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PalenQ Jul 16th, 2007 07:38 AM

Dresden Broohaha Over New Bridge?
I noted that in UNESCO's World Heritage list Dresden's historic old town by the riverfront was listed as being endagnered and could be removed from the list due to the construction of some new bridge.

Ingo or anyone can you give me more details just where this bridge would go and what the local discussion thinks about it.

Is it a go or on hold


Ingo Jul 16th, 2007 10:54 AM

Whoaaa, Pal, you don't have an idea ... it's a drama. The bridge divides the locals as much as the Bush administration's politics divides the Americans.

Firstly, it's not just the historic old town that's on the UNESCO list, it's the 'civilised landscape' along the river from a few miles upstream from Schloss Pillnitz to Schloss Übigau down the river. That's about 26 km long and includes the old town. One thing what is so special about it is that the river flows naturally through the city with meadows to both sides (except for a few hundred meters in the old town) - really a buccolic landscape dotted with vineyards, castles, mansions on the hillsides etc.

Soon after the wall came down the traffic increased and the authorities thought a new bridge needs to be built. They searched for a location and found that there is a long stretch between the old town and the Blue Wonder bridge w/o a bridge. Well, they planned to build the bridge right in the middle of that distance at a place called 'Waldschlösschen', famous for unspoilt landscape and stunning views of the old town. Of course it took time to plan ... and everybody thought that at some time they would stop and cancel the project ... because in the meantime the traffic was reduced more and more. And a new motorway was built that leads the transit traffic around the city.

So, a few years ago the local political parties of CDU and FDP (conservatives and economy friendly liberals) needed a topic for the upcoming elections, to stir up the pot :-) - and they decided to use the bridge.

In fact they managed to convince the locals that the bridge is urgently needed. Talk about spin doctors, faked expert opinions ... In 1995 we had a referendum with the result that about 60% of the locals voted 'yes' - for the bridge. Then the trouble started. The anti-bridge locals informed the UNESCO. The UNESCO said the bridge is not tolerable and as you wrote threatens to remove Dresden from the World Heritage list.

The problem is that the German government never bothered to transfer the UNESCO rules into German law. So lawsuits against the bridge were not successful; even the highest German court decided 'the votes of the citizens are to value higher'.

But nobody asked the locals after the UNESCO threated to remove Dresden from the list. Not in a referendum, only in polls. And the polls say that the Dresdners would rather have the title 'UNESCO heritage' than a bridge.

Alternatives like a tunnel or even a much more gracious bridge, the current design is awful, ugly, massive - are blocked by the Saxon government, especially the prime minister.

Honestly, I don't see a chance that the bridge - that nobody needs - will NOT be built. It's sad.


swandav2000 Jul 16th, 2007 11:03 AM

Ah, what lovely memories, Ingo!

That walk from the Blue Wonder Bridge to the Old Town along the fields and historic villas was truly wonderful (even in the winter wind!). Thanks for such a nice shot of memory!


Ingo Jul 16th, 2007 01:21 PM

Hi S! Yeah, that was a great walk ... and I know how much you hate wind :( And I told you about this bridge, eh?

DAX Jul 16th, 2007 01:33 PM

Hi Ingo,

<< A few years ago the local political parties of CDU and FDP (conservatives and economy friendly liberals) needed a topic for the upcoming elections, to stir up the pot - and they decided to use the bridge>>

I thought "a few years ago" Merkel & Westerwelle were practically running together as a ticket to take over the rein from SPD. I am wondering who would impose such an unpopular bridge, the CDU or FDP? It doesn't make sense to me as an outsider. Is the bureaucracy in Dresden so debilitating or is the bridge construction company doing a great job in their lobbying?

altamiro Jul 16th, 2007 01:39 PM

Ingo meant the elections on the state level in Saxonia, not on the federal level.

swandav2000 Jul 16th, 2007 01:48 PM

Yes, I remember your discussion on it as we passed the tranquil scene. It would be such a disruption! Your city is so beautiful (for a city!!)!


DAX Jul 16th, 2007 01:57 PM

Sorry to have missed the fact that Ingo wrote "local", still I don't understand which party would continue to push the building of such an unpopular bridge considering that traffic has already normalized.

PalenQ Jul 17th, 2007 07:07 AM

or at least if necessary a tunnel???

