I will be in Dresden the week of Feb. 11 and would love to go to the Remembrance concert in the Frauenkirche Feb. 13 or 14. Of course, tickets were sold out long ago. Any suggestions for sources from which to secure a single ticket? Willing to pay commissions, surcharges, gratuities, etc.
Will, good news. The concenrt "In Rememberence" is on February 15th, 2013 and there are tickets available. There are 4 seat categories: €44, €34, €24 and €12 with the latter two one only coming with limited view (so you only see half of the stage or so). The most popular category is the one for €34 per seat and that's the one that's filling up quickly now, the lady at the telephone explained to me. So how can you book? It's a church so there is no online ticket shop. You can order your tickets by E-Mail (email@example.com) or telephone. They will then issue an invoice which they'd prefer you settle by bank transfer. Alternatively you can then call them up and give them your credit card details over the phone (01149 351 6560 6701, between 9am and 6pm CET).
Success!! Thank you Andreas. I will send you a private message.
Hi James, In answer to your question, this is from the jacket cover of the book, "Firestorm: Allied Airpower and the Destruction of Dresden" by Marshall De Bruhl: "On February 13 and 14, 1945, three successive waves of British and U.S. aircraft rained down thousands of tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs on the largely undefended German city of Dresden. Night and day, Dresden was engulfed in a vast sea of flame, a firestorm that generated 1,500 degree temperatures and hurricane-force winds. Thousands suffocated in underground shelters where they had fled to escape the inferno above. The fierce winds pulled thousands more into the center of the firestorm, where they were incinerated. By the time the fires burned themselves out, many days later, a great city-known as "the Florence on the Elbe"--lay in ruins, and tens of thousands, almost all of them civilians, lay dead." For a heartfelt description of Dresden's Frauenkirche, I refer you to Rick Steves' travel book, "Germany, 2012," page 602. Will
Will,in other words, the bombing of Dresden.
When I lived near Coventry, England I learned about Dresden. Coventry was bombed terribly in November and December, 1940 during the Coventry Blitz. On 14 November, 1940 the beautiful and much loved St Michael's Cathedral was destroyed by fire bombs. The only surviving part was the bell tower, and the rest of the Cathedral still now stands ruined. In the 1950s a modern Cathedral was built next door keeping the same name. The people of Coventry, having been Blitzed, understand about the firestorms unleashed in Germany by Bomber Command and the USAAF/USAF. It is said that Churchill ordered the Bomber Command destruction of Dresden as revenge for the bombing of Coventry. After the war Coventry and Dresden pledged to help each other rebuild and have long been twinned cities (they were some of the originals) with Coventry having recently given the gold cross placed atop the Dresden Cathedral. Both cities are strongly anti-war. They both have a Cross of Nails, the original being formed the day after the bombing of Coventry Cathedral by the stonemason of the Cathedral who found three medieval nails in the smoking ruins and tied them together as a cross. The Dresden one was a gift from Coventry. The inscription on St Michaels now reads "Father Forgive"
'Tens of thousands died on both sides.' Tens of millions if you count both sides in both theaters. What tore Churchill up about Coventry was that the had to let it get tubed. The Bletchley crowd was reading Enigma, Churchill knew it was coming, but couldn't react without giving away the fact that he was reading mail. War sucks.
Indeed, Ed. I suggest everyone read, and re-read, Nigel's post.
"It is said" that Churchill's motive for approving the Dresden operation was to placate the Russians since the attack happened right after the Yalta Conference had concluded. Good post Nigel on both Dresden and Coventry.
I was also in that synagogue in Prague where all the names of the Jewish people killed were listed on the walls. Not only were they listed on the walls, but there being spoken aloud. It was so moving to see this and remember those murdered.
Questioning a remembrance concert in Dresden is no different than questioning a remembrance event in Hiroshima. These kinds of events are still important today for many reasons.
First, thank you to all who have posted either advice (gratefully accepted) or offered personal insights about remembrance events or memorials. I have never been to an actual remembrance event, but as Beatrix said, there are multiple reasons for them, and I presume the main ones are to remember, to forgive/heal, and to reaffirm a determination to prevent a reoccurrence. This is what I'm anticipating at the Frauenkirche in Dresden. And besides, they are performing Mozart's Great Mass in C Minor which I have never heard live :-) James, thank you for your offer of assistance. As it turns out, the B&B I'll be staying at looks like it's only about a five minute walk to the plaque shown in your link, so of course I will see it. My itinerary is based almost solely on opera, symphony, and the performing arts, and a desire to settle in and become more than a tourist: 17 days in Vienna with a side-trip to Salzburg, 5 days in Prague, a week in Dresden/Leipzig, and the rest of the time split between Berlin and Frankfurt. I'm sharing this because although my evening concert slate is full (or at least with all that I can afford), my days are empty. It sounds like at least several of you have knowledge of travel in these cities, and as a person who speaks neither Czech nor German, I welcome your advice and recommendations for filling the days. Thanks so much...
