Throughout his life, Hess served as a deputy to Hitler and acted as a designated successor following Hitler's death. Hess later received a life sentence in 1946 at the Nuremberg trials and died in 1987 in Spandau prison, at the age of 93. Though his death was ruled a suicide, The Times notes that many Nazi sympathisers "believe that Hess was killed and revere him as a martyr."
Al Jazeera reports that the neo-Nazi group planned to march to the prison but their attempts were thwarted by the presence of approximately 1,000 counterprotesters who effectively formed a blockade.
According to Al Jazeera, the police were diligent about covering up any tattoos and clothing that had Nazi symbols. In addition, The Times notes the nearly 1,000 authorities present also banned the extremists from using the Hitler salute, openly praising Hess and the Nazis as a whole, and carrying torches of any kind. Only one in 25 people were allowed to carry flags, which also could not display Nazi imagery.
Throughout the day, police arrested only four counterprotesters and 35 neo-Nazis.
Despite the country's dark history, counterprotester Jossa Berntje, whose parents lived under the Nazis' brutal rule, told the Associated Press that she believes that events in the United States were partially responsible for riling up far-right extremists all the way in Berlin.
"The rats are coming out of the sewers," she told AP. "Trump has made it socially acceptable."
Berntje was referring to the tragic events in Charlottesville last weekend that resulted in Heather Heyer's death and sparked controversial comments from President Donald Trump, who claimed "both sides" – the white nationalists and the counterprotesters (whom he called the "alt-left") – were responsible for promoting violence.