Germany: Human chain blocks neo-Nazis in Dresden
On Wednesday, 13 February, not quite 1 000 neo-Nazis converged on Dresden to march through the town on the occasion of the 68th anniversary of its destruction by Allied bombing near the close of the Second World War. More than 10 000 opponents of the ultra-right stood up to their plans, blocking both the abuse of this historic event and the neo-Nazis' planned demonstration.
Clashes between both camps were restricted mainly to throwing snowballs and lighting firecrackers. More than 3 500 police officers were on hand to keep the peace.
An estimated 25 000 people perished during the air raids by the Americans and British over Dresden on 13 and 14 February 1945. Ultra-right radicals have called the destruction of the city a "Holocaust by bombing of the German nation".
Every year the neo-Nazis do their best to draw attention to this view by marching through the Saxon capital on the anniversary of the start of the bombing. Traditionally, however, they have always encountered local resistance.
A ceremony honoring the memories of the victims of the war was attended today by the American consul in Leipzig, Mark Powell, and Mayor of Dresden Helma Orosz. At 17:00 more than 10 000 residents formed a long human chain around the center of Dresden in a symbolic protest against neo-Nazism.
During the afternoon, members of the "Dresden without Nazis" movement gathered along the route of the planned march, blocking groups of ultra-rightists who were arriving in town during the early evening. According to the online news server of the Bild daily newspaper, about 500 ultra-right radicals never even made it out of the main train station, while another roughly 400 neo-Nazi radicals were halted near the zoo.
Representatives of various towns and of the state government of Saxony, which lies on the border of the Czech Republic, commemorated the wartime destruction of Dresden at official events in the afternoon. Most of them emphasized in their speeches that the catastrophe in Dresden 68 years ago occurred as the result of the hateful politics of the Nazi regime and called on young people in particular to never forget that fact.
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