With whistles and megaphones, demonstrators vent their protest against the construction of refugee accommodation in a village of 500 people in Mecklenburg. Pyrotechnics fly, smoke pots are ignited. Only with a large contingent can the police prevent people from gaining access to the district council building in Grevesmühlen, where construction is being discussed.

The television pictures of the protest action, in which up to 700 people took part on Thursday, according to the authorities, look threatening. The police had temporarily doubled their forces on site from 60 to 120 in order to be able to keep the situation under control. She succeeded – with difficulty.

As in Northwest Mecklenburg, the protests are increasing in other parts of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In many municipalities, the capacities for accommodating refugees are exhausted. Apartments are in short supply. Now container villages are to be built, including in Upahl between Wismar and Grevesmühlen. 400 people are said to find refuge there. The village has little more than 500 inhabitants.

“Emergency solution” refugee accommodation

“I also have great understanding for the worries and fears of the residents of Upahl. And we will do everything we can to alleviate them and solve any problems with the temporary accommodation,” said CDU District Administrator Tino Schomann on Friday. The construction of the refugee accommodation is an emergency solution, due to the continuing high number of allocations. “I’ve been in the process of pointing out the escalation of the situation to the state and the federal government for months, and I’m by no means the only one,” he explained the situation.

The container accommodation should be ready in March. Then the district wants to bring asylum seekers there from sports halls in Wismar that were temporarily used as accommodation.

Björn Griese, who sits on the district council for the left, can understand the concerns: “For a village with a good 500 inhabitants, it’s a difficult relationship. Especially when you consider that there is hardly any infrastructure there and the way to the next larger town is far”. In addition, the decision of the district office came at very short notice for the district council members. “We could only vote on the financing. That was not a great moment for democracy,” said Griese.

Right-wing extremists and “Reich citizens”

According to the police, the majority of the demonstrators in Grevesmühlen came from the middle classes. But there were also right-wing extremists and members of the football fan and Reich citizen scene among the participants, said a police spokeswoman. From the point of view of the security forces, these ensured that the atmosphere in front of the district council building heated up more and more in the evening.

According to an assessment by the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution, right-wingers called for participation in the demo in Grevesmühlen via relevant channels in social media and were also there themselves. The scene combines the mobilization against refugees with the hope of “increasing their connectivity in the middle of society,” it said. The same applies to Reich citizens.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Minister of the Interior Christian level (SPD) emphasized that freedom of expression and demonstration are fundamental rights of a democracy, but he condemned the escalation. The fact that well-known right-wing radicals and right-wing extremists try to occupy such events for themselves is unacceptable. “If this goes hand in hand with the disruption of demonstrations and the attempt to forcibly enter the meeting places of democratically elected municipal decision-making bodies, this is clearly anti-democratic,” saidleveel on Friday. The events would be processed under criminal law. Four criminal proceedings – including for serious trespassing and violation of the assembly law – were initiated.

The International Auschwitz Committee also responded to the commotion on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. “Yesterday’s demonstration in Grevesmühlen shows once again how right-wing extremists are currently trying to incite hatred and attack democracy,” said the committee’s Executive Vice President Christoph Heubner. The images reminded him of the attempted storming of the Reichstag building in Berlin or the attack on the Capitol in Washington.