Just to chime in about the Stolper Stein or Stumble Stones. The information you posted, James, is woefully incorrect. There are presently over 35,000 of these and the majority of them are in Germany. There are a few in Poland, Austria and the Netherlands. Anyone can sponsor and pay for a Stolper Stein to be installed, it does not have to a member of a surviving family. They are installed in the sidewalks in front of where the people lived. You also do not have to be Jewish to have one of these, they are for anyone who was murdered by the nazis - Homosexuals, Jehova Witnesses, Roma & Sinti, all those who were euthonized in the T-4 Program, and anyone who was considered a traitor. James, we already had a thread about who we are and how old we are, though honestly I don't see why it makes a difference. For those visiting Frankfurt, do make time to see the Jewish Holocaust Memorial Wall, with the names of the 12,000 Jewish citizens of Frankfurt who were killed. There is also a Homosexual Memorial, a Jehovah Witness Memorial, and in the main cemetery, memorials to the Slave Laborers, the Roma & Sinti, and the victims of "scientific" experimentation.
As an American Jew living in Germany I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for the Nazis getting their asses stomped at the end of the war, yet even I can understand the horror of the Dresden firebombing, which did not have much military or strategic value, and seemed designed as retribution for previous Axis attacks, and primarily attacked the center of the city (not the industrial suburbs) to destroy it's cultural heritage and you know, kill a ton of civilians. It's pretty hard to justify, period, and certainly easy to see why a remembrance concert would be held. It's also worthwhile to distinguish people from their governments, particularly those who live in fascist regimes where people are kept in line via fear and brutality. Yes, the civilian population of Germany of that time bears some responsibility for allowing the Nazi Regime to take and hold power, absolutely, but that doesn't mean it's not horrific when civilians are deliberately targeted, nor does it mean that destruction cannot be memorialized. There isn't a city in Germany without many memorials to Holocaust victims, but it's reasonable to have memorials to everyone who was killed because of war as well.
Will - what are your interests outside of music? Not speaking German or Czech won't be a problem for your trip.
Thanks Sarah. Those are my sentiments as well, but you expressed them far better than I could have. Except for Prague, I have spent time in all the cities named, especially Berlin. So in Prague I will want to see the major sites which are all adequately covered in the travel books. My goal for this trip is to blend into the culture as much as possible. For instance, instead of just touring the major operas houses to actually attend an opera in them. I'll be looking for small restaurants or coffee shops to return to day after day in hopes of getting to know some people on a first name basis, and in Vienna take some dance lessons in preparation for a formal ball. For the most part, I'll be skipping major museums and cathedrals, but after reading the posts here find that I'm sorely lacking in exploring the Jewish side, sites, and influence. This seems like the right time for that.
I have never been to your city of Stuttgart, a city I've wanted to see. It won't be on this trip, but maybe during the summer:-)
Will, if you are able to spend more time in Leipzig there are a lot of things to do, especially for a music lover. Here's a link to an earlier discussion on the helpline. Don't hesitate to ask more specific questions: http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/helpline/index.cfm/rurl/topic/80632/should-i-go-to-bachfest-leipzig.html
"It's pretty hard to justify, period," Sarah: The firebombing of Dresden Horrific? YES
Justifiable? That's not your judgement to make.
Basic tenet of war: Destroy both the willingness and the ability of the other side to fight. In the Pacific, ability started to plumet at Midway and by Okinawa there was nothing left but desperation, however, the fight went on. When a couple of nukes were pickled, willingness went down the tubes and the war ended. In Europe, Stalingrad and Normandy argueably destroyed the ability. Dresden destroyed the willingess and the war ended. Hard decisions. War sucks.
>"Dresden destroyed the willingess and the war ended." It neither destroyed the willingness nor did the war end because of Dresden. The moral bombing had no effect on the willingness of the Germans, it could be argued that the opposite was true. Or did the bombing of London or Coventry destroy the willingness of the Brits? Dresden was also just the last of many destroyed cities. The loss of Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Cologne or Braunschweig was equally bad. And the war ended because 1 million Russians stood at the gates of Berlin.
