refugees germany volunteers donations
A German police officer lets a refugee child wear his cap while waiting for a bus at the main train station in Munich.Christof Stache/AFP

An anti-Nazi song that headed the German charts in the 1990s has returned to the top. Die Ärzte's Cry for Love has become popular once more, as a statement of support for the refugees and in protest against right-wing extremists.

More than two decades ago, German extremists staged protests against refugees who had fled from the Yugoslav wars, with some asylum reception centres set alight. Similar tensions are present in Germany today, with anti-refugee protests taking place in some parts of the country. "Cry for Love" appeared during that first period of conflict and has now returned as an anthem for today's refugee crisis.

"Your violence is just a silent cry for love" is the song's key refrain, with the sentiment also reflected in its title. German band Die Ärzte (The Doctors) use the song to address potential right-wing extremists, with a few expletives thrown in: "Your army boots are longing for affection. You never learned to articulate yourself. And your parents never had time for you!" the popular band sing.

Their message is celebrated by some, condemned by others. Some of the band's other songs have been banned and their dissemination restricted because of offensive language. Nevertheless, Die Ärzte has built a large fan base over three decades.

The song's renewed popularity is due to an initiative by German music teacher Gerhard Torges, who said he was shocked by the hatred being stirred up against refugees. Using social media platforms, Torges and his supporters urged Germans to download the song and share it, as well as calling on radio stations to play it. The song has duly reached the top spot on Amazon, Google Play and iTunes.

The band has responded to critics who complain that it is cashing in on the campaign. "We certainly do not want to make money out of this, and will donate all earnings (generated by the song) to Pro Asyl," the band wrote on its website (Pro Asyl is a refugee aid organisation). "We wish all Nazis and their sympathizers bad entertainment," the band added.