Police said that more than 1,000 protesters from the anti-fascist group Offensive gegen Rechts took part – although organisers estimated numbers at 2,500.
Police made two arrests during the afternoon, although police spokesman Johann Golob said these were not directly related to the rally but involved two individuals who had injured policeman in violent protests against the Akademikerball in January.
Earlier in the day members of the academic Burschenschaften fraternities of the Wiener Korporationsring (WKR) gathered in front of Vienna University, a yearly tradition to celebrate the Festival of Freedom (Fest der Freiheit). Around 60 policemen in riot gear were there to keep them apart from left-wing protesters.
The Burschenschaften, while claiming to be politically neutral, have a long history of promoting a greater Germany based on language, culture, and democracy.
The police presence was strong – with around 1,000 officers as well as a police helicopter. Golob told the Austrian Press Agency that the goal was to make sure the demonstration passed peacefully, and that this had been achieved. He said that “Vienna police appreciated such democratic behaviour” and he was relieved that protesters had listened to the appeals to refrain from violence.
The Austrian Jewish Community (IKG) recently criticised the Festival of Freedom, saying that a clear sign was needed against right-wing extremism. IKG general secretary Raimund Fastenbauer said that one of the main characteristics of these student groups was denying others the national rights to freedom that they spoke of, and spreading anti-Semitic and racist sentiments.