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c. 1945

The ruins of Dresden

Seventy-five years ago this week, the German city of Dresden was all but utterly destroyed.

Seventy-five years ago this week, the German city of Dresden, the baroque treasure of the region of Saxony, and nicknamed The Jewel Box, was all but utterly destroyed. The cause — 4,000 tons of bombs, dropped in 48 hours, by 800 British and 520 USAAF bombers.

Photo 12 / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

More than half of that bombing’s mass were explosives, wrecking Dresden’s buildings. The remainder were incendiary bombs, setting fire to the wreckage. The explosive force created a firestorm, at a temperature above 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The city was waylaid and more than 25,000 people were killed.

Evening Standard / Getty Images

The attack had been prompted by Dresden’s position as a significant hub for both transport and industry. The city had a multitude of factories which supplied the Nazi war machine.

Even at the time, the attack was questioned by Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time. As he put it, “The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing.”

Within three months, the war in Europe had ended. Dresden became a part of the Eastern Bloc, under Soviet occupation. And gradually, very gradually, it was rebuilt. All but the 18th century Lutheran Frauenkirche; its ruins were left as a memorial.

Deutsche Fotothek / Picture Alliance / Getty Images
Theodor Rosenhauer in the midst of ruins in Dresden working on his oil painting “View of the Japanese Palace after the Bombing”
Deutsche Fotothek / Richard Peter / Getty Images
Deutsche Fotothek / Picture Alliance / Getty Images
Deutsche Fotothek / Picture Alliance / Getty Images
Deutsche Fotothek / Picture Alliance / Getty Images
Deutsche Fotothek / Picture Alliance / Getty Images
William Vandivert/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Deutsche Fotothek / Picture Alliance / Getty Images

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