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Demonstration freedom instead of fear 2007 in Berlin
Anti-nuclear human chain 2011 in Ludwigsburg
Seat blockade 2011 in Gorleben, against nuclear fuel transport
Protester wearing a gas mask in front of the White House in Washington, DC during the " We Can't Wait " protests in February 2006
Group of autonomists in a demonstration against the security conference in Munich 2011
Posters and banners are part of a demonstration

A demonstration (from Latin demonstrare , show, point out, prove, short form: demo ) in the political sense is a public gathering of several people for the purpose of expressing opinions .

In Germany, the right to demonstrate is a fundamental right that is anchored in Article 8 (freedom of assembly) of the Basic Law .

Forms and actions of demonstrations can be very diverse: They range from human chains, rallies, silent marches , vigils to protest actions such as sit-in strikes or blockades , from individual actions to mass demonstrations. They can be peaceful or violent. Demonstrations usually take place as a march or protest march , often only or combined with a standing rally. Other special forms are, for example, Critical Mass , Tour de Natur or demonstrations lasting several days. New forms of protest are online demonstrations and other mass activities organized on the Internet.

The reasons for and topics of the demonstrations are varied: They range from rallies against government policy, against animal testing, for peace, criticism of globalization, for environmental protection, for a certain immigration policy, for or against the construction of new roads, against the transport of nuclear waste, counter-demonstrations, for union goals, for more university funds or against tuition fees.

In the event of serious incidents that endanger public safety or health, governments can apply emergency laws which, in addition to the freedom of assembly, also restrict the right to demonstrate. However, the restrictions on freedom of assembly and the right to demonstrate during the Corona crisis are restrictions on individual fundamental rights and should not be confused with the emergency laws, which are broader. The emergency laws were passed on June 28, 1968. They have never been used.


The right to demonstrate is a fundamental right and is enshrined in Article 8 of the Basic Law in Germany . For meetings in the open air, the article allows restrictions based on a law.

Legally one speaks of an assembly. Jurists distinguish between the concept of assembly in Article 8 of the Basic Law (which only grants "Germans the right to assemble peacefully and without arms") and that of the simple statutory right of assembly (which also grants non-Germans this right and also applies to armed or unpeaceful demonstrations) .

Since the federal reform of 2006, the right of assembly falls under the exclusive legislative competence of the federal states . The Assembly Act of the Federation continues to apply in accordance with Article 125a, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law , unless the Länder replace it with their own laws. So far, only Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt have made full use of this option. So far, Berlin has only passed one law that expands the powers of the security authorities to make image and sound recordings at meetings. In addition, the Federal Assembly Act continues to apply in Berlin.

Meetings in the open air must be registered in Germany , but not approved. There is no ban on gathering , unless the demonstration directly endangers “ public security or public order ”. Similar regulations apply in Austria , but here all generally accessible meetings must be registered 24 hours in advance - including those that do not take place in the open air. Cultural and election campaign events are excluded from the registration requirement. Failure to register a meeting will result in an administrative penalty, but this is no reason to dissolve the meeting.

During the demonstration, the right of assembly applies to all those involved in Germany, replacing police law as a lex specialis . Police measures are therefore subject to stricter legal limits.

In Germany, Austria and some cantons of Switzerland, for example, there is a ban on masking at demonstrations , which prohibits participants from covering their faces or carrying certain objects with them.


Peasant demonstration on the Bonn market square on February 27, 1971

Some of the major global demonstrations of the 20th century were against the Vietnam War . In the largest demonstration on October 15, 1969, 250,000 people came to Washington, DC to demonstrate against the war in Vietnam.

On October 10, 1981, around 300,000 people gathered in Bonn's Hofgarten and demanded nuclear disarmament in a peaceful demonstration against NATO's double decision . On October 25, 1981, 200,000 people demonstrated in Brussels on the same occasion, and on November 21, 1981, 400,000 people demonstrated in Amsterdam. On June 10, 1982, on the occasion of a state visit by US President Ronald Reagan, a demonstration with around 500,000 people took place in Bonn (see also peace movement ).

On February 15, 2003, over 10 million people demonstrated against the impending Iraq war , most of them in Europe. In Berlin alone around 500,000 people took to the streets.

