Showing posts with label Dresden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dresden. Show all posts

Dresden

Nazi rally at Theaterplatz in Dresden May 1, 1933 and me cycling at the site today. Under the Nazis the square was renamed Adolf-Hitler-Platz. In 1945 the buildings surrounding the square were all destroyed, with the exception of the Hotel Bellevue having all been rebuilt in the meantime. 
Hitler taking the salute at the Theaterplatz and me today, during his only visit to Drseden to open the Reichtstheaterfestwoche which served to place the theatres at the service of Nazi propaganda and to eliminate any remnants of republican and liberal ideas. The Reich Theatre Festival Week took place annually in various cities from 1934 until the beginning of the war in 1939 and held a prominent place among the representative theatre events during the Nazi era. It was organised by the Ministry of Propaganda under Goebbels and the Reich Chamber of Culture. Dresden was chosen because of its national and international reputation as an art metropolis. Preparations for the festival week began in the fall of 1933. Only works by German composers were selected for the opera. The same was true of drama, with authors such as Shakespeare and Ibsen considered “Nordic poets” by Nazi ideology. The festival week began with the hoisting of the swastika flag in front of the general manager of the Staatstheater am Taschenberg on May 27, 1934. A total of eight operas and nine plays were performed at the three festival venues- the Semperoper, the Schauspielhaus and the Festspielhaus Hellerau. A third of these were new productions. At the beginning of the festival week, Hitler arrived in Dresden - for his first and only visit to the city. He was greeted at the city limits by Reich Governor Martin Mutschmann. From there to the Hotel Bellevue, where Hitler was housed, along a distance of about four miles, 38,000 SA men and 20,000 ϟϟ men were said to have stood in line. During his stay, Hitler attended drama and opera performances and was greeted enthusiastically everywhere. Other events included the opening of an exhibition by the German War Graves Commission in the atrium of the New Town Hall, a visit to the exhibition on so-called “degenerate art” with modern works and a visit to models for the expansion of the Königsufer and the square in front of the Hygiene Museum. On May 30 Hitler returned to Berlin. Wilhelm Liske, deputy chief editor of the Saxon Nazi daily newspaper "Freiheitskampf" wrote the brochure "Sachsen umjubelt den Führer", which was first published in 1934 and then published in several editions. 
The Hygiene Museum shown on the right then and as it appears today. During the Third Reich, the museum was also put into the service of Nazi eugenics. One example was the propagation of the law to prevent hereditary offspring, which came into force on January 1, 1934 and was the basis for the forced sterilisation of several hundred thousand women and men until 1945. From 1933 to 1936, the doctor Hermann Vellguth was head of the Department of Heredity and Racial Care. Travelling exhibitions on this topic at home and abroad were characterised by pseudo-scientific excesses. Exhibitions have included New Eugenics in Germany in the United States in 1934 and Miracles of Life in Berlin in 1935. More than 10 million people have visited DHM's touring exhibitions on various subjects between 1933 and 1945. Under the Nazis, the State Academy for Race and Health Care, a research and teaching facility for racial political propaganda and training, was organisationally and spatially attached to the museum. The plastic ball thrower made by Richard Daniel Fabricius, which was already on display at the Hygiene Exhibition in 1911, was displayed in front of the German Hygiene Museum after its restoration in the early 1980s. The athlete Ewald Redam posed for the ball thrower as well as for the golden town hall man visible in the background on the right. In April and May 1944 the last wartime Reich professional competition was held in the Hygiene Museum. During the air raids on Dresden in February 1945, large parts of the museum building and the collections were destroyed. 
Theaterplatz- at the time renamed Adolf-Hitler-Platz- on May 1, 1934 during the Tag der nationalen Arbeit with the DAF flag hanging from the Schauspielhaus and me at the site today. The 'Tag der nationalen Arbeit' or the Day of National Labour, marked a significant instance in Nazi Germany's political, social and propagandistic history. Instituted by the Nazi regime shortly after coming to power, the day's celebration became a powerful tool to consolidate their authority and appeal to German citizens, particularly the working-class. The case of Dresden, a significant German city, is noteworthy due to its representation of the Nazis' shrewd use of this occasion. Dresden, renowned for its technological prowess and skilled labour, had already played host to a significant Day of National Labour celebration in 1933. The holiday was marked by the stoppage of work across the city's numerous industries, particularly those involved in the manufacture of precision instruments and optical goods. This cessation of production was not due to any industrial action or discontent, but a reflection of the mass participation in the Day of National Labour activities. The turnout for the event was exceptionally high, with an estimated 200,000 individuals - a significant proportion of Dresden's populace - participating in various demonstrations and activities. The large worker population, particularly within the city's notable precision instrument and optical goods manufacturing sectors, had previously been at the epicentre of political struggle. In 1933 when the Nazis first took power, these industries witnessed a complete standstill as businesses closed, and employees participated in the citywide demonstrations marking the holiday. Records show that approximately 200,000 individuals from various trade and professional groups partook in the event, marking an impressive turnout, as reported by Goeschel. Indeed, the SA and the ϟϟ played an instrumental role in ensuring the massive turnout in Dresden. On this day Goebbels visited Dresden and delivered a powerful speech to the gathered crowd at the Stadion am Ostragehege. Goebbels's presence itself demonstrated the importance of Dresden to the Nazi regime. 
But beneath the veil of unity and celebration, tensions and contradictions surfaced. Dresden's Jewish community, although significantly smaller than in other German cities, was pointedly excluded from the event. Furthermore, labour unions that had been critical of the Nazi party were disbanded across Germany on May 2, which was especially impactful in Dresden due to its large worker population. It was within this context that historian Broszat argues the Day of National Labour served to create a pseudo-sense of unity whilst simultaneously marginalising and oppressing sections of the society. To underline the persuasive power of the event, it is worth noting that Dresden, which had not been a stronghold for the Nazi party in previous elections, witnessed a significant swing in public opinion post-1933. In the November 1933 elections, the Nazi party secured over 90% of the votes in Dresden, a marked increase from previous years, as highlighted by Evans.
The ruins at Theaterplatz in 1946 with the ruins of  the Catholic Hofkirche church and Residenzschloss, and Drake Winston at the same spot.
The Schloss and Georgentor sporting the Nazi flag in a Nazi-era painting by Körner and how it appears today with my bike parked in front  Under the Nazis the works of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Pechstein, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff or Otto Dix of this period were part of the exhibition "Entartete Kunst". 56 works from the Galerie Neue Meister were confiscated. The Staatsoper, also influenced by works by Richard Strauss, was in distress. Already in March 1933 a famous performance director, Fritz Busch, was expelled from Dresden by a theatre scandal staged by the SA at a "Rigoletto" performance. The former Erna Berger, who had once been discovered by Busch, was now engaged in the Berlin Staatsoper, and this evening, when Gilda was a guest, became a witness to this barbarism. The Strauss opera "Die schweigsame Frau" was premiered there in 1935 because of the Jewish librettist Stefan Zweig only thanks to the celebrity of her composer, but had to be taken from the schedule after only three repetitions and disappeared from the scene in Germany.  
The swastika rises above the neue Rathaus in a Nazi-era postcard on the right and today. During the November pogroms of 1938, the Old Synagogue, the Sempersynagoge, was burnt down. Numerous shops and apartments were devastated and plundered, Jewish citizens bribed before the eyes of the police. The male Jewish citizens were subsequently dragged into concentration camps in order to force them to emigrate and to capitalise their fortune.  Between 1939 and 1945 concentration camp detainees, especially from the camps in Auschwitz and Flossenbürg, were located in the concentration camps outside the camp. Hundreds of women were forced to work in the armaments industry at Zeiss Ikon AG (685 women at the Goehle plant and 400 women at Dresden-Reick) and 685 women at the universal machine factory. In addition, there was a concentration camp camp on Schandauer Strasse 68 in Dresden-Striesen for the Berlin armaments company Bernsdorf & Co. 500 Jews between the ages of four (!) and 68 were forced to work here in the Striesen metal works and became largely provisional after the bombing of Dresden and sent to Pirna, and later evacuated to Zwodau and Theresienstadt. 497 children were born in the alien children's care facility "Kiesgrube Dresden;" 225 infants and toddlers died there. The remaining private banks in the Jewish family property were connected under the compulsion of Dresdner Bank. In the end, the city's approximately 5000 Jews were expelled or deported later in concentration camps. The anti-Semitism in Dresden is documented above all by the diaries of Victor Klemperer. After the war only 41 Jews lived in the city. Under the Nazis the Jewish community of Dresden was reduced from over 6,000 (7,100 people were persecuted as Jews) to 41. Non-Jews were also targeted, and over 1,300 people were executed by the Nazis at the Münchner Platz, a courthouse in Dresden, including labour leaders, undesirables, resistance fighters and anyone caught listening to foreign radio broadcasts. In the case of books burned on May 10, 1933, the work of Dresden's Erich Kästner was to be symbolically purged forever.
