EXPATS AGAIN

EXPATS AGAIN! Experiencing other cultures while enriching our global view.

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Munich, Germany
I am married to the love of my life and am finally able to shower him with all of the attention he deserves. I am now retired and living the life here in Europe. I am an American, he is an Australian, and this is our second overseas address. The first was Shanghai, China and now Munich, Germany. Come along and live the life with us as we continue our adventure of discovering all Europe has to offer.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

DRESDEN

This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen.  The church above is called the Frauenkirche in Dresden, Germany.  The city still has buildings in ruin since the bombing raids of 1945.  This church was completed in 2005 by privately raised funds, but until then it remained in ruins.

   
Above is a building in the process of restoration.  If you look closely, you can see the motifs and bas reliefs that are being restored.  


  
Here is a close up, above



   
It seems like everywhere you look, building is in process.



We were serenaded by this group of band members with some spectacular voices. 


The Furstenzug,  the Saxon sovereigns, is truly an awesome sight.  There is my hubby walking along the footpath.



Dresden has rejuvenated itself into a lively and important city.


Horses in line for buggy rides through the city.



I have been to many cities, but none of them has affected me like Dresden.  Knowing that the Aldstadt, old town, was nearly wiped out and the civilian casualties were close to 25,000 gives a person experiencing the city for the first time a ghostly feeling.  Over 8,000 pounds of explosives were dropped on this part of the city by the RAF and 650,000 incendiaries were dropped by the USA Air Force.

Kurt Vonnegut saw the raid when he was a POW and wrote the novel Slaughterhouse-Five in memory of that experience.  I read this novel in high school over 40 years ago.  At the time, it didn't resonate with me -- a young girl anticipating college and all life had to offer.  Now, with more life behind me, I stood in the courtyard above and imagined the photos I've seen since of bodies filled high to the sky.  Today, they are still debating the necessity of bombing Dresden.  Yes, it did contribute to the end of Hitlers reign of terror, but the cost of the innocents is what lingers to haunt visitors today.

9 comments:

headbang8 said...

I had the same reaction when I read Slaughterhouse Five. I imagined a city razed to the ground, which would be been rebuilt in cheap, bland fiftes style. Think Munich Hauptbahnhof, or the entire city of Düsseldorf.

Having lived in Tokyo, one can see the same thing. There is a whole class of hasty buildings, built after the war, which authorities are gradually replacing. Even today, the city is still replacing the grim, dull and not very earthquake-resistant building stock that it threw up in a hurry.

It amazes me that Germans are still rebuilding. But it doesn't surprise me at all that they are taking the time to do it right.

It shocked me to see the Frauenkirche on TV--it's the scene of many concerts--and to learn that it had been rebuilt only as late as 2005. An amazing building.

Dresden is definitely on our must-see list.

Expats Again said...

You are so right, Headbang. They are restoring the city as accurately as they can to how it was before the war. Slowing, but surely, it is like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. I am reading Slaughterhouse-Five again. It's time.

Snooker said...

What a wonderful city! I was last there in 2001 and the Frauenkirche was one huge mass of scaffolding. The tour guides were telling stories of how much money it was taking to rebuild and how the main dome is so special and weighs more than any other, blah blah blah.
But what struck me was the simple realization that the reason the city seems to just now be getting the reconstruction it desperately needed was because of its GDR status after the war. Reconstruction of the classical buildings simply weren't a priority. Sad, eh?

C said...

If you want more info on the bombing, check out WG Sebald's book On the Natural History of Destruction. His info on Hamburg's firebombing can also be applied to Dresden (they were bombed quite similarly) and was used by Jonathan Safran Foer in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Christen said...

Oh, this is truly beautiful. I grew up in Brussels and these pictures are really making me miss home! Enjoy every minute of it :)

Expats Again said...

Snooker, I wanted to comment about the GDR's refusal to rebuild, but I didn't. My understanding is that they left the ruins as a propaganda tool to show the destruction caused by the U.S. and Great Britain.

C, thanks so much for the book recommendations. I'm in the U.S. for a visit and I'll check them out. I would love to learn more about what happened.

Christen, you were very fortunate to live in Brussels. It is a lovely city--and oh...the chocolate!

Snooker said...

OH MY!
I almost forgot. Next time you are in the Dresden area, don't forget to take a twist through Meißen! What a wonderful throwback to an earlier age! Oh... and enough hand-crafted porcelain to keep you busy for YEARS!

Expats Again said...

Hi Snooker,
We did go to Meissen (an earlier post) on the same trip to Dresden. I was gobsmacked! I don't think my husband or I earn enough between us to keep me in Meissen porcelain, but I will acquire a piece or two~~oh~~the choices, the choices...

Joyce said...

I love your pictures and I loved the city too. The story behind it is truly amazing. My daughter and I were there with friends for the Christmas Market back in Dec. 2007...it was COLD!! I'm like you...I also read Slaughterhouse FIve back in highschool but like most things connected with the world wars there wasn't a lot of context. Living in Europe changed that for sure.