Demonstrators gather in Berlin's Tiergarten district between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column during a major demonstration for an open and caring society organised by the action group "Unteilbar" (indivisible) on Oct. 13, 2018. (John MACDOUGALL/ AFP)
BERLIN, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- An estimated 240,000 people rallied across central Berlin on Saturday for an "open and free society" against racism and xenophobia.
Protesters marched along a 5 km route from Alexanderplatz to the Tiergarten Park, which had to be closed down to accommodate the huge parade united under the hashtag #unteilbar ("indivisible").
Protesters carried placards and balloons and drove vehicles emblazoned with banners to show their opposition to right-wing rhetoric, hate speech and discrimination against migrants.
Trade unions, NGOs, political parties, gay rights groups and schools and other kinds of organizations joined the parade, which was organized by an alliance of activist groups, with representatives from the environmentalist Green Party and the leftist Die Linke party (The Left) also represented.
According to the organizers, about 240,000 people joined the march, in comparison of 40,000 people who had initially been registered to attend. However, the police spoke only tens of thousands of protesters, according to the Deutsch Presse Agentur (DPA).
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas described the demonstration as a massive signal.
"We won't let ourselves be divided, especially not by right-wing populists," Maas, a member of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD), told newspapers in the Funke media group.
Maas said the majority of Germans stand for tolerance and openness to the world, added that new nationalism wouldn't solve a single problem.
"Diversity in heritage, skin color, religion and lifestyle enriches us, instead of threatening us," Maas said.
Germany is now facing a rise of far-right politics which was represented by the Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), an anti-migration party that according to some polls, has become the second largest party only after German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats.