To the people of Dresden on behalf of yourself and all the others who worked on bomber command. You weren't aware that Air-Marshall Arthur "Bomber" Harris was a proponent of area bombing, i.e. bombing everything in sight in a city rather than selecting targets of military and strategic value. You weren't aware that along with the high explosive, incendiary bombs would be clustered to create a firestorm with temperatures up to 1000°C, so hot that the roads melted and fleeing civilians feet burned as they ran. You weren't aware that a second wave of bombing was planned 3 hours after the first, timed to drive any fire-fighting efforts off the street and particular devasting because the first raid took out all the electricity so no alarms could presage this second wave of burning death.
I'm sure you were aware of Coventry and the London blitz but you probably weren't aware of Dresden's beauty and history which earned it the nickname "the Florence of the Elbe", nor were you probably aware that it had a little military or strategically importance, other than being a city the size of Manchester, tucked over to the East of Germany.
I wonder if Pathé News showed footage of a city bombed and burned to the ground; I wonder if you rejoiced when some arbitrary death count was announced, maybe as low as 25,000 but probably as high as 135,000 no-one knows.
I hope not.
If you were alive now and could see the photos of the complete decimation of a city of almost no military importance, would you want me to apologise for this one act in that do terrible war most likely to fall into the category of a British war crime?
Or would you see it as a simple act of revenge for Coventry, the countless civilian deaths may have had no strategic significance but reduced Germany's population and sapped it's will? And the fact it was as late as Feb 1945 when the war was almost already won, would you see this as a valid act to snuff out any last pockets of resistance?
I hope not.
Dresden has the incongruity of its Alt stadt (old town) being younger that its Neue stadt (new town). The new town north of the river suffered less devastation and so most of the rebuild effort went into that. But the older south side is seeing its renaissance too. Between the train station and the centre of the town where all the really historic buildings once stood has had a complete late 20th, early 21st century makeover. Obviously not started until after the collapse of the GDR in 1989 it is a homage to Western Consumerism with gleaming stores of both national and international brands.
One of the main features of the alt stadt is the castle. Reduced to a shell in 1945, it was left almost untouched until the 1960s when work started on a rebuild which finished as recently as 2013.
Amazingly its amazing Fürstenzug (Procession of the Princes) wall, tiled in the early 1900s with 23,000 irreplaceable Meissen tiles came through the firebombing relatively unscathed.
There is a lot of other impressive rebuilding of the historic skyline but, Augustus Bridge being an example, much of the old city is still a buildlng site 70+ years on.
Readers who are familiar with Dresden will wonder why I haven't mentioned Frauene Kirche, rebuilt from rubble and, like its counterpart in Coventry reminding Christians and others alike of the horror of war. Well quite simply, it was hot today, 28° and alt stadt is confusing at best, not made easier with all the rebuilding work and not made easier by this weekend being Stadt Fest so lots of food and drink stalls everywhere, interspersed with motor dealers' stalls; apparently they are the stars of the show. So the need to sit and take in liquid was over-riding and the Kirche will have to wait until tomorrow.
Talking of taking in liquid the first was a non-alcohol refresher from a burger chain with the name Hans Im Gluck, but no relationship as far as I can see with the board game manufacturer of the same name. The other drinks were more traditional fermented barley based! Although one of them did include full dinner too.
Back to the campsite where the heat may be breaking if this heavy thunderstorm is anything to go by. Lots of water here on the camping
lake site. Let's hope it clears the air but stops soon. Looks like it might.