Neo-Nazis and leftist demonstrators have squared off in Dresden, German. Police efforts to quell the disturbance have been challenging as rioters break up property, automobiles, and battle each other to mark the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden by the UK and United States.
Dresden was the target of massive firebombing. Approximately 1300 UK and USA bombers dropped nearly 4,000 tons of incendiary bombs and other explosives on the city between February 13 and 15, 1945. The city was decimated and historians estimate that between 24,000 and 40,000 people lost their lives. Previous estimates went as high as 200,000.
The bombing of Dresden has always been controversial because of the incendiary devices used and because of the city supposedly was of little military importance. Critics have described the bombing of Dresden as war on a civilian population. The war ended in Europe May 8, 1945. Today, Neo-Nazis charge that the bombing of Dresden was akin to the Holocaust.
According to Al Jazeera News:
Clashes broke out on Saturday in the centre of the city where about 5,000 neo-Nazi protesters faced off with an estimated 10,000 leftist demonstrators.The leftist supporters had gathered across the Elbe river, joining hands to create a human chain to try and prevent the neo-Nazis from staging a march.
More than 4,000 German police officers were deployed to prevent clashes between the two groups, but Natalie Steger, a correspondent for Germany’s ZDF Channel, told Al Jazeera that security officials had difficulty keeping the order.
“The police really have a hard time because they’re trying to separate these two groups – the neo-Nazis, which want to march and the left-wing people.”
Scuffles also broke out between police and protesters from both sides, with several barricades set on fire and some minor injuries reported.
The February 13 anniversary of the bombing of Dresden has become a focus for neo-Nazi groups in the past few years. Some far-right politicians have also sparked controversy by describing the raids as a “bombing Holocaust”.
But Helma Orosz, the mayor of Dresden, said the city does not want the neo-Nazis there, the Associated Press news agency reported. This gang doesn’t belong here,” she said, following a legal attempt to stop the neo-Nazi march failed.
The human chain helped “make Dresden a fortress against intolerance and stupidity, and the anniversary provided a reminder of who started the war”, Orosz said.
The Dresden air raids are considered one of the most controversial attacks by Allied forces during World War II.
More than 30sq km of the historic city was destroyed in heavy bombing by US and British forces.
It is difficult to assess Dresden, some 65 years later. Bombing a civilian population seems uncivilized. However, most of WWII seems uncivilized. Does it take a firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo to end the insanity? Regardless, in light of the real Holocaust, the Neo-Nazis really need to stop whining and behave. Some jail time for the rioters might be just the attitude adjustment they need. Most of us rarely have sympathy with rioters.
The irony of the two videos is striking. Gathering material for this post became very problematic. I had difficulty finding any current video of the situation that could be embedded. That is unusual. Secondly, the number of people killed in Dresden in 1945 varied a tremendous about–from approximately 20,000 to 250,000. That variance seems extreme. Additionally, many articles were peppered with opinion as news. Many news stations seemed as critical of the United States and Great Britain as they were of the Germans. The most neutral account I found was, oddly enough, Al Jazeera News. Go figure. The United States News sources had very little written on this story.
The lack of information almost becomes the story here. Was America wrong to firebomb Dresden and Tokyo? Can we fairly evalate the war strategy from that long ago? Do the Neo Nazis have any right to call the bombing of Dresden a Holocaust?