In non-democratic states, such as the former Eastern Bloc states , only state-ordered, state-sponsored demonstrations were allowed. Other demonstrations were violently suppressed (for example on June 17, 1953 in the GDR ). Another example was the student protests in the People's Republic of China in 1989 , which were bloody ended by the army at gunpoint in the Tian'anmen massacre .

The Monday demonstrations in 1989 in the final phase of the GDR were completely non-violent.

In 2007, left-wing, anti-authoritarian groups created the Out of Control demonstration concept in order to systematically make police operations and tactics such as hiking kettles or the preventive surveillance of gatherings more difficult.

Thanks to the widespread use of cell phones and social networks , it is now possible to inform a group of like-minded people about an event and / or to call them up much faster than in the past. This also favored rallies in Iran and China as well as the revolutionary upheavals in 2011 in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries (see Arab Spring ).

Demonstrations in Germany

CSD 2002 in Stuttgart


Alexanderplatz demonstration November 4th 1989
  • September 3, 1911: 200,000 people demonstrate in Treptower Park in Berlin for the preservation of peace.
  • January 13, 1920: More than 100,000 people gather in front of the Berlin Reichstag building to protest against the works council law that has just been negotiated . The security police shoot into the crowd, 42 people die: This is the bloodiest demonstration in German history .
  • February 27, 1943 and the following days: the Rosenstrasse protest in Berlin, the largest spontaneous protest demonstration in the Third Reich during the Nazi era
  • May 11, 1952: Demonstration against West German rearmament in Essen . Philipp Müller is shot by the police , allegedly in self-defense . That was the first time in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany that a demonstrator was killed by the police.
  • June 16 and 17, 1953: popular uprising in the GDR
  • June 2, 1967: Demonstration on the occasion of the Shah visit to Berlin, the student Benno Ohnesorg is from a police officer shot dead
  • Demonstrations during the student unrest of the late 1960s
  • In the 1980s several mass demonstrations by the peace movement against the NATO double decision : around 300,000 people on October 10, 1981 in Bonn, and finally half a million people on June 10, 1982 in Bonn, parallel to the NATO summit. 500,000 people took part in the peace demonstration in Bonn's Hofgarten on October 22, 1983. Most recently, on October 11, 1986 , another 200,000 people demonstrated in Hasselbach .
  • 1989: weekly demonstrations in Dresden , Leipzig (Monday demonstrations), Plauen and other cities in the GDR
  • In the summer of 1989 the first Love Parade was initiated as a registered political demonstration in West Berlin .
  • November 4, 1989: the largest demonstration of the time of the fall , over 500,000 people demonstrated on Alexanderplatz for freedom of expression and assembly
  • January 12, 1991: Over 200,000 people across Germany demonstrate against the Gulf War .
  • December 16, 1992: 400,000 people in Munich demonstrate against xenophobia at the first of the fairy lights demonstrations at the time.
  • July 10, 1999: Over 1,500,000 people attended the Love Parade , which was registered as a political demonstration for peace with the motto "Music Is The Key".
  • February 15, 2003: Around the world around 10 million people demonstrate against the Iraq war , around half a million of them in Berlin.
  • Monday demonstrations against social cuts in 2004 (continued with a reduced number of participants since then)
  • June 2, 2007: Large demonstration in Rostock on the occasion of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm 2007 , which resulted in street battles between several thousand autonomous people and the police
  • Since the end of 2009: Weekly Monday demonstrations against Stuttgart 21
  • Revival of the anti-nuclear movement in September 2009 until today through the German extension of the term
  • March 26th, 2011: As a reaction to the three-fold meltdown in Fukushima Daiichi , 120,000 people demonstrated in Berlin, 50,000 in Hamburg, and 40,000 each in Cologne and Munich, under the motto “Fukushima warns: switch off all nuclear power plants”. A total of 250,000 opponents of nuclear power are on Germany's roads.
  • Since November 14, 2011: Weekly Monday demonstrations against aircraft noise and the expansion of Frankfurt Airport , especially the northwest runway there , which was inaugurated on October 21, 2011.  Since then, between 1,000 and 1,500 people have been demonstrating loudly every Monday on the Fraport AG site in Terminal 1.
  • February 11, 2012: 120,000 people demonstrate nationwide against the planned introduction of the ACTA agreement. 550,000 people take to the streets across Europe.
  • Since October 20, 2014: Weekly Monday demonstrations by Pegida in Dresden.
  • October 10, 2015: 250,000 people demonstrate in Berlin against the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TTIP) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) after 3,263,922 signatures were handed over the previous week.
  • July 7 and 8, 2017: Left-wing demonstration at the G20 summit in Hamburg a . a. with the motto "G20 - Welcome to Hell" with riots and police operations - hundreds of injured.
  • October 13, 2018: According to the organizers, more than 240,000 people in Berlin demonstrate against racism and right-wing extremism at the large-scale demonstration "#unteilbar - For an open and free society - solidarity instead of exclusion" .
  • March 23, 2019: At one of many large demonstrations across Germany, more than 40,000 people gathered in Munich to demonstrate against the planned EU copyright reform. Around 200,000 people demonstrated across the European Union under the same motto .
  • September 20, 2019: People are demonstrating in more than 2000 cities around the world as part of the Fridays for Future movement, according to the organizers 1.4 million people in Germany alone.


