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.
First published in Green Left Weekly, 20 February, 2010.