The city of Dresden, Germany — part of communist East Germany until 1989 — is full of surprises. It appears to be one thing, but is actually quite another. It appears to be a city filled with historic buildings hundreds of years old. But the truth is most of the buildings are largely new, some parts of them no more than a few decades or even a few years old. They’ve been rebuilt as part of a massive effort that aims to make them look like the originals, destroyed by England and U.S. bombings of the Nazis in World War II. Here’s a special tour from local guide Cosima Curth.
The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
Cosima Curth: All what we see here in the center that was more or less rebuilt or new built after the second world war.
Sharyl: Were they made to look like the buildings used to build, or these are brand new buildings after the second world war?
Curth: Like the one in front of you, this was rebuilt as original as possible. Some are rebuilt in a modern way, so it depends on the building. This was originally built for having big parties, or let's call it the mega disco of the 18th century. So about 300 years ago, it was built on top of the town walls, as you can see here. And it became a complex of museums afterwards, and that's how we use it nowadays. But we had a communist government after second world war, and they did not want to rebuild anything here. And that place, 10 years later, looked like that.
Curth: And I think now we understand these pictures can tell you more than 1,000 of my words. They leveled the town, they cleared it up in many places, and they want to construct new things, but Dresden has had to fight with very inventive ideas for the save of their ruins. And they did it. The gentleman died in the war. There was imprisoned, and only few were here. And these ladies got a nickname here; we call them “Rubble Girls.” But we wanted to honor them — those ladies who rebuilt everything out of rubbles. And we also have a monument that's dedicated to them at the town hall of Dresden.
Curth: Sculptures, wonderful decoration, and here, right inside, it looks differently. Sixteenth century, which was one of the very first Renaissance start palaces all over Germany. And it was in use until 1918 when the king had to abdicate, and they made it a museum complex. It was heavily destroyed during the war. It was planned to be knocked down because this was a typical symbol for the old suppressing society. But, fortunately, there were a lot of ideas born to save it. And it has been under reconstruction since 1986, and we hope to finish it in one or two years.
That's our so-called Semper Opera House. The building from the 19th century built by Gottfried Semper.
This is our royal palace. What we have here is a reproduction in the original way of sgraffito. It was a technique of the 16th century from Italy. And they re-did it exactly the same way like they made it in the 16th century.
February 13th, started a quarter to 10 at night. And until next day, February 14th. And there were 25,000 people who lost their lives in this short period. And that made it so awful, yeah.
This is Dresden the Church of Our Lady, a building from the 18th century, which, by the way, has also fantastic acoustics. This is the church where Richard Wagner performed his only work for a church. And that was the Last Lord's Supper. And that church was not directly destroyed during the war by bombs. It was a safe place for 300 ladies with their children. But the open doors allowed the fire to get in. And so, after one and a half days of fire inside the church, it collapsed and fell together into a ruin.
And the first speech the Chancellor Kohl gave in Dresden after the fall of the wall in 1989, there were 80,000 people here. And that was the first time an official spoke about a reunification maybe. And there was such a lot of enthusiasm here. And after reunification, there was a discussion what to do with this church. And they decided to rebuild it with the help of the whole world. Donations from all over the world were given. And now it's a church with no parish, they say the parish is all the people coming and just sitting down there, participating in the worship. They have concerts here as well. And this is a church of reconciliation. And for that reason, I think, this is really a very important symbol of Dresden now.
Sharyl (on-camera): By the way, Dresden’s historic downtown also hosts one of the world’s most famous Christmas markets.
Watch story here.