“We bear responsibility”

Commemoration of the destruction of Dresden © Sebastian Kahnert

Of the 13. February is an important date for Dresden. Because on that day 73 years ago the city was massively destroyed. But the commemoration goes beyond remembering, says Sebastian Feydt, pastor of the Frauenkirche.

Interviewer: "Remember, reconcile and shape the future" is the headline of this year’s commemoration. What exactly is behind it?

Sebastian Feydt (pastor of the Church of Our Lady in Dresden): The 13. February is a memorable date for the people of Dresden. World War II, which began in Germany, returned to Dresden at the end of the war, and on the night of 13. on the 14. February, large parts of Dresden’s city center were devastated in the process.

We remember about 25.000 people who lost their lives that night in the city. It commemorates a war event at the end of the Second World War, and that is something that is inscribed, as it were, in the history of this city.

Interviewer: How is remembrance important for shaping the future??

Feydt: It is not just a matter of remembering, but also of becoming aware of our responsibility in the European context in 2018, and of setting a common accent for peacefulness with the partners we found after the Second World War. The reconstruction of Dresden’s Frauenkirche is intended to set an example of peace and reconciliation in the heart of the city.

In the Frauenkirche we have the Cross of Nails on the altar – a gift from Coventry, a city that had already been heavily destroyed by a German bombing raid in 1940. We need these signs of reconciliation reciprocally and we use remembering and building bridges to Poland, England, France to influence current events.

Interviewer: How do you mean that?

Feydt: After all, we don’t live on an island of the blessed, but we are in a changing world that is shaped daily by war events. The fact that we have been able to live in peace in Dresden for decades also means that we bear a responsibility for the fact that others have a very justified longing for peace and that we can contribute something to it. This is also a signal that goes out from this day.

Interviewer: In the run-up, as every year, there were demonstrating Nazis. Of course, there were also counter-demonstrations. How much did you know about it?

Feydt: The 13. February has been abused for decades. But in the recent past, we have succeeded in pushing back radical right-wing marches in Dresden considerably. There were times, just a few years ago, when thousands marched here under this flag. On Saturday, there has been another demonstration in an orientation glorifying National Socialism in part and in a way that falsifies history. It is important that we also name these falsifying approaches after Mr. Hocke’s speech in Dresden last January. Because a true remembrance must also be a historically accurate remembrance.

I find it quite respectable that there are just so many young people who make it clear again and again that they want to prevent these approaches glorifying National Socialism with all the means at their disposal. Also the human chain, which was formed on the evening of 13. The fact that the marches are to be held on February 1 is a sign that civil society is taking to the streets against the abuse of remembrance.

The interview was conducted by Verena Troster.

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