On German unity day, police in Dresden secured a far-right rally from being disrupted by a crowd of black-clad protestors blasting techno music and chanting slogans decrying fascism.
Hundreds of mainly older supporters of Alternative für Deutschland were enjoying beer, sausages and rabble-rousing speeches last month when their opponents marched toward the gathering on a cobbled square in the eastern city’s historic center with rainbow flags and banners supporting migrants. Kitted out with body armor, the state’s security personnel ensured the standoff remained peaceful, but the raw emotions were impossible to ignore.
As the European Union’s biggest economy wrestles with a persistent slump and a surge in immigration, the specter of German nationalism has returned, leaving citizens more conflicted over their country’s direction than at any point since World War II. Those tensions are rippling through the rest of the EU, too, as it confronts Russian aggression in Ukraine and the turmoil stirred up by Israel’s war with Hamas.