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Dresden annually commemorates the victims of the Second World War and the destruction of the city in February 1945 with a memorial day. This year everything was different due to the corona.
Due to the corona pandemic, there was only a reduced program. It started with small commemorative events in cemeteries where victims of the Allied air raids on Dresden between February 13 and 15, 1945 are buried. Scientific estimates suggest that around 25,000 people were killed in the attacks.
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In the morning, Matthias Rößler, President of the State Parliament, laid a wreath in the North Cemetery as the patron of the Volksbund War Graves Commission. There are 450 firefighters, police officers and soldiers buried together who were killed in the Allied air raids or during the clean-up work afterwards.
There were also several art events in the public space. The Frauenkirche Dresden Foundation offered a virtual peace prayer. At noon there was a prayer service in the Frauenkirche. The pastor of the Dresden Frauenkirche, Angelika Behnke, and contemporary witness Günther Ulbricht called on people to work for peace.
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Ulbricht called for civil courage in an online prayer. The young generation take the state of peace for granted. "That's a mistake," said Ulbricht, who was nine years old when he witnessed the air raids on Dresden. Peace is not a gift, but a life's work. Ulbricht also reported on his personal fate at a prayer. Around 40 people attended the event, which also featured Coventry's Prayer of Atonement. The English city of Coventry is twin town of Dresden and was badly destroyed in a German air raid in 1940.
The most important component of commemoration, the traditional human chain around the old town, also took place virtually for the first time due to the corona. For this purpose, photos of Dresden residents were projected onto prominent buildings such as the Frauenkirche and the synagogue. Last year around 11,000 people joined the human chain as a symbol of peace and reconciliation.Right-wing extremists gathered for protests this year too. Several hundred people demonstrated against it. The police kept the two groups strictly separate. According to the police, the situation in the city was "calm and relaxed". In the early evening there is to be a small commemoration ceremony on the Altmarkt with Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU). as / se (epd, dpa)
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