Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dresden - Back from the Edge of Doom

In February 1945, a few months before the end of WWII hostilities in Europe, Allied Command decided to bomb Dresden, Germany, for maximum terror effect and to render the city non-functional. Prior to the war, Dresden, which is near the eastern extreme of Germany, had a population of around 650,000 and had remained thus far, virtually untouched by the war raging across other parts of Europe. German air defenses by this time had been reduced almost to ineffectiveness making the mission militarily viable and, more compelling, the Red Army was advancing rapidly on Dresden from the east - a situation that mightily alarmed both England and the USA. With a flood of refugees fleeing before the Russians, the population of Dresden, unknown with any real accuracy, was estimated to at least have doubled. And bomb it they did. Two waves of aircraft, each around 800 planes, rained incendiary devices on the city and met the objective of creating a firestorm. In such a cataclysm, super-heated air rushes upward, drawing in fresh air from around the base creating with air speeds approaching those in a small tornado. Temperatures rise to the point that unexpected items, such a black-top roads, burst into flames and the winds effectively suck everything that is not nailed down toward the fire center, including people. Estimates of loss of life from this event, vary from 35,000 to as many as 100,000. Less uncertain, was the almost total destruction of eight hundred years of history, historical edifices and artifacts. Overall, not a highpoint for humanity. After WWI, the charred remnants of Dresden fell under the control of the Soviets where it remained, as part of East Germany, for more than 40 years. During his tenure with the KGB, Vladimir Putin was posted to Dresden from 1985 to 1990. Following German reunification in 1990, Dresden has fairly risen from the ashes to become a major economic and cultural center for the Saxony region of Germany. A massive program has been underway for many years rebuilding many of the lost palaces and hotels with the same materials and techniques that were used originally. In completed areas, it is not easy to tell old from new leaving one with a vague feeling of staged history. One result for sure - it sure pulls in the tourist dollars!

Dresden New Town is on the north bank of the Elbe while
the old town is on the south side. This gilded statue of
Augustus the Strong
, known as the Golden Rider, is at
north end of the Augustus Bridge

The Finance Ministry looks over the river from the north bank

Also on the north bank is the Saxony Chancelry

A New Town church viewed from the south bank

Old Town view. Somehow, for our needs, Dresden lacked
excitement and focus. While it has all the requisite parts,
for us, it just didn't seem to "work"

Church of Our Lady from the north bank

Semper Opera House

Detail from opera house facade

Catholic Cathedral by George's Gate

Maintenance on Catholic Cathedral
tower - rather them than me!

Castle Clock Tower from outside Old Town

George's Gate entry to Old Town

Detail of the triple George's Gate

Stable yard of the Castle inside Old Town

Castle Street

Old Town renovations with a church and
the old town hall in the background

At the south end of Old Town is a mixture of the new and the old

Here, the Kurlander Palace is under construction, on
it's way to becoming another "historic monument"

A couple of recently completed pieces of history

This one is set to have it's Grand Opening in October 2007

At last, a narrow street, this one leading
to the Church of Our Lady

The Church of Our Lady

Matin Luther - the original - statue in
the square by the Church of Our Lady

A popular promenade along the south bank is Bruhlisch Terrasse.
Shown here is the Neue Standehaus which stands at one end

The Art Academy

The Albertinium Museum

Albertinium Dome detail

Seems no end to the imagination of the mimes

Dresden tram and general overhead clutter

Red-Green transportation. Useful way to be driven
around in a pedestrian restricted area

A less propitious way of traveling, these emergency vehicles,
with their obnoxious sirens, seemed to be forever rushing
back and forth

Meanwhile, back at the campsite, we could not help admiring the
ingenuity of some campers as they endeavored to stretch space

These guys seemed to be out of ideas, though

On the other hand, these folk more than made up for it

A wonderful double-deck arrangement,
complete with patio dining area

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