Monday, February 14, 2011

45/365: Dresden is a decent place

45/365: Dresden is a decent place
February 14th

The sign is visible from Postplatz, a good hub for tourists since it's right around the corner from the Zwinger and the Semperoper and all the monuments a serious tourist must see. I always thought it was lovely- it means 'Dresden welcomes its guests!'

But yesterday was the anniversary of the Bombing of Dresden. Although it might have been hard to feel sorry for the German city in 1945, a sober look today must admit to the destruction of a beautiful baroque landmark, the so-called Florence on the Elbe- and that is to speak only of the city, and not the estimated 25,000 people who perished in the bombing. Dresden, much like my home town Warsaw, was razed to the ground. War has its rules, but it would be callous to feel any joy at this retaliation.

And here is where it gets complicated. Every year, on the anniversary, thousands of extremists and neo-nazis arrive in Dresden to demonstrate.

Dresden counters them with just as many policemen, a fantastic anti-Nazi march...and signs like the one in the photo. The black banner is an addendum to the permanent greeting, and the full phrase now reads:

"Dresden greets its guests...but we don't welcome the Nazis!"

Dresden doesn't mince its words. I was very deeply moved, as this was not the only sign of its kind. The nearby Dresden State Theatre proclaimed: No room for Nazis in our city!

No room for Nazis in our Dresden

Banners were hung from civilian balconies, and a heartwarming short film was playing on the public transport advertising system, in which a group of Dresdeners of all ages stood together to (non-violently) protect a black man from an obviously racist bully.

What can I say. Dresden has class.


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