Germany’s right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party was met with massive crowds of protesters Saturday, after a report revealed it had discussed deporting millions of immigrants, including German citizens, late last year.
Investigative journalism group Correctiv published a report Wednesday on the meeting between AfD and the Identitarian Movement (IM) in November, claiming IM member Martin Sellner presented a plan for “re-migration” of immigrants out of Germany, including those who already have citizenship, but have failed to integrate.
AfD has confirmed the meeting, which was allegedly captured on hidden cameras, took place but rejected assertions that it reflects their party policy.
“The AfD won’t change its position on immigration policy because of a single opinion at a non-AfD meeting,” a spokesperson told Reuters.
Protesters across Germany held signs on Saturday that read “Never Again is Now,” “Defend Democracy” and “Against Hate” as the meeting garners comparisons with the Nazis.
A protest in Frankfurt on Saturday had around 35,000 people and one in Hamburg had around 50,000, police said. Others took place in cities like Stuttgart, Nuremberg and Hannover.
Hamburg’s demonstration ended early over crowd size safety concerns.
Large protests in cities like Berlin and Munich are also planned for Sunday.
The report and subsequent protests have also renewed calls for a ban on the AfD in the country.
The AfD was founded in 2013 and polling suggests it has around 23% support in the country.
AfD was the first right-wing party since the Nazis to win a mayoral and district council election when it did last year. It has also made significant gains in state elections in Bavaria and Hesse.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned the AfD and Identarian Movement in a statement on social media last week, comparing them to the Third Reich.
“We protect everyone — regardless of origin, skin color or how uncomfortable someone is for fanatics with assimilation fantasies,” said Scholz.
Although immigration is a top issue in the country, Scholz himself previously admitted “too many are coming.”
Fox News’ Timothy H.J. Nerozzi and the Associated Press contributed to this report.