Um, Elaine, I can make that determination as a person who has the ability to decide for myself what I think is right or moral about things that happened in history. It's called having an opinion. I agree with Ed and Martin's take. There's scant historical evidence that the firebombing of Dresden contributed to the end of the war or stopped the progress of the Holocaust (something that Allied forces didn't really bother to try to stop with bombs on train tracks when they did have the ability, by the by) so for me it's something that's hard to justify as a student of history. Obviously Bomber Harris disagreed.
True that when the Dresden bombing took place one million Russians did stand on the Oder 30 miles from Berlin, and the West had yet to cross the Rhine: for the Btitish not until Wesel am Rhein. (The Prussian Museum is located there) Both Coventry and Dresden were conceived as horrific terror attacks but by the time of Dresden the "killing factor" had become greater. Good that both cities share a common bond now. The American air chiefs disagreed with Bomber Harris I'm glad to say.
The original intent of this post, to secure a ticket to the Remembrance Concert, was achieved with stunning success--in less than 12 hours. To see/hear Mozart's Great Mass in such a monumental building with such a humanitarian purpose will indeed be a highlight of my trip. More than this, though, have been helpful insights to things that I, and perhaps many travelers, might otherwise have missed. I'm referring specifically to the Stumble Stones for which James provided a link. Things like this, small and discreet and not necessarily tourist destinations, though in their own way just as profound, are what give a travel adventure individuality and depth. I will respond by private message to others who have offered suggestions and advice. By the way, I'm 69, traveling alone, and have to admit that I'm somewhat scared. But then, people far older than I have done it... Will
Jo, the last count that I was aware of was something in the neighborhood 20,000, but if it's gone up to 35,000 that's fantastic. I understand that they can be found in nearly 500 cities across Germany; also fantastic. To my knowledge they can be found in Austria, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Belgium, Ukraine, Denmark, Italy, Poland, and France. You might be correct in that most are located in Germany as that is where the project began. My assumption is that not many went through the trouble to place memorials for people they never heard of, so I would expect fewer stones (unfortunately) where the final solution was done most effectively. More than half of the Jewish population in Germany had left the country before the worst of the killings began so that might mean more survivor families and friends to want the stones placed. But granted, that's pretty subjective on my part. The rest of your comments about who the stones are for is correct and is the first thing you read when you open the link I posted. http://www.stolpersteine.com/index_EN.html
Will, Scared? Don't be. People are people no matter where you go and my general impression of the world is that people are basically good. Go have a wonderful time. Wish I could be with you. Tell you what. Keep my name or a link to this thread handy and if you should decide to take another brave trip come and by my guest in Budapest. I've got an apartment i can put you in for four or five nights - no charge. Yes, i feel a little guilty for stiring the muck.
I should think the spirit of the Remembrance Concert is similar to the Hiroshima memorials held each year on August 6. We attended in 1987 and were among the very few Americans there. The Memorial Park and the ceremonies were very moving. There was no anti-Americanism; just a spirit of of sorrow for the past and commitment to peace in the future.
As to some of the other comments in this thread. . . history is more complex than you've been taught in school. German governments of the '20's? That would be the Weimar Republic, Germany's first attempt at democracy. The insistence of the WW I victors that the new regime pay the reparations levied against the losers resulted in unimaginable suffering, in addition to the horrors of the four years of war just past. The fledgling democracy was undermined, leading to the rise of fascism. Yes, there was a substratum of anti-Semitism; but the French, British, and Americans were guilty of that, too. Those who want to condemn the German people so completely should remember that the U.S. government refused asylum to Jewish refugees, some sitting on boats a few miles off our shores, whose lives could have been saved. The book, While 6 Million Died, will open your eyes to just how indifferent the Allies were to the plight of European Jewry.
Dresden was February. Berlin was April. VE Day was May. The war was effectively over before the Battle of Berlin. The non-Russians didn't even want to play since the partition of Germany has already been decided and Berlin was going to be in the Russian sector (Yalta, February). Numbers favored the Germans since the Russians didn't have anything close to the three-to-one superiority normally considered necessary for an attacking force. Thus, both numbers and terrain favored the defender. Peace feelers had been out since before Christmas and by March envoys were scurrying around in earnest. By early March, Americans had already been planning the shifting of forces to the Pacific.
For a travel forum this might have gotten a little off track. Still I am amazed and pleased at the entire tone of the discussion. It says a lot about the quality of the character of the forum participants. Sure there was a fair degree of disagreement but it was polite and reasoned. Actually a pretty healthy discussion. Too often there will be individuals in a discussion like this that resort to simple minded name calling for lack of coherent thought. It was refreshing to see that this group is above that and I am proud to be part of it; even if I disagree with some or a lot of what I read. All that having been said, maybe this went a little too far off track tor a RS travel forum so later tonight or maybe tomorrow morning I will pull my contributions (except the offer to the poster) to show Mr. S. a little respect for what he has built here for us to use, learn from and participate in.
