900,000 Take to Streets as Exposé Alleges Ties to Extremist “Remigration” Scheme
By: Miles Rothoerl
Thousands of Germans have taken to the streets for a fourth consecutive week after an exposé revealed high-ranking members of populist far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) took part in a secret meeting organised by extremist activists.
The event took place last November in Potsdam, around a half-hour’s drive from Berlin, and was reportedly also attended by several prominent businesspeople, conspiracy theorists, and members of former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right CDU. It featured a contribution by new-right activist Martin Sellner, who is alleged to have presented a “masterplan for remigration”.
Photo by: Magnus Hagdorn
It proposes the mass deportation of asylum-seekers, foreigners with German residency and “non-assimilated” German citizens with migrant backgrounds. Sellner is also said to have suggested the relocation of up to two million people to a “model state” in northern Africa, as well as the implementation of measures to close foreign restaurants and restrict voting in general elections based on ethnicity.
Published in mid-January by investigative newsroom Correctiv, the revelations sparked national outrage and have triggered sustained waves of demonstrations across all sixteen German states. At the height of public outcry in late January, police forces registered 900,000 attendees in protests across dozens of cities, the largest figure reported in the country for decades. Organisers have said participants aim to defend German democracy from the AfD’s influence. Participants were also seen calling for an outright ban of the party.
Launched in 2013, the AfD has enjoyed a near meteoric rise in recent years. It has had MPs in all state assemblies and is now well-established as an opposition party in the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament. Polls currently predict it comfortably winning second place at the 2025 general election, placing it ahead of all three parties currently in the German government coalition.
Several leading politicians, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), have also attended the rallies. Scholz voiced his support on social media last week, stating: “Our nation is currently on its feet, millions are taking to the streets, for democracy, for respect, and for humanity. […] It's the unity of democrats that makes our democracy strong”.
The reports have prompted European far-right ally Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s Rassemblement National to criticise the party, calling for an “evaluation” of the consequences for its membership of the right-wing Identity and Democracy bloc in the European Parliament.
Speaking to German public broadcaster ZDF, party officials, meanwhile, sought to downplay the significance of the event. A spokesperson for leader Alice Weidel told the outlet that the AfD’s stance on migration remains unchanged and is “completely in line with the constitution”.
Björn Höcke, leader of the party’s parliamentary group in Thuringia, questioned the legitimacy of the protests on social media, describing participants as “ordered masses” and accusing the media of publishing altered images.
Whether the backlash will translate into setbacks at the ballot box remains to be seen, however. The AfD faces regional elections in three of its strongholds later this year.