Today is the seventieth anniversary of the Allied bombing raids on Dresden. It just so happens that I am in Dresden at present studying (Deutsche als Fremdsprache) at the Goethe Institut.
Yesterday I visited an extraordinary exhibition at the Dresden Panometer (a former gas factory that has been converted to a static art exhibition). The installation is a 90 metre high, 360 degree depiction by artist in residence Yadegar Asisi of the night of February 13th 1945 (see detail above). At the left hand side of the picture you can make out the Frauenkirche essentially cleaved in two. The Frauenkirche was fully (and superbly) restored in the late nineties, but there still remains today a ‘ground zero’ directly in front of the building:
Paradoxically, the shops directly adjacent to the Frauenkirche sell £40,000 watches to wealthy Russians and have their own security guards outside.
The atmosphere here is undeniably emotional. There is no doubt that even two generations later the wounds are still raw. I was verbally attacked as I was talking on my phone (in English) by a (drunk or disturbed) German man shouting at me about ‘bombing Dresden’. I have also specifically been warned by colleagues not to go into the city tonight, for fear of violent neo-Nazi demonstrations.
It is indeed a strange world in which we live.