Responding to big public demonstrations in Berlin and London against forced masking, “social distancing” and lockdown laws that have torn apart the economic and social fabric of European societies, mainstream media outlets described the tens of thousands of people who attended the gatherings as “covid-deniers,”1 2 and “conspiracy theorists and far-right groups.”3 Most of the people of all ages, who made the trip to Berlin and London and to similar smaller demonstrations in Paris, Copenhagen, Vienna and Zurich, rejected the “extreme right wing sympathizer” label and described themselves as protesting to defend “fundamental freedoms.”4 Holding signs that said, “No lockdowns,” and “Masks are muzzles” and “End medical tyranny,” and “No to mandatory vaccines,” the common theme of the protests in every European city was freedom from government restrictions on social interaction and the elimination of civil liberties.
The Berlin demonstration was held near the Reichstag building, which houses the German parliament (Bundestag), and in front of the iconic 18th century Brandenburg Gate. According to Reuters, the Berlin demonstration drew “around 38,000 protesters,”5 although photos and estimates from those attending the demonstration indicated the crowd size was at least two to three times larger. The International Business Times reported the crowd size in Berlin was “around 18,000” people.6 At the same time, Reuters reported that the London “Unite for Freedom” rally drew only a “few hundred” when photos and video from the London event show Trafalgar Square overflowing with thousands of protesters.7 8
German Government Tightens COVID-19 Restrictions
In March 2020 after the World Health Organization declared a global coronavirus pandemic, Germany instituted among the strictest lockdowns in Europe, closing shops, restaurants and schools, banning large gatherings of people and initiating widespread testing, which appeared at the beginning to keep COVID-19 mortality low. Social interaction restrictions were eventually eased in late spring but a reported rise in infections this summer has prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has a doctorate in Science from the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin, East Germany, to introduce “tougher restrictions,” including limits on travel. Merkel has warned that the pandemic was “likely to get more difficult in the coming months” and that society “is never going to be the same” until a vaccine is developed.9
There is now a ban in Germany on large gatherings until the end of the year and mandatory COVID-19 testing at airports and ports for all travelers arriving from “high risk” countries. Germans can be fined a minimum fine of 50 euros ($78) for failing to wear a face covering in shops or on public transport.10
Berlin Officials Tried to Ban Anti-Lockdown Demonstration
The German government tried to ban the Aug. 29 demonstration in Berlin, citing the need for “protection from infection”11 and the lack of masking and social distancing during a “Day of Freedom” demonstration in Berlin on Aug. 1.12 Germany’s State Minister of the Interior of Berlin said, “We need to weigh the basic right of freedom of assembly against the sanctity of life. We chose life.”13 However, a German court ruled 24 hours before the event that the demonstration could go forward as long as protesters adhered to a “hygiene plan.”
According to the Daily Mail Online, “as many as 3,000 police officers” were deployed in Berlin to disperse protesters after they failed to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Reportedly, the Berlin police explained on Twitter that ”Unfortunately, we have no other option,” because the protesters had not complied with the “safety” conditions of the march.14 Between 200 and 300 protesters were arrested outside the Russian Embassy and when they tried to get into the Reichstag building and threw stones and bottles.15
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr Addresses Berlin Protesters
The majority of the Berlin protesters gathered peacefully west of the Brandenburg Gate at the Victory Column to listen to speeches, organized by the Stuttgart-based movement Querdenken 711 (or Lateral Thinking 711). The BBC said the group “believes that coronavirus regulations infringe on basic rights and freedoms enshrined in Germany’s constitution and wants them to be lifted.”16
Among the speakers was Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., founder and chair of Children’s Health Defense. The nephew of U.S. President John F Kennedy, RFK, Jr. recalled how his uncle had famously addressed the residents of west Berlin in 1963 after the Berlin Wall was built to stop people escaping from the totalitarian communist-controlled East Berlin in search of freedom.
Kennedy told the enthusiastic crowd that he–and they–are being painted as “Nazis” by the mainstream media because they are defending freedom and open government. He said,17
Back home in the United States the newspapers are saying that I came here today to speak to about 5,000 Nazis. And tomorrow, they’re going to report that I was here at I spoke to maybe three to 5,000 Nazis. I look at this crowd and I see the opposite of Nazism. I see people who love democracy. People who want open government. People who want leaders who are not going to lie to them, leaders who will not make up arbitrary rules and regulations ordering strict obedience by the population. We want health officials who don’t have financial entanglements with the pharmaceutical industry, who are working for us and not Big Pharma. We want officials who care about our children’s health and not about pharmaceutical profits or government control.
Most European Union Governments Have Taken a Hard Line
By Mar. 23, 2020, Great Britain had passed legislation that gave government officials the power to severely restrict the freedom of individuals, imposing strict lockdown measures. People were prohibited from going outside of their homes except to go food shopping, exercise (alone), see a doctor or provide care to another person in need. Meeting with other people, even family members or close friends, for any other reason was prohibited. People vulnerable to coronavirus infection were asked to shelter in place for 12 weeks. All bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants were closed, as well as all schools and childcare facilities, except for the children of workers considered to be essential.18 Social distancing between people was set at two metres (approximately six feet).