The Dresden-Friedrichstadt Hospital as seen in a Nazi-era postcard. The Dresden-Friedrichstadt hospital is housed in the Palais Brühl-Marcolini, a garden palace dating from 1727. Napoleon had moved into the palace on June 10, 1813 and a meeting with Prince Metternich took place here on June 26, 1813. Metternich's attempt to persuade Napoleon to make concessions in Poland, Prussia, northern Germany and Illyria failed resulting in the Austrian Empire entering the war on August 11, 1813, and the Treaty of Teplitz of September 9, 1813 stipulated the restoration of the European balance as a war goal. Britain agreed to these war aims, and Aberdeen and Metternich signed an alliance and subsidy treaty in Teplitz on October 3. In it, Britain committed to paying £1 million in financial aid. Sweden also joined the coalition. This was Napoleon's first encounter with a previously unknown broad alliance. Metternich also succeeded in persuading Bavaria to leave the Confederation of the Rhine. After the Battle of Leipzig, another 29 German states joined the alliance.
At the end of 1845, the Dresden City Council acquired Count Marcolini's palace and rebuilt it. Among other things, 53 sick rooms were set up in the Palais (old house). About 120 patients were transferred from the old city hospital to the new one. The new location was opened on November 27, 1849. The newspaper spoke of a "magnificent and highly functional institution, worthy of the residence". By 1890, the number of beds in the Friedrichstadt Hospital had risen to 762, making it the second largest hospital in Saxony after the Jacobs Hospital in Leipzig.
On the right below from another Nazi-era postcard again shows the entrance to the Dresden-Friedrichstadt Hospital with the Nazi eagle adorning the facade and my bike parked in front. Located in the working class area of Dresden, the hospital hadn't evaded the bombing itself. Irving (84) writes of the 44th (Liberator) Bombardment Group's  target photograph shows its bomb pattern bursting in the grounds of the Friedrichstadt hospital and among the hospital buildings with each of the Liberators dropped eight 500-pound R.D.X. high-explosive bombs.
Arrangements were made for the city’s surviving expectant mothers to be transferred to the undamaged wing of the Friedrichstadt general hospital. Several wards had to be cleared for the purpose, adding to the obvious problem of surgical care for the thousands of people injured by the raids. Meanwhile the routine medical care of the population had to be continued: diabetics had to be instructed where to obtain supplies of insulin, for example; those who had lost their prescriptions had to be re-examined and given new prescriptions. The process was inevitably slow, and many sick and injured died before they could be given proper attention. Gradually the already enormous death roll crept higher. Still no organised attempt at rescuing those trapped beneath the fallen masonry had been begun.
The former administration building of the Saxony State Farmers' Association in Dresden, Ammonstraße 8, was built between 1936 and 1938 based on a design by Otto Kohtz and was the official headquarters of the Saxony State Farmers' Association in the Reichsnährstand. The building became better known as the headquarters of the Reichsbahndirektion Dresden from 1948 to 1993. Deutsche Bahn AG still uses the building, which is now a listed building, to this day. Otto Kohtz designed a comb-like, elongated, five-story administrative building in a functional design language with elements of neoclassicism. It was designed with a two-story base area made of stone on the front side; three wings with a simple design open to the rear. Above this there is a very gently sloping roof, which is perceived as a flat roof and was originally covered with galvanised iron sheeting. The long, monotonous rows of windows as a functional perforated façade are typical of modernism that continued during the Nazi era, but it is unusual that the windows were not divided by bars. The only structuring element is the protruding entrance as an angular porch. From there, seven open, strictly rectangular gates lead to the vestibule, which is followed by a spacious staircase. The office building is architecturally positioned completely horizontally and thus corresponds to the intentions of the then city planning officer Paul Wolf , who spoke out against further high-rise buildings in the old town. The original architectural decoration of the façades by sculptor Herbert Volwahsen could be interpreted as a counter-reflex to modernity and internationalization and corresponded to Nazi ideas about art. Other Nazi works of art were created by the Dresden painters Sizzo Stief seen on the middle wing of the portal to Feldgasse, Paul Rößler, the former mural in the hall, and Hans Nadler Sr. the design of the 1st floor. All of these works were removed in 1946–1948. Only two fruit baskets made of sandstone by sculptor Otto Rost in the entrance hall on the stairs indicate the original purpose of the administration building. Since 1948 there have been two wall frescoes - Planning and Construction as well as Operation and Traffic - on the left and right on the front sides of the entrance hall. Aesthetically, this graphic black and white art can be classified on the one hand as propaganda-tinged East German post-war art. Stylistically, however, the depictions also draw on the less abstract local art and aesthetics of the 1930s and early 1940s. These frescoes were extensively renovated by Deutsche Bahn AG (as the legal successor to the Deutsche Reichsbahn), like the entire building, in 2004. They are apparently open to the public in the entrance hall on weekdays.
 The Reichsnährstand or 'State Food Society', was a government body set up in Nazi Germany to regulate food production. The former building of the State Farmers' Union of Saxony and later the Reichsbahn, the Nazi eagle has been replaced by the logo of the East German Railway which, as can be seen below comparing it with the Nazi logo for the Reichsbahn as used on a belt buckle, is pretty much the same. Located at Ammonstraße 8, it was the central administration centre for agriculture and food production, associated with the "Blut und Boden" movement. At first they succeeded in uniting all well-known farmers' associations such as the Reichslandbund or the influential association of Christian farmers' associations into the Reich Leaders' Association. With the law on the provisional structure of the Reichsnahrungstand, all people and companies working in agriculture, fisheries and horticulture were brought into line and forcibly united within the Chamber of Agriculture. Germany was divided into 26 state farming communities which were subordinate to the district and hierarchically below the local peasant community with their respective local peasant leaders in attempt to stop the rural exodus; between 1933 and 1939, agricultural jobs fell by 440,000 to 1.4 million people. Another goal was to control production, sales and prices in the agricultural sector. To some extent, the regime succeeded in raising Germany's self-sufficiency rate from 68 percent in 1928 to 83 percent in 1938.
There was also an increase in production, but also higher prices of agricultural products domestically compared to world market prices. According to Ian Kershaw, "the increasing intervention of the Reich Food Estate (Reichsnährstand) in the marketing of agricultural produce—recalling the hated ‘coercive economy’ of the First World War—and other purely sectoral concerns prompted the farmers’ discontent and dissatisfaction with the regime in rural areas." Hitler, The Germans and the Final Solution (124). 
Today headquarters of DB Netz AG and DB Engineering & Consulting GmbH where it's known as the "House of a thousand (toilet) windows."
The former Luftgaukommando IV building complex at August-Bebel-Strasse 19 in the Dresden district of Strehlen, which was built in 1937-1938 in just eleven months according to designs by Wilhelm Kreis as Air District Command III of the Wehrmacht Air Force. As a result of a structural reform, just a few weeks after handover, the Luftgau Command IV became the new user of the property. In the post-war period it was the seat of the Saxon state government. From 1959 to 1989 it was used by the Friedrich Engels Military Academy of the East German NVA. Parts of the facility are now used as an administration building for the German Armed Forces. The remaining buildings house facilities belonging to the Technical University of Dresden. It's a considerable complex, laid out symmetrically around a courtyard, which was built in the park of the former royal villa. The elongated main building has three floors and was built of natural stone. Together with the two gatehouses, it encloses the main courtyard. Three other simple two-storey outbuildings flank the main building. They are connected to each other by lower wings. 
 
The figure frieze Flying Genius above the rectangular windows of the central building is remarkable. The central building serves as an entrance hall and has been designed like a portico. The sculptor was Karl Albiker, who was a student of Auguste Rodin and a professor at the Dresden Art Academy. Shown are Icarus, Vulcan and some warriors. The relief heads of Otto Lilienthal and General Ernst Udet are also located on the longitudinal front. The building was modelled on the German Hygiene Museum. The style was that of "coarse neoclassicism and monumentalism boasting nationally Neoclassicism and Monumentalism (1920–1945)" which had their origins in Reform architecture and was part of "conservative modernity".

dresden Luftkriegsschule (Aerial Warfare School)
 
The former Luftkriegsschule Klotzsche or Luftkriegsschule 1, a former Luftwaffe school in Dresden's Klotzsche district on the street Zur Wetterwarte 10. This extensive training facility north of the city was conveniently located near the airport built at the same time. 
