• Tom W

What's happening in Berlin on May 1, 2020?


Map: Authorised demonstrations on May 1st, 2020. If you want to join a demonstration, contact the organiser first to ensure that particpant numbers are not exceeded. We make no guarantee as to the accuracy of this information.


May 1st -- International Workers' Day -- is usually a major event in Berlin, with countless protests across the city and a big demonstration by the DGB trade union federation. This year, things will be different.


The DGB has cancelled its protest for the first time since it was founded in 1949. "This year, solidarity means keeping your distance," said Reiner Hoffmann, the organisation's chairman. Instead, the umbrella group, which includes most trade unions in Germany, is planning an online broadcast of online speeches, discussions and artistic performances under the motto "You can't do solidarity alone" (#SolidarischNichtAlleine). It will take place from 11am to 2pm.

Other protests are planned, however, to go ahead -- with suitable health and safety measures including a minimum distance of 2 metres from person to person and a maximum of 20 participants per demonstration.


"We're taking to the streets not because we think that protective measures aren't right or because we deny the danger of the virus," says René Arnsburg of the Network for Fighting Trade Unions (Vernetzung für kämpferische Gewerkschaften). But, he told Neues Deutschland, when fundamental achievements of the labour movement such as the eight-hour day are being chipped away, it cannot be expected that there will be no resistance. Accompanied by other trade unionists, Arnsburg has registered a rally for 11 am near the world clock on Alexanderplatz. That is one of dozens of demonstrations planned across Germany despite the Coronavirus situation. The initiative "All Out for May 1st 2020" ("Heraus zum ersten Mai 2020") has been calling on people to register small demonstrations of up to 20 people, which can stay within the law, along the traditional May Day locations and routes.


At 1pm a rally near the Vivantes hospital at Urbanhafen, Kreuzberg. Organised by Berlin Action Against Employer Injustice (Berliner Aktion Gegen Arbeitgeberunrecht), the event will take place under the slogan "We won't pay for your crisis". The call-out asks why the ruling class speak of solidarity and acting together, while the working conditions of hospital employees are attacked.


Also registered in Berlin are five rallies of 20 people each in Neukölln organised by Die Linke for 2pm. Those who want to take part are asked to register with info@die-linke-neukölln.de.


Meanwhile, the traditional "revolutionary May 1st" demonstration has also taken on a new form. Organisers have called for a decentralised protest across Kreuzberg from 6pm in order to reduce the risk of infection and remain resistant to state repression.


"Whether alone with a placard, together with friends and comrades, in small groups, with a bike or on foot, or also from rooftoops and balconies: you decide yourselves, what your actions will look like," organisers said in a statement.


Berlin's social-democratic interior minister Andreas Geisel has promised to clamp down heavily on the unauthorised protest. "The police will have to intervene early," he was quoted by the public broadcaster RBB as saying. He reportedly said there would be 5,000 police officers deployed to the city's streets.