Rebuilding Dresden after 1945: A new orientation and new constructions

Although the streets of Dresden were quickly cleared and opened for traffic soon after the bombing on 13th and 14th February 1945, the people of Dresden had to live for almost a decade in a city marked by ruins and rubble. Portions of houses, mostly facades, rose like skeletons out of mountains of rubble and the citizens had to manage without enough homes, water, electricity and food. Yet the Dresdeners, spurred by their need for survival remained undeterred in their resolve to see the city restored. In the immediate aftermath of the war they worked together to restore at least the city centre.

And so the reconstruction of some of the buildings was started soon after the end of the war.  But several ruins that could have been easily rebuilt because enough of their original material was still available, were also demolished or dynamited. As were historical landmarks and structures that came in the way of a new city plan. This continued till the 1960s. Streets became unrecognizable as everything was levelled and cleared for the quick building of new residences, mostly apartment blocks, to address the severe shortage of homes. While this was similar in both East and West Germany, the east was also determined to re build according to contemporary ideals and standards that reflected the new ideology.

So it came to be, that in Dresden only a few of the historic buildings were left. These included the Semper Opera, Zwinger, The Royal Residence, the Taschenberg Palace and  the Royal Cathedral. Many of these were rebuilt only several decades later, and mostly because of the unwavering efforts and the engagement of many Dresden citizens.

The Frauenkirche, or the Church of Our Lady, a symbol of reconciliation was rebuilt and reopened as late as 2005. The donations for the effort came from all over the world, most significantly from Great Britain, the USA and Germany.

These experiences- of destruction and reconstruction, death and survival, tragedy and hope define the city of Dresden till today. From the moving stories that come to us from witnesses that lived through that time, we are reminded, time and time again, that one fact is never to be taken lightly or for granted: The fact that we have lived in peace for the past 70 years. The longest period of peace in Europe since the Middle Ages.