Demonstrations in Austria

  • In mid-June 1978 (coach) rally and demonstration to the Zwentendorf nuclear power plant, around 6000 participants from all over Austria. The referendum in November (50.45% no) was followed by a legal ban on the commercial use of nuclear power.
  • Cycling demonstrations from around 1980 in various cities.
  • Various demonstrations against the effects of motorized road traffic and road construction.
  • From 1987 the opera ball demo was an annual "fixed event". In 2019, for the first time, no opera ball demo was registered.
  • The sea ​​of ​​lights on January 23, 1993 is considered the largest demonstration of the Second Republic : up to 300,000 people demonstrated in Vienna against xenophobia and the “Austria first” referendum .
Demonstration against the 2018 Academic Ball at the Ring
  • On February 19, 2000, 150,000 people gathered to demonstrate against the black-blue coalition . The protests against the new government developed into weekly Thursday demonstrations .
  • As a protest against the pension reform , the ÖGB organized a rally in Vienna on May 13, 2003, attended by over 100,000 Austrians.
  • In autumn 2009 there were several demonstrations in the course of the Unibrennt protests . The largest, which took place on October 28, 2009 at the University of Vienna, was attended by between 20,000 and 30,000 participants.
  • The protests against the Akademikerball are growing every year; according to the police, there were 6,000 participants in the demonstrations in 2014 and around 8,000 in 2018.
  • Radparade am Ring in Vienna, demonstration for cycling as part of the Bike Festival on City Hall Square.
  • Critical Mass , monthly bike ride in several cities in Austria and worldwide
  • Friday Night Skating explicitly as a transport policy demonstration in Vienna since 1999 (as a sporting event in Graz since 2000 and elsewhere)

Demonstrations in Switzerland


  • June 14, 1991: Women's strike demonstrations in all major cities in Switzerland. According to the unions, up to 500,000 people, mostly women, took part in the demonstrations, strikes and other forms of action.
  • October 15, 2011: Occupy Wall Street protests on Paradeplatz. There was also a tent camp in Geneva with around 200 people that lasted for several weeks.
  • March 2017: The Women's March brings well over 10,000 people to the streets in Zurich.
  • April 5, 2017: Student protests against planned austerity measures at canton schools. Several thousand demonstrated in Lucerne, Zurich, Geneva and Aarau.
  • September 9, 2018: Switzerland-wide large-scale demonstration in Bern for equal pay. Up to 20,000 people took part in the parade.
  • Since December 2018: Climate strike demonstrations in various Swiss cities, organized by schoolchildren, with up to 65,000 across Switzerland. The demonstrations belong to the international Fridaysforfuture movement and call for faster action on climate protection.
  • June 14, 2019: Women's strike demonstrations with hundreds of thousands of participants (in Zurich up to 160,000, in Bern and Basel 40,000 each and in Lausanne 40,000), at the same time large demonstrations took place in many other cities. According to the organizers, over 500,000 women took part in the actions, which were spread over the whole day.
  • Climate demonstration in Bern as part of a global action week organized by the Climate Alliance and the Swiss Climate Strike . According to the organizers, up to 100,000 people took part.


  • Labor Day on May 1st: International demonstrations take place on Labor Day every year.

