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Bishop of Coventry in Dresden for WW2 commemoration

by Desmond Busteed

His visit coincides with an annual event on Feb. 13, where neo-Nazis from all over Europe gather to commemorate what they call the 'bombing holocaust' unleashed less than three months before the end of World War Two.

This year some fear the emergence of PEGIDA, an anti-Islam group which warns Germany is being overrun by Muslims, will boost the traditional far-right rally and overshadow the ceremony with European dignitaries.

Speaking before his arrrival in Dresden, Bishop Christopher said: "On Ash Wednesday 1945 the historic centre of Dresden, and tens of thousands of its inhabitants, was reduced to dust and ashes.

"The destruction and death of that night 70 years ago remains an abiding symbol of the damage done by war. The reconciliation between Coventry and Dresden, bound together in solidarity of war-time suffering, is a sign to the world that peace is possible and that living in friendship is better than dying as enemies.

It will be a great honour to take part in the 70th Anniversary of terrifying events in the past, to give thanks for the relationship between our two cities today, and to pray for peace of the whole world"

In four raids between 13th and 15th February 1945, 722 heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and 527 of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city.

The bombing and the resulting firestorm destroyed over 1,600 acres of the city centre. An estimated 22,700 to 25,000 people were killed.

Commemoration activities will draw to a close on Sunday 15th February when the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, will preach the sermon in the Frauenkirche.

Archbishop Justin was a Canon at Coventry Cathedral for several years and has now made the Cathedral the base for his Reconciliation Ministry.

Representatives from Coventry and Warwickshire are also expected to come together to join in the Human Chain, an event where the people of Dresden form a human chain to stand firm against far right groups that try to exploit the anniversary of the bombing to sow again the seeds of fear and hate.

In 2013, over 13,000 joined hands to form a human chain of peace to block a neo-Nazi march.

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