The majority of national lockdown measures started to be eased in England at the start of July and people were allowed to meet each other indoors, while social distancing was reduced to three or more feet (one meter plus). A large number of businesses also reopened. According to Wired Magazine, on August 8, the rules governing face masking were expanded from all public transportation to people going inside museums, places of worship, shops, hotels, beauty salons, offices and other indoor public spaces. The police have the power enforce mask wearing in shops and fine people £100 for refusing to wear a mask and a shop can refuse maskless people entry and call the police if someone refuses to wear a mask.19
France’s coronavirus lockdown began in mid-March and by mid-May restrictions were eased. However, face masking in public for anyone age 11 or older is mandatory and there are stiff fines for those who refuse to mask. Beginning Sept. 1, all employees in all workplaces will be required to wear masks if they share office space.20
Spain also has compulsory mask wearing in public spaces regardless of whether people are outside alone or social distancing is possible. There is a ban on social gatherings of more than 10 people, and military personnel are helping health officials with contact tracing in some parts of Spain.
Italy’s strict lockdown started on Mar. 7, 2020 and gradually eased two months later with the opening of public places but with social distancing and compulsory face mask wearing regulations. However, in August there was in increase in reported infections and the government ordered the closure of all dance halls and nightclubs, including outdoor venues, and there is mandatory face masking in all public spaces where social distancing is not possible.
In Belgium, there was a reopening of shops, schools, hair salons, as well as tourist attractions, in May with public gatherings of 200 to 400 allowed since July. However, after a rise in reported infections in August, new regulations requiring face masking in all public areas have been instituted and police checks are increasing to ensure that people follow the rules. Some cities have instituted curfews, and restaurants are limiting four people to a table, while nightclubs remain closed and no festivals or other large events are allowed.
In the Netherlands, on July 1 the government lifted restrictions on how many people could be inside or outside shops and other public venues provided they kept about 5 feet away from each other. When the rates of reported infections started to climb in August, new restrictions closing cafes, cinemas, museums and amusement parks in case of an outbreak and local authorities can impose additional measures, including curfews
Sweden Refused to Lockdown
Unlike the United Kingdom, Germany and other European nations, Sweden decided to take a different approach to the novel coronavirus pandemic and encourage hand washing and social distancing, when possible, but did not lockdown its society.21 Shops, restaurants, schools, offices and other public venues did not close, people did not mask and there was no disruption of social interactions or the economy.
There is no “new normal” in Sweden because the Swedish people followed the advice of chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell at Sweden’s Public Health Agency, who advocated for allowing the new coronavirus to spread throughout the population so that natural herd immunity would be achieved. Although Dr. Tegnell acknowledges more could have been done to protect the elderly in Sweden’s nursing homes while population based herd immunity was being acquired, by August it was clear that COVID-19 infection reports were declining rapidly even as cases in other European nations that had instituted strict lockdowns were rising.22 23
It is understandable why people living in Europe are holding public demonstrations challenging the scientific and political rationale for the institution of oppressive lockdowns that have restricted or eliminated civil liberties and have had severe economic and social consequences this year. The anti-lockdown protests in Berlin, London and other large European cities this past weekend are the beginning of a new public questioning of government officials that will continue until they provide good answers that make sense.
1 Pleitgen F. Covid-deniers protest in Berlin and London. CNN Aug. 30, 2020.
2 Williams T. Anti-lockdown protesters calling coronavirus a ‘hoax’ gather in London. Metro Aug. 29, 2020.
3 Smith O. “Merkel must go!” Violent clashes erupt as German police break up huge ‘anti-corona’ rally. Express Aug. 29, 2020.
4 LePage I. Berlin Halts ‘Anti-corona’ Rally As European Cities Protest Masks. International Business Times Aug. 29, 2020.
5 Reuters. Berlin police arrest 300, disband protest against coronavirus curbs. Aug. 29 2020.
6 See Footnote 4.
7 See Footnote 5.
8 Icke D. London Unite for Freedom Rally. Bitchute Aug. 29, 2020.
9 See Footnote 1.
10 BBC. Europe lockdown: New coronavirus rules country by country. Aug. 28, 2020.
11 RT. German court reverses ban on Berlin anti-lockdown demo as ‘far right’ smears against protesters continue. Aug. 28, 2020.
12 Fisher BL. Biggest Anti-Lockdown Freedom Day Protest Held in Berlin, Germany. The Vaccine Reaction Aug. 3, 2020.
13 Docker W. Berlin Bans Anti-Lockdown Protests Set for Weekend Due to Public Health Risks. International Business Times Aug. 26, 2020.
14 Andrews L. Coronavirus conspiracy marches are held across Europe as Berlin police break up 18,000 marchers for failing to social distance while droves of anti-maskers storm Paris and Copenhagen. Daily Mail Online Aug. 29, 2020.
15 BBC. Germany coronavirus: Hundreds arrested in German ‘anti-corona’ protests. Aug. 30, 2020.
17 Above Top Secret. Speech by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr in Berlin. Aug. 29, 2020.
18 Burgess M. The UK’s lockdown guidelines (and local lockdowns) explained. Wired Magazine Aug. 28, 2020.
20 See Footnote 10.
21 Raines K. Sweden’s Different Response to COVID-19 Based on Mutual Respect and Trust. The Vaccine Reaction May 18, 2020.
22 Daly C. Sweden Unveils “Promising” Covid-19 Data as New Cases Plunge. Bloomberg July 28, 2020.
23 Sandbrook D. No lockdown, no masks, no hysteria…NO PROBLEM: Sweden didn’t go into a corona coma – and it’s living in glorious normality. Daily Mail Online Aug 21, 2020.