AFP - Hundreds of neo-Nazis gathered in the eastern German city of Dresden Saturday but they were opposed by thousands of counter-demonstrators seeking to block an annual march.
Police said some 1,300 far-right supporters had gathered by mid-afternoon, far fewer than the 6,500 expected, to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the allied bombing which destroyed the historic city towards the end of World War II.
Opponents of the rally -- a collection of politicians, artists and unionists forming the "Dresden without Nazis" alliance -- had called on the city's residents to stage a peaceful counter-protest and block the demonstration.
"Some 10,000 people have succeeded in blocking access to the rallying point," alliance spokesman Stefan Thiele told AFP.
Thanks to these actions, covering roads leading from the main railway station to the Neustadt district, "the neo-Nazi march is not nearly as large as in the past", he said.
Local police were also out in force to prevent possible clashes between the two sides.
An attempt to ban the march was turned down by a local court on Thursday.
A massive bombing raid on Dresden in February 1945 sparked a firestorm which destroyed much of the city and killed some 25,000 people. Critics of the attack claimed it was strategically unnecessary.