Monday, August 1, 2011
Dresden day 2
Cloudy and overcast, temps around 50, but no rain. I will take it! Today we had a bit of a free day. The program will pay for museum admittions, so we decided to view the collection at the best-known museum of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. It is the Old Masters Picture Gallery in the Semper museum building adjoining the Zwinger, where the most famous painting is Raffael's Sistine Madonna.The Electors and Kings of Saxony were enthusiastic collectors of art and acquired art treasures of immeasurable value over the course of the centuries.
With his Electoral collection of cabinet pieces, Elector Augustus laid the foundation for the original collection in Dresden, which was counted among the most remarkable sights in Europe as early as the 17th century. So rapidly did the collectibles grow in number and variety that special museums were founded as long ago as the 18th century. Thanks to the collections, state-owned since 1924, Dresden is one of the most important museum cities in Europe today. Sadly, they allowed no pictures to be taken.
We the travelled to the Dresden Frauenkirche (German: Dresdner Frauenkirche, literally Church of Our Lady) a Lutheran church. Built in the 18th century, the church was destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden during World War II. It has been reconstructed as a landmark symbol of reconciliation between former warring enemies. The reconstruction of its exterior was completed in 2004, its interior in 2005 and, after 13 years of rebuilding, the church was reconsecrated on 30 October 2005 with festive services lasting through the Protestant observance of Reformation Day on 31 October.
On 13 February allied forces began the bombing of Dresden. The church withstood two days and nights of the attacks and the eight interior sandstone pillars supporting the large dome held up long enough for the evacuation of 300 people who had sought shelter in the church crypt, before succumbing to the heat generated by some 650,000 incendiary bombs that were dropped on the city. The temperature surrounding and inside the church eventually reached 1,000 degrees Celsius.The dome finally collapsed at 10 a.m. on 15 February. The pillars glowed bright red and exploded; the outer walls shattered and nearly 6,000 tons of stone plunged to earth, penetrating the massive floor as it fell.
The building vanished from Dresden's skyline, and the blackened stones would lie in wait in a pile in the center of the city for the next 45 years as Communist rule enveloped what was now East Germany. Shortly after the end of World War II, residents of Dresden had already begun salvaging unique stone fragments from the Church of Our Lady and numbering them for future use in reconstruction. Popular sentiment discouraged the authorities from clearing the ruins away to make a car park. In 1966, the remnants were officially declared a "memorial against war", and state-controlled commemorations were held there on the anniversaries of the destruction of Dresden.
In 1982, the ruins began to be the site of a peace movement combined with peaceful protests against the East German regime. On the anniversary of the bombing, 400 Dresdeners came to the ruins in silence with flowers and candles, part of a growing East German civil rights movement. By 1989, the number of protesters in Dresden, Leipzig and other parts of East Germany had increased to tens of thousands, and the wall dividing East and West Germany toppled.
The images of this time are haunting. I can not wait to upload them here. We then were off to find parties and cappuccino, which we did! Delicious! We continued to the porcelain collection of the museum The collection was founded in 1715 by the Saxon Prince-Elector Augustus the Strong, and was originally housed in the Japanese Palace (then known as the "Dutch Palace") on the banks of the Elbe. It moved into the Johanneum in 1876. The collection largely survived World War II thanks to evacuation, and moved into its current home in the south part of the Zwinger in 1962. Today the collection features 20,000 porcelain artifact. I was afraid to sneeze, or risk imprisonment for breaking an irreplaceable item.
We then stumbled across a Tripping Stone, small plaque on the pavement that note the names and Holocaust deportation dates of former residents of the areas. So eerie, I took several picture. This man was deported to Dachau in 1941, and dies in 1944. we staggered home tired and cold for a quick 20 minutes and met for dinner at a delicious eclectic restaurant.