German stars lead call to shun far-right in 'Goerliwood'

Berlin (AFP) –


German film stars and authors are leading a call for a small town dubbed "Goerliwood" to shun the far-right in mayoral elections next week.

On the border with Poland, the quaint little town of Goerlitz has become the backdrop of many Hollywood blockbusters including "Inglorious Bastards" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel".

It holds a second round run-off vote for a new mayor on June 16, after a first vote topped by the candidate from the far-right AfD party.

Alarmed that the town could become the first in Germany with an AfD mayor, actors including Daniel Bruehl and Volker Bruch, plus writers like Daniel Kehlmann and Bernhard Schlink have signed a petition urging voters in Goerlitz: "Don't give in to hate and hostility, conflict and exclusion."

"Please vote wisely... Don't betray your convictions the moment someone claims to be able to solve problems for you," according to the appeal that is to be officially published on Monday.

Goerlitz, Germany's most eastern town, has seen a mass exodus -- like many others in the former East -- as people sought higher wages in western regions.

Spared damage by Allied bombing during World War II, the Old Town's eye-catching medieval architecture draws a steady stream of visitors, some hoping to catch a glimpse of Hollywood stars in action.

But like in other towns in the state of Saxony, the anti-migrant AfD party has gained a strong footing in Goerlitz.

Railing against Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to let in more than a million asylum seekers, the AfD took nearly 13 percent of the vote in 2017 general elections, becoming Germany's biggest opposition party.