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Dresden remembers dead, dreads neo-Nazi march

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15:59 CET+01:00
Dresden is bracing itself for large neo-Nazi gatherings as it marks the anniversary of its destruction by Allied bombing in 1945. Every year a wreath is laid at the Heiderfriedhof, a cemetery where 5,000 victims of the bombings are buried. This year civilians are not the only ones to publicly resist the neo-Nazis. The eastern state of Saxony also wants to tighten the right to assemble.

From 13th to 15th of February 1945, four waves of US and British air-raids destroyed the city. Historians estimate that 25,000 people died in these attacks.

“The new assembly laws will [put the brakes] on abuse of the right to demonstrate,” said Geert Mackenroth, Saxon Minister of Justice.

An estimated 500 neo-Nazis from around the country are expected to show up for a ‘peaceful' march through the town centre on 13th February. Security forces expect hooligans to be present at the march. In addition, an ‘East Prussian' youth organization is scheduled to march on 16th February.

East Prussia was province in the former Kingdom of Prussia that is located in parts of modern day Poland, Russia and Lithuania. Germany lost East Prussia territory after World War II, and Germans were almost completely expelled from these territories. Although East Prussian can refer to those individuals displaced from the former German territory, the term is often used by neo-Nazi groups.

Around 4,000 protesters are expected at this gathering. Prominent politicians from the far-right NDP party have shown up at these marches in past years.

Mackenroth pushed through legislation on February 12th allowing the Saxony state government to impose restrictions on or forbid marches. When there is a neo-Nazi march, a march from an opposing organization can also take place. In addition, places such as Dresden synagogue and Görlitz, the site of a concentration camp, are under special protection. Large parts of Dresden's city centre are under the same special protection during 13th and 14th February, effectively banning neo-Nazi marches in these areas.

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