Hordes of neo-Nazis have made been making an annual November pilgrimage to the small southeastern German town of Wunsiedel since the early 1990s to honor Rudolph Hess, Hitler’s deputy, who was buried there until his body was exhumed and cremated in 2011. And year after year, residents have tried different tactics to rid themselves of these marchers.
Counter protests and legal complaints failed, though the march is far less popular than it was at its peak in 2004, when more than 4,000 neo-Nazis participated. But the 250 marchers who showed up in Wunsiedel this past weekend were in for quite a surprise.
The organization Rechts gegen Rechts organized a walk-a-thon to sponsor the marchers—for each meter traversed by the unsuspecting neo-Nazis, local businesses pledged to donate 10 Euros to EXIT, a European-based charity that encourages neo-Nazis to leave the fold and “develop new perspectives outside the right-wing environment.”
Villagers hung bright colorful signs along the roads that both encouraged and humiliated the walkers: “Mein Mampf” (“My Food”) offered free bananas to hungry marchers and was one of several banners parodying Nazi slogans. Some locals even stood along the street, cheering as the parade passed by and launching rainbow confetti in celebration.
The visibly stunned marchers helped to raise more than $10,000 for their own defeat.