Oct 19, 2008

"Florence on the Elbe"

Out of the Ashes

Dresden was a peaceful and picturesque town on February 13, 1945. The city was full of refugees fleeing the Russian army, serving as hospital to the civilian wounded. It is estimated nearly a million people were in the city that day. The city was of no military importance - the only industry in the city was making China and the war was at it's end.

That night, after a day of religious celebration for Shrove Tuesday, the phosphorous bombs began to fall from British and American bombers. The raid lasted 14 hours.

On Ash Wednesday, a firestorm brewed in the city center that burned at 1600 degrees Centigrade (2700 degrees F). Oxygen was sucked out of cellars where people sought shelter. The heat was so intense they were reduced to cinder and liquid within seconds.

It is said 260,000 bodies were able to be recovered and counted in the aftermath (to be fair - modern historians put the actual number around 50,000 - there is a lot of misinformation on the subject due to use of the tragedy as propaganda as well as it being classified in the US until 1978). It is estimated that nearly twice that perished, most of the remains being completely destroyed by the fire. Kids. Families. Murdered by Allied forces in the deadly attack.

Phoenix Rising

Today, the historical city has been rebuilt as it once was using the few remains of what was destroyed - an effort for reconciliation and healing. Black, misshapen stones stand out in newly constructed churches and historical buildings. In one historical church, the cross that once stood on its dome, now melted and mangled stands as a memorial of the atrocity that occurred there.

A Burning Melted Cross
Dresden is again a beautiful and peaceful town that stands a reminder that there are no 'good guys' in war.

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