A History of PEGIDA

PEGIDA rally, Ostragehege, Dresden (click to enlarge)

Although it is not in the news as much as it used to be, PEGIDA is still going strong. The following timeline of PEGIDA in Dresden since its inception was kindly translated by JLH, who includes this introductory explanation:

In case you were wondering what has been happening with PEGIDA, here is a private, personal peek behind the scenes in Dresden. The following diary of PEGIDA events comes from a page by Thomas Jacob, whose vocation or avocation is photography, with particular concentrations in local color and tourism, gardening and politics. This is his research on the actual numbers of the Dresden PEGIDA marches., as well as other interesting comments

The latest PEGIDA walk leads to the office building of the local “lying press” (Lügenpresse): the Sächsische Zeitung and the Morgenpost. Early on, the former of the two papers ran a remarkably straightforward, almost innocent-eye report of one of the first marches. That was before the Red Queen turned her baleful eye on Dresden and led her government as well as its opposition in verbal assaults against the “right-extremist, racist” movement. The nearly universal disapproval of media and politicians was reflected in a bitter split within AfD, some of whose local politicians were supporting PEGIDA.

Since then, any positive words about the movement have spread by internet and word-of-mouth, not only from East to West in Germany, but surfacing in places like Sweden. If they didn’t have bad press, they’d have no press at all.

The translated diary:

Pictures on German History — PEGIDA

Statements in the media on the number of participants

My journalistic research, personal estimates, evaluation of statistics, interviews and head-counts from photos have shown the following: The numbers published in the media for the first six walks were approximately 50% of those actually in attendance. Then, suddenly, more exact numbers were given and at times even exaggerated.

Then, at the latest by May 4, 2015, the numbers were reduced by more than 50%.

October 20, 2014

350 participants (according to Wikipedia). At present, I have no means of testing that.

October 27, 2014

500 participants (from “Latest Dresden News” in Middle German Radio — MDR)
“Participation far lower than expected. Instead of the expected 1,000 people, fewer than one-half came.”

By my estimate, 1,000.

November 3, 2014

1,000 according to MDR.

November 10, 2014

Ca. 1,700 (MDR)

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[The following entry seems to me to be mis-dated and confused with the following entry, so I have moved the notation of “5th demo” to here. I have also added the following entry of November 24, since it does not appear in the diary.]

November 17, 2014 (5th PEGIDA demonstration)

On Postplatz — Varying estimates in the media of 1,700-2,500. In actuality, 4,000. BILD corrected its estimate from 300 to 3,000.

It is likely, at this point that new ideas for reporting are being developed in the “guided” media, which were enacted beginning December, 2014.

November 24, 2014

This march is not in the diary, but I note it as the one in which the chant “Wir sind das Volk!” may have first appeared.

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December 1, 2014

7,500 demonstrators according to MDR. Their progress was blocked by 1,200 counter-demonstrators on the banks of the Elbe by the casements.

December 15, 2014

15,000 reported — I estimate 14,000.

December 22, 2014 (Christmas carols on Theaterplatz)

Press reports of exactly 17,500 on were noteworthy for their accuracy — my estimate, ca. 19,000.

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January 5, 2015

However, the estimates of 18,000 for this cold and rainy day were clearly exaggerated. The reason may be deduced by thoughtful readers. After this date, the monopoly media’s reporting slowly and then ever more discernibly decreased the number of participants. My estimate was 11,000 participants, and many women in attendance, for the first time.

January 19, 2015

Canceled for security reasons.

January 26, 2015

At Theaterplatz. Police estimate of 17, 300 seems reasonably correct.

There is a hiatus, Kathrin Oertel leaves PEGIDA, founds “Direct Democracy for Europe” and gathers ca. 205 people at the Dresden Neumarkt on February 8, 2015.

February 9, 2015

Neumarkt. Re-start. The media exults — only 2,000 participants! Probably actually 4,000.

February 16, 2015

Neumarkt. For the first time, a law firm estimates 10,300 people. The media depend on the police estimate and report 4,300. I was a witness that there were definitely not fewer than 10,000.

February 23, 2015

Neumarkt. Again about 10,000, as I can confirm myself. The organizers spoke of 9,800 and that may be more exact. The leading media give patently false reports of 5,000 and predict the end of PEGIDA.

March 9, 2015

Altmarkt. The organizing team counts 15,000. My eyeball estimate is 16,000. There could have been some inaccuracies and the number could be 13,000. At first, the media admits that PEGIDA attendance is increasing again. With reactionary precision, the SPIEGEL reports “more than 6,000.”

Middle German Radio reports “6,500 people came to the Altmarkt, according to police.” Later, it was said that the Saxony police did not wish to give an official statistic.

March 16, 2015 19th evening walk.

Altmarkt. 16,000-17,000 was my estimate. (There are now quality photos in which it is possible to count the participants.) The organizing team says 18,000. The media contributes the clearly false 7,700. I confirm that this number could not possibly be accurate — especially with more accurate counting techniques available — this was the first use of the coin deposit.

