Thursday, March 05, 2009

Nazi march and protests

You know you live in Eastern Germany when you get an email like this at work:

Date: February 10, 2009 12:54:37 PM GMT+01:00
Subject: [mpi-cbg-staff] Caution on 14 Feb!

Dear expats,

on 14 Feb there is not only Valentines Day but also a huge demonstration of Neo-Nazis announced in the City Center in connection with the remembrance of the destruction of Dresden in 1945. About 8.000 Neo-Nazis are expected and the police will have it's biggest operation this year (see below).

Please watch out if you have to go to the City Center on this day not to get into trouble, or maybe just don't go at all :)

Of course upon reading this, I GOTTA check it out.

Actually this happens every year.
February 13/14 is the anniversary of the beginning of the bombing of Dresden in WWII, but it seems that what is this weekend at the forefront, at least what seems to dominate the media headlines and conversations in Dresden, is the annual Nazi march held on the same date. The Nazis use the thousands killed during the bombing, and also exaggerate it (if that can really be done), as some sort of counterpoint to the holocaust and attempt to further nationalistic feelings that we (or Germans) should be mourning this more.

Unfortunately it seems that in an attempt to go against the nazis (past and present), there is some sort of attempt to justify the bombing, or at least accept it as a means to and end. This is of course part of the broader phenomenon that due to Germany's history a generation of Germans have been raised that it is practically a sin to be nationalistic - to the extent that it was very not-cool as a German to fly a German flag for a long time. That is until a few years ago, and in particular the last world cup, when the flags all came out, finally guilt-free.

But it is still evident with these demonstrations against the Nazis,
that people get so wound up going against Nazis, that it's almost like they are pro-WWII catastrophy. I understand that they want the world to recognize that they know that Germany was on the wrong side so to speak, but can't the tragedy that was Dresden be left out of it? By any standards, without getting into all the details and complexity, it was a tragedy, and thousands and thousands of innocent people were burned and suffocated alive.
It was a little weird to see the few US and British flags being paraded around on the anniversary of one the most questionable acts of war. But what was REALLY ridiculous was to see flags with the ensign of the Royal Air Force. What. the. fuck. I'm sorry, I hate the Nazis and what they stand for too. But that's just wrong.

Anyway, I wandered around the city and found myself in the middle of an anti-Nazi march. In the middle of a bunch of punks. Police were imported from cities all over Germany to make sure order was kept.

Their job being to protect the Nazis from the thousands of counter protesters.
It got a little hairy every know and then. Some of the crowd I was in started hurtling things at the riot police. I saw a glass bottle break off a policeman's mask. And then the police would charge the crowd. I saw some real baton-on-back beat-downs of kids too slow to get out of the way. It actually happened at the end of this video below, but you can't make it out...

Here's another video....

All in all an interesting day. except that the city's mass transit becomes paralyzed and I ended up walking all the way to work and back home. And the Nazis succeed in stealing the limelight of this historic day from where it should be focused.

1 comment:

Colby said...

very confusing.