Left-wing activists try to block people taking part in a right-wing protest against increasing energy prices and rising living expenses in Leipzig, Germany, September 5, 2022. REUTERS/Christian Mang

Right at the beginning, shortly after 7:00 p.m., the Leipzig left-wing politician Sören Pellmann made it clear on Augustusplatz in Leipzig who they did not want to demonstrate with on this Monday evening.

Statements about “racism, narcissism, anti-Semitism or the glorification of war have no place in this square,” said the member of the Bundestag, thus introducing his speech, in which he mainly discussed the current energy crisis policy of the federal government.

The fact that such a distancing was considered necessary at a rally by the party “Die Linke” has mainly to do with those who were demonstrating at the same time on the other side of Augustusplatz. The far-right “Free Saxony” had been calling on their supporters for days to also take part in the left-wing protests. The calculus: The image of a transverse front, regardless of the political background, demonstrating together against rising electricity and energy prices.

The right-wing extremists tried to suggest to their fans via Telegram that left and right will speak together at a rally. The party’s leadership issued a call for mobilization, listing the names of left-wing politicians Gregor Gysi and Sören Pellmann as speakers, as well as well-known right-wing extremists such as Jürgen Elsässer, editor-in-chief of COMPACT magazine, which is monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

Left-wing politician Pellmann filed a complaint against the “Freie Sachsen” for using his name on the flyer. The district court of Leipzig agreed with him.

Instead of demonstrating together, as desired by the right-wing extremists, the Leipzig police blocked off two separate events. But even for the Leipzig police, which had been tried and tested in large areas, this operation was not an everyday occurrence.

A total of more than seven registered rallies and protests from different political spectrums presented the officials with a great challenge. In particular, when a four-figure number of supporters of the “Free Saxony” had started to move on the Leipziger Ring, there were sometimes chaotic scenes.

After just a few hundred meters, the elevator on the right faltered. Hundreds of left-wing counter-demonstrators blocked the road at various points, and the atmosphere heated up when only a thin police barrier separated the different political camps.

Right-wing extremists occasionally attacked participants in the left-wing protest or tried to clear the sit-ins themselves. But supporters of the “Free Saxony” were also attacked by the opposing camp, as video recordings on social networks show.

Among the right-wingers were numerous well-known actors of the scene, such as the neo-Nazi Michael Brück from Chemnitz or the right-wing extremist video blogger Nikolai Nerling, who was only recently convicted of hate speech.

In a first cautious assessment, the spokesman for the Leipzig police, Olaf Hoppe, spoke to the Tagesspiegel of a “dynamic” and “confusing” operation. Nevertheless, the forces managed to keep the opposing camps apart in most cases. The Saxon police were on site with hundreds of people, and according to the Tagesspiegel information, there were also isolated arrests.