A number of high-profile politicians including parliamentary deputy president Wolfgang Thierse and Saxony’s state premier Stalislaw Tillich took part in the human chain, while Dresden’s mayor Dirk Hilbert spoke of the hatred at the root of Nazi ideology. The commemoration must look not only at what happened but what continues to happen, he said.
The Allied bombing of Dresden killed up to 25,000 people, mostly civilians, on February 13 and 14, 1945, just a few months before the end of the World War II.
Neo-Nazis have long used the anniversary to protest the bombing and portray the Allied actions as war crimes. Last year around 6,000 neo-Nazis showed up in Dresden for the anniversary and it ended in street fighting. But this year only around 1,600 arrived, police said.
They were met at the main train station by a police escort and around 2,000 opponents who accompanied the torch-lit march with whistling and drums and shouts of “Nazis out”.
After only about half an hour and a few hundred metres the neo-Nazis were told by police they had to abandon the march as the protest against it was blocking the street. In contrast to last year there was no violence.