Far-right extremists have tried to mount a vigilante guard to keep out migrants at Germany’s border with Poland.
Police moved 50 people out of the border zone and confiscated weapons including a bayonet, a machete, pepper spray and batons.
They pointed the finger at a small neo-Nazi party called The Third Way, which called on activists to “protect our homeland”.
It told supporters to gather overnight and search for migrants entering the EU via Belarus, which is suspected of ferrying people into the bloc.
“This time we will not stand by helplessly while millions of foreigners stream into our country and disappear into major cities,” the party said.
The far-right patrol led to criticism and a counterdemonstration by dozens of people in the border town of Guben.
“It can’t come to this, that right-wing extremists feel responsible for the border,” said Green party member Lamya Kaddor.
But authorities are increasing their own patrols. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said hundreds of officers were on duty.
He said Germany does not plan to close the border with Poland but that he will send reinforcements to the frontier if necessary.
“It is legitimate for us to protect our external border in such a way that illegal crossings at the border are prevented,” he said. “If Europe can’t get its act together with a common asylum pact, national measures will be taken.”
About 5,700 people have crossed the border illegally this year, the ministry says. A suspected smuggler was arrested at the weekend after 31 migrants from Iraq were found in a van near the Polish border.
The EU accuses Belarus of shepherding illegal migrants into the bloc to put pressure on Brussels over economic sanctions.
Minsk is suspected of flying migrants from the Middle East and Africa into the country, before sending them to EU borders on foot.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko denies this and blames the West for what he says is a looming humanitarian catastrophe at the border.
The Third Way party previously earned notoriety for putting up election posters saying “hang the Greens”.
The party won 7,832 votes at last month’s general election, less than 0.1 per cent of the total.
Germany’s domestic intelligence agency described it in an annual report as being defined by xenophobia, anti-Semitism and neo-Nazi ideology.
It said the party fundamentally rejects Germany’s liberal democratic order, in particular in its statements on asylum and immigration.