(Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama met German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday in Dresden, a city that was the scene of one of the fiercest and most controversial Allied bombing raids of World War Two.
Here are some details on the fate of Dresden:
* In January 1945, the British drew up a plan (Thunderclap) to attack Berlin and other population centers.
* Dresden, untouched by bombing just months before the end of World War Two, was attacked by two waves of British bombers, three hours apart, on the night of February 13, 1945.
* 796 RAF Lancaster bombers let loose 1,182 tons of incendiaries and 1,478 tons of high explosives creating a firestorm that destroyed the city.
* The next day, the Americans sent 311 B-17 Flying Fortress long-range bombers, adding to the damage.
* The official death toll is put at around 25,000. Many survivors believe the number was higher as bodies were reduced to ashes in the firestorm.
* Once dubbed the Florence of northern Europe for architectural jewels such as the Zwinger palace and the Semper Opera, the city was reduced to smouldering ruins.
* The 90-meter (295-foot) Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, church survived the initial waves of British and American bombings that engulfed Dresden, but caught fire and collapsed a day and a half after the first attack. The church had dominated Dresden’s skyline for two centuries but sixty years after the bombing in 2005 it was re-consecrated following a 180 million euro ($251.9 million) reconstruction.
* Wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said: “The destruction of the city remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing.”
Source: Reuters/Oxford Companion to Second World War.
Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit;