The rebuilding of Dresden in East Germany, renowned before the allied air raids of 1945 as one of the world's most beautiful cities, is still going on -- 32 years after the bombing.
The rebuilding of Dresden in East Germany, renowned before the allied air raids of 1945 as one of the world's most beautiful cities, is still going on -- 32 years after the bombing. Much of Dresden has of course been reconstructed, with modern buildings, broad streets, squares and open space. But the ancient city centre famous for its beautiful architecture, still bears some of its wartime scars.
SYNOPSIS: On the night of February the 13th, 1945, more than a thousand allied aircraft flew over the centre of the city and flattened it within the space of an hour. Further raids followed on the next two nights. Hundreds of thousands of phosphorus incendiary bombs and three-and-a-half thousand tons of high explosives were dropped. More than 35-thousand people died during the first raid alone.
Many were 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. After three nights the holocaust left 30 major historic buildings destroyed and 180-thousand out of a total 220-thousand ordinary homes partially or totally demolished. One of the important buildings damaged was the Zwinger, which housed world-famous scientific and artistic collections.
The Zwinger was originally planned as the forecourt for a castle. Its Semper gallery, adorned by statues of artists and poets, was destroyed in 1945 but re-opened in 1960, the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Dresden art collections.
Dresden's churches suffered terribly. The Frauenkirche, or Ladies Church, was almost totally destroyed. It remains, with its statue of the religious reformer Martin Luther, as a memorial to those who died in the raids.
Dresden's famous castle, the Georgenschloss, a former royal palace built in the 16th century, was also badly hit. Long-term restoration work is planned, to be partly funded by a lottery.
The modern city, with its open spaces and wide thoroughfares, makes a shrinking contrast to the baroque architecture, of the old Dresden, but as far as possible the character of the old town has been preserved. Even so, it's a very different city and the war damage can never be forgotten.