The symmetrically laid out city within the city with a central roll-call and parade ground, combined gymnasium and swimming pool, hospital, officers' mess, commander's villa, etc. emphasised a right-angled, angular order and a clear floor plan. All its training buildings were grouped around a central parade ground in accordance with the idea of the "national community" as "community buildings". The area around the facility included accommodation for the operating company of the school and air base, hangars and shipyards. On the left is what served as the Kommandant's headquarters. Although Germany was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles from maintaining an air force, German military pilots were being trained in secret as early as the Weimar Republic. First, the flight students were trained in light trainer aircraft at the civil training centres in Germany. In order to give the pilots the opportunity to gain flight experience in fighter aircraft, Germany's Reichswehr sought the help of the Soviets. A secret training air base was founded in 1924 near the Russian city of Lipetsk set up and operated until 1933. Officially designated as the 4th Fliegerabteilung of the Red Army's 40th Squadron, this school used Dutch, Soviet and German aircraft. About 240 German pilots were trained annually and new aircraft designs were tested here. After Hitler ordered Goering to set up an air force for Germany, despite the existing ban on February 26, 1935, the Klotzsche Air Warfare School was built according to designs by the architect Ernst Sagebiel together with the architects Walter and Johannes Krüger, brothers born in Berlin-Charlottenburg. They made their names during the Weimar Republic thanks to the National Warrior Monument built in 1927 in Tannenberg in East Prussia which tried to recall the megalithic construction of Stonehenge only to be destroyed in 1945 by the withdrawing German Wehrmacht.
Leaving the complex was the former mess, shown on the right.
Until its dissolution on March 5, 1945, the buildings were occupied by Air War School 1 (LKS 1), which was called Air War School Dresden from its founding on April 16, 1936 to January 15, 1940. The school unit emerged from the Luftwaffe special course set up in January 1935 by the Dresden Army Infantry School. It was one of the four large air war schools of the Luftwaffe which were set up soon after Germany's illegal rearmament. Construction began in May 1935, just two months after the Luftwaffe was officially established on March 1, 1935. The whole facility was deliberately, for tactical reasons of camouflage, located in a wooded area. The buildings are plain and plastered using Saxon natural stone for the building bases, Saxon red granite for the terraces and yellow sandstone for the main entrance doors. As seen on the left, the roundels found over most doors originally were decorated with symbols and, in this case, soldiers' visages. Like the swastika that decorated this railing, all have since been removed. The central building is a large two-storey lecture hall building consisting of a central building and two side buildings. This has been built on a U-shaped floor plan. The relief “Der Flieger” by Arno Breker was located above the portal of the central building until 1945 . The side buildings have an accentuated entrance zone consisting of high pillars, which are clad with brown ceramic tiles.
The buildings remain in a relatively well-preserved condition due to years of use of the facility by the NVA ("National People's Army"). For the same reason, however, it was hidden from the public for over forty years. The air war school, as well as the extensive facilities of the old military area in Albertstadt and Dresden Airport, which was used for military purposes after 1939, received little or no hits from the RAF during the Dresden Raid; not even the military strategic railway bridge over the Elbe managed to be hit. 
In the barracks and training architecture such as that on the right which today serves as an old folks' home on the other hand, more functional aspects prevailed, especially in the case of responsible architects. Value was placed on the functional simplicity of military construction, on simplicity and economy, on "crystal clarity of the structure, the floor plans and the facades. After all, we expect exemplary craftsmanship and solid building materials from the soldiers' houses and a decent building attitude, which also takes care of the building industry concerns of the nation" - so it said in April 1939 in "Deutscher Baumeister". They also warned of "application of local construction methods and use of local and local building materials".

In keeping with the spirit of the times, they did not use a flat roof for the barracks, but a steep, "German" tile-red hipped roof. All the buildings have simple plaster facades with sparing use of cut stone from Saxon granite. The building entrances have sandstone surrounds throughout. The main building is the central manor-house-like lecture hall building which was once adorned by Arno Breker 's sculpture "Der Flieger" in the gable, flanked by the two ensign wings, so that an impressively U-shaped, two-storey training building was built. On the outside of the ensign's wings, the emphasis on the entrance zone is striking with high pillars covered with brown ceramic tiles, which support the antiquity-idealising traits of Nazi architecture with design elements that supported the"antiquity-idealising ... architecture with design elements that were modern at the time. 

 

At the Japanese Palace, one of the most important buildings of the Dresden Baroque era, in which some of its greatest architects were involved, and as it appeared in a Nazi-era postcard. The original building, which is no longer recognisable as such today, goes back to a pleasure palace erected in 1715 by Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann for Jakob Heinrich Graf von Flemming. However, already by 1717 the palace became the property of August the Strong, who housed his extensive collection of East Asian porcelain and parts of the Kunstkammer here. Between 1729 and 1733, the building was extensively renovated and rebuilt according to plans by the architects Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann, Zacharias Longuelune and Jean de Bodt to create a large four-wing complex in the late baroque-classical style that faced the Elbe. It tried to incorporate an Asian effect by the roofs with their Far Eastern forms, by herms and other Asian-style figures on the outer facade and in the inner courtyard, and by the relief created by Johann Benjamin Thomae in the gable of the main facade showing Saxons and East Asians presenting their porcelain wares to the goddess Saxonia who demonstrates her claim to supremacy. A ceiling painting was also planned in a similar way, on which a dispute before Minerva takes place, which places the prize in the hands of Saxony, whilst the Chinese, disappointed, load their wares back onto their ships.
Looking across the Elbe towards the altstadt from the palace riverside walk. In 1984 and 1985, the associated palace garden, which offers a view of the Brühlsche Terrasse and Neue Terrasse on the other bank of the Elbe, was redesigned in a greatly simplified manner as seen in my GIF. During the Nazi era Victor Klemperer, regarded as one of the most important chroniclers of the life of a survivor of the Holocaust at the hands of the Germans, wrote in his diary of having learned that as a non-Aryan, he was no longer allowed to use its reading room. As a professor of Romance languages at the Dresden University, he was regularly to be found there. In the Japanese Palace, he later recalled, "I sat like a grub in a bacon". Two years later he was no longer allowed to enter the library. His diary entry of December 3, 1938 describes the dismay of the library inspector Alfred Striegel, who had to inform him of the ban: "The man was in shocked excitement, I had to calm him down. He kept stroking my hand, he couldn't hold back the tears." During the war, the Japanese Palais was severely damaged by fire, as a result of which parts of the State Library were also damaged. Several employees lost their lives and, after another attack on March 2, the building burned down. However, the cellar, in which 400,000 volumes were stacked, was saved. Thousands of books, prints and manuscripts that had been brought to safety in the Dresden area were also spared from the fire. The surrounding garden too was destroyed by bombs; Theodor Rosenhauer is shown on the right painting the ruins of the palace. From 1951 to 1987, the restoration work on the exterior and the reconstruction of some interior rooms such as the entrance hall, garden-side central room, stairwells and library room in the Elbe wing, dragged on. In fact, large parts of the interior of the palace are still under construction to this day. 
Another view of the altstadt from across the river compared with Dresden From the Right Bank of the Elbe. an oil on canvas by the Italian urban landscape painter Bernardo Bellotto, better known as Canaletto. Painted in 1748, it depicts the view of Dresden from the right bank of the River Elbe, including the Dresden Frauenkirche, the Dresden Cathedral, and the Augustus Bridge. The Saxon Elector Augustus was an art connoisseur, was particularly enthusiastic about contemporary Venetian painting and appointed Canaletto court painter. It's interesting that the Hofkirche was only completed up to the lower floor when the picture was created. Canaletto then dealt with the construction plans and drew a scaffolding indicated with delicate lines as an indication of the state of construction. Executed as a veduta, was created from a vantage point on the Neustadt bank of the Elbe near today's Hotel Bellevue. In the foreground it shows the calmly flowing Elbe, which is enlivened by Elbe boatmen with their vehicles. Some are loaded and unloaded on this bank. In addition to a stacking area for wood, porters and merchants are busy handling the goods. The families in the foreground are not involved in this hustle and bustle, and an elegant gentleman next to him seems to be explaining the harbour square to his companion. One year earlier, he had painted another piece titled Dresden From the Right Bank of the Elbe Above the Augustus Bridge, looking in the other direction from above the Augustus Bridge. Both paintings are in the permanent collection of the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister
and have apparently proved invaluable in rebuilding parts of the city that were destroyed during the war; although I had to cheat considerably in order to try to match the reality with the painting. For example, the Frauenkirche is considerably smaller than it should have been in the picture based on the true proportions so that its reduction gives depth to the pictorial composition.
