Pro-migration activists took to the streets of the German capital to shout down the yells of the anti-migrant demonstrators protesting against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy.
Furious Germans condemned Ms Merkel, waving German flags and chanting ‘Merkel must go’ and ‘Traitor to the people’.
Around 5,000 people turned out for the anti-migration march, organized by the eurosceptic, populist-nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party under the banner ‘Asylum has its limits – red card for Merkel’.
‘We are demonstrating against the asylum chaos caused by Angela Merkel,’ AfD member and European Parliament deputy Beatrix von Storch said at the rally.
Five counter-protests in support of migrants saw a turn-out of around 800 people, despite organzers’ hopes that several thousand would attend.
Activists protesting the anti-immigration protest found themselves targeted by police wielding pepper spray, as they attempted to break up the simultaneous demonstrations.
More than 40 people were arrested and one officer was lightly wounded after the violence broke out.
Scuffles erupted after police broke up a sit-in by counter-demonstrators, some of whom tried to break through the barriers separating them from the anti-migrant march.
Officers also intervened to stop angry exchanges between rival demonstrators.
More than 1,100 police were necessary in the capital to prevent trouble between the rival demonstrators.
Ms Merkel has faced a growing backlash over her welcoming stance towards refugees fleeing war and persecution as Germany, Europe’s top economy, faces a record influx of up to one million asylum-seekers this year.
Leipzig police say 69 officers have been injured in clashes with rioting left-wing protesters and that they had to use tear gas and water cannons to disperse the group.
Some 50 police cars were also damaged in the riots Saturday evening, which started after hundreds of left-wing activists demonstrated against a rally by far-right protesters in the eastern German city of Leipzig earlier in the day.
Police said Sunday they temporarily detained 23 people after the leftist rioters threw stones at police, erected street blocks and burned down garbage cans.
The protesters also demolished store front windows and two bus stops.
It was not immediately clear how many protesters were injured in the clashes.