Landeshauptstadt Dresden - 14.10.2016 12:26:09 Uhr 16.06.2024 09:05:14 Uhr

13th February - Anniversary of the destruction of Dresden

In the late evening of 13th February 1945, several hundred British bombers flew a first raid against the city centre of Dresden. They were followed a few hours later by an even more devastating wave of attack, and during the daytime on 14th and 15th February 1945 by American formations. These four air raids reduced practically the whole of the centre of Dresden to rubble, and cost the lives of tens of thousands of its inhabitants.

In its sixth year, the Second World War which Germany had unleashed and which had already claimed so many millions of victims, returned to Dresden with a vengeance. The bombing struck a city which was home to hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, and a cradle of priceless cultural treasures, but at the same time a city which was fully integrated into the German war effort.

Powerful symbol and the culture of remembrance

The destruction of Dresden in February 1945 very quickly became a worldwide symbol for military action against civilian populations. Even today, the fate of Dresden is named as an example for many comparable attacks during this and the various wars which have followed. At the same time, memories of the destruction have shaped the image of our city throughout the world.

Since 1945, a strong and multi-faceted culture of remembrance has developed in Dresden, preserving above all the desire for peace of the post-war generations, and creating a framework for reconciliation with former wartime enemies. At the same time, politically motivated statements and actions have repeatedly made reference to the destruction of Dresden, and continue to do so today. Depending on the protagonists and situation, the historical events are taken as a starting point for arguments with quite different, or even opposing aims.

The date 13th February 1945 thus stands in the controversy-laden context of a debate with significance far beyond local boundaries. More than simply a critical assessment of the history of Dresden and its citizens, it addresses also fundamental questions of peace, humanity and our own responsibilities.

Anniversary of the destruction

For the democratic public in Dresden, 13th February is each year an occasion to reflect on the culture of remembrance in our city, to continue positive traditions, to formulate standpoints and objectives, and to stand up against abuse of our remembrance. For many, this is the beginning of a lasting commitment to reconciliation and a peaceful future.