The Anonymous Widower

Would I Go Back To Dresden, Chemnitz And Leipzig?

I enjoyed my two days spent exploring these three cities in the former East Germany. On a properly planned trip, there is a lot to see to satisfy any particular taste.

I would probably choose Dresden or Leipzig as a base, depending on which was the easiest for you to get to.

An interesting trip would be to perhaps fly to Prague and spend time there, before taking the train to Dresden up the Elbe. After Dresden you could go on to Berlin, from where you could fly home.

Typical journey times are as follows.

Prague to Dresden – 2 hr. 15 min.

Dresden to Chemnitz – 1 hr. 30 min.

Dresden to Leipzig – 1 hr. 30 min.

Dresden to Berlin – 2 hr.

The two shortest routes are double-deck regional trains, so you can relax upstairs and enjoy the countryside. Comfort on these double-deck trains is about the same on say any of the Class 379 trains or similar, that are fairly numerous in the UK. But the on-board train information is generally of a much lower quality than we would accept in the UK.

June 15, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

From Dresden To Leipzig

This was not the most stimulating of journeys, as there was nothing worth photographing.

The train was fairly full.

There was also a bit of a problem at Leipzig, where the passengers had to manhandle and womanhandle a guy in an electric wheelchair out of the train. Obviously, Deutsche Bahn have a different attitude to wheelchair passengers compared to most UK rail companies.

June 15, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

The Bombing Of Dresden

I could not leave Dresden without commenting on the Bombing of Dresden by the Allies in World War II.

Some feel it was a war crime and many say it was justified. This is the first paragraph in the Wikipedia section describing the background to the bombing.

Early in 1945, after the German offensive known as the Battle of the Bulge had been exhausted — including the disastrous attack by the Luftwaffe on New Year’s Day involving elements of eleven combat wings of the Luftwaffe’s day fighter force — and after the Red Army had launched their Silesian Offensives into pre-war German territory, theGerman army was retreating on all fronts, but still resisting strongly. On 8 February 1945, the Red Army crossed the Oder River, with positions just 70 km from Berlin. As theEastern and Western Fronts were getting closer, the Western Allies started to consider how they might aid the Soviets with the use of the strategic bomber force. They planned to bomb Berlin and several other eastern cities in conjunction with the Soviet advance—to cause confusion among German troops and refugees, and hamper German reinforcement from the west.

It is a sensible argument, but I feel that decisions earlier in the War meant that to cause the required confusion, they had no alternative.

Churchill and others were also worried about what the Russians would do with the territory they captured. And he was right, as their colonisation and subjugation of Eastern Europe happened and it was something of which no-one can be proud.

In some ways it’s a pity that the German leaders in 1944, didn’t know how close we were to perfecting the atom bomb. But if they had,would the likes of Hitler ever surrendered? I doubt it! When you’re dealing with the really mad, all logic goes out of the window.

So could there have been an alternative to the bombing of Dresden and Leipzig?

What my father had been involved with in the war, I know not! But he was a passionate believer in the abilities of the de Havilland Mosquito. My father was well-connected in some way to John Grimston, who later became the 6th Earl of Veralem. In the 1950s and 1960s, Grimston’s company, Enfield Rolling Mills, was my father’s biggest customer. I know he was well-connected because when I needed a vacation job, my father rang the Earl and called in a favour, which got me three months extremely useful work in the Electronics Laboratory. My father did move in some unusual circles before and during the war. At one time, he was even working at the League of Nations in Geneva.

I have just read the section in Wikipedia about the Inception of the Mosquito. To say it was a struggle to get de Havilland’s wooden design accepted and then built would be an understatement. My father and others have said that there was scepticism in the Air Ministry about sending out crews to bomb Germany in a bomber with no defensive armament, which was built out of ply and balsa wood and stuck together with glue.

You have to remember that together the RAF and the USAAF lost hundreds of thousands of crew bombing Germany with four-engine heavy bombers. So was it the right policy?

One of my late friends, was a Mosquito pilot, who flew the aircraft in the RAF in the late 1940s. Several times we discussed the bombing of Germany in the 1070s. He had flown many types of aircraft, but in his view nothing compared with the amazing Mossie. The only flying problem, was an engine failure on take-off, which as a pilot with several hundred hours on a Cessna 340A, I know is a serious problem on any piston-engined twin. Luckily it never happened to either of us!

It is useful to compare the performance of a Mosquito to a B-17 Flying Fortress.

The following words are taken from the Bomber section in Wikipedia for the Mosquito.

In April 1943 it was decided to convert a B Mk IV to carry a 4,000 lb (1,812 kg), thin-cased high explosive bomb (nicknamed “Cookie”). The conversion, including modified bomb bay suspension arrangements, bulged bomb bay doors and fairings, was relatively straightforward, and 54 B.IVs were subsequently modified and distributed to squadrons of RAF Bomber Command’s Light Night Striking Force. 27 B Mk IVs were later converted for special operations with the Highball anti-shipping weapon, and were used by 618 Squadron, formed in April 1943 specifically to use this weapon. A B Mk IV, DK290 was initially used as a trials aircraft for the bomb, followed byDZ471,530 and 533.[108] The B Mk IV had a maximum speed of 380 mph (610 km/h), a cruising speed of 265 mph (426 km/h), ceiling of 34,000 ft (10,000 m), a range of 2,040 nmi (3,780 km), and a climb rate of 2,500 ft per minute (762 m)

And the Flying Fortress had a maximum speed of 287 mph, a cruise speed of 182 mph and a range of 1,738 miles with a 6,000 bomb load. In addition it needed a crew of ten, as against the Mosquito’s crew of just two.

I have seen statistics that Mosquito bombers could sometimes do two trips to Germany in one night with different crews and that they had the highest safe return rate of any Allied bombers.

So why did we not use Mosquitos to bomb Germany?

The statistics and according to my friend, the crews, were in favour, it’s just that those that made the decisions weren’t!

If we had been using a substantial number of Mosquitos, then a totally different strategy would have evolved, as the Allied Air Forces wouldn’t have lost so many experienced crew and the number of bombing raids would have increased and would have been of a much higher accuracy.

A serious mathematical analysis may or may not have been done since the war, but if it has been, it could have given surprising results.

This strategy could have meant that the destruction of Dresden and Leipzig might not have happened. If nothing else Mosquitos could almost have reached the German lines on the Eastern Front to support the Russians, from bases in South Eastern England.

As an aside here, after having visited Dresden, I have seen how the historic centre is all along the River Elbe, with the railway, which surely was an important target to disrupt traffic and cause confusion behind German lines, slightly further away from the river. As any pilot, who has flown at night by the light of the moon as I have, will tell you, rivers stand out like nothing else and it would have been very easy to find the historic centre of the city to drop bombs.

So I feel strongly, that the crude, misplaced philosophy of four-engined heavy bombers contributed to the destruction of Dresden. There were raids for which these bombers were ideal, like the destruction of dams, U-boat pens and V-missile sites, but carpet-bombing cities was not one of them!

To sum up, I have also heard arguments from former Mosquito pilots like my friend, and others, that properly used Mosquitos could have shortened the war by several months.

June 15, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Where My Friend David Goes To Let Off Steam

I just had to take this picture of a tram destination in Dresden.

Where My Friend David Goes To Let Off Steam

 

A Tram For The Wilder Mann

I’ve no idea what’s there! Perhaps it’s a Zoo?

 

 

 

June 14, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Riding Dresden’s Trains

Dresden’s Trams are an impressive network.

I took these pictures as I roamed around the city.

The trams are single-ended, with the rear of each tram configured so several people can sit in the tail. Many