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March, 2005 - Nr. 3


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Dresden stands up against the far right on anniversary

  TWIG - Thousands of concerned citizens took to the streets of Dresden last weekend to denounce far-right demonstrators trying to upstage ceremonies that marked the 60th anniversary of the city’s World War II destruction.

Dresden residents had a clear message for far-right groups bent on exploiting last Sunday’s anniversary by portraying Germany as a war victim: "This city is sick of Nazis."

That slogan was spelled out in flickering candle-lights in letters five yards high by residents of the eastern German city after far-right supporters rallied there.

Angered and dismayed by the provocative march, others paraded in demonstrations against the right and attended memorial church services.

Still more citizens pinned white, silk roses to lapels as symbol of mourning for the dead, rejection of neo-Nazis and a desire for peace.

In Berlin, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder vowed to oppose attempts to hijack a day of remembrance, remorse and reconciliation.

"Today we mourn the victims of war and the Nazi regime in Dresden, in Germany, and in Europe," the German leader said in a statement.

"Sixty years after the end of the war we are seeing attempts by a small minority to take this instance of human suffering out of its historical context and to instrumentalize it," he continued. "We will do everything we can to oppose these attempts to falsify history. We will not allow cause and effect to be reversed."

Schroeder’s comments came after right-wing demonstrators marched through Dresden’s historic city center brandishing banners calling the 1945 bombing raids there a "war crime."

The rally was organized by the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), which stunned mainstream lawmakers across party lines when it gained seats in the legislature of the eastern state of Saxony last year.

Efforts are now getting underway to ban the fringe party — even after a previous attempt was blocked by Germany’s highest court in 2003.

The extremists’ rally coincided with commemorations that remembered suffering in Dresden and other cities struck by wars or attacks, including German bombing targets Coventry, Leningrad and Warsaw, as well as Grozny, Hiroshima, New York and Sarajevo.

Memorial services were held in Dresden’s restored churches and a wreath-laying ceremony took place at a cemetery where some of the victims of the 1945 bombings are buried.

British and American bombers attacked Dresden three months before the end of World War II, killing some 25,000 to 50,000 people and destroying around 85% of the city, once renowned for the architectural splendors that earned it the nickname "Little Paris."

In a sign of reconciliation among wartime enemies, U.S., British and French ambassadors attended some of the ceremonies.

Clergy from Coventry Cathedral in England, which was laid to waste by German bombing in 1940, also presented a cross to Dresden’s Frauenkirche. The monumental "Church of Our Lady" was gutted by Allied bombing raids, but has since been lavishly restored.
Republished with permission from "The Week in Germany"


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