There is nothing disrespectful in any of these posts. Please leave them posted, James. Forums are helpful when they assist not only with travel plans but also with information about the countries one is visiting. It doesn't matter what country it is. The more you know about it, the more interesting your trip will be, and then it won't be just about seeing tourist sites, but will offer more insight to the people who live here, their past and yes, their present.
To answer some of Will's questions about travel:
Will - I've only spent enough time in Berlin and Vienna to give recommendations that I really like. I can't imagine skipping all cathedrals, as they are some of my favorite things to see, but that's your prerogative. I would strongly suggest checking out St. Stephan's Dom in Vienna as well as the fascinating catacombs tour there, if only to stand next to the internal organs of the Hapsburgs. I also think the Catchupin (spelling?) crypt in Vienna is worth seeing even if you're not a Hapsburg junkie like me. Eating in Vienna - you're spending a lot of time there, so I'd suggest treating Vienna like any other major city and getting out of eating traditional Austrian food all the time (which would quickly get boring to me). There's some great Asian food in Vienna, for example. I like Ramien on Gumpendorferstrasse for some nice, affordable pan-asian noodle and rice bowls, and Maschu Maschu has great falafel. For a more traditionally Vienese experience, Cafe Sperl is outside the ring road tourist quarter, but provides a really great atmosphere and tasty food. My favorite wine bar in all of Europe (so far) is Weinquartier right by the Hofburg palace. The Nachtsmarkt is of course fantastic for browsing and great cheap eats. I would definatley suggest not spending all your time in the innerstadt surrounded by the ring road, Vienna has some cool and interesting neighborhoods outside of that worth exploring since you'll have plenty of time. I absolutely love Vienna, and there's a ton to see and do there, so I'd suggest getting a guidebook just for the city alone to really make the most of your time there.
My other favorite city, and another great food city (except not so great for maybe German food, as unlike many other parts of Germany, the regional cusiene isn't as strong there). Berlin is quite large and doesn't have much of a "center" the way most other european cities do, so it's really great to explore it neighborhood by neighborhood. You won't have any problem finding interesting looking cafes, restaurants, and bars approaching it that way. You don't say how much time you have, but I'd dedicate at least a half-day to just wandering around Prenzlauerberg and Kreuzberg for sure. There are surprises everywhere. You might be surprised (as I was) to how much Berlin "feels" like San Francisco even if it doesn't look anything like it. Parts of Kreuzberg could easily be the Mission! As far as Jewish history in Berlin, check out the "new" Synagogue, it's in what was formerly a Jewish neighborhood with a lot of Jewish history, including a cemetery. The building itself is beautiful. Be aware you'll have to go through a security check to get in, but it's open for visitors. There's a sort of hipster Jewish deli in the same neighborhood with homemade pastrami. And please don't be nervous! You'll do great and have a wonderful time. You're from San Francisco so I don't think you'll be shocked by the "coldness" or "rudeness" of people in Vienna or Berlin - like SF they're big working cities with a lot of tourists, so your waitresses might not smile at you, but that doesn't mean they dislike you. If you need assistance or directions I'm sure you'll find people more than willing to help you out, I always have.
This is not a political discussion board.
@ Rosalyn...Your point is well taken, historically accurate, and I agreed with it. I suggest also the book, "The Politics of Rescue " similar to your recommendation.
I've bit my tongue while reading some of these posts. After all, it is a travel forum where we exchange highs and lows of things we've experienced with people all over the World. However, when one equates the suffering Germany experienced after WW1 "the reparations levied against the losers resulted in unimaginable suffering, in addition to the horrors of the four years of war" I have to shake my head. What about the suffering of the Belgium and French people who were invaded to start the war? Entire towns were leveled, and many atrocities were committed against citizens. Who should have paid to rebuild those towns? Their bankrupt governments? Maybe the reparations were too harsh, but Germany was culpable. As for the Jewish refugees being refused entry into the US prior to WW11: "Those who want to condemn the German people so completely should remember that the U.S. government refused asylum to Jewish refugees, some sitting on boats a few miles off our shores, whose lives could have been saved" is hardly equal to starting a second WW and exterminating 6 million Jews. The German people were culpable. In 1920, there were less than 60 members of the Nazi party. In 1945, there were 8.5 million, or 12% of the population. Unfortuantely the country that gave us Bach, Beethoven, Goethe, and so many others will be remembered for the death and destruction they caused in the 20th Century.