Ingo Jul 17th, 2007 11:08 AM

sorry, I was not clear in my message. Yes, it's a local thing. The prime minister (Milbradt, CDU) is pro bridge, the minister for commerce and transportation (Jurk, SPD) is contra bridge, the city's parliament is contra bridge, the mayor is, well, suspended because of bribery and the stand-in mayor has no opinion at all ...

Milbradt and his CDU party are too stubborn. And it's difficult for them to bow out and keep their face.

Here are two links to articles in the local newspaper, for those of you who speak some German:
opinions after the UNESCO decision:
hope for those who are contra-bridge:


DAX Jul 17th, 2007 10:12 PM

Thanks for the articles Ingo:
Sounds like Dresden has a real dilemma since the October deadline is just around the corner. Hopefully the Fledermaus can eventually provide the solution. That would be just so typical, when all else fail use an endangered species to block any project. I would think that the world heritage status will be reinstated if/when the bats permanently kills the bridge plan (eventually?). I couldn't find a picture to see how ugly this Waldschloessen bridge is.

Ingo Jul 18th, 2007 12:39 PM

It's too bad. The 'Fledermaus' did not help. Today I heard that a court decided against the bat and for the construction of the bridge. Yikes!

Here is a link to a website with pictures. You can clearly see that the official pictures showed a much smaller bridge than it was planned in reality.

swandav2000 Jul 18th, 2007 12:49 PM


That's SO sad! I'm so sorry about this set-back. Thanks, though, for keeping us up to date. I will sure be sorry if I see that bridge going up on my next visit (whenever that is!).


Ingo Jul 18th, 2007 01:07 PM

S, you made me chuckle with your comment on 'how beautiful' the city is (FOR A CITY!). Yeah, no tranquil scenes anymore soon and only bridges, roads and buildings. :(

PalenQ Jul 18th, 2007 01:13 PM

Ingo - BTW thanks for the excellent suggestion on Austrian skiing for my kids.

Wow - i thought under such circumstances any bridge would be a wonder of the world asthetically but if these pictures of similar bridges i assume are any indication the bridge is simply a bridge and nothing special - i too hope things turn out like you wish

DAX Jul 18th, 2007 01:45 PM

Ingo: Can we assume that the green environmentalists can easily challenge one court decision. Perhaps it can be challenged all the way up to the federal court to remove it from the local politics. It's never too late till the bridge is built.

PalenQ Jul 19th, 2007 08:05 AM


Ingo Jul 19th, 2007 11:16 AM

Pal, you're welcome. Hope your kids have a great vacation in Austria. I prefer Switzerland over Austria in general, but this corner of Austria that I suggested has preserved some of the original Rhaetian culture, so it reminds me slightly of the Engadin.

Back to the bridge:
Mrs. Merkel just said that this needs to be decided on a local level. Obviously she doesn't want to get involved. What a coward!

Yes, it is possible to challenge this court's decision, but with very little probability of success I think. It is so sad. I have to report that an authority called 'Regierungspräsidium' (which surveys the cities and counties) today sealed the contracts for the construction of the roads that lead to the bridge. They did that in place of the city administration, which refused to do it. I guess that's it. <sob>

Ingo Jul 19th, 2007 11:18 AM

Here is the link to an article in a local newspaper:

PalenQ Jul 19th, 2007 11:54 AM

The immortal words of Yogi Berra: 'It ain't over til it's over' hopefully will apply here.

DAX Jul 19th, 2007 07:37 PM

So much political drama for an unwanted bridge. I suspect that there's more than just the ego/pride of the local CDU leaders. Perhaps this is part of a bigger struggle inside Dresden?

Ingo Jul 31st, 2007 11:13 AM

It *is* over. Construction works start on 13 August. <tears flowing>

For you guys who read German here is the link to the local newspaper article:

The date is remarkable. 13 August 1961 - the wall in Berlin was built by the communists. The prime minister of Saxony and most of his ministers are from the west ... and CDU members. Reminds me of a saying: "Political events always happen twice. First as a tragedy, the second time as a farce." Or so. I know how it goes in German.


swandav2000 Jul 31st, 2007 11:15 AM

I'm stunned. And saddened. What a terrible loss! I'm so sorry, Ingo!


PalenQ Jul 31st, 2007 11:19 AM

<Political events always happen twice. First as a tragedy, the second time as a farce.">

well the Wall was torn down - maybe this bridge someday will be as well.

Do you think UNESCO will follow thru on its threat?

