Huge crowds took to the streets in Leipzig for the protest against coronavirus curbs. Demonstrators threw firecrackers as they clashed with police in chaotic scenes.
German journalist Martin Heller warned police had lost control of the rally.
He tweeted: “Firecrackers on police officers. Corona demonstrators drive the security forces on the ring in front of them. Loss of control.”
In a later tweet, he added: “The moment the police withdraw, Corona protesters force unauthorized march across the ring in #Leipzig.”
The protest comes after Germany entered a four-week partial lockdown on Monday in a bid to combat surging coronavirus cases.
Restaurants, bars, gyms and theatres have been shut under the measures.
But schools and shops have remained open.
Speaking as she ordered the draconian measures, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “We need to take action now.”
“Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infections it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks.”
“For eight months we have been working together to stem the virus.
“According to everything we know, we have not yet reached the peak of this task.
“We are in a decisive phase. The situation is serious. It is a national effort.”
Germany confirmed 23,399 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, taking the overall total to 642,488.
The death toll has risen by 130 to 11,226, according to the latest data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.
It comes as a second wave of coronavirus has been sweeping Europe.
France entered a second national lockdown at the end of October.
And on Thursday, England began a four-week shutdown.