The Stone Bell of Dresden

February 10, 2012 § 5 Comments

The Church of Our Lady standing behind modern buildings in Dresden. Dec 20, 2011.

On Febuary 13th 1945, Dresden was bombed and the Church of Our Lady kept burning for 2 days before the whole structure collapsed. I was surprised that no reconstruction took place right after the war ended. There were a couple of reasons: Political circumstances, as the Communist authorities wanted to clear the ruins and turn it into a parking garage; Financial problem, as the state or the country didn’t have the funding to rebuilt this church; Priority issues, as the Church of Our Lady had to wait until the reconstruction of the Dresdner Residenzscholoss was completed.Throughout the years, the ruins of this Church just stood quietly in the heart of Dresden, while the rest of the city being rebuilt.

Postcard of the remaining of the Church in 1952. This two standing facade can still be seen from the outside.

Even no plans had been made yet, the residents of Dresden already started to pick up unique stone fragments from the piles and number them for future reconstruction. It wasn’t until 1966 that the remnant were officially declared to be a memorial against war. People brought candles and flowers to the site and eventually it became the site of a peace movement with peaceful protests against the Soviet authority.

Raising funds from all around the world, the reconstruction finally begun in 1993. They used the original floor plan from 1720s, and did everything they can to rebuild the whole thing to what they looked like over 45 years ago with references from paintings and photographs. The church also served as a reconciliation between Germany and her former warring enemies. One thing I found particular interesting was the story of the new cross, not only it was a donation from the Brits, it was made by a goldsmith whose father was an aircrew who took part in the bombing of Dresden.

The church doesn’t have a super long nave, or crazy high vaults. It was a cozy setting with chairs arranged in like a half circle. It felt different to be inside this church, as it was the official memorial site for the bombing attack. Everyone just took a seat, glazing at the altarpiece and the pastel ceiling in silence. One thing I love about visiting a rebuild church is that pretty much everything looks clean and white. You know how most of the church are so dark inside with an inch of dust or pollutants on top?  Finally you get to visit a beautiful church bright and shiny, the way it looked like when it was first built hundreds of years ago! Thinking of what happened in the past, we all were happy that this church was finally standing tall again. It’s the pride of the city of Dresden.

Inside of the Church of Our Lady. Dresden. Dec 20, 2011.

The Church of Our Lady under the sun. Dresden. Dec 20, 2011.

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