Dresden (dpa) – In silence, with numerous events, church services and concerts, Dresden commemorates the destruction of the city 77 years ago on Sunday. After the corona-related break in 2021, this time it is possible to be present again.
The traditional human chain is intended to set a sign for peace and renewed reconciliation. The city is thus defending itself against the right-wing extremists appropriating the anniversary. Multiple protests have been announced – and the police are preparing for a large-scale operation.
“A strong symbol of democracy”
The day begins with remembrance in the city’s cemeteries, including the largest resting place, the Heidefriedhof. Minister of Culture Barbara Klepsch (CDU) will take part in the “silent commemoration” for the victims of the night of the bombing at the North Cemetery and, like Mayor Dirk Hilbert (FDP) and other politicians from city and country, will join the human chain. “Especially nowadays, when extremist forces are trying to undermine the rule of law, it is a strong symbol for democracy, peace and the cohesion of our society,” said Klepsch in advance.
This time the human chain should stretch around the Frauenkirche and Kreuzkirche and in between wind over and from the Neumarkt to and over the Altmarkt – and close at 6 p.m. Then the Saxon State Orchestra and the Dresden Philharmonic give a concert, without applause and with a minute’s silence at the end. In the Semperoper, chief conductor Christian Thielemann leads the performance of the 9th symphony and the “Te Deum” by Anton Bruckner, in the Kulturpalast the Dresden Philharmonic plays under its chef de cuisine Marek Janowski the “Concerto funebre” for violin and string orchestra by Karl Amadeus Hartmann, the the work composed in 1939 as a lament for the horrors of war, and the 3rd symphony by Johannes Brahms.
The Dresden Memorial Path of the Society for the Promotion of the Reconstructed Frauenkirche Dresden leads to authentic locations from the synagogue to the Neumarkt. An ecumenical peace service takes place in the Kreuzkirche, after which the bells of all the churches in the city center traditionally ring – exactly at the time of the first attack.
Peaceful remembrance prevails
Almost three months before the end of the Second World War, Allied bombers had laid parts of Dresden in ruins on February 13, 1945 and in the days that followed. The exact number of victims could never be ascertained. According to a commission of experts, up to 25,000 people lost their lives and an area of twelve square kilometers was completely destroyed.
Neo-Nazis had repeatedly tried to misuse the day of remembrance for propaganda, since 2012 the peaceful commemoration of the citizens has prevailed. Right-wing extremists are now regularly using the anniversary to put Germany’s guilt in the war into perspective and to accuse the Allies of a war crime.
The police expect hundreds of participants in a right-wing elevator in the afternoon. They will ensure freedom of assembly for all who demonstrate peacefully and non-violently. The authority relies on talks on de-escalation. The officials will be supported by the riot police from other countries as well as the federal police, who WILL have a stronger presence at the major train stations.
The protection of the constitution assumes that members of parties such as The Third Way and the NPD, but also neo-Nazis, will take part in the planned “memorial march” through the city center, including violent right-wing extremists. In addition, left-wing extremists are expected to take part in protests and other activities.
© dpa-infocom, dpa:220212-99-100395/3