DAX Jul 31st, 2007 09:02 PM

INGO: My condolence. It's incredible how quickly/easily things were finalized against the people of Dresden. I don't understand how the Saxon goverment leadership is so dominated by non Saxon CDU members. What were the Dresdner voters thinking then?

Ingo Aug 1st, 2007 09:21 AM

Thanks guys. I really don't know what to say right now.

Pal, yes, I am absolutely certain the UNESCO will remove Dresden from the Heritage list. And I can understand them. It's correct.

DAX, the current prime minister has been minister of finances under the previous prime minister (a guy from the west who did an excellent job, btw). Milbradt, the current PM, was quite good as Minister of Finances, but he is a total failure as PM. No visions, cuts the budget whereever possible.

After the wall came down we were overrun with so called 'experts' from the west who claimed to teach us capitalism. Some of them were good, some not. Unfortunately we believed them for many years. Problem is that they do not have a clue of local traditions and let economy rule everything. Culture, landscape, architecture etc. are just cost factors.

I am probably a bit overreacting here, but that's how I feel at the moment (and many other locals do, too).


audere_est_facere Aug 1st, 2007 09:26 AM

Sorry if this is a dense question - but how has Dresden got a "historic old town"? It was famously flattened and firebombed in the war. It's twinned with Coventry and Coventry certainly hasn't got a historic old town.

PalenQ Aug 1st, 2007 09:36 AM

That's the difference between UK and even old DDR

Coventry tastelessly and quickly rebuilt its town centre into the ghastly blah cement tower blocks after the war

Dresden saved the pieces, like with the Frauenkirche and famously reassembled it.

Not sure Coventry had much of a historic old town to save but Dresden, the Florence on the Elbe did and they have wondrously pieced it all back to together again.

Coventry today has Lady Godiva's statue and that's about it - one of Europe's very ugliest town centres.

Dresden has a lot of so-so cement tower blocks in its commercial area too - the so-called Socialist realism or whatever architecture, but even here they've managed to make it palpable.

england on the other hand has seen its town centres become blaher and blaher, with a very few exceptions.

UNESCO has made Dresden a site - it never would Coventry even in its pre-war form - unless car plants are a criteria

And it was the Brits that bombed Dresden needlessly - that old Mad Bomber guy in charge just to exact revenge for Coventry - the city was full of refugees and POWs like Vonnegut and apparently had very little military importance.

So Brits destroyed one of Europe's finest cities just for spite and to demoralize. Shame on Britain for that.

PalenQ Aug 1st, 2007 09:45 AM

Bombing of Dresden in World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaFor these reasons the loss of life in Dresden was higher than many other bombing raids during World War II. For example Coventry, the English city which is ...

The WWII Dresden Holocaust - 'A Single Column Of Flame'The WWII Dresden Holocaust - 'A Single Column Of Flame' ... "Precision saturation bombing" had created the desired firestorm. ... -

Bombing of Dresden in World War II (1945) - Area bombing caused ...Bombing of Dresden at the end of World War II in 1945 - Area bombing caused great casualties amongst German civilians and refugees at the central railway ... -

World War II: German Film Recalls Dresden Bombing - International ...War crime, payback or a legitimate attack aimed at shortening World War II? The destruction of Dresden on February 13, 1945 is one of the most controversial ...,00.html

Putin criticizes Allies for Dresden bombing - Europe - Allied forces canít be absolved of blame for horrors during World War II, and he noted in particular the massive bombing of Dresden in the final months.

audere_est_facere Aug 1st, 2007 09:53 AM

Oh great - a yank pontificating about WWII. That always goes well.

Coventry pre war had Europe's finest medieval cityscape. Obviously there's none of that left as the Germans flattened it.

Dresden contained several important factories vital to the war effort, a quick read of any (non American) history book will soon put you straight.

So in effect Dresden is a Disneyland - a pretend old town? How is that a protected site? What are the criteria?

I am really beginning to wonder what they teach in American history lessons as I found out in a thread in the lounge that there are lots of Americans who don't believe the USA lost the war in Vietnam. Staggering.

PalenQ Aug 1st, 2007 10:06 AM

<lots of Americans who don't believe the USA lost the war in Vietnam>

what a complete bunch of rubbish - lots - i don't know anyone and anything that says that. It would be like finding a Brit besides Tony-Blair-Brown who would think that Brits pacified Basra and retreated recently because of their success.

