Dresden Destruction Series

Gareth for Website 1Dresden Destruction Series.

Six prints Lithograph over Monoprint, 60 x 42 cms, Unique,2013.

‘The Bombing of Dresden’ was in fact four raids.  Between 13 and 15 February 1945. 722 heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force and 527 of the United States Army Air Forces dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city. The resulting firestorm destroyed 39 square kilometres of the city centre, and killed about 25,000 people.

The reference books about the effects, facts and figures of the bombing are many. They range from the remarkable photographic work of Richard Peter, from whose work these images were developed, to the all-encompassing work of British historian Frederick Taylor. Taylor’s 2004 book on Dresden, a staunch defence of the bombing, is exceptionally thorough in its description of the planning and emphasises the legitimacy of Dresden as a target, as both an industrial centre and transport hub. He also emphasises the factor of chance, with anonymous RAF meteorological officers sealing the city’s fate on the morning of February 13, predicting cloud breaks over the city, and good weather over the Lincolnshire bases, to which the bombers would return

Facts and figures tell only a part of the story. The Dresden born novelist Erich Kastner, whose works were early victims of the Nazi book burning, wrote in his 1959 autobiography ‘When I was a Little Boy’;

Yes, Dresden was a wonderful city. You may take my word for it. And you have to take my word for it, because none of you, however rich your father may be, can go there to see if I am right. For the city of Dresden is no more. It has vanished, except for a few fragments. In one single night and with a single movement of its hand the Second World War wiped it off the map. It had taken centuries to create its incomparable beauty. A few hours sufficed to spirit it off the face of the earth. This happened on the night of February I3th, I945. Eight hundred planes rained down high explosive and incendiary bombs on it. When they had gone, nothing remained but a desert with a few giant ruins which looked like ocean liners heeling over.

Two years later I stood in the midst of that endless desert and could not make out where I was. Among the broken, dust-covered bricks lay the name-plate of a street – ‘Prager Strasse’, I deciphered with difficulty. Could it be that I was standing in the Prager Strasse, the world-famous Prager Strasse, the most magnificent street of my childhood? The street with the loveliest shop windows? The most wonderful street at Christmas-time? I was standing in a waste half a mile long by half a mile wide, a desert of broken bricks and rubble and utter desolation.