Will - Please go and enjoy the concert. I wish I was going.
Andreas - and yet we're having a political discussion! interesting. Larry - I think the point is that WWII history in Europe is complicated. It's not as simple, at least for me, as "Germans bad, everyone else was victims" although immediately after the war, every other country attempted to paint it that way. There were fascist movements in every European country at the time who sympathized with Hitler and welcomed the German invasion. The vast majority of Jews who died in the Holocaust were not German Jews (most of whom fled in the decades prior as anti-Semitic laws in Germany were introduced) but rather in countries Germany invaded, and the fact is those people could not have been rounded up and sent off without the complicity of their countrymen. Murderous antisemitism in the 1930s and 40s was not a uniquely German phenomenon, and unfortunately in the aftermath of the war, the antisemtitic and nationalist elements in those surrounding countries were not wiped out as they were in Germany, which is why you still have such a strong element of far-right nationalism and antisemitism in Europe today. Don't get me wrong, I have no desire to let the Nazis or even the German people off the hook, but the more I learn about European history, the more I'm kind of horrified by all of it, you know what I mean? I'd never known anything about the Ustace fascists in Croatia for example, who in addition to murdering Jews also murdered anyone who wasn't ethnically Croat in collaboration with the Nazis. Many people in Poland, while victims of the Nazis, were more than happy to help carry out the Holocaust. The more I learn the more complicated it all gets.
Interesting topic, and since I have a bad habit of being a "book pusher" in re: Sarah's comment above, I would recommend "Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of WWII" b/c in school here (US) they usually end at V-E and V-J day. Since the Eastern Front is also barely covered I would recommend "Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin" and the excellent "A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army." Sorry for the off topic post.
Sarah - I agree completely with your point about Europe being complicated in reference to WW11. I doubt if many people realize that of the 38 Waffen SS Divisions employed by Germany (some death squads), quite a few were made up entirely of volunteers from other countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Netherlands, Serbia, Croatia, Latvia, Hungary, Albania, Italy). It was not black and white. Yet those who would apologize or rationalize Germany's actions from 1914-1945 are doing a disservice to all those that died resisting or fighting. Now I'm off my soapbox.
James - Well stated about today.
True, good point on the foreign volunteers. You would be surprised in which country in Western Europe, ie., outside of Germany, was the recruitment the highest, the most numerous, proportion to the general population.
It is sad to see the responses from some of you folks. I am the son of A German-Amercian father who served in the European Theatre of operations during WWII. What occurred from the allied side in both the Pacific and Europe was necessary. For someone to post a reference to Hiroshima ?? That is an insult to anyone who served in the Pacific. The brutalites that were committed by the axis powers were beyond human comprehension. They needed to be silenced at all costs. America and its Allies will never be ashamed of their actions to free the world. This should never even
been brought into this question in the first place.
I think the general point of most of the comments has been this- war sucks, for everyone. There is no such thing a "good war", although there are sometimes "necessary" wars. This doesn't mean that we can not empathize (but not necessarily sympathize) with all those who suffered.
Tom made a very important point to explain why we need this discussion. When I look at those involved in a war as horrible as WWII it is not to "apologize" for any of their actions. My goal is to UNDERSTAND what leads to a war in order to prevent another one to happen and in order to live in peace. And no, the absence of war is not peace, just a necessary condition. Remembering the suffering that is caused by war is one way to help prevent the next one. I do not want our governments to be involved in a war that is led "at ALL cost", no matter how noble the reason. That's why my government has signed the Geneva convention and the US government as well. Do we need this discussion on a travel forum? Maybe not. Maybe travel can help us to see the consequences of war in situ and see what other countries have done (or not) in order to prevent war from happening again.
I have to finally weigh on this discussion. Am glad he is going to the Remberance Concert. I am probably more invested than anyone else as I am an American War Orphan. My father was machined gunned to death bailing out of his crippled plane according to eye witness testimony from crew who did survive and became POW's. The OP is going to a concert to Remember a horrible event and I applaud him for doing this. Do I feel sorry for those citizens, I can't honestly say. I guess if we can maybe all think of all the people who were touched by this war, we can hope it will never happen again.
Given the political turn that my original post has taken, all I will say is that now I am doubly proud and humbled to be able to attend the Remembrance Concert in Dresden.
Will, I am glad you are taking the opportunity to attend this Remembrance Concert, (and rightly so), you'll hear great music played by one of the great symphony orchestras in Germany. @ Danni...thanks for the references. I am familiar with "Bloodlands"...pretty horrific.
Sarah. Thank you for all the information. I will send you a private message.