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      Dresden Residents Oppose Neo-Nazis, Form Human Chain

      Some 10,000 people in Dresden formed a human chain to block neo-Nazis and skinheads from marching in eastern Germany on Saturday.
      By Hana Levi Julian
      First Publish: 2/14/2010, 3:55 PM / Last Update: 2/14/2010, 4:45 PM

      Neo-Nazis and skinheads were outnumbered two-to-one at two ends of the city of Dresden in eastern Germany on Saturday by a human chain comprised of the area's residents.

      Some 5,000 neo-Nazis and skinheads were marching to “mourn” the 1945 bombing of the city of Dresden by Allied forces. However, at  least 10,000 residents turned out in opposition to the event. The city's website said the human chain was organized by the municipality to mark the 65th anniversary of the three-day bombing.

      In his statement, Dresden Mayor Helma Orosz said, “When we take each other by the hands now, we put a strong protective chain around our city. We confront old and new Nazis, who try to misuse our day of mourning.”

      Approximately 39 square kilometers in the center of Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony, were destroyed in the firestorm that resulted from the three-day bombing unleashed on the city by British and American air force pilots during World War II.

      Neo-Nazis and skinheads have taken the opportunity in recent years to portray Germany as a victim, seizing on the anniversary of the bombing to mark a “day of mourning,” claiming hundreds of thousands of civilians died. Historians contend the number of deaths resulting from the bombing was approximately 25,000.

      British and American air force pilots dropped more than 3,900 tons of bombs and other explosives on the city in four raids  on February 13-15, 1945 in an attack calculated to bring the Nazis to their knees towards the end of World War II.