via Historical Review Press
Initially suggested by a group of hard-left anti-borders activists masquerading as a “
citizens’ initiative”, the name change of Richard Wagner Platzes to
‘Refugees Welcome Platz’ has now been taken up by the city council with
support from the Green party bloc.
City spokesman, pro-migrant campaigner, and Green politician Christin
Melcher said of the change she is supporting: “We stand for a
cosmopolitan and tolerant Leipzig. The renaming of a central square as
Refugees Welcome Place is also a symbol of a new culture of welcome in
Leipzig”, reports the Saschen Depesche.
City council Green colleague Norman Volger, in a spectacular moment of honesty a
admits the move is intended as a deliberate snub towards Germany’s insurgent right wing movements.
The Leipzig branch of the Patriotic Europeans Against The Islamisation
Of The West (PEGIDA) protest group meet regularly at Richard Wagner
Platzes, and the erasure of the memory of an important figure from
German history could be a bitter blow to the group, which campaigns for
traditional European culture. Mr. Volger wants the new ‘Refugees Welcome
Platz’ to stand as a sign against PEGIDA, who he calls ‘inhuman
racists’, and that “Leipzig is no place for racism”.
Richard Wagner, born in Leipzig in 1813, is a towering figure in the
German psyche for his role in influencing the unification of Germany
into a single state in the years leading up to 1871. His operas drew
heavily from romantic and dramatic Germanic folklore and his essays
called for a single German identity, rather than disparate kingdoms as
it was during much of the 19th century. The Richard Wagner Platzes was
named in 1913 in honour of the composer, celebrating the centenary of
A number of groups have moved to oppose the proposition, including the
Junge Union. The German equivalent of the Young Conservatives, the group
has warned against allowing faddish political beliefs to influence
place names, remarking that while majorities shift within democratic
systems, it is not healthy to constantly change place names, reports the
Leipziger Internet Zeitung.
The International Association of Wagner Societies has reacted with fury
at the suggestion the square in the composer’s home town might be
sacrificed at the altar of political correctness. They said in a
statement “Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig and is one of the greatest
artists of the 19th century.
“Since the 100th anniversary naming in 1913, the city has been honouring
one of its greatest sons. This must remain so! Anyone against the
cultural and political nonsense, which is directed against the interests
of our city and its citizens, and wants to raise his voice, can sign a
petition during business hours at our office”.
A new petition has been launched online, and the discussions in the
comment section on the page provide an illuminating insight into the
perspectives of those tousling over Richard Wagner Platzen. One writes
that he refuses to sign the petition, because “according to Wikipedia,
Wagner was a convinced anti-Semite. My attitude is refugees welcome”.
Another contributor asks in response to the comment that if Wagner is to
be removed because of his anti-Semitism, why is it right to welcome
Muslim refugees who have increased anti-Semitic attitudes in the
community of late.
Renaming squares and streets is an emerging cultural battleground in
Europe, as leftist groups on city government boards seek to erase
cultural histories and inconvenient reminders as soon as they seize
power. Breitbart London reported on two such examples in July where
Spanish authorities insulted the memories of right-wing figures by
renaming their squares after LGBT-lobby campaigners.
Plaza Margaret Thatcher was one such square, with her memorial to be
torn down and the place renamed for Pedro Zerolo, a left-wing gay
anarchist who died this year. Following that, it was reported the square
dedicated to noted Catholic scholar Juan Vázquez de Mella would also be
renamed after a gay rights campaigner.