Dresden court ruled that they couldn’t have any booze, and the cops showed up every day to confiscate all of their beer.

According to DW, the organizers of the far-right Schild und Schwert (Sword and Shield) Festival insisted that they’d been allowed to drink at their previous events, but the authorities said sorry, that wasn’t gonna happen in their section of Saxony. On Friday, the first day of the festival, officers seized an estimated 4,200 liters (1,110 gallons) of beer. On Saturday, they collected another 200 liters before the day’s events.

Ostritz residents did their part too: the BBC reports that they bought more than 200 crates of beer from the supermarket. "The plan was devised a week in advance,” Georg Salditt, a community activist, told Bild. “We wanted to dry the Nazis out. We thought, if an alcohol ban is coming, we'll empty the shelves at the [supermarket]."

Somewhere between 500 and 600 neo-Nazis attended the festival, which was soundtracked by concerts from “far-right extremist bands.” There were also more than 1,400 police officers present, including federal police, riot squads, and cops from elsewhere in Germany and Poland. The Polizei Sachsen tweeted on Sunday that their major job was to “ensure a safe departure of all event participants.”

“I always question the police behavior and the respective operations very critically, but today there is praise for your work so far in #Ostritz,” one man tweeted from Stuttgart. “That these neo-Nazis can gather is not your fault.”

The booze ban seems to have prevented any violence at the festival—and hopefully made it even worse for attendees than being at a Nazi festival already sounds like—but there were five misdemeanors and 32 other assorted offenses. Ten people were cited for “use of marks of unconstitutional organizations,” which is a sterile way to say that they were wearing or displaying Nazi symbols. (It is against the law in Germany to show a number of Nazi or fascist logos, including the swastika, the ‘SS’ symbol, the Aryan fist, and even those stiff-armed ‘Heil!” greetings).