Demonstrations worldwide


Sound recording of a demonstration in the Netherlands on January 1st, 1980
  • 1957: Large rally at Sigmundskron Castle , at which 35,000 South Tyroleans at Sigmundskron Castle near Bolzano demanded the “Lot of Trento” and thus South Tyrol's autonomy .
  • 1963: March on Washington with Martin Luther King's famous speech " I Have a Dream ". The large demonstration with over 200,000 participants was preceded by 841 demonstrations in 196 cities across the country to demand equal rights for blacks.
  • 1969: Stonewall uprising after a raid on the Stonewall Inn on New York's Christopher Street (origin of Christopher Street Day )
  • 1972: Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland
  • 1978: Regular large-scale demonstrations in Iran against the Shah's regime until 1979
  • June 14, 1982: Peace demonstration against nuclear weapons in Manhattan, New York, USA with 750,000–1,000,000 participants
  • 1989: Demonstration in Tian'anmen Square in Beijing , which ended in the massacre by the Chinese army.
  • 1993: Sea of ​​lights , with 350,000 participants the largest demonstration of the 2nd Republic (Austria)
  • 2000: Until 2002 weekly Thursday demonstrations in Vienna against the FPÖ / ÖVP government
  • 2001: Cacerolazo in Argentina against economic policy
  • 2001: Large-scale demonstration in Genoa on the occasion of the G8 summit, which ends in two-day street battles between the Autonomen and the Carabinieri . In the course of the riots, the protester Carlo Giuliani was shot dead by a young police officer.
  • 2003: The world's largest peace demonstrations since the end of the Cold War against the third Gulf War .
  • 2009: Daily large demonstrations after the Iranian presidential elections in 2009 against the election results with the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
  • 2010: Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia with large demonstrations against the regime of the head of state Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali
  • 2011: According to media reports, up to 2,000,000 people called for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak during the 2011 revolution in Egypt .
  • June 2013 In Turkey, beginning in Istanbul with demonstrations against a building project , the protests have spread internationally after a disproportionate police operation and are directed against the authoritarian leadership style of Prime Minister Erdogan
  • 2013: In the demonstrations against President Mohammed Morsi that preceded the military coup in Egypt , more than a million (according to the military, even 14 million) people took to the streets across the country.
  • 2016: From July 16, thousands of people demonstrate in various cities in Turkey as a “democracy watch”, also to avert further coup attempts. These “democracy watches” last for almost four weeks.
  • 2016: After the failed military coup in Turkey, 5,000,000 people gathered on Yenikapi Sahil Miting Alani in Istanbul on August 7th to demonstrate for democracy and to commemorate the people who died on July 15th and on the night of August 16th. July died while trying to prevent the military putschists from doing their thing. It is the largest gathering in Turkey so far. The major demonstration was preceded by daily demonstrations in 81 cities across the country to avert another attempted coup.
  • 2018: Over half a million people gathered in London on October 20th to demonstrate against the United Kingdom's exit from the EU ( Brexit ). At the time, it was the largest demonstration in the UK in 15 years.
  • 2019: On March 23, 2019, a second large-scale demonstration for a renewed vote on Brexit took place in London under the motto “Put it to the People” (“Let the people decide”). It is estimated to have been one of the largest demonstrations to ever take place in the UK, with over a million participants.
  • 2018/2019: Young people / schoolchildren in particular demonstrate repeatedly against the climate catastrophe on Friday at noon - Fridays for Future

In 2019 the numbers in Berlin rose to 275,000 demonstrators

  • 2019: The protests in Hong Kong : Up to two million participants demonstrated against an amendment to the law that threatens to undermine independence from China.


Peace demonstration in the USA, 2005

See also


  • Sebastian Cobler (Ed.): The right to demonstrate. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1983, ISBN 3-499-15346-7 .
  • Philipp Gassert: A lively society. German protest history since 1945. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2018. ISBN 978-3-17-029270-3 .
  • Dieter Rucht: Protest in the Federal Republic of Germany: Structures and developments. Campus, Frankfurt / Main 2001, ISBN 3-593-36451-4 .

