Dresden, once on of Europe's most beautiful cities, this weekend (February 15 and 14) commemorates the 25th anniversary of the allied air raids which reduced its centre to rubble.
Dresden, once on of Europe's most beautiful cities, this weekend (February 15 and 14) commemorates the 25th anniversary of the allied air raids which reduced its centre to rubble. During the night of February 13, 1945, some 1250 allied aircraft flew over the ancient city centre, renowned for its artistic and architectural treasures and flattened it in the space of an hour.
More than 35 thousand people died in the attack, many of them refugees who had fled into the city in the face of the advancing Soviet Army. The attack has been described as the most destructive single raid of the war in Europe.
Further raids followed on the next two nights, leaving 180,000 out of a total 220,000 homes partially or totally wrecked and 30 major historic buildings destroyed.
Between February 13 and February 15, 1945, some 650,000 incendiary bombs and a total of 3,400 tons of high explosives were dropped on the city. The result was 23 million cubic yards (18 million cubic metres) of rubble and the devastation of six square miles (15 square kilometres) of the city centre.
The air raid still remains a major controversy today since at the time Nazi Germany was on the verge of collapse. Many claim the raid was ordered because the allies wanted to impress Stalin with the strength and striking power of the RAF while leaving a "dead city" to the Red Army The Russians entered Dresden on May 8, 1945.
Today, 25 years after the raid, Dresden schoolchildren are taught that the raid was a result of Hitler's fanaticism. But many Dresdeners argue that the war was virtually decided and the raid served no strategic purpose since the centre or the town contained no military targets of industries.