Wednesday, 30 April 2014

DRESDEN WORTH REBUILDING.

It's been a while since I have blogged but today I felt one coming on so here it is.  

Tonight we are staying in Dresden and have had a great evening walking through the old city and then had a very Saxon dinner, schnitzel, potatoes and asparagus.  Delicious.   It is a very vibrant city and it was a particularly barmy evening for late April.  It was full of tourists and people looking for somewhere to eat.

Not so the night of 13th February 1945.  That night thousands of tons of high explosives and incendiaries were dropped on the city by the RAF and the USAAF.  Dresden was the ancient capital of Saxony and was a leading European centre of art, classical music, culture and Science. It was not a major military target and it was full of refugees fleeing from the east ahead of the advancing Russian army.  That night a fire storm destroyed the city with 95% of the old historic city centre burnt.  Over 25,000 civilians hiding in cellars and shelters were killed by asphyxiation and burning.  It has long been one of the worst and most horrific events of the Second World War committed by the allies.  

We talked with a group of Germans our age last night about this and we all recognised the horrors of war and the culpability of both sides in events such as the bombing of Dresden. We all agreed that without forgiveness and reconciliation there was little hope.  

Looking at Dresden today the city which had been so beautiful, the pearl in Saxony's crown, has been restored. It is not as beautiful as it had been but the people of Dresden over the last 60 years or so have tirelessly worked at restoring the city.  It will never be what it was. That awful night the Dresden of the past, was destroyed and the people traumatised by that horrific event.  But they have worked hard at rebuilding their city for their children and for others like us to enjoy....us, the children of the perpetrators.  Dresden has arisen from the rubble not as a victim to a cruel event of the past but with the knowledge that what it had was precious and worth saving and rebuilding for future generations.  It has been a long hard process but it was worth it. The city has some of the best of the past restored and added new features.  So it is a new city. The German people of Dresden although traumatised by a brutal event have rebuilt.

It is a great example of courage and resolve. Many of us experience tragedy and trauma visited up on us, sometimes by our enemies but also sometimes tragically by those closest to us.  We, as a result, can loose something precious and valuable.  The challenge for us all is to find the resolve within us to rebuild. We may be able to preserve some aspects of the past but the restoration will create a changed and different future.  When we do this we are securing something of great value for our children to whom we owe the very best we can.  For many this requires forgiveness and reconciliation. Our instinctive desire to punish the perpetrators and squeeze them by the throat in order to make then suffer for what they have done is in the long term counter productive and leaves us putting our energy into bitterness and revenge. In the end this is self destructive and we prolong the agony for ourselves.  When we look at the future and those who will inherit the future, we owe it to them to rebuild out of our own disasters and tragedies, to rise up, find the inner strength to go forward, setting an example of forgiveness, reconciliation and hope.

Here is a quote from Isaiah 54 that was given to us many years ago when our lives were almost destroyed by trauma and failure. It sums up this hope.

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

 “Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.

All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace."


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