February 13 is a significant date for Dresden. The memory of the bombing of the city in 1945 and the victims is always accompanied by a multiple commitment to peace – and resistance to the right.
Dresden – 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.
With the traditional human chain, a sign of peace and reconciliation is to be set again. The city is thus defending itself against right-wing extremists appropriating the anniversary again. Multiple protests have been announced – and the police are preparing for a large-scale operation.
“Powerful 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) wants to take part in the “silent commemoration” for the victims of the night bombing at the North Cemetery and join the human chain, like Mayor Dirk Hilbert (FDP) and other politicians from city and country. “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 conductor Marek Janowski the “Concerto funebre” for violin and string orchestra by Karl Amadeus Hartmann, who composed the work in 1939 as a lament for the horrors of war, and the 3rd Symphony by Johannes Brahms.
The “Dresden Memorial Trail” 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. She wants to guarantee freedom of assembly for everyone who demonstrates 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 be more present at the major train stations.
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution assumes that members of parties such as The Third Way and the NPD, but also neo-Nazis, will again 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
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