BERLIN (AFP) - More than 200,000 took to the streets in Germany Saturday to protest against nuclear power, organisers said, upping the pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel on the eve of a critical state election. Marches took place in Hamburg, Cologne, Munich and the capital Berlin, ahead of the vote in wealthy Baden-Wuerttemberg on Sunday, where nuclear energy was set to be a key issue. The main organisers, Ausgestrahlt, said 210,000 people had taken part in the demonstrations, marching under the banner "Fukushima Means: No More Nuclear Power Stations." Police said that more than 100,000 had taken part in the protests in Berlin alone, double the number organisers had expected. Hailing the protests as "Germany's biggest ever demonstration against nuclear power," Ausgestrahlt said, "the government's answer must be to turn the reactors off." "Today's demonstrations are just the prelude to a new, strong, anti-nuclear movement. We're not going to let up until the plants are finally mothballed," said Jochen Stay, an Ausgestrahlt spokesman. Merkel decided on March 14, in light of the nuclear crisis in Japan, to observe a three-month moratorium on extending the lifetimes of Germany's 17 reactors and to shut off the oldest seven temporarily pending safety checks. Despite her protests to the contrary, electors believed this move to be electioneering, and reported comments from the economy minister seemingly confirming this added to Merkel's woes ahead of Sunday's must-win election. Her conservative CDU party was bracing for a tight result in the southwestern state they have held for 58 years. Polls show that the ecologist Greens, spurred by anti-nuclear sentiment in the country, could make history and garner enough votes with the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) to govern with Germany's first-ever Green state premier. "We Must Learn from Japan: Nothing Is Impossible," read one placard in Berlin as a float manufactured by the Greens portrayed a nuclear reactor being consigned to the "Dustbin of History." A massive March 11 earthquake prompted a devastating tsunami in Japan that knocked out the cooling systems for the six reactors of the Fukushima plant. This led to suspected partial meltdowns in three of them and hydrogen explosions and fires that have ripped through the facility. Merkel has said that "everything has changed" in light of Japan's worst post-war disaster and that Germany should aim to exit nuclear power "the sooner the better." Nevertheless, she has said nuclear needs to serve as a "bridge technology" while Europe's top economy accelerates a transition to alternative sources of energy such as wind power. Monika Flemming, a 53-year-old saleswoman, said: "I came here to call for nuclear reactors to be stopped because I firmly intend to die of old age rather than radiation poisoning." "It's my first demonstration, but I've always been against nuclear. I don't think it's ever been so urgent as now. I also get the feeling that this is the moment to get things done, because public opinion is changing," she added. Another protestor, Curd Knuepfer, a 26-year-old political science student, said: "I think Fukushima was a wake-up call for the German people." "Germans have always been against nuclear power," he added.