Annihilation: The Dresden Bombing Raid

70th Anniversary of Second World War Destruction of Dresden

The historic city centre of Dresden folllwing the bombing raid and ensuing firestorm

The historic city centre of Dresden following the bombing raid and ensuing firestorm in February 1945

Annihila

Devastation after devastation.
To be annihilated, conflagrated, liberated.
And then be still the wind that fans the flames.
Drop to lift the dust over the stones.
Powder ash, dust of their bones.
Annihilate this place called home.

Remember, then, in their shadow
If they are watching. Stars amongst the stars,
Singing to the rooftops lest they burn away.
Libera me. Blessed they.
Tears for the requiem.
Devastation after devastation.

©Megan Young

Megan’s Poetry Speaks of the Horror of the Dresden Bombing Raid

Megan wrote this poem in February 1995 when she was 17 years old. She played her cello in a concert in Cambridge to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the destruction of Dresden. As is evident in the poem, she felt the tragedy of the Dresden raid deep within her. For her, there was also a personal connection. Thirty years before, in 1965, I had taken part in a project of international reconciliation in Dresden, helping to rebuild a Church hospital that had been partially destroyed by the raid. The project was organised by Coventry Cathedral.

Annihila was Megan’s second poem about the Dresden raid. When she was only seven years old, I had gone to Dresden to commemorate the 40th anniversary of event. She had stayed at home with her father and had watched the coverage of the commemoration events on television. It had moved her greatly. This is the poem she wrote when she was only seven years old.

Dresden Commemoration

Bombing of Dresden, towering above,
Bombing of Dresden, towering above.
Bombed the mortal people,
Shattered the steeple.

Dresden a city,
Then was a ruin,
People were scattering,
Fire storm appeared.

Bombing of Dresden, towering above,
Bombing of Dresden, towering above.
Bombed the mortal people,
Shattered the steeple.

Ruin and wreckage,
Now are moved,
Dresden a city,
Almost restored.

Dresden's cathedral, the Frauenkirche, rebuilt and restored following the bombing raid of 1945. The work was completed in 2005.

Dresden’s cathedral, the Frauenkirche, rebuilt and restored following the bombing raid of 1945. The work was completed in 2005.

Archbishop of Canterbury Preaches in Rebuilt Frauenkirche

This year the Archbishop of Canterbury will be one of the many who will gather in Dresden to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the bombing raid on the night of 13/14 February. He will preach in the city’s cathedral, reduced to a pile of rubble in 1945 but now magnificently restored and dominating the Dresden skyline once again. Its rebuilding was a controversial decision. Some say that the ruin which remained after the raid served as a fitting reminder of the horrors of war – a memorial to all who died. For many years the ruined cathedral provided a meeting place for those who came to remember. I was one of them. The gold and pastel coloured interior of the restored building could not be further away from the gaunt greyness of ruined Dresden.

I have written about the destruction of Dresden and the project of reconciliation in a book which examines the history of British relations with the communist German Democratic Republic. The title of the book is Communing with the Enemy: Covert Operations, Christianity and Cold War Politics in Britain and the GDR.


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