How Germany’s Far Right Stole a Rallying Cry for Democracy | NYT News
[n] - noun, [v] - verb, [adj] - adjective, [exp] - expression
"Wir sind das Volk." In German it means, "We are the people." This chant echoed through the streets of Chemnitz, Germany this week as far-right protesters set out to vent their frustrations, create mayhem and attack refugees.
It was also heard in Clausnitz in early 2016 as a mob of Germans surrounded a bus of refugees entering their town.
And later that year in Bautzen, as 80 Germans chased some 20 teenage refugees through the streets.
The chant has become a go-to for the German far right. But it wasn't always an extremist rallying cry.
"Leipzig is a city of protest again tonight."
In 1989, people in East Germany took to the streets to demand more freedom after living under an oppressive communist regime for decades. Their movement was neither of the right nor the left. It was a cry for democracy.
(in German) What music you were allowed to listen to, whether you were allowed to study, or to travel, all that was regulated. And eventually people got fed up and they said, "No, you 'representatives of the people' no longer represent our interests because we are the people!"
(in German) "We are the people," they chant, people from all layers of society.
After German reunification, the chant largely disappeared. But in recent years, it has been co-opted by far-right groups who violently oppose Angela Merkel’s open border policies.
(in German) The right uses the chant to exclude other people, and to say, "Immigrants - Get out! People who think differently - Get out! Let's get rid of them.
We are the people.
(in German) These people exploit this chant, and also soil the legacy of those who took to the streets for freedom, and who risked their lives for it.