The night from the 13th to the 14th February 1945 was maybe the most horrible night in Dresden’s 800 years of history. It was the night, that allied bombers reduced the city to a big heap of rubble. Not to mention the fires that consumed what the bombs had left untouched. This air raid cost the lives of 17,000 to 25,000 people. One can actually call it a war crime – still, there are hundreds of other names possible – beside those that contain the term ‘holocaust’. The neonazis use this term to place the bombing of German cities on the same level as the holocaust, which is more than just inappropriate. Each year they march through Dresden stating this quaetionable claim, and unfortunately this is maybe the largest regular nazi gathering in Germany.
So after the small demonstration grew in numbers to serveral thousand nazis, finally not only the Antifa (which can be a problem of itself) noticed that this was neither good nor wanted and the large parties and citizens’ groups founded “Geh-Denken”(1) as a peaceful demonstration against the nazi demonstration. This year SPD, Grüne, PDS/die Linke, trade unions and associations organised a huge protest march which started from three different points and was united on the Theaterplatz for the final rally. In the evening concerts of wellknown German artists were scheduled.
I took part with a friend of mine. And we had quite a nice start: we went to Dresden World Trade Center, where one starting point was supposed to be – but nobody was there. We were only a few minutes after the scheduled time and there was not a single soul! So we started walking into the city and tried to look for the protest march – which we finally found at the Goldener Reiter – a statue of August the Strong. We were a little late for the speeches given there, but just in time to join the demonstration. At that point we felt really comfortable, even though it was fucking cold outside and a rather strong wind was blowing. But soon “Geh-Denken” became more of a “Steh-Denken” as we only moved like 50-100m at a time and then waited for some time before moving on. The next stop was at Dresden synagoge with more speeches and a Jewish prayer for all the victims of WWII. So honestly, they could have chosen a less direct route, so we wouldn’t have been standing on Carolabrücke in the icy wind for such a long time. Only the orator from the DGB was somewhat annoying as he went from historical facts over condemning the nazi demonstration to the most recent political ideas of the trade union, which was kind of misplaced.
So after all speeches had been given, we walked on the bank of the Elbe river to the Theaterplatz, were the final event of the demonstration should take place. And finally we were in for some action! Down to the river banks leads a slight slope on which some hotel is resided, but most of it is just a meadow. And when we were passing the lower side of this meadow, some young people, clothed in black with their faces covered came running down towards the demonstration being chased by the police. Peoplen in the demonstration became agitated as some thought there might be nazis coming. But I honestly do not belive police would chase nazis directly into the counter-demonstration. But basically there were lots of nice elderly ladys around with a typically NEL-handbag – and as most people might know (since Madagascar movie *gg*) NELs can be quite not-nice with their handbags.
Anyway, we had nothing to fear, as the young people simply ran into the demonstration to escape being taken into custody or make contact with pepper spray. They had been throwing stones on the police – great, indeed. At least one of them made a capital mistake, when stopping at the top of the slope and looking for a friend(?). One moment we could see him standing, and the next he was lawing in the grass with four policemen on top of him, handcuffing him and taking him away. From where I stood it seemed, that the policemen came out of nowhere.
When we reached Theaterplatz, we were frozen to the bones but we had to wait at least half an hour before the final speeches started. As I wanted to see Mr Müntefering – who was luckily the second orator. While we waited, a rock group from Jena played, but I didn’t like their music, especially because the singer was bad. After the head of the Anonio-Amadeu-Stiftung had finished her speech, Mr Müntefering proved to be a alround professional. Although there weren’t many supporters from the SPD, he soon had everybody in the crowd cheering for him. Even the supporters of PDS/Linke – who in general have a little personal problem with the SPD – liked his speech. And he didn’t even tell anything new! He thanked all people for coming, thanked the parties and organisations for supporting “Geh-Denken”. He addressed historical facts and emphasied the importance of protesting against nazi activism, especially in the face of serveral successful citizens’ groups which managed for example to prevent the installation of a nazi training center in Delmenhorst.
Afterwards we went home and had lots of hot tea and coffee to get warm again.
The Antifa also organised a demonstration called “No Pasaran” which took place in Dresden city quite near to the offical route the nazis were taking. Media coverage had it, that there were lots of problems with people throwing stones and the like. Also media which are close to the Antifa claim, that police were biased against their protestors and thus used extensive force, even though it wasn’t needed. Unfortunately, over the course of the weekend I witnessed so many people bragging with throwing stones at the police, turning over their cars or simply “getting it back on those m**f** cops”. In the latter case “it” being most probably some kind of frustration of not being too drunk or too stoned to walk. In the beginning I planned taking part in “No Pasaran”, but I prefer balck clothing (and don’t own many differently coloured items) and the stone throwers also do. And I simply didn’t want to try being taken into police custody or being hit by a water cannon.
(1) Geh-Denken is a play on the German words “gedenken” (=remember), “gehen”(=go) – of which “geh” is the imperative – and “denken”(=think). “Geh-Denken” and “gedenken” are pronounced the same way, thus implicating that the demonstration remembers the victims but also is quite aware of historical facts and that people in that demonstration have learned from history.