Berlin - Germany's new anti-euro party, emboldened by opinion poll gains ahead of a weekend election, staged a mock burning of euro banknotes on Monday to protest against what it sees as the crippling costs of saving the common currency.
The Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD), which calls for an “orderly dismantling” of the euro zone, is polling just one point short of the 5 percent threshold needed to enter parliament and could upset Chancellor Angela Merkel's hopes of returning to power with her current coalition partner.
In the stunt, played out in front of Berlin's most famous landmark, the Brandenburg Gate, an actress representing Merkel handed over wads of fake 500 euro bills to two men masquerading as European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, puffing on cigars and wearing three-piece suits and dark glasses.
As the men shovelled the notes into a rusty metal container, AfD leader Bernd Lucke drove to the rescue on top of a fire engine as loudspeakers boomed out Hollywood superhero music.
“We have symbolically burnt money here because in Germany and the European Union, we are experiencing the biggest monetary destruction since hyperinflation in 1923,” said Lucke, invoking an historic trauma seared into Germans' folk memory.