Dresden is a city in Saxony, Germany we have often visited since 1998. This city was until 1989 in East Germany after the partition of 1945. It survived the war unscathed because it was a city known for arts and culture with no military vocation. However all that changed on the nights of February 14 and 15, 1945 just 2 and a half months before the end of the war, when the British launched massive aerial fire bombing of the city.
The old Dresden was completely destroyed and tens of thousands died. After the war under the communist dictatorship of the GDR, the old city was left pretty much as it was with its pile of rubble. Since 1990 it has been rebuilt completely and now there are no traces of the destruction. This in itself presents a problem, if visitors are told the story of the City they will think it odd that no visible sign remain. On the other hand it all looks pretty new though built in the same style as before the destruction of 1945.
This is the old public square by the Frauenkirche, the lutheran church of our lady. None of the buildings in this photo including the church existed prior to 2010. It was all rebuilt to look and feel exactly as it use to be. Queen Elizabeth II gave the new cross atop the Church lantern in a gesture of reconciliation.
The most impressive reconstruction in Dresden is the lutheran church of our Lady ”Frauenkirche” built by Georg Bahr between 1726-43, measuring 90 meters in height and all made of stone. We saw it being rebuilt during 3 visits to the city. The interior is beautiful in its baroque decor. The original church like the reconstructed one was built with donations from Lutherans and others. Originally it was a protest by the people against their King August the Strong who had wild ambitions. He decided that he wanted to be King of Poland and of Saxony. The problem was that he would have to convert to the Roman Catholic Faith of the Poles to achieve his goal. He did and built a Catholic cathedral next to his palace. The population was not happy with his decision.
Photo of 1920 of the Frauenkirche
Photo from 1970 the Frauenkirche a ruin, we first saw it in this state prior to the start of the reconstruction. The building itself survived the fire bombing but on 16 February 1945 in the morning the Ministers of the Church went in to see about the damage and while inspecting it the cooling stone of the Church started to crack violently and crashed on top of them. In this photo you see a vast empty field compared with the reconstructed area today.
If you have a chance to visit Dresden, it is well worth it, located halfway between Berlin and Munich.