Under his leadership the town has taken in more refugees than it was allocated. Andreas Hollstein was in fact awarded Germany’s national integration prize in May this year.
Some cynics on social media questioned the timing of the “attack”, suggesting that the CDU could benefit directly from such an incident as Merkel’s coalition talks have faltered, putting her future as leader in the balance. German establishment parties are seeing their voters abandoning them because of the migrant crisis they had helped to create.
Alternative for Germany (AfD) is currently polling strongly with its campaign against the Islamisation of Germany, by denouncing the CDU’s reckless asylum policy.
The “knife attack” on Hollstein, the mayor of Altena in western Germany, have been loudly condemned by government officials including struggling Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“I’m shocked by the knife attack on mayor Andreas Hollstein – and very relieved that he is back with his family,” Merkel said. “Thanks also to those who helped him.”
Merkel was “horrified by the knife attack”, her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, tweeted.
“I had people on my side who acted quickly and I’m happy to still be alive,” Hollstein told local newspaper Lokalstimme.
“Last night I was gifted a third life,” he said, adding that he had also been battling disease. But his neck wound did not appear to have been life threatening. “The knife was meant for me,” Hollstein insisted however.
Hollstein had been dining at a local kebab restaurant on Monday evening, when the man approached him with a knife. Restaurant employees overpowered the “drunken attacker” and called police, Lokalstimme reported. An employee was also injured, according to reports.
Police said the knifeman had a long history of mental health issues and was not part of an organised conservative network, describing his attack as “spontaneous”. But Merkel supporters said the incident on Monday night had been “politically motivated”.
“The security authorities believe that there was a political motive,” North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state premier Armin Laschet declared, ignoring the police statement. The mayor is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s collapsing CDU/CSU coalition.
Germany’s justice minister, Heiko Maas, was also eager to exploit the attack for political purposes and quickly tweeted that “we must never accept that people are attacked because they help others”.
Hollstein said he will continue to do his job without police protection, indicating that he strangely does not fear a similar attack.
But a recent surge in stabbings and knife-related violence across Germany has raised alarm. The year 2017 is set to become a record year for stabbings and knife crimes: Police reported more than 3 500 knife-related crimes between January and October 2017, compared to around 4 000 reported crimes during all of 2016.
In North Rhine-Westphalia, stabbings are rampant while Bremen and Bremerhaven are also hotbeds of knife crimes. In 2016, at least 469 people — more than one a day — were stabbed in Bremen, according to official documents obtained by the German tabloid Bild.
In Berlin, it is migrants – not Germans – responsible for the surge in knife attacks.
Meanwhile, violent protests are now an integral feature outside party conferences of the AfD. No matter in which city the AfD meets to discuss and vote on their program, their election campaigns and their personal leadership, they have to face angry, violent counter-demonstrators on a regular basis.
The self-styled anti-fascists try to disrupt and prevent the AfD party congresses with rallies, blockades and even violence, shouting their popular slogan of “Stand up against racism”.
Their initiative includes leading politicians from the SPD, the Greens and the Left Party, as well as violent left-wing extremist groups. For example, the SPD politicians Ralf Stegner, Manuela Schwesig and Katarina Barley support the alliance. Just as Cem Özdemir and Katrin Göring-Eckardt of the Greens and the left-politicians Bernd Riexinger, Dietmar Bartsch and Katja Kipping.
“The [leftwing] alliance is committed to militancy as a strategic component of organisation,” says the German internal security service.
The goal is the communist revolution, the comprehensive transformation of state and society, they say.
When the AfD meets for its party conference in Hanover next weekend, the “Stand up against racism” alliance will also be on the spot. They have for weeks been planning against the AfD event. With the arrival of the AfD in the Bundestag for the first time in decades, the “neo-Nazis” have to be sabotaged by all means neccessary, JungeFreiheit reported.
The AfD wanted to “erase the memory of the crimes of German fascism and the Holocaust”, they maintain. “We will prevent racists from getting more room for their hate speech. We will not allow the AfD to gain even more influence with its radically right-wing program,” the statement reads.
The aim of various leftists have been to prevent the AFD event. “Fighting the AfD means rigorously dispensing with the space for authoritarian propaganda.”
Instead of talking to the AfD, they have to be blocked. “The attack on the AfD and its nationalist insanity can not be presented as a contribution to the debate!”
A spokeswoman for a leftist group announced last week in the German newspaper TAZ: “We will go in there and cancel the congress. This means that we at least do our utmost to intervene noticeably in the process. We are determined not to be stopped by obstacles.”