Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fall of the Berlin Wall IV: Visiting Dresden

Located deep in the heart of East Germany, before the fall of the Berlin Wall tourists from the West were unable to visit Dresden, the capital of Saxony.

One of the most exciting-looking cities I have ever seen, Dresden was destroyed three times: in the Seven Years War by the Prussians, by Napoleon in the Battle of Dresden, and by the Allies in World War II. Each time it has rebuilt.

Dresden engaged in a great deal of beautification for its 800th bithday in 2006, including finishing the rebuilding of the Fruenkirche. Dresen is one of the ten fastest growing cities in Germany.

While there is a fair amount of evidence that there are still bad feelings about the US in Dresden based on World War II, that does not translate into any problems for tourists. The skinheads, who can be freely viewed out and about, may make for an uncomfortable moment of realization that old views die hard.

Free speech, however, has not suffered. If you look carefully at the picture above (click to enlarge), you can see a communist flag and a bicycyle, whose nearby rider was enthusiastically chatting up a potential convert, nearby. Down the mall comprised completely of squarish, post-war Communist style buildings, a group of evangelical Christians was busy preaching and handing out Christian coloring books for children. Twenty-one years ago, not only would it have been impossible to visit Dresden, the idea of that city becoming a center for free speech was simply unthinkable.


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