Web links

Commons : demonstrations  - collection of images
Wiktionary: Demonstration  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
 Wikinews: Demonstration  - on the news
Wikibooks: Demonstration and Political Activism  - Learning and Teaching Materials

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Sandra Schmid: German Bundestag - 50 years ago: Bundestag passed emergency laws. Retrieved August 4, 2020 .
  2. Emergency laws: Provision for exceptional cases. Retrieved August 4, 2020 .
  3. BayVersG: Bavarian Assembly Act (BayVersG) of July 22, 2008 (GVBl p. 421) BayRS 2180-4-I (Art. 1–28) - Citizen Service. Retrieved April 21, 2017 .
  4. VORIS NVersG | State standard Lower Saxony | Lower Saxony Assembly Act (NVersG) of October 7, 2010 | valid from: 01.02.2011. Retrieved April 21, 2017 .
  5. ^ Text of the Saxon Assembly Act
  6. ^ Juris GmbH: Landesrecht Sachsen-Anhalt VersammlG LSA | State standard Saxony-Anhalt | Complete edition | Law of the State of Saxony-Anhalt on assemblies and lifts (State Assembly Act - VersammlG LSA) of December 3, 2009 | valid from: 12.12.2009. Retrieved April 21, 2017 .
  7. juris GmbH: VIS BE input formula VersAufn / AufzG BE | State standard Berlin | Law on recordings and recordings of images and sound at open-air gatherings and lifts of April 23, 2013 | valid from: 04/28/2013. Retrieved April 21, 2017 .
  8. Registration and implementation of rallies and demonstrations , Solidaritä (PDF)
  9. Axel Weipert: Before the gates of power. The demonstration in front of the Reichstag on January 13, 1920 . In: Year Book for Research on the History of the Labor Movement , Volume 11, Issue 2, Berlin 2012, pp. 16–32
  10. Helmut Schwan: 99 demos are not entirely without effect. In: May 19, 2014, accessed December 11, 2014 .
  11. DER SPIEGEL: G20: Police officers injured far less than stated - DER SPIEGEL - Panorama. Retrieved April 4, 2020 .
  12. WORLD: “Indivisible” in Berlin: 240,000 demonstrate against hatred - organizers overwhelmed . In: THE WORLD . October 14, 2018 ( [accessed January 14, 2019]).
  13. 40,000 protest in Munich against EU copyright reform . In: . ISSN  0174-4917 ( [accessed on March 24, 2019]).
  14. Markus Reuter: Demos against upload filters: All numbers, all cities. In: March 23, 2019, accessed on March 24, 2019 (German).
  15. Global climate protests started in Australia , Spiegel Online , September 20, 2019. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  16. # allefürsklima Today 1.4 million ... - Fridays for Future Germany. Retrieved September 26, 2019 .
  17. ^ Salzburg24: No opera ball demo registered ; accessed on Feb. 27, 2019
  18. The largest demonstrations in Austria: From Lichtermeer to Pegida ,
  19. ^ The Local: Thousands march for women's rights in Zurich. In: The local. The local, accessed June 15, 2019 .
  20. Switzerland-wide protests against the downsizing of education ++ Hundreds of schoolchildren demonstrate in Basel, Zurich and Lucerne. Retrieved June 15, 2019 (Swiss Standard German).
  21. Demo for equal pay - "Whether Luis or Luisa - same pay!" September 22, 2018, accessed June 15, 2019 .
  22. The world is on strike for the climate. Retrieved June 15, 2019 .
  23. Second Women's Strike - Purple Mobilization for Equal Rights. June 14, 2019, accessed June 15, 2019 .
  24. Klimademo in Bern - organizers speak of 100,000 participants. September 28, 2019, accessed December 18, 2019 .
  25. Ultimatum in Egypt - Army demands political solution within 48 hours. In: Sü July 1, 2013, accessed June 20, 2014 .
  26. ^ Millions stand for democracy in Turkey. In: August 7, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2016 .
  27. #TurkeyUnited for democracy, freedom and fraternity. In: August 7, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2016 .
  28. ^ Millions stand for democracy in Turkey. In: August 7, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2016 .
  29. a b London: Hundreds of thousands of British people are calling for a second Brexit referendum. Zeit Online , October 20, 2018, accessed October 30, 2018 .
  30. ^ Anne Demmer: Large demonstration in London - Half a million against Brexit. , October 20, 2018, accessed October 30, 2018 .
  31. ^ Demonstration of historic proportions. In: , March 23, 2019, accessed April 28, 2019 .
  32. Tens of thousands remember murdered Kremlin opponents Nemtsov, March 1, 2020, accessed March 1, 2020.