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Reconciliation after total destruction: the example of Dresden

Bush House, Strand Campus, London

29 Nov Art & Reconciliation_MainImage Part of Art & Reconciliation

Speaker: Marcus Ferrar, Vice-Chairman of the Dresden Trust

One of Europe’s foremost cultural centres before World War II, Dresden suffered greatly from Allied bombing raids in 1945. In February 1945, the British Royal Air Force destroyed the beautiful old centre of Dresden, and set alight a fire storm which killed up to 25,000 people. The bombing was hugely controversial at the time and since, and for many years, British people visiting Dresden encountered hostility.  Yet today they are welcomed there warmly. In 2004, a giant golden cross built by the son of a British pilot who bombed Dresden in 1945 was lifted on to the city's historic Frauenkirche in what the British ambassador to Germany, Sir Peter Torry, called ‘a symbol of reconciliation’. This talk tells how reconciliation was achieved.


Marcus Ferrar, author and trustee of several voluntary associations, was born and brought up in Britain. His father is British and his mother a refugee from Nazi Germany. A modern languages graduate of the University of London, he worked for over 30 years in various European countries and now lives in Oxford.

He served as a Reuters Correspondent in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, when he was the sole Western correspondent in East Berlin and covered Prague after the Soviet invasion. Later he covered the 1970s Revolution in Portugal, and worked also in France and Switzerland.

In 2005, he and John Corsellis published Slovenia 1945: Memories of Death and Survival after World War II, now in its 4th edition. He subsequently published A Foot in Both Camps: a German Past for Better and For Worse (2012) The Budapest House: A Life Re-Discovered (2013) and The Fight For Freedom (2016).

The Dresden Trust

The Dresden Trust is dedicated to healing the wounds of war and furthering harmonious relations between the people of Britain and Dresden/Saxony.

Founded in 1993 by Dr Alan Russell, it was a response to the ‘Call from Dresden’ to help rebuild the city, in particular the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) which was destroyed by the British and American bombing in February 1945.

With HRH The Duke of Kent as its Royal Patron, and a high visibility campaign, the Trust raised over £1 million. It commissioned a Golden Orb and Cross by goldsmith Alan Smith at Grant Macdonald in the UK. His father Frank was one of the pilots who bombed Dresden in 1945. The Orb and Cross now stand atop the cupola of the Frauenkirche as a symbol of enduring friendship.

The Dresden Trust also fulfils its mission of furthering reconciliation through educational and cultural initiatives, memorials and visits.


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