Germany's anti-Islam Pegida movement was overwhelmed by opponents of the far-right group at a rock concert for tolerance in Dresden on Monday (January 26) and enormously popular counter-demonstrations in cities across the country.

More than 22,000 cheered German rock stars at an anti-Pegida rally in Dresden, where the movement that argues the country is being overrun by Muslims and refugees began in October.

One of Germany's best-selling rock artists, Herbert Groenemeyer, welcomed the crowd at the hastily organized free concert under the motto "Open and colourful -- Dresden is for everyone."

Pegida, already reeling after its leader Lutz Bachmann quit for posing as Hitler in a photo and calling refugees "scumbags", normally holds its rallies on Mondays but switched to Sunday (January 25) to make way for the parade of rock stars.

"It is absurd, mean and deeply undemocratic, it is wrong and intolerable and we must not open the doors to anger and resentment," Herbert Groenemeyer said to the crowd, which braved heavy rain and chilly January temperatures for three hours.

In Frankfurt, 70 Pegida backers were outnumbered by 15,000.

Earlier on Monday, on the eve of Tuesday's (January 27) 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germans had an everlasting responsibility to fight all forms of anti-Semitism and racism.