Anti-Nazi demonstrators block far right Dresden bombing anniversary event

The Telegraph   February 14, 2012
By Matthew Day

Anti-Nazi demonstrators in Germany prevented far-right groups from marking the 67th-anniversary of the RAF bombing of Dresden by forming a human chain in the city centre.

Thousands of people create a human chain along the Elbe river in front of Dresden's historical city centre (Photo: ROBERT MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images)

An estimated 13,000 people from across Germany’s political spectrum took part in the stance against the far right despite freezing conditions.

The anniversary of the Dresden raid has been a high point in Germany’s neo-Nazi calendar with thousands rallying in the eastern German city each year despite passionate, and at times violent, opposition from critics, who accused the far right of exploiting the bombing for political purposes.

An estimated 25,000 people died in the raid that started when RAF bombers struck on the night of February 13, 1945 and finished with an attack by US aircraft on February 15.

The colossal loss of life and tremendous destruction wrought by the bombing of a city famed for its culture and architecture has been portrayed by the German far right as an Allied war crime and an example of Germany’s apparent victimhood.

Some 1,600 neo-Nazis travelled to Dresden to mark the raid this year but were met at the station by a police presence of over 5,000, and some 2,000 counter-demonstrators who banged drums and shouted “Nazis out”.

The far right started a torch-light procession but were soon told by police they would have to abandon it because the human chain had blocked their route.

There was no repeat of the violent clashes seen last year that left 100 police injured.

“I’m happy that it remained peaceful,” said Markus Ulbig, interior minister for state of Saxony. “Democrats have come together to show that Nazis are not welcome in the city.” After the far-right threat had passed, people lit candles in memory of the victims of the raid and attended a memorial service. At 21:45, the time RAF bombers first appeared over Dresden, church bells rang out across the city.

“Our city stands together for courage, respect and tolerance,” said the Dirk Hilbert, Dresden’s acting mayor, in an address to the anti-Nazi demonstrators.

 

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