Cottbus has more than 100,000 inhabitants and is the second largest city in the state of Brandenburg. The city has about 8,000 foreigners including some 3,400 (mainly) Syrian refugees. There are also an estimated 150 neo-Nazis living there.
The atmosphere in the city is tense and the inhabitants are outraged by the incidents that took place in Cottbus. A look back:
• Last Saturday a birthday party went completely out of hand. An 18-year-old German and an 18-year-old Syrian were batted. When agents intervened, someone called out: “Foreigners outside”.
• Two hours later it came to an exchange of words between five Germans and two persons of foreign origin. A German gave one of the foreigners a push after which this person shot with pepper spray. Then the foreigners fled.
• Last Wednesday, two Syrians aged 15 and 16 seized a knife during a fight with other young people. A German boy of 16 years was heavily battered in the face.
• A day earlier: three Syrians (14.15 and 17 years old) attacked a German couple for a shopping center. The wife of the couple should have shown them “respect” and let them go ahead. The story about the troublesome incident spread like a running fire through the city. One of the perpetrators, together with his father, was denied access to the territory of the city.
• On 14 January, neo-Nazis marched with torches by Cottbus. Even before the refugee crisis hit the headlines, they showed themselves openly in the city. Everywhere there are stickers with the slogan ‘Defend Cottbus’ (Verdedig Cottbus, ed.).
• During New Year’s Eve, three Afghans (21.22 and 26) were attacked by neo-Nazis for their reception center. The security service of the building allowed the neo-Nazis to pursue their victims in the stairwell. The security companies in the region would have been infiltrated by right-wing extremists.
After the escalation of violence, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Brandenburg decided not to send asylum seekers to Cottbus for the time being. How long the immigration stop will apply is unclear for the time being. The presence of the police in the streets will also be strengthened.
However, the inhabitants of the city do not want to be shaved with the neo-Nazis, but the increasing violence scares them.
On Saturday, an estimated 2,500 people took part in a demonstration to denounce the spiral of violence. Supporters from the extreme right party AFD also took part in the protest march.
Mayor Holger Kelch (CDU) stated in response to the many incidents: “We must prevent the mood among the population suddenly changing.” But according to the German newspaper Bild, it is already too late for that.