At the entrance to the Großer Garten, now the largest park in the city built in 1676 at the behest of Elector Johann Georg III. It has been expanded several times in the course of its history, so that it has an almost rectangular floor plan on an area of approximately 1.8 square kilometres with a length of about 1,900 metres and width reaching up to 950 metres. In the course of its more than three hundred years of history, the Great Garden has been redesigned many times, whereby the basic baroque structure has remained recognisable, but it's more an English Garden than a baroque garden in the narrower sense. It was destroyed during the Napoleonic Wars in the battle for Dresden of August 26-27, 1813 and the subsequent siege of the city that lasted until November 1813. In the north-west corner of the park, where the Transparent Factory is located, stood the Municipal Exhibition Palace from 1896 until it was destroyed during the Dresden Raid and eventually blown up in 1949.
The restaurant and ornamental palaces in the Grosser Garten had also without exception been converted to military hospitals. All were damaged. Along the southern edge of the Grosser Garten ran the rambling zoological garden, which had housed one of the most famous menageries in central Germany. The bombs that had struck the zoo had already released a considerable number of the animals from shattered cages. During the second raid a giraffe was seen walking awkwardly about the park looking for shelter, and tiny rhesus monkeys were springing from branch to branch of the partly burning trees... Here in Dresden, most of the cages were shattered beyond repair; to prevent a mass escape army officers were called in to shoot all the animals remaining early in the morning after the raids.
The most important building in the centre of the park is the Palaisteich, the summer palace built under the direction of Wolf Caspar von Klengel and Johann Georg Starcke in 1678. The Palais behind me below was badly damaged after being used as a military hospital for six months. During the air raids on Dresden, the palace was badly damaged and burned down completely. The enclosing wall, which had already been damaged by the fighting, was completely demolished so that the stones could be used as building material. To this day its interior has still not yet been fully restored. On the ground floor there is an exhibition of baroque sculptures that were removed from their original locations for conservation reasons or replaced by copies. Nazi policies which was repressive in every respect didn't stop at the Großer Garten. As early as April 1935, Jews were forbidden to use park benches other than those marked yellow. The Kugelhaus, which was built by Peter Birkenholz directly on the border to the Großer Garten in 1928 on the occasion of the exhibition Die technische Stadt and was very popular with the people of Dresden, was demolished in 1938 because the architecture was considered "un-German". In his June 2, 1942 diary entry, Victor Klemperer listed thirty-one anti-Jewish bans and regulations, including a “ban on leaving Dresden’s restricted area […], 20) the ministry bank, to enter the parks, 21) to use the Bürgerwiese and the side streets of the Großer Garten (Parkstrasse and Lennéstrasse, Karcherallee). This last tightening only since yesterday.” Klemperer made it clear in his entry for June 17 what exceeding this ban could mean:
Circular from the community: In the course of the last three weeks, two older Jewish women with stars were seen sitting on a bench in Herkules-Allee in the Großer Garten. The two should be reported immediately 'in the interest of the general public and to avoid further measures.' […] How will it go this time? What reprisals await? It is completely out of the question that two women dared to do that. They know that they face at least severe beatings and weeks in prison, but probably a concentration camp. It would be possible that two careless people would have passed the side streets - but sitting in the middle of the Großer Garten? It's not worth risking your life for. Unless the story is made up.
At the beginning of 1945, nineteen anti-fragmentation ditches were dug in the garden to protect against bombing raids, and the roots of numerous trees were damaged by the earthworks. During the Dresden Raid the Großer Garten was badly hit. All the buildings burned down, the palace lost its roof and the entire interior. A total of 170 bomb craters were counted within the park.
The Royal Palace on the left and Tachenberg Palace on the right in the 1970s before the reconstruction and me at the same spot in July 2023.
Propaganda director Heinz Grunewald, Dresden mayor Walter Weidauer and town architect Dr. C Herbert outside the town hall in March, 1946. It's from the top of the building that Richard Peter's iconic photograph was taken around this time of the statue of Goodwill on the tower of the rathaus looking down at the ruins wrought by the firebombing, and the same statue looking down on a large car park today shown below.
The original photograph, Blick vom Rathausturm nach Süden, is a black and white photograph by the German photographer Richard Peter, taken in the fall of 1945. The original photo was published in 1950 in Peter's illustrated book Dresden – ein Kamerakult, which was intended to document the destruction and reconstruction of the city. The photograph, developed together with two shots of the same subject by Walter Hahn, became a symbol for the destruction of Dresden and an icon of German rubble photography. It has been used in a variety of publications on the subject and recreated by other photographers. Peter, who worked as a photographer for the Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung in the 1920s and 1930s , had returned to Dresden from the war in September 1945. Like his camera equipment, his photo archive from the 1930s was destroyed when Dresden itself was destroyed. Nevertheless, he quickly began to document the ruins of Dresden with a Leica camera. According to his own statement, he climbed almost all the towers in the city center to take pictures from there in a bird's eye view, trying several times from the town hall tower. On the first attempt, it was impossible to take a picture because of the backlight. On the second try, he discovered the tower figure and carried a stepladder up two floors to get to a window through which he could include the figure in the photograph of Dresden. However, the recording was not usable because of falling lines and he therefore obtained a Rolleiflex, with which the recording of the third attempt was made from the town hall tower to the south. The virtue statues Goodness and Wisdom on the town hall tower in Dresden although Wisdom is missing in Peter's photo, only the base being seen; apparently she had previously broken off. Goodness is one of sixteen statues of virtue on the tower of Dresden City Hall and one of six created by sculptor August Schreitmüller. Next to her robe, only the head in profile and the damaged left hand are visible. The figure looks down to the south-southwest of Dresden's old town and points to its ruins. The city appears deserted with no known building in Dresden seen amongst the ruins. Given the sunlight falls from the east, the photo was taken in the morning. Contrary to the actual meaning of the stone figure in Peter's photo, it is often interpreted as an angel in the reception of the photo. Several art historians, for example, have tried to establish a relationship between her and Walter Benjamin's "Angel of History", which he describes in his posthumously published essay On the Concept of History, referring to Paul Klee's painting Angelus Novus. According to Benjamin, this angel looks at the past and sees in it “a single catastrophe that ceaselessly piles up rubble upon rubble and hurls it at his feet.” A storm commonly called progress drives him out of paradise towards the future, from which he turns his back. It could be interpreted as a lament for the destruction, but also as an indictment of the culprits, either the Nazis, their supporters or the Allied bomber pilots. A warning against human hubris or a heavenly forgiveness of worldly guilt are also possible. The memory of the bombing had become the dominant memory of the war, which made it possible to portray the Germans as a community of victims and to avoid discussions about their own responsibility. Due to the lack of people in the picture, the destruction of Dresden appears as a higher fate, not requiring the question of guilt.
