A sketch by Svend Keller, colored crayon or chalk (?) on card bord, dated 6th Autust 1949.
If I am not mistaken, the church is the Hofkirche in Dresden. I don’t know if this sketch was actually made in Dresden or if it is based on a photograph.
Dresden was heavily bombarded in February 1945. According to one estimates, between 22.700 and 25.000 people died.
I was born in Hamburg and I live in Cologne. Like Dresden, both of these cities were largely destroyed by area bombing. Here in Cologne, there is a hill in the middle of the city, planted with trees, actually a nice park. It consists of the rubble of the buildings destroyed in the bombardments.
In my view, any bombarding of civilians has to be regarded as a crime of war and a crime against humanity. Moreover, in Dresden, a city that had an extraordinarily rich cultural heritage, invaluable works of architecture and art where destroyed. Germans committed incredible atrocities in this war, but I think this does not justify atrocities as a response. A crime does not justify another crime.
And such things are still happening. There is still war, because of nationalistic or religious or other ideologies or greed for power and riches.
Let me finish this post with the translation of an excerpt of a letter one of my aunts (Martha Schröder) received from one of her girlfriends (Gretchen Sievers, nee Rubach), from September 19th, 1949, in Hamburg, a historical document never published before, where the writer describes how she survived one of the attacks on Hamburg..
Then came the second night of attacks on the 27th/28th. Liselotte had night watch. H.-R. [Hans-Reimer] and I had planned to sleep at Gertrud Riege’s place because the apartment was so tight, but because or Lieselotte’s night watch, we abandoned this plan. Areal mines, explosive bombs, fire bomgs, phosphorous canisters destroyed several quarters completely, so that only sporadically a house was left over, and this way it also happened with us. Immediately at the beginning we were submerged. After the planes had finally left, Hans-Reimer searched for the emergency exit and cleared it. Upstairs in the production shop there was fire behind us and in front of us there was the shower of sparks into which we had to go out. Gretchen and I left our suitcases behind and held our handbags even more tightly. We had lost our nerve for a moment and did not believe that we would get our suitcases along with us through the junk and the shower or sparks. Later we regretted it but had to laugh about ourselves and about our enormous “bravery”. H.-R. then brought us under the pillar or the bridge and took us, after a moment, behind the refrigerator wagons at the canal. Then he checked if the toilet under [the street] Heidenkampsweg was open and took us there. A wet blanket was held before the entrance so that the sparks would not fly inside. The whole night, H.-R. stood in the canal up to his neck to scoop water with a bucket with which we as well were doused from time to time inside the toilet so that some oxygen could come inside. Inside we were about 50 women and 4 – 5 children. The men were lying tightly together at the canal and poured water over themselves. Many also sought refuge inside the refrigerator wagons. From 8 o’clock the fire fighters helped, but they themselves were at the end of their strength. Around 10 o’clock, we could finally come out.
Dann kam die 2. Angriffsnacht vom 27./28. Liselotte hatte Nachtwache. H.-R. und ich hatten wegen der Enge in unserer Wohnung bei Gertrud Riege schlafen wollen, sahen wegen Liselottes Nachtwache aber noch davon ab. Luftminen, Spreng- und Brandbomben, Phosphorkanister machten ja verschiedene Stadtteile gänzlich kaputt, sodaß nur ganz vereinzelt ein Haus stehen blieb und so ging es bei uns auch. Gleich zu Beginn waren wir verschüttet. Nachdem die Flieger endlich fort waren, suchte Hans-Reimer den Notausstieg und räumte ihn frei. Oben im Produktionsladen brannte es hinter uns und vor uns war der Funkenregen, in den wir hinaussollten. Gretchen und ich ließen unsere Koffer stehen und hielten unsere Handtaschen umso fester. Wir hatten für ein paar Minuten die Nerven verloren und glaubten nicht, dass wir unsere Koffer durchs Gerümpel und durch den Feuerregen mitbekämen. Später haben wir es bereut, mussten aber doch über uns selbst lachen und über unsere enorme „Tapferkeit“. H.-R. brachte uns dann unter die Brückenpfeiler und holte uns nach einem Augenblick hinter die Kühlwagen am Kanal. Dann sah er nach, ob die Toilette unterm Heidenkampsweg offen ist und holte uns dahin. Vor den Eingang wurde eine nasse Decke gehalten, damit die Funken nicht hineinflogen. H.-R. stand die ganze Nacht bis am Hals im Kanal und schöpfte mit einem Eimer Wasser, womit auch wir in der Toilette von Zeit zu Zeit übergossen wurden, damit etwas Sauerstoff hineinkam. Wir waren drinnen etwa 50 Frauen und 4 – 5 Kinder. Die Männer lagen eng aneinander am Kanal und begossen sich selbst. Auch in die Kühlwagen flüchteten viele. Ab 8 Uhr half die Feuerwehr, aber die war selbst am Ende ihrer Kraft. Um 10 Uhr endlich konnten wir hinaus.
 Transcribed by my mother and translated by myself. This letter was part of a larger corpus of letters, mostly from my aunt, her mother and other relatives, that my mother transcribed. The original of this particular letter was returned to the family of the writer.