German authorities on Sunday averted the spectacle of thousands of neo-Nazis marching past the capital's most visible monuments, including a new Holocaust memorial, as police and counter-demonstrators bottled up a rally by skinheads and other extremists on the 60th anniversary of the country's surrender in World War II.
About 3,000 neo-Nazis gathered in a plaza in the center of Berlin to protest what many of them derided as "German guilt" over the crimes of the Third Reich and to portray German civilians who suffered or died at the hands of the Allies as overlooked victims of the war. It was the latest in a series of public rallies by &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/ 18/87/345/10666_skinheads.html?117 ' target=_blank>neo-Nazi groups, which have taken advantage of record unemployment and other factors to attract new followers, reports the Washington Post.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, with other German politicians, paid a visit to Berlin's monument to the victims of war and the Nazi regime. There was also a special service in Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin and a ceremony at the main Soviet war memorial. A candlelight vigil took place on the eve of the anniversary, and thousands of spectators gathered near Brandenburg Gate yesterday for a ''Day of Democracy," with concerts and speeches.
In a further testament to German remembrance, Berlin's new &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/10/27496.html ' target=_blank>Holocaust Memorial is to open later this week. In the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate, thousands of concrete blocks of varying sizes cover a vast space the size of several football fields to remember the 6 million Jews put to death under the Nazis.
Across Europe, ceremonies took place that mixed somber reflection for lives lost with parades and concerts celebrating the victory over Germany.