Germany: Protesters stop neo-Nazi march

February 20, 2010

On February 13, a neo-Nazi march through the German city of Dresden was prevented when more than 15,000 locals braved freezing temperatures to oppose them.

The fascists intended to march through the centre of Dresden to mark the 65-year anniversary of the allied firebombing of the city in 1945.

In recent years, this has become a regular event. Last year, 6000 neo-Nazis accompanied by 5000 police paraded through the city — the largest fascist march in Europe in recent history.

This year, however, about 5000 neo-Nazis were vastly outnumbered by a broad alliance of trade unions, political parties and civil society groups who formed a 12,000-strong human chain around the city centre, making Dresden, in the words of Mayor Helma Orosz, "a bastion against intolerance and stupidity".

Thousands of left-wing protesters blockaded the fascists at Neustadt railway station, stopping the march. The victory was marred, however, when police attacked the anti-fascist protesters with tear gas.

The lead-up to this year's march was full of controversy.

The Dresden Council failed in a legal bid to prevent the march. In January, secret police raided the offices of the protest organising group Dresden Nazifrei ("Nazi-free Dresden") and the left-wing party Die Linke — confiscating leaflets, posters and computers. The Dresden Nazifrei website was closed down.

The Lower Saxony state government is also preparing laws to ban protests that are deemed "inflammatory". While supposedly aimed at preventing future Nazi parades, the wording of the new laws is broad enough to include left-wing and even union protests in its scope.

Similar laws passed by the right-wing government in Bavaria are currently facing a legal challenge.

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