Friday, April 6, 2018
Day 4 - Dresden, Germany
This morning we loaded our suitcases onto our new bus, and met Milan, our Czech driver who was also our driver last year, and who would be taking us to Prague via Dresden. 2016 was the first year we had stopped in Dresden, as in prior years we had traveled by train from Berlin to Prague, and we loved the city and decided to make this an annual visit. Olaf, our Berlin guide had usually accompanied us to Dresden where we were met by Kamila, our wonderful Czech guide, but Olaf was unable to accompany us this year so Kamila had joined us in Berlin on Tuesday and would be guiding us through Dresden and on to Prague.
As we began our two and a half hour drive, Mr. Barmore told us we were going to see an architectural gem. One hundred fifty years ago before the unification of Germany, Dresden was the capital of another kingdom or principality, Saxonia, [now Saxony] which was one of those 30 units that Germany had to unite. They were never very powerful but the kings had a taste of culture and therefore Dresden became one of the most beautiful baroque towns in the world.
The interesting thing about the town today is that everything was renovated.
We learned that in February 1945, shortly before the end of the war, the Allies (Britain and the United States) bombed Dresden reducing almost everything in the city to rubble. Why did the Allies decide to do this so late in the war when it was already apparent that Germany was eventually going to lose the war? Germany was losing the war but Hitler and some of his generals did not want to give up. War continued needlessly and it cost more lives on both sides especially German. The Allies tried to do what the United States tried to do in Japan with the atom bomb. Not that bombing Dresden had a strategic military importance but it had a strong psychological impact because the city was so symbolic to the Germans. Last year we had also heard that many Dresden residents believed that the bombing was purely an act of revenge in retaliation for the German bombing of the British city of Coventry early in the war. After the war, the city of Dresden was rebuilt as closely as possible to what had existed before the bombing, including the historic buildings. Mr. Barmore said that one of the things that is amazing about Germans is their capability to renew and to rebuild. Germans with the financial aid of Americans were able to rebuild the city, much of it as it had been, and to move on.
We met our guide, Cosimo who said she had been born in Dresden and lived all her life here. We spent the day with her walking through the beautiful city. Our luck with the weather continued as it was sunny and warm. We had learned that Germany now has 16 states, which were unified under Bismarck in 1871, but he allowed a few states to remain ‘free’ and retain their own king. These included Bavaria [Hitler fought for Germany in WWI by successfully petitioning King Ludwig III to allow him to fight in his army] and Saxony.
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