Thousands of people have formed a human chain in Dresden in a message of “peace and reconciliation” marking the anniversary of the deadly Allied firebombing of the eastern German city near the end of World War II.

The dpa news agency reported that Mayor Dirk Hilbert told the crowd linking hands across the Elbe River bridge to remember the past as they view conflicts today where “human dignity is trampled underfoot.”

Hilbert placed a white rose on a memorial to the attack by Allied bombers on Feb. 13-14, 1945. Some 25,000 people are believed to have died in the bombing, according to a 2008 official study.

Hilbert also recalled the crimes of the Nazis, and said people must remember all “the human suffering that war brings.”

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