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Bombing survivor recalls horrors of Dresden, 70 years on

Thursday, February 12, 2015 - 02:13

Seventy years after Allied bombing raids killed 25,000 people and laid waste to the German city of Dresden, a survivor remembers the ''ceaseless dropping of these bombs''. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (No reporter narration) The day before the eastern German city of Dresden commemorates the 70th anniversary on Friday (February 13) of Allied bombing raids which killed 25,000 people and left much of the town's Baroque treasures in ruins, a survivor recalled the horrors of war and said mankind had learned nothing from history. 83-year-old Nora Lang was 13 when more than 1,000 bombers dropped nearly 4,000 tons of explosives and incendiary devices, destroying 13 square miles of the historic city. "There was a ceaseless dropping of these bombs," Lang said, speaking at her Dresden apartment, just across the street from where she used to live as a young girl. By unhappy coincidence, she was separated from her parents and her older brother Klaus after a first bomb scare on February 13, 1945 forced the entire family out of their house. While Klaus and his parents later returned to their house on fire, trying to rescue belongings, Nora and her smaller brother were told to stay with neighbours in a nearby basement. There, they managed to find refuge as Nora encountered other children from her neighbourhood. After an overnight escape through woods, Nora and Bernd were reunited with their parents and brother Klaus the following day. With them were other neighbours, some of whom were desperately looking for missing relatives. Dresden was not alone. Other cities, including Hamburg, Pforzheim in the Black Forest and industrial towns in the Ruhr, also suffered tens of thousands of victims from aerial bombing. Seventy years later, Nora Lang said "I can't forget about it and the terrible thing actually is that we told ourselves: this must never happen again. We always said, the main thing is that there never ever be a war again. And still it happens over and over again." "One really must ask: what did mankind learn from history?" Today, with a population of about half a million, the capital of the state of Saxony is held up as a rare East German success story. Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives have ruled the state since reunification almost 25 years ago. But a state election last year showed that almost 15 percent of voters favoured right-leaning parties: the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) and the new Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has homed in on anxiety about immigration. On Friday (February 13), Dresden will host a memorial to commemorate the bombings, with the Archbishop of Canterbury expected to speak, among others.

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Bombing survivor recalls horrors of Dresden, 70 years on

Thursday, February 12, 2015 - 02:13