Germany: Blow against neo-nazis in Dresden

Tens of thousands of anti-fascists stop far right "march of grief"

The biggest mobilisation of neo-nazis in Europe has ended in defeat. On Saturday, 13 February, tens of thousands of anti-fascists stopped the far right "march of grief" in Dresden. With this march, German neo-nazis try to use the commemoration of the bombing of Dresden on 13 and 14 February 1945, in order to change how people view history by using the thousands of deaths in Dresden to attempt a rehabilitation of the Nazis. Today’s fascists deliberately mix together the Nazi regime and all Germans. Thus Nazi-ruled Germany, which was responsible for slaughtering millions in World War II, is represented as a victim. But on the day, they were prevented from spreading their lies and racist propaganda by huge antifascist protests.

CWI members participate in blockades

While around 6,000 tried to gather in Dresden-Neustadt, the city´s mayor, the churches and the established political parties organised a "human chain against intolerance and stupidity" in the city centre – far away from the Fascists. But left-wing groups, anti-fascist activists, and the Left Party mobilised for blockades around the meeting point of the neo-nazis. Socialist Alternative (SAV), the German section of the CWI, participated in the demonstrations, to which protestors had come from all over the country. Strategic points on the route of the planned fascist march were blocked by thousands of demonstrators.

There were so many of them, that the police, with around 7,000 officers present, decided not to allow the fascist march to start. They explained that the security of the neo-nazis could not be guaranteed. As a consequence, the march of the Fascists – in contrast to previous years – could not set off. The frustrated neo-nazis had to leave after standing in front of the main railway station for several hours where they chanted slogans like “Glory and Honour to the Waffen SS” and “National Socialism, now, now, now”. But the nazis were frustrated. "Now that was a great march! Journey there, getting off, hanging around, getting in, driving off", one neo-nazi later complained, according to a press report.

This victory of the anti-fascist movement was brought about by the biggest mobilisation for a long time. This was in spite of – or because of – repression by the state against left organisations in the weeks leading up to 13 February. Offices were searched and the website of the antifascist alliance, "Dresden Nazi-free", was closed down. Nevertheless, buses came from all major cities in order to stop the neo-nazis from marching through Dresden.

SAV (CWI in Germany) played an active part in this. Some of its activists were hurt in clashes with the police while trying to block the nazi march. At the demonstrations, we explained the link between fascism, racism and capitalism, that racism is used by the ruling elites in order to weaken resistance against social cuts, job losses and factory-closures. We argued for a strong united movement, not only taking on the fascists but also fighting against the capitalist system, which breeds racism and fascism.

Thousands join the protests

We also put forward arguments against the neo-nazis’ attempts to rewrite history. The Nazi dictatorship was not a victim. The Hitler regime killed millions of Jews, Sinti and Roma, homosexuals, trade-unionists, socialists and communists as well as attempting to enslave other nations. The war against the Nazis – in which the Soviet Union played the decisive part, in spite of its Stalinist distortion – was widely supported internationally. But, unlike the mass of workers, the ruling elites of Britain, France and the US were not at all antifascist per se. In the mid-1930s Britain supported Hitler’s rearmament programme and, for a long time, British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, supported Hitler as a "bulwark against communism". For decades after 1945, these powers worked together with the fascist Franco dictatorship in Spain and in western Germany allowed many Nazis to retain their positions at the tops of companies, the civil service, judiciary and police.

Towards the end of World War II, the main fears of the western imperialist powers were both a new wave of socialist revolutions in Europe and that the stalinist regime in the Soviet Union had been strengthened by Hitler’s defeat. The bombing of Dresden, in which around 35,000 peoples lost their lives, should be seen in this context. It was not necessary from a military point of view. It did not weaken the Hitler-regime at all. Instead, it was a show of strength towards the Soviet Union and a warning to the German working-class, not to take fate into their own hands. The Nazi regime was closely tied to the German capitalist class and was installed by big business in order to prevent a socialist revolution and to prepare for war. There were strong anti-capitalist sentiments and movements after 1945 in both East and West Germany. The bombing of Dresden was aimed against these movements and sentiments, not against the Nazi-regime. Which had, in effect, already been defeated.

Today, German neo-nazis want to distort history. On 13 February, thousands of anti-fascists and Socialists in Dresden made clear: we will not let them.

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February 2010