Up to 6,000 neo-Nazis are expected to take part in the marches through the city, while up to 20,000 anti-Nazi protestors are also expected. Last weekend 17,000 Dresden residents formed a human chain to show their disdain for the far right.
Fighting had already broken out between demonstrators and police by lunchtime on Saturday, with the police using pepper spray and a water cannon. Some witnesses said demonstrators threw fireworks at the police.
A police spokesman said thousands of left-wing anti-fascists were streaming into the city, some of whom could be prepared to use violence.
Politicians attending the anti-Nazi demonstration included Wolfgang Thierse, deputy parliamentary president. “It must proceed absolutely peacefully,” he said, calling for protesters to remain calm.
Thierse, a member of the Social Democratic Party, was joined by Saxony-Anhalt Interior Minister Holger Hövelmann, a party colleague, and fellow Deputy Parliamentary President Katrin Göring Eckardt from the Green Party as well as Left Party member Petra Pau.