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Dresden marks 76 years since World War II bombing

February 14, 2021

The ceremony was scaled-down this year due to COVID-19. Günther Ulbricht, who survived the blitz despite being buried under rubble, urged people to remember peace is never guaranteed.

Dresden firebombing, 76 years on
Image: Robert Michael/dpa/picture alliance

The German city of Dresden on Saturday marked 76 years since it was bombed by Allied forces during World War II, though commemoration events were scaled-down due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The president of the regional parliament, Matthias Rössler, laid down a wreath at the city's North Cemetery, where some of the victims from the bombing, which began on February 13, 1945, are buried.

The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation was read out at the Frauenkirche by pastor Angelika Behnke, together with Reverend Christopher Cocksworth, the bishop of Coventry — a British city also heavily bombarded during World War II. Dresden Mayor Dirk Hilbert was on hand to join in with the reading.

The Frauenkirche, which was destroyed by the bombing of the German city, but later rebuilt through donations, was a symbol of "humanity and trust, that death, war, hate and destruction will not have the last word," Behnke uttered.

"Peace is a gift, it is a life-long task," said Günther Ulbricht, who survived the blitz despite being buried under rubble.

Dresden locals
Locals remember those who lost their lives when Dresden was subjected to three days of bombing in 1945Image: Robert Michael/dpa/picture alliance

Protests disrupt proceedings

The firestorm that scarred the Saxon city on the banks of the Elbe has been repeatedly used by various groups over the years — most recently by neo-Nazis.

While some people remembered Saturday's ceremony in silence, others took to the streets to protest.

Around 300 anti-fascist and 500 extreme-right demonstrators faced off in front of Dresden's central station. Police, though, said the situation remained "calm" throughout.

Three-day bombardment of Dresden

An estimated 25,000 locals lost their lives after three days of bombing, which came just weeks before Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces.

Many people burned to death in the thousands of fires that ensued across the city. 

The first bombings were carried out strategically in two waves, three hours apart in order to hamper those trying to put out the fires.

jsi/sms (dpa, EPD)