March 23, 2015

20th walk. No personally collected evidence. 5,500 makes the media happy. At the last demonstration before Easter, there were certainly fewer people. There are photos that can be evaluated, and, by my reckoning, there are ca. 12,000 people.

April 6, 2015
Easter Monday. Neumarkt. 14,600 people according to the organizer. That seems correct to me. I was present. Radio reports 7,100, which could just be negligence in researching.

April 13, 2015

Demonstration on the Flutrinne (flood tide channel). I was there and my eyeball estimate is between 18,000 and 19,000. (other counts = 20,000; organizer counted 22,000).

“An appearance by Netherlands rightist populist Geert Wilders did not bring PEGIDA the hoped-for increase in numbers… According to statements of Middle German Radio observers, about 10,000 people gathered.” Note the clever formulation, “statements of MDR observers.” There was also a noteworthy speech by Götz Kubitschek.

(There was only one entry point for the steady stream of people and coin collection kept a more exact count.)

April 20, 2015

No PEGIDA demo in Dresden.

April 27, 2015

A maximum of 4,000 at the Schlossplatz in incessant rain and violent storms. A lightning strike in Oelsen started a barn fire.

May 4, 2015

By my estimate, 8,000 PEGIDA demonstrators on Schlossplatz (some briefly). The weather was beautiful, so many tourists could watch the demonstration from Brühl’s Terrace. Now things are a little sticky for the lying media, because people can get their own idea as well as take their own photos and videos (There was a generally easy mood on both sides between tourists and demonstrators — ca. 6,500-7,000 after the demonstration). Speech by Ferdinand from Cameroon.

May 11, 2015

6,000-6,200 people according to the organizer (I estimate 7,000). Many seniors but there were also younger people. Very good speeches. Speech and gospel reading by Harald.

May 18, 2015

7,000 demonstrators by my count. Speeches by Tatjana Festerling, Dieter Causnitzer (on the rise of fascism out of leftist groups), Ferdinand from Cameroon and Curd Ben Nemsi. On the Schlossplatz.

May 25, 2015 (Pentecost Monday)

5,000 participants by my research, but it was difficult to estimate because comparatively few of them were standing on Schlossplatz (the organizer counted 4,000) and the line of the march was very long. Ages fairly evenly divided. There were also children; and elementary and secondary students were well-represented.

It becomes known that many demonstrators are staying away from PEGIDA on these warm Spring evenings, because they are afraid of being hurt through their jobs. That’s what we have come to in Germany these days. The Horst Seehofer quote becomes current “Morale is not at a tipping point. It has tipped.”

June 1, 2015

Last demonstration before the mayoral election in Dresden. 4,000 participants according to the organizer. This time, many of them are 50-65 years old. Very good speeches, especially those against the complacency of establishment politicians and those on regional political topics. Lots of bite. For the first time, open talk about “kiddie-f***ers in the [political] parties” and about the “pedophile party of the Greens.”

June 8,2015

2,000 participants, Schlossplatz. Pervasive rain. Very interesting speech by Hans Joachim Müller (Neues Forum 1989* ). And once again the words “kiddie-f***er” and “politician” mentioned in the same breath.

June 15, 2015

Schlossplatz. About 3,500 demonstrators on the walk, and great speeches: Tatjana Festerling, Michael Stürzenberger, Torsten Preuß, Harald, and Lutz Bachmann.

June 22, 2015

Schlossplatz. Somewhat over 4,000 on the walk. Anyway, more than on the last two walks.

June 29, 2015

Schlossplatz. 3.500 to 4,000 demonstrators.

5th, 6th and 7th day of AfD convention: Lucke voted out of leadership

July 7, 2015

Starting immediately and for two weeks — coordinated demos in Leipzig. Ca. 2,500 participants. The Lying Press reports 800.

July 13, 2015

Dresden on the Altmarkt. Considerably more people. I estimate 4,500 to almost 5,000 PEGIDA demonstrators. This time, trouble with the sound system. Really had to strain your ears. It is vacation time in Saxony, so there were many children along. A short walk through city center. As has been the case for several weeks, no counter-demonstration anymore.

July 27, 2015

Dresden: Close to 7,000 participants this time, despite incipient rain. A new route: From the Altmarkt to the Postplatz, then to the office buildings of the (Lying) Press (SZ and Morgenpost), onto the Ostra Allee and from there to the Saxon legislature, past the Semper Opera across Theaterplatz and back again to the Altmarkt. Worth noting that very many “normal” citizens were on the street. Fewer of the hard core, since they, too, have to take a vacation sometime. A beautiful, relaxed PEGIDA evening in Dresden.

*   Neues Forum: One of the leading parties in the internal revolution of 1989 within the German Democratic Republic. Some of it was later absorbed by Bündnis 90 and then the Greens. Part of it remained as a minor party in East Germany.

For links to previous articles about PEGIDA (Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) and related movements, see the PEGIDA Archives.