In April during our semi annual church conference, one of our leaders (Dieter F. Uchtdorf) spoke of the city of Dresden:
“Not far from where my family lived was the city of Dresden. Those who lived there witnessed perhaps a thousand times what I had seen. Massive firestorms, caused by thousands of tons of explosives, swept through Dresden, destroying more than 90 percent of the city and leaving little but rubble and ash in their wake.
Dresden in ruins
In a very short time, the city once nicknamed the “Jewel Box” was no more. Erich Kästner, a German author, wrote of the destruction, “In a thousand years was her beauty built, in one night was it utterly destroyed.”1 During my childhood I could not imagine how the destruction of a war our own people had started could ever be overcome. The world around us appeared totally hopeless and without any future.
Last year I had the opportunity to return to Dresden. Seventy years after the war, it is, once again, a “Jewel Box” of a city. The ruins have been cleared, and the city is restored and even improved.
During my visit I saw the beautiful Lutheran church Frauenkirche, the Church of Our Lady. Originally built in the 1700s, it had been one of Dresden’s shining jewels, but the war reduced it to a pile of rubble. For many years it remained that way, until finally it was determined that the Frauenkirche would be rebuilt.
Stones from the destroyed church had been stored and cataloged and, when possible, were used in the reconstruction. Today you can see these fire-blackened stones pockmarking the outer walls. These “scars” are not only a reminder of the war history of this building but also a monument to hope—a magnificent symbol of man’s ability to create new life from ashes.
As I pondered the history of Dresden and marveled at the ingenuity and resolve of those who restored what had been so completely destroyed, I felt the sweet influence of the Holy Spirit. Surely, I thought, if man can take the ruins, rubble, and remains of a broken city and rebuild an awe-inspiring structure that rises toward the heavens, how much more capable is our Almighty Father to restore His children who have fallen, struggled, or become lost?”
It was an awesome talk:
It matters not how completely ruined our lives may seem. It matters not how scarlet our sins, how deep our bitterness, how lonely, abandoned, or broken our hearts may be. Even those who are without hope, who live in despair, who have betrayed trust, surrendered their integrity, or turned away from God can be rebuilt. Save those rare sons of perdition, there is no life so shattered that it cannot be restored.
While I could go on with how the talk was so inspiring, within minutes of him talking about Dresden, Rob was asking me, ‘Are we going anywhere near there?” and Zach was telling me, “It’s halfway between Berlin and Prague, Mom.”
While not in our jammed packed agenda to see Dresden, when we were in Hamburg, it came up again. I was reading about the history of Hamburg and how on July 27, 1943, explosive bombs were dropped on Hamburg during an attack given the codename of “Operation Gomorrah”. In 3 hours, 35,000 people were killed, hundreds of thousands were left homeless and eight square miles of Hamburg was reduced to rubble…”While the firebombing of Dresden two years later is more famous, far more people died in Hamburg.”
Dresden came up again, and the desire to see it.
We had not planned on renting any cars this trip, but ended up renting on in Hamburg and Berlin, and both times loved getting out of the city to see a bit of the country and explore areas we would not otherwise. We decided to do the same in Prague, and head back to Germany to visit Dresden.
Dresden is another one of those “Wow” cities. While it has mostly been rebuilt, they did a fantastic job, and every thing looks really old.
We headed out early in the morning and made our way on the highway, but hit a road closure and was detoured off. We ended up driving through the cutest little Czech Republic towns – but were a bit skeptical about where we would end up!
We did make it to Dresden, and found parking — at the fanciest hotel there (without realizing!).
We decided to follow Rick Steves’ walking tour (honestly, his books are the books to get. So much great info and his tours are the best) though the old town.
Sadly, when we got to the famous Frauenkirche, it was closed for a concert! We were so bummed. It started to rain like crazy too, but luckily good old Rick Steves had our backs and led us to an awesome little cafe courtyard, completely sheltered, where we had a great lunch with fabulous desserts.
Sporting my sunglasses ^^^
After lunch, we walked along the river, but hurried as the skies looked dark.
We were able to climb Frauenkirche tower, and take peeks inside the cathedral. It is a super high tower and it was really really windy, so we didn’t stay long, but it was beautiful.
Remnants of the original church ^^^
We headed back to Prague, but out GPS broke, leading us through cute towns, but then to this.
Luckily, we had our phones and made our way back.
It was raining in Prague too, so we decided to go get dinner. We headed back to the same Thai restaurant and had another great mea. We shopped a bit, then headed home in time for the soccer game.
Can’t believe tomorrow is our last day:( It has been such an incredible trip. Zach said the cutest thing yesterday. He said he was having an amazing time, but he missed Gabe, Josh and Sam. He said. “It’s fun traveling with them. I guess I just like having a big family.”
Me too, Zach. Me too.