After the three air raids on Dresden by the RAF and USAAF bombers on February 13 and 14, 1945, the Frauenkirche burned down completely. Some windows had been bricked up whilst others were damaged by explosive bombs that fell on Neumarkt or burst due to the extreme heat. During the night, 300 people had found shelter in the cellars of the church. After it started to burn, they had difficulty leaving the rooms as the fire spread rapidly. The Frauenkirche was exposed to the fire storm that raged hardest in the city centre with scorching heat of up to 1,200 degrees Centigrade. This spread from the Coselpalais to the church. A film archive of the Luftwaffe was housed in the basement of the church which at that time were made of celluloid, which is highly combustible and generates enormous heat in the process. However, since some of the films were recovered almost intact during the archaeological rubble clearing in the run-up to reconstruction, it's now assumed after careful examination that these films did not contribute to the development of heat from the fire and thus to the collapse of the building given that, on the one hand, the interior, which was furnished with lots of wood provided plenty of fuel for the fire after the windows had melted. Also, sandstone cannot withstand as much heat as hard stone, such as that used in the Kreuzkirche and the Hofkirche. It expanded until it eventually cracked and burst, losing its stability. This damage to its structure can be recognised by the transformation of the clay contained in the sandstone into a red colour. Subsequent heat tests with parts of the ruins showed that the heat from the fire had penetrated the masonry to a depth of about 10 centimetres which was especially damaging. After the major attack on the city, there were no more houses on the Neumarkt. Long after the attack the Frauenkirche was still burning, whilst the dome towered over the ruins. At 10.00 on February 15, the burned-out inner pillars, which had already been stretched to the limit of their load-bearing capacity before the fire, could no longer bear the load of the massive vault construction with the stone dome. Due to the position of the parts still standing after the collapse, the perimetre walls of the choir up to the main cornice and the towering ruins of the north-west corner tower, it is likely that one of the piers in the south-east corner was the first to collapse due to fatigue and overstressing. An eyewitness reported hearing a faint crackle just before the collapse. The dome then tilted in the direction of the first broken pillar. Their weight, now unevenly distributed and set in motion, overloaded and burst all the other pillars within a split second. Under the tremendous pressure of the dome, which initially fell almost as a whole, rotating slightly on its own axis and bursting more and more, the massive outer walls were blown apart and the building collapsed with a dull bang. A huge cloud of black dust rose above the city. This event surpassed the previous devastation in its symbolic power for many Dresdeners; for them the last hope of being able to preserve at least something of the old Dresden was destroyed, leaving a huge pile of rubble lay where the church used to be. On the right the ruins of the Frauenkirche church and the empty pedestal for a statue of Martin Luther in 1946, and me in front of the reconstructed church and statue today. The altar created by Johann Christian Feige was saved from complete destruction, as dripping tin from the melting organ, which was completely smashed, preserved it and falling wooden parts of the organ softened the impact of the falling debris of the dome. For many Germans, Dresden's destruction became for many a powerful touchstone for the memory of German losses in the war, and the remains of the Frauenkirche has served as the central symbol of Dresden's devastation. The bombing left the 200-year old structure an imposing ruin, its two walls fragments beside a mountain of charred stones representing what Ten Dyke describes as a "wound." Given the tremendous propaganda value provided to the communist regime to abuse the Anglo-Americans during the Cold War and serve as a symbol of the capitalist West's 'barbarity', although restoration and new construction occurred all around it, the remains of the Frauenkirche were pretty much left untouched. Thus in the 1980s peace activists used it as a monument against militarism and war. Conversely, its ruins also served to attack the communists' dreadful rebuilding of Dresden's centre which was intended to become a showcase for the DDR's architectural vision of socialist modernity which instead has led others to describe as a second destruction; Heinrich Magirius described the "disfigurement" of Dresden whilst Andreas Ruby, whilst conceding otherwise high-quality examples of postwar architecture, sees them as now maligned symbols of the DDR's failure to rebuild Dresden as it was before.
Drake Winston on the right beating me to the site a couple of years earlier, helping compare the building after the war with its current reconstruction. In the end the total cost of the reconstruction amounted to 180 million euros of which und 115 million euros came from donations from all over the world. As a sign of reconciliation, the British "Dresden Trust", one of the most important of outside foreign groups and chaired by Allan Russell in Britain, collected more than one million euros in donations, to which the British royal family also graciously contributed from private coffers. As for the rebuilding of the church itself, Mark Jarzombek, an architectural historian, relates how one of the main problems of reconstruction was what to do with the old stones, which had to be purged from their association with the socialist-era counter-memorial. The builders separated, measured, analysed, and then retooled the stones so that they could be placed into the fabric of the new walls of the church at the very spot where they once belonged. Though preservationists called this a "critical restoration," the placement of most of these stones was arbitrary. Some stones were parts of capitals and mouldings, but most were just generic blocks that were just put anywhere. What started as an honest attempt to make a building with an embedded memory became an aesthetic act governed by the positivistic conceits of the restorers as seen by the careless the stones sprinkled across the facade which "became pawns in the random-placement algorithm of a computer programme that released them from the gravitas of their historical situation." 
On August 27, 1933, a memorial designed by the architect Oskar Menzel for the soldiers who died in the First World War was inaugurated with a simple black cross on the floor of the Frauenkirche. This memorial was not restored when the church was rebuilt. Under the Nazis, the Frauenkirche gained additional importance through the efforts of the "German Christians" to declare it a centre of German Protestantism of the National Socialist type. For this purpose they called it the cathedral. If the return of the Frauenkirche as one of Germany's most prominent cultural victims expresses a kind of closure, Jason James argues that it also perpetuates the offering of one form of morally unencumbered identity through the vehicle of monumental fetishism whilst at the same time suggesting German victimhood; "the Frauenkirche reconstruction recasts Germany's losses as injuries inflicted by others." 
Hitler inside the courtyard of the Zwinger palace, an art gallery built in Rococo style at Theaterplatz, in 1934. The palace was built in 1709 as an orangery and garden as well as a festival area. Its richly decorated pavilions and the galleries lined with balustrades, figures and vases bear witness to the splendour during the reign of Elector Friedrich August I (the Strong). The building suffered terrible damage during the Dresden bombing. Particularly well-known after the war was an image of an inscription made by a Russian soldier with the following inscription: "The museum was checked, no mines, checked by Chanutin" which today can be found on the right side of the portico of the Sempergalerie from the direction of Theaterplatz and has been supplemented with a writing plate due to its now reduced legibility.
Shown in 1946 after its destruction and today. Hans Nadler described how “[t]he following were preserved: the Nymphenbad, the enclosing walls of the 4 corner pavilions, the long galleries, the city pavilion and the crown gate. The wall pavilion was destroyed down to the shafts of the wall, which had gotten out of line, and the adjoining arched gallery on the Elbe side was severely damaged by direct explosive bomb hits.” The picture gallery was only badly damaged on the northern side whilst all the buildings and their roofs were burned out. The copper hammering work on the roof coverings, some of which were complex, lay torn to shreds on the terraces and in the Zwingerhof from the impact of bomb fragments. Flames erupted from some windows and irreversibly damaged the sandstone above the fire impact through heat blasting and structural changes in the mineral structure. According to Irving (178) firemen had run hoses all the way down Ostra-Allee to the Zwinger’s lake to try to save the Playhouse, "but they were too late and this building also succumbed to the flames. Twenty-three kilometres of fire hose were destroyed in the raids." Some facade elements fell down due to material tension and broke in the process. On August 14, 1945, the first consultation on the coordination of reconstruction took place with the participation of Dresden officials. Four days later the Soviet military administration  approved the release of timber and thus demonstratively supported the Dresdeners' intention to rebuild. The protection and restoration of cultural buildings were ordered in two culture orders of the Soviet military administration and the newly formed Saxon State Administration approved the first budget for the reconstruction of the Zwinger in September 1945. In September 1945, reconstruction work could begin under the direction of the Dresden architect Hubert Georg Ermisch by the Zwinger Bauhütte, which was officially re-established in the fall of that year under the official name "Bauabteilung Zwinger". The picture gallery opened on June 3, 1956 as part of Dresden's 750th anniversary celebrations, but was not completely handed over until October 30, 1960. The cost of its reconstruction was 7.9 million German marks. It's been estimated that a total financial expenditure of 11.8 million marks for the Zwinger restoration has been spent on its restoration up to 1965 although the reconstructions and designs of the interiors continue to the present day. 

The aptly-named Friedensbrunnen on Neumarkt square in 1946 and me standing in front today after another twelve-hour day of cycling. After the Thirty Years' War, Christoph Abraham Walther created this depiction of the goddess of peace Eirene for the base of the fountain in 1649 with the fountain receiving the inscription Pacem qui amas lege. Irene sum quae Martem cruentum vici, fregi; nunc fontem hunc pacificum aperui ex voto SPOD Ao MBCL. (You who love peace, read. I am the goddess of peace, who defeated and defeated the god of war Mars; now I have opened this fountain of peace after the vow of the council and the citizens of Dresden in 1650.) 
Dresden was not merely a city, but a work of art in itself, an architectural jewel whose aesthetic attractions had made it Saxony’s pride for nearly half a millennium. That long chapter of its history closed when a thousand-bomber raid created a firestorm that burned for forty-eight hours, consuming virtually the entire city centre. The writer Kurt Vonnegut was a prisoner of war in Dresden, and had to dig corpses out of the ruined city, in scenes that inspired his searing novel Slaughterhouse Five. The order to RAF Bomber Command’s Five Group for its operations for Tuesday, February 13, 1945 could hardly have been starker: ‘To burn and destroy an enemy industrial centre." The target chosen was Germany’s seventh largest city, only a little smaller than Manchester. It was, as one report put it, ‘by far the largest un-bombed built-up area in Germany’. In fact, Dresden had been a military centre for centuries, and until 1945 served the establishment of large military associations. The Albertstadt, north of the city centre, was an autonomous military city and was expanded during the Nazi era. As well as being one of the largest garrison towns in Germany, the 1944 Handbook of the Wehrmacht Weapons Command states that Dresden contained 127 factories manufacturing military equipment, weapons and munitions, and that only related to the larger factories and not the smaller suppliers and workshops. There were also huge railway marshalling yards. The German propaganda machine initially stated an excess of 200,000 casualties when approximately 25,000 was later established. After Sir Arthur (Bomber) Harris was confronted with the German propaganda figure, banded about parliament by a Labour MP- of course- he stated that ''[a]ctually Dresden was a mass of munitions works, an intact government centre, and a key transportation point to the East. It is now none of these things.'' Other intelligence documents from RAF sources state that there were 127 medium to large scale factories and separate USAAF intelligence sources state, 111 medium to large scale factories employing 50,000 workers. Which ever is nearer the truth, these factories were supplying the German war effort. Whilst the appalling loss of life was a tragedy, it was a legitimate target intended to slow the supply of material to the Russian front and shorten the war. 
