On Sunday afternoon a sea of ​​lights will shine in Munich, against hatred and unrest. The similarities with an action from 30 years ago are not coincidental.

People stand on the street with burning torches and colored lights in Munich in 1992.

Participants in the 1992 St. Nicholas Day night lights in Munich Photo: Augstein/Picture Alliance

MUNICH taz | Munich shined. It was Saint Nicholas Day, 1992, at five in the afternoon. The church bells rang. And the people of Munich took to the streets. The images went around the world: how people were in the old town square with candles in their hands. The same in the arterial routes. Ludwigsstrasse, Schwanthalerstrasse, Rosenheimer Strasse and, and, and…

When viewed from the air, a star-shaped image emerged. It is said that there were 400,000 women, men and children. Senta Berger, Thomas Gottschalk, Mehmet Scholl, the Munich celebrities of the time, were present. But, above all, no matter how used and instrumentalized the vocabulary is today, the normal people of Munich. There was no larger demonstration in Munich after the war. If so many people had not been stuck on the S-Bahn, there would have been many more, they say.

“Munich: a city says no” was the motto of the Munich light chain, which has long become legendary. What was meant was a no to racism and xenophobia. Just two weeks ago there was an attempted murder of Turkish families in Mölln; ​​A few months earlier, right-wing extremists had burned down a residence inhabited by Vietnamese in Rostock-Lichtenhagen, to the applause of thousands of people.

A handful of individuals, including current Time-The boss, Giovanni di Lorenzo, had organized the chain of lights. The campaign did not put an end to the murderous attacks that were then being carried out throughout Germany; the attack in Solingen, for example, took place the following year. But it became firmly established in the city's collective memory and continues to shape it today. Many older Munich residents still feel their chests swell with pride when they remember that night.

“Sea of ​​Lights for Democracy”

“We wanted to organize a demonstration for people who normally don't go to demonstrations,” di Lorenzo later said in the World aforementioned. “We wanted to know where the silent majority stands.”

That's what it's all about again these days. Where is the silent majority? So it wasn't entirely surprising that some people remembered the successful campaign from more than 30 years ago. On Sunday the Munich residents should use candles again. At night a “sea of ​​lights for democracy” will flood Theresienwiese Street; Organizers hope to send an impressive message against racism, anti-Semitism and hate speech.

The district administration is currently expecting 20,000 to 30,000 people. However, three weeks ago the estimates were in the same range for the “demonstration against the right” at the gates of victory. In the end there were more than 100,000 participants, some estimates even put it at 300,000. Because there were too many of them, the demonstration eventually had to be stopped early.

And the sea of ​​lights on Theresienwiese is just the beginning. Similar actions are planned throughout Bavaria. One of the starters, like the demo on Siegestor, is Fridays for Future. However, the approach should be completely different. As with colored lights, people should come together who, despite very different political opinions, can reach a basic consensus on decency, morality and respect.

At the end of the demonstration in the Siegestor there were controversial debates, as many participants felt that they had been carried away by a cause that was too left-wing. The event was announced as “against the right”; But while most people used “right” in this case to refer to right-wing extremism, which is currently experiencing a massive rise due to the success of the AfD, others also included the Union or even the traffic light parties under the term.

Music and light for a broad alliance

“Aiwanger will not come to the #GemeinsamGegenRechts demonstration on Sunday. Is there better publicity?” left-wing activist Lisa Poettinger wrote in X. “But what do the CSU politicians want there? As the leader of the meeting, I can say that I do not want rights of any kind!” Then, on stage, she held up a sign with the inscription “AfD rushes * the traffic lights change.”

Finally, the organizers also asked the protesters who had come to raise their voices against hatred and unrest to chant: “All of Munich hates the AfD.” A request that, of course, very few fulfilled.

Something like this should no longer happen on Theresienwiese. They want to create “a sea of ​​light against the darkness of hatred and unrest, racism and anti-Semitism,” the call for demonstrations says. “We will not allow the people of our country to be excluded and persecuted. We defend ourselves against right-wing extremism and disgusting deportation fantasies. The silent majority is no longer silent!”

The greatest possible minimum consensus

And Luc Ouali from Fridays For Future explains in the evening news: “It is about highlighting the greatest possible minimum consensus: that human dignity is inviolable.” The reminiscence of the 1992 light chain is, however, intentional: “We want to set an example in the same way, the whole city should set an example.” An example.”

Therefore, this time we should not focus on any speech. Instead, there is music and light. Other organizers are the Bellevue di Monaco, the association “München ist bunt” and – Lichterkette e. V., the association that was founded from the original Christmas lights and that continues to support projects against racism and right-wing extremism.

The original idea was to have a string of lights in the same style as the previous campaign. But then the initiators rejected the idea and decided on the “Sea of ​​Lights.” In the FAQ about Lichterkette e. V. also asks: “Why does the association no longer organize demonstrations with colored lights?” The answer is: “We believe that such a large and mobile sign cannot be repeated and should stand alone.”