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Thousands form human chain in Dresden

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Thousands form human chain in Dresden
11,000 people formed a human chain across the city. Photo: DPA
11:01 CET+01:00
Thousands of people gathered in Dresden on Thursday night to remember the destruction of the city by Allied bombers in World War II. For the first time in more than a decade neo-Nazis stayed away from the memorial.

Around 15,000 people attended the event marking the 69th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden on February 13th and 14th 1945, with 11,000 forming a human chain to prevent neo-Nazi demonstrators from turning up.

A rally organized by the far-right, which has hijacked the event in the past for ideological reasons, was unexpectedly cancelled on the eve of the memorial.

However, neo-Nazis were able to march through Dresden's old town with torches on Wednesday, with citizens protesting against the move, police said.

CLICK HERE for photos of the Dresden human chain

Saxony State Premier Stanislaw Tillich, who joined the human chain, said the state was "no place for right-wing extremists".

The attempt by the right-wing to exploit the memory of the 25,000 people who died in the bombings was "shabby and intolerable", he added.

Lord Mayor of Dresden Helma Orosz warned against forgetting "that it was Nazi Germany, which forced other people and states into a fight between life and death". 

She called for citizens to fight against neo-Nazism adding that as long as the "brown seed" continued to grow, "democracy and the dignity of all people are in danger".

US pastor Jeff Ingram, 54, who helped form the human chain, told The Local: “It was really moving to see 11,000 people just making a big statement. There were a lot of police about, but the atmosphere was quite relaxed.”

READ MORE: Protesters fined for blocking neo-Nazi demo

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