The before-and-after photographs taken of the Raid underline the appalling scale of the destruction; my GIFs like the one on the right showing Taschenberg Palace only reveal the attempted reconstructions.  The first point to consider about why it was seen necessary to bomb Dresden is the tactical importance of the city as a critical component of Germany's war machinery. Churchill, in his memo to the Chiefs of Staff Committee on January 25, 1945, emphasised the necessity of hindering enemy troop movements, especially concerning the Eastern Front. Dresden, situated approximately seventy miles from the Eastern Front, was a key transport and communication centre, with numerous railway lines and highways converging in the city. Furthermore, evidence gathered post-war by Taylor revealed that the city was a manufacturing hub for military hardware, including aircraft parts and poison gas. Dresden was home to more than an hundred factories, employing tens of thousands of workers, contributing substantially to Germany's war effort. Therefore, the tactical argument posits Dresden as a legitimate military target. In addition, the aerial reconnaissance photos obtained by the Allies, as documented by Grayling, revealed marshalling yards filled with military transport. This confirmed the city's active role in supplying and reinforcing the Eastern Front, where Soviet forces were locked in fierce combat with the German army. Consequently, disrupting Dresden's capacity as a logistical hub was an important tactical objective that justified the Allied decision to bomb the city. Furthermore, Hastings claims that the city's defences had been significantly weakened by the time of the bombing, with most of its anti-aircraft guns and Luftwaffe fighter planes deployed elsewhere. This offered the Allies a relatively unhindered opportunity to deal a crippling blow to Germany's war effort. 
On the right is the statue to the so-called Trümmerfrauen, or 'rubble women', in front of the town hall. The myth of smiling women cheerfully lugging stones and bricks to rebuild a destroyed Germany as the men were either dead, in Soviet captivity, or emotionally retarded has now become ingrained in the German collective consciousness with statues like this erected all over the country in her honour. However, this campaign originally only worked in the eastern sector where the Trümmerfrau ideal became the role model for women seeking traditional male work and not in the area here within the British sector which maintained the traditional view of a woman’s role. In fact, Leonie Treber calls the story of the Trümmerfrau a myth given that not only was there not a particularly large number of women involved in the clearing of the rubble, those who did help did so involuntarily. Treber 's doctorate at Duisburg-Essen University about them. Before that, the subject had not been studied academically. She has recently published a book based on her research called “The Myth of the Trümmerfrauen.” According to Treber, the role that women played in clearing out all of that rubble was minor; whilst in Berlin for example 60,000 women are documented as having worked to clear rubble, this constituted but 5% of the female population of the city.
Actual rubble women forming an human chain to carry bricks used in the reconstruction of Dresden in March 1946 and me at the same spot today. The Potsdam Conference underscored the importance of a united Allied front against the Axis Powers. Churchill, Truman, and Stalin collectively agreed upon sustained strategic bombing to bring about Germany's unconditional surrender. By this measure, Dresden's obliteration was intended to hasten the end of the war, avoiding further prolongation and saving lives on all fronts in the long run. Moreover, the concept of 'morale bombing', prevalent among Allied decision-makers, proposed that the destruction of cities would break the will of the enemy population, leading to faster capitulation. This strategy was based on the belief that warfare had evolved beyond conventional battlefield encounters, and the home front was now an integral part of the war effort. Consequently, the decimation of Dresden was perceived as a necessary step to demoralise the German populace and weaken their resolve for continued resistance. Finally, by early 1945, the world had not yet seen the devastating power of atomic weapons. Conventional bombings were the most potent form of destruction available to the Allies. The bombing stopped prisoners who were busy digging a large hole into which an additional 4,000 prisoners were to be disposed of. Dresden was a major communications hub and manufacturing centre with 127 factories and major workshops and was designated by the German Military as a defensive strongpoint, with which to hinder the Soviet advance. Being the capital of the German state of Saxony, Dresden not only had garrisons but a whole military borough, the Albertstadt. This military complex, named after Saxon King Albert, was not specifically targeted in the bombing of Dresden though it was within the expected area of destruction and was extensively damaged. During the final months of the war, Dresden harboured some 600,000 refugees, with a total population of 1.2 million. Dresden was attacked seven times between 1944 and 1945, and was occupied by the Red Army after the German capitulation.
Moritzgasse Dresden einst jetzt
Moritzgasse then and now
On the right, passengers alighting on a tram amidst the ruins of Moritzgasse after the war on March 13, 1946 looking towards the former Juedenhof palace, and me at the same spot today. Harris firmly believed in the efficacy of area bombing in undermining Germany's war capabilities. Dresden was one of the few remaining cities that had not yet been heavily bombed, and thus, it became the target of one of the most devastating bombing campaigns of the war. 
For all the undeniable horror of the bombing, however, Dresden was a legitimate military target whose destruction was justified in the context of the Total War that Hitler had unleashed. Furthermore, the high death toll was the result not of deliberate Allied policy so much as a number of accidental factors. ‘In practical terms,’ argues Frederick Taylor in his definitive account of the Raid, ‘Dresden was one heavy raid among a whole, deadly sequence of massive raids, but for various unpredictable reasons – wind, weather, lack of defences and above all shocking deficiencies in air raid protection for the general population – it suffered the worst.’ (When the Nazi gauleiter of Dresden, Martin Mutschmann, fell into Allied hands in 1945 he quickly confessed that ‘A shelter-building programme for the entire city was not carried out’, since ‘I kept hoping that nothing would happen to Dresden.’ He had, however, taken the precaution of having a shelter built for himself, his family and his senior officials.)
The respected German historian Gotz Bergander believes that whereas before Dresden the concept of accepting unconditional surrender was unthinkable to ordinary Germans, ‘The shock of Dresden contributed in a fundamental way to a change of heart.’ That change has been permanent; part of the reason that Germany is such a peace-loving country today – entirely shorn of the aggression that had led to five wars of expansion in the 75 years after 1864 – is because of what happened to her at the hands of the heroes of Bomber Command. 
Andrew Roberts (362-363) A History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900
Wilsdruffer Strasse then and now.
Wilsdruffer Strasse then and now
Wilsdruffer Strasse then and now.
 The psychological aspect of the bombing also warrants attention. The concept of 'shock and awe', a military doctrine aimed at disheartening the enemy, held significant weight among Allied war strategists. They deemed the swift, catastrophic destruction of a prominent city like Dresden an effective way to underscore the futility of continued resistance to the German people and high command. This effect was expected to percolate through to the frontline, where soldiers, alarmed by the obliteration of their homeland, might exhibit diminished morale and fighting spirit, hastening Germany's defeat. Despite the significant loss of civilian life, a fact that remains a profound source of controversy, the bombing's psychological impact cannot be overstated. As highlighted by Sebald, the news of the annihilation and the resulting firestorm, which claimed an estimated 25,000 lives, spread quickly among both the military and civilian populations. This pervasive fear and despair were part of the psychological warfare the Allies believed would speed up the end of the conflict. Moreover, the timing of the attack was not incidental. Taking place in February 1945, the bombing was conducted at a juncture when Germany's defeat seemed inevitable, yet the Nazis continued to resist, causing further loss of life on all fronts. The Dresden bombing was thus meant as a severe, unequivocal statement of the Allies' resolve to end the war swiftly and decisively. The anticipated domino effect of such an action — from boosting Soviet morale on the Eastern Front to suppressing further Nazi resistance — added a complex psychological dimension to the military strategy. From an international perspective, the bombing served another psychological purpose. It was a clear demonstration of Anglo-American air superiority and a stern warning to any potential aggressor, notably the Soviet Union, whose relationship with the western Allies had begun to sour even before the end of the war. Beevor notes the mutual suspicion and escalating tension between the Allies and Soviets, making the show of force in Dresden a subtle but clear message to Stalin about the potential cost of post-war aggression.