<Coventry pre war had Europe's finest medieval cityscape.>

finest? come audere est farce - i'll have to do some research before i even begin to swallow that - THE finest? Not sure what they're teaching in English Public schools - but if it's that something's rotten in Coventry and i'm getting a good whiff of it over here.

The fact that Dresden was needlessly flattened for revenge is a war crime - doesn't matter what Yanks have done - two wrongs.... get off your high Lady Godiva horse!

In any case it now has perhaps the worst.

audere_est_facere Aug 1st, 2007 10:15 AM

Dresden wasn't flattened for revenge. It was flattened because it was a major enemy city - as were London, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Glasgow etc. It's only the CND nutters that have a problem with this - but they moan about everything any way.

And yes it's true; Coventry was lovely before 1940. Bloody awful now though.

PalenQ Aug 1st, 2007 10:39 AM

Dresden had nearly no military importance - zilch and the real crime was that the war was basically won - justify like you may but for society as a whole it was like losing a Florence, etc. Needlessly and shamefully.

And it was known that the city was full of ionnocent refugees - and that's where the war crime comes in. Coventry, with its car plants and lot of industry early in the war was a military target as well as trying to demoralize the English. No justification for that for sure either.

audere_est_facere Aug 1st, 2007 10:45 AM

Oh jesus tap-dancing christ! Look up the Baedeker Raids.

Then read "reasons for the raid" here:

It is becoming obvious that yank history books are about as reliable as a chocolate teapot.

PalenQ Aug 1st, 2007 10:50 AM

audere - for the last time show some respect - it's Yank with a capital Y - i wish you brits or english would learn that. Proper name needs capitalization!

I guess flanner is right about Public School education.

There is no need to re-fight WWII - each was a tragedy - enough said. But if Heil guy had gotten the bomb as he could have apparently then it'd be Sprecken de Deutsche in Coventry and Greenwich as well!

Yanks had to step in to save the British - that's in the history books, along with the Russians of course.

audere_est_facere Aug 1st, 2007 10:58 AM

For the last time - the European war was over and won by the time you lot could be arsed to turn up.

And if it wasn't for us you'd all be speaking French - remember that.

PalenQ Aug 1st, 2007 11:22 AM

In all seriousness audere - both were tragedies as was the war - for both sides regardless of who started what.

hoepfully modern Europe and EU will see the end of such needless bloodshed and destruction.

who was right and wrong matters little - it's always the common folk who suffer the most. Same as in Iraq today - the common bloke bears the burden of war started by US and UK needlessly.

That Dresden could partly piece itself back together - and in no way has the whole old town been re-created - the large shopping area still has expanses of rather blah tower blocks but several icons have been saved. A credit to local resolve.

the only lesson here is Patton's "War is Hell" and let's hope either UK or Germany or US or any country has to suffer more war.

audere_est_facere Aug 1st, 2007 11:29 AM

Here in the UK we actually ended a war yesterday:,00.html

That war affected me and my family greatly - so i for one am happy it's over.

Ingo Aug 2nd, 2007 01:52 AM

Just some thoughts. Dresden is not on the UNESCO heritage list because of its old town. Not exclusively at least. According to the official documents it is the "civilised landscape". That refers to the lovely river valley (26 km long) in which the city is located. A (in Europe) unique combination of nature and culture. That includes the lovely scenery with vineyards, natural preserves etc. and the man-made culture: beautiful castles, mansions, churches, but mostly the rich tradition of culture (music, literature, pieces of art like in the Green Vault or the Picture Galleries to find).

The old town was firebombed, yes, but it was enough left that partial reconstruction made sense. Some of the finest examples of European architecture like the Baroque Zwinger, the Neo-Renaissance Semper Opera house, the Baroque Catholic Cathedral, the Church of Our Lady stand here.

To learn more about the reconstruction of the Church of Our Lady and the (obviously just beginning) reconcilation between Germans and British you may contact the British Dresden Trust. You'll be surprised how many folks from Coventry joined that trust.

It is true that Dresden had war related industry and also a large garrison. The question is why these remained intact during the bombing. The bombs hit exclusively the residential areas and the city centre. That makes it very improbable that Dresden was bombed for military purposes. But that was war. I thought we're over it.

audere_est_facere Aug 2nd, 2007 02:18 AM

WWII bombing was quite ridiculously inaccurate. One american raid on Japan dropped 396 bombs, and only one hit it's target. That was pretty typical for all combatants.

There are great big holes all over London - in the most unlikely places.

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