When the Second World War started, the city of Dresden, capital of the state of Saxony in the east of Germany was a major communications hub and manufacturing centre. The extensive bombing of Dresden during the final months of the war by British and American bombers remains controversial. Just as with the bombing of Coventry four and a half years earlier, the inner city was largely destroyed by incendiaries and high explosive bombs.
A US report on the bombing concluded that the attack destroyed or severely damaged only 23% of the city’s industrial buildings but demolished at least 50% of its residential buildings.
Dresden contained hundreds of thousands of refugees. Those who died were mostly women and children. The Allies described the operation as the legitimate bombing of a military and industrial target but some have argued that the attacks were disproportionate and Churchill wrote that the “bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed”.
In 1956, Dresden was twinned with Coventry and remains one of the city’s closest links.
A plaque was unveiled in this square in 1974 by the Lord Mayor of Dresden in the presence of His Excellency the Ambassador of the German Democratic Republic to mark the naming of this area Dresden Place. It can be found affixed to Christchurch Spire.
It is a symbol of the friendship link between Dresden and Coventry born out of wartime destruction and now devoted to international understanding and peace.