Blocking the Neo-Nazis: Peaceful March Remembers Dresden Bombing
In the past, right-wing extremists have sought to dominate Dresden efforts to remember the World War II bombing of the city on Feb. 13, 1945. But on Wednesday night, a vast human chain blocked a planned neo-Nazi march while peacefully marking the tension-filled anniversary.
Thousands of people joined hands to form a human chain in Dresden Wednesday, blocking a planned neo-Nazi march and remembering the World War II bombing of the city 68 years before.
For years, neo-Nazis have used the anniversary of the bombing to march on the city. The bombing of Dresden holds great emotional significance for some because of the vast destruction of the city -- long admired for its beauty and cultural heritage -- and because of the number of people killed in the attack. It has often been instrumentalized by right-wing extremists to highlight what they see as Allied barbarity.
Keeping Neo-Nazis at Bay
Peaceful protesters have been gathering in Dresden in recent years in counter demonstrations to the neo-Nazi marches, and local politicians say they have been effective in keeping the right-wing presence down. Until just a few years ago there were an estimated 6,000 right-wing marchers in the city on the anniversary each year. This year police say there were between 600 and 800.
Thousands of the victims of the 1945 bombing were buried at the Heide cemetery, where local dignitaries held a moment of silence on Wednesday. Dresden Mayor Helma Orosz said Wednesday that the bombing was deeply ingrained in the city's memory, but stressed that Germany bore the blame for World War II.
Bells at the city's churches rang at 9:45 p.m. Wednesday, marking the time when the first bombs started falling 68 years before. Numerous churches held services and prayers for peace earlier in the day.
mbw -- with wires
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