Dresden: A neo-Nazi march marks the memory of the bombings of the Second World War | News | DW
Senior officials and representatives of the German War Graves Commission gathered on Sunday to commemorate the victims of the Allied bombings on the city of Dresden.
The bombardment, which took place on February 13 and 14, 1945, left up to 25,000 dead.
Police said Sunday’s ceremony at the Heide cemetery, where most of the air raid dead are buried, went off without a hitch, but near Dresden’s Old Town hundreds of neo-Nazis gathered for a ” commemoration in honor of the Dresden war dead.’
The bombings came as the war entered its final stages
Dresden Mayor Dirk Hilbert and state officials from Saxony, of which the Baroque city is the capital, commemorated the dead in a traditional ceremony at the cemetery, located northeast of the city center.
“As far as the destruction of Dresden is concerned, we must not only look at 1945, but broaden our perspective to the period between 1933 and 1945,” Hilbert said in his speech.
“In memory, we have to deal with the complexity of a history that is both divisive and unifying, infinitely complex, precisely because of the current political situation in our city, in our country and in Europe.
Those present included Deputy Speaker of the Land Parliament Andrea Dombois, Saxony Minister of Culture and Tourism Barbara Klepsch and Land Minister of Education Christian Piwarz.
Neo-Nazis rally to the sound of Wagner
Just across the river and less than two miles from the commemoration, around 750 neo-Nazis gathered on Sunday morning, waving banners to “remember the war dead of Dresden”.
The participants of the procession went through the city center to the sound of music by Richard Wagner.
The German, whose known anti-Semitic views drew widespread criticism, was Adolf Hitler’s favorite composer.
At Zwinger Palace, hundreds of counter-protesters strongly opposed the far-right “silent march”, accompanied by cries of “Nazis out”.
A helicopter flew over Dresden’s old town, while a water cannon and an evacuation tank remained on standby.
Neo-Nazis say the procession was a silent march, but several counter-demonstrations aimed to disrupt their intentions
Right-wing extremists accuse the Allies of committing a war crime
Several events were held in Dresden on Sunday to mark 77 years since the city was destroyed by Allied bombing and the ensuing fire that tore the city apart, destroying its famous Frauenkirche.
With commemoration events reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2021, this year’s event has resumed with more people in attendance, most visibly with a traditional human chain – a sign of peace and reconciliation.
A new appropriation of the anniversary by right-wing extremists has been underway for some years.
The extremists used the occasion to accuse the Allies of having committed a war crime and to claim that the Germans also suffered during the war.
Nearly 4,000 tons of explosives decimated the city
Dresden was decimated by the series of four air raids over a two-day period, in which British and American air forces dropped more than 3,900 tons of explosives.
Extensive use of various incendiary bombs has led to a firestorm in the city, a phenomenon more commonly seen in nature when a fire becomes so large that it creates and sustains its own wind systems, sucking in more oxygen and facilitating its own spread.
jsi/sms (dpa, AFP, epd)