Rampische Straße einst jetzt
Rampische Straße
The remains of Rampische Straße and today with my bike parked in front. The decision to bomb Dresden cannot be extricated from the broader geopolitical landscape of the time. The year 1945 was pivotal: the tide of war had turned decisively against Germany, and attention was already shifting towards the post-war order. The 'Big Three' - the British Empire, the United States, and the Soviet Union - despite their alliance against the Axis powers, had divergent visions for post-war Europe. The Dresden bombing can be viewed within this context, as the Western allies sought to reassert their military prowess and commitment to victory, both to expedite Germany's surrender and signal their strength to the Soviets. The bombing, in its scale and devastation, served as a stark demonstration of Anglo-American air superiority. The Soviet Union, despite being an ally, was already being perceived as a potential post-war threat, with Churchill famously remarking on the 'Iron Curtain' descending upon Europe. The destruction of Dresden, therefore, bore an implicit message to the Soviets - a deterrent showcasing the Western allies' capabilities and resolve. The Yalta Conference, held just a week before the bombing, marked the beginning of fissures among the allies, with territorial and ideological disagreements coming to the fore. Beevor asserts that the bombing served a dual purpose in this setting - expediting the end of the war by demoralising Germany and demonstrating the Western allies' military prowess to their Soviet counterparts. Moreover, the bombing was also aligned with the political goal of ensuring unconditional German surrender, a policy agreed upon at the Casablanca Conference in 1943. Dresden, untouched by previous bombing raids and of high cultural and historical significance, represented the embodiment of German resilience. Its destruction was intended to convey the futility of further resistance to the German leadership and people, thereby facilitating the political objective of unconditional surrender.
Inside the Stallhof, the stable yard, which is part of the residential palace complex and served as a venue for large equestrian tournaments, and as it appeared after the bombing. The stable yard was built from 1586 for Elector Christian I, probably based on the designs of Giovanni Maria Nosseni who had been artistically trained in Italy by the Nuremberg-born engineer and architect Paul Buchner. The Renaissance complex is one of the oldest court tournament grounds in the world that has been preserved in its original design. Today the stable yard is used for cultural events such as the mediæval Christmas market. Riding tournaments and theatrical events are still occasionally held here today. Construction began in 1586 or 1587 at the latest and was completed in 1591. Immediately after its completion, the building was praised from many quarters. Until the middle of the 18th century, the stable yard was the scene of courtly fun with tournaments, wrestling competitions and hunts. The Long Corridor was used to accommodate the electoral horses. The magnificent furnishings were kept on the upper floors.
Of course it goes without saying that the air raids on Dresden in February 1945 severely damaged the stable yard. The photo on the right shows how it appeared after the war with the restored exterior façade considerably damaged. Reconstruction of the building began in 1957 but it wasn't until the period between 1972 and 1979 that the sculptures by Zacharias Wehme and Heinrich Göding, which were no longer there before the war, were re-attached to the outer facade of the “Long Ganges”. Thirteen of the 34 pillars cast by Merten Hilger in 1591 that bordered the former tournament grounds have managed to be completely preserved. The exterior repair and restoration of the building was largely completed in 1984. Since then, further construction work has been ongoing. This is how parts of the old stable yard wall and the office building built by Hans Irmisch in 1567 became reconstructed. Since 2021, the gallery room on the upper floor has been restored as a reconstruction based on its old function as a rifle gallery. This section of the site is now accessible as part of the armoury of the Dresden State Art Collections. More recently a fire on the morning of December 17, 2007 destroyed ten stalls of the mediæval Christmas market that was taking place at the time. The Fürstenzug- the procession of princes- is located on the outer wall of the stable yard on Schlossplatz. The 102-metre-long mural depicts the history of the Saxon ruling family of the Princely House of Wettin as a larger-than-life cavalcade on around 23,000 Meissen porcelain tiles. I was informed by the tour guide that the decaying paintwork that had been replaced by these tiles allowed the work to survive the bombing as the porcelain withstood the heat of the fire. From 1978 to 1979 the picture was cleaned and restored as 212 tiles that had been largely destroyed during the war had to be replaced. At the same time, 442 tiles that were less damaged were added.
Schloßstraße on the right in ruins and today. The Dresden chronicler Johann Christoph Hasche had described it at the end of the 18th century as "one of the widest and liveliest streets" in the city. As shown here, the street and its buildings were destroyed during the Dresden raid with reconstruction beginning in the 1950s. Around 2010 as part of the reconstruction of the Neumarkt area, further reconstruction of the eastern development of Schloßstraße began, during which the parallel and side streets that were also destroyed in 1945 were rebuilt. 
Wartime ethics, albeit an often-overlooked aspect, are instrumental in shaping decisions during conflict. The firebombing of Dresden undoubtedly marks a crucial point in discussions about the moral dimensions of warfare. Dresden, as an example of 'total war', tests the limitations of the conventionally accepted principle of proportionality. This principle, rooted in just war theory, dictates that the force used in war must be proportionate to the military advantage gained. The Allies' rationale, hinging on strategic, tactical, psychological, and geopolitical reasons, needs to be balanced against the devastating human cost of the bombing. Arguably, the widespread destruction and loss of civilian lives pushes the boundaries of proportionality, posing significant ethical challenges. However, it's critical to consider the historical context. The latter years of the war saw the escalation of violence on an unprecedented scale, significantly blurring the lines between combatants and non-combatants. Cities across Europe and Asia bore witness to widespread bombings. In this backdrop, the decision to bomb Dresden can be viewed as a continuation of the 'total war' doctrine adopted by all major belligerents, reflecting the Allies' desperation to hasten the end of the war. In conclusion, while the destruction of Dresden led to an enormous loss of human life and cultural heritage, it was viewed by the Allies as a necessary move within the framework of 'total war'. The bombing was justified on several fronts: it was seen as strategic due to the city's logistical and industrial significance; it was viewed as a psychological lever aimed at undermining German morale; and it bore geopolitical implications in the looming post-war power dynamics. 
This said, it was the post-war reconstruction that would become the subject of extensive criticism and debate, underlining the complexities of historical memory, cultural preservation, and political agenda. The original city, known for its beautiful baroque and rococo architecture, was almost entirely razed in the war, leaving the government and city planners with a dilemma: whether to preserve the bombed-out ruins as a reminder of war or reconstruct the city as it once was, defying the reality of its violent history. In the years following the war, East German authorities decided on a reconstruction strategy that blended old and new, aiming to recreate the iconic structures, such as the Frauenkirche and Zwinger Palace, alongside modern socialist architecture. However, this approach faced severe criticism for its historical revisionism. Critics argued that the reconstruction strategy presented an edited, sanitised version of history, one that allowed the city, and by extension, the nation, to sidestep confronting the atrocities of the war and the Holocaust. As Benjamin noted, "There is no document of culture which is not at the same time a document of barbarism." The reconstructed city, critics argued, was such a document, attempting to erase its own barbarism. Further fuelling this criticism was the stark contrast between the reconstructed buildings and the city's bombed-out ruins, left preserved as war memorials. These ruins, referred to as 'Ruin Value' by architectural historians, served as tangible evidence of the destruction brought by the war. Critics argued that the reconstruction of iconic buildings like the Frauenkirche into their pre-war states effectively rewrote history, removing this important narrative of destruction from the city's physical landscape. This concern echoes Lowenthal's observations about the complexity of preserving the past, where he posits, "[w]e can destroy an object's physical reality, but the past it embodies endures inviolate." The critics of Dresden's reconstruction perceived this 'inviolate' past being manipulated in the rebuilt cityscape. The debate around historical accuracy also extended to the reconstruction process itself. Many criticised the use of modern methods and materials in rebuilding historical buildings, arguing that this further contributed to the distortion of the city's historical truth. In his seminal work, Riegl differentiated between age value, which derives from the passage of time, and historical value, which comes from the historical significance of an object. The reconstruction of Dresden, critics claimed, undermined both values, using modern techniques to recreate an old aesthetic and reshaping the city's historical significance by erasing visible signs of its war-torn past. The criticism of Dresden's reconstruction for its historical revisionism raises profound questions about the ethics of architectural preservation and the role of urban landscapes in shaping historical memory. It invites us to consider the validity and feasibility of restoring a city's pre-war state, and whether such attempts inadvertently sanitise the past, creating a facsimile that dilutes the weight of history.
Kulturpalast Dresden
The Kulturpalast with the ruins of the Dresden Castle in the background in a DDR-era postcard of the 1970s and with the backdrop of the restored city centre today. The Kulturpalast Dresden is a modernist DDR building designed by the architect Wolfgang Hänsch opened in 1969 and had the largest multi-purpose hall in the city of Dresden, which was used for concerts, dance and entertainment events as well as conferences and congresses. After several years of renovation including the installation of a new concert hall, it was reopened in April 2017. Located to the east of Schloßstraße and south-west of nearby Neumarkt, it is right in the centre of the historic old town, which was largely destroyed on February 13, 1945. As with much of the reconstruction of Dresden in general, critics habe pointed out that converting the hall into a pure concert hall with only two thirds of the original number of seats ended up making a large part of the entertainment events impossible or uneconomical. At the same time, several fractions of the Dresden City Council initially rejected the conversion, since a functioning, economically viable building would be destroyed and the loss of substance and the conversion costs would represent a greater effort than building a new concert hall. It is unclear why the city council decision of 2004, which commissioned a renovation and an acoustic upgrade of the ballroom, was not implemented and was canceled again by a renewed majority city council decision in 2008. In the end this conversion cost the city of Dresden more than 101 million euros in tax money.
Ernst-Thälmann-PlatzAnother vestige of the DDR-regime is this memorial to German Communist Party (KPD) leader Ernst Thälmann that remains unmolested at Strehlner Platz, formerly Ernst-Thälmann-Platz. Sculpted by Johannes Peschel and set up in April 1986 on the occasion of his hundredth birthday, Thälmann's words can be read in metal letters between the two steles on the far right: Politics is history taking place in the present. Thälmann had completed the restructuring of the KPD as a party of a new type, as provided for in the statutes of the Communist International. Building on the Soviet social-fascism thesis the KPD, which was becoming increasingly Stalinised under his leadership, he stupidly fought the SPD as the main political enemy within the Weimar Republic over the Nazis. His arrest came on March 3, 1933, two days before the March 1933 Reichstag election and a few days after the Reichstag fire. Thälmann was shot in August 1944, after more than eleven years in solitary confinement, presumably on the direct orders of Hitler.
Previously during the Third Reich the square was initially named Horst-Wessel-Platz in honour of the so-called “martyr of the movement” killed by the communists. Wessel was the supposed author of the Horst Wessel Song, which became the Nazi party anthem shortly after his death. From 1933 to 1945 it formed the second part of the German national anthem, following the Deutschlandlied. There used to be a Haus der Jugend off the square, but the site is now occupied by a Lidl.

 Radebeul
Just outside Dresden is Villa Wach, 'aryanised' in 1939 and appropriated from the Wach family, became the following year a national leader school as DRK Landesführerschule IV with the reichsadler affixed onto its pediment as shown in the period photograph. It also served during the war as an hospital used by the German Red Cross. After the war until 1957 it was used by the Soviet army as a gaol; today it serves as a children's and youth services centre. During the war there was hardly any destruction in the town itself. Thirty-one  inhabitants on Ahornstraße were killed after their houses were destroyed by explosive bombs; a bronze plaque commemorates this at Ahornstraße 2/4. On May 7 and 8, 1945, Radebeul was occupied by the Soviet army almost without fighting, but the Niederwartha bridge was still blown up by German troops on May 8. The Soviet military administration confiscated numerous large buildings and villas for their purposes in the following weeks, and even until 1947; the inhabitants were partly forced to settle elsewhere until January 1950.

 
 Pirna
Located a few miles south of Dresden and capital of the administrative district Sächsische Schweiz-Osterzgebirge, its town hall is shown on the left in 1933, sporting the Nazi flag, and my bike parked in front today. After the Reichstag election in March 1933, the Nazis reached more than 40% of the votes in the Pirna municipal office. Mass spectacles, book burnings and persecutions followed. On March 9, 1933, in Pirna, too, street books were burnt in front of the Volksbuchhandlung and a newspaper (the "Volkszeitung") was banned. In 1928, Hermann Paul Nitsche was appointed Director of the Sonnenstein Institute, which had grown to more than 700 patients. With his inception, the systematic exclusion of chronically mentally ill people began. As advocates of "national socialist racial hygiene" and euthanasia, he carried out compulsory sterilisation, questionable forced treatment and food deprivation. In December 1939, the institution was closed and set up as a reservelazarett and resettlement camp.  The plant was notorious for its commitment under the T4 action when 13,720 patients and more than 1,000 concentration camp prisoners were gassed by the doctor Horst Schumann in Pirna from June 1940 to August 1941. Most euthanasia victims came from psychiatric institutions, homes for the mentally handicapped, as well as retirement and nursing homes. In the times of the "Hochbetriebs", more than 200 people were gassed per working day. Despite the strictest secrecy in the killing institute, rumours about the medical murders were circulating in the Pirna population. The fact that the populace was silent about this may have been associated with passive acceptance and diffuse fear of sanctions. During the Nazi era the Hermann-Göring-settlement in the "Heimatschutzstil" was built in the southern suburbs, today's musicians and painters, so named after the current street names.  In Pirna on the night of November 10th, 1938, four Jewish shops were destroyed; a memorial in the Schössergasse corner commemorates it.  Toward the end of the war between January 10 to the middle of April 1945, more than a thousand prisoners were forced to work for Deutsche Gasolin in the area of the "Alte Post" in the Mockenhal/Zatzschke concentration camp of Flossenbürg, and for the HASAG in the Oberterminische Mineralölwerk Herrenleite ("Carnallit"). The number of prisoners cited includes several hundred prisoners evacuated from Dresden, including Polish Jews from the Striesen metal works. During the war there were a total of 3,500 dead in Pirna, 203 of them killed by Anglo-American bombs. 760 dwellings were destroyed during the war. On April 19, 1945, American bomber raids were the last bomb attack on Pirna, in which the Elbe bridge and several buildings, including the monastery church, were destroyed. On May 8 Soviet troops occupied the city.
From early 1940 until end of June 1942, a part of the huge mental asylum here within Sonnenstein Castle overlooking Pirna was converted into a euthanasia killing centre: the Sonnenstein Nazi Death Institute. This was the first use of techniques later rolled out and refined for use within the Final Solution. A gas chamber and crematorium were installed in the cellar of the former men's sanitary (building C 16). A high brick-wall on two sides of the complex shielded it from outside while a high hoarding was erected on the other sides. Four buildings were located inside the shielding. They were used for offices, living rooms for the personnel et cet.. Sleeping quarters for the "burners" (men who burned the bodies) were provided for in the attic of building C 16. It is possible that other sections of the buildings were also used by T4.  From end of June 1940 until September 1942, approximately 15,000 persons were killed in the scope of the euthanasia programme and the Sonderbehandlung 14f13. The staff consisted of about 100 persons of whom one third was ordered to the extermination camps in occupied Poland, because of their experiences in deception, killing, gassing and burning innocent people. There they were trained by the killing groups who mounted the killing machinery in the later camps like Treblinka from TishBeAv 1942 and the others. During August and September 1942, the Sonnenstein killing centre was closed and incriminating installations such as gas chamber installations and crematorium ovens dismantled. After October 1942, the buildings were used as a military hospital.  This part of the history of Pirna went largely unrecognised in Germany until 1989, but after that efforts to remember that catastrophe started. In June 2000 a permanent exhibition opened concerning this period. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bavarian International School AGIS
At the Association of German International Schools (AGIS) in Dresden with colleagues from the
Bavarian International School where I presented in September 2023 after having earlier visiting the city to prepare, the results of which are found on this webpage. AGIS is an umbrella organisation that aims to represent and support the interests of international schools located in Germany. It serves as a platform for these schools to collaborate, share resources, and engage in professional development, whilst also providing a unified voice for the specific needs and challenges faced by international schools within the German educational landscape. Established in Berlin on February 9, 1994, it is currently comprised of international schools in the country, teaching more than 16,600 students from eighty nationalities representing more than forty different home languages. The historical roots of AGIS lie in the increasing globalisation of the late 20th century, which led to a surge in the number of expatriates and globally-mobile families residing in Germany. These families often sought educational options that were not only internationally recognised but also conducted in languages other than German. This surge in demand led to the establishment of several international schools across Germany. However, these schools soon realised that despite their independent operations, they faced common challenges—ranging from navigating German educational regulations to accessing teaching resources—that could be more effectively addressed through collaboration. AGIS was thus conceived to fulfil this role. Its initial activities were focused on providing a forum for school leaders to discuss best practices, share solutions to common problems, and engage in collective bargaining where necessary. Over the years, the association expanded its remit to include a range of services, from organising annual conferences and workshops for educators to facilitating inter-school sports and arts events for students. 
Its schools like mine are run as independent, non-profit, private institutions which provide an international education in the English language, that is recognised in Germany and accepted worldwide. Its schools are required to be committed to continuous improvement and quality assurance through evaluation, external program authorisation and international accreditation.
 One of AGIS's significant roles has been in professional development hence the purpose of the Dresden conference. The association regularly arranges for experts in the field of international education to offer workshops and seminars. These sessions often cover a broad range of topics from curriculum development and assessment strategies to multicultural pedagogical approaches, providing educators with the tools they need to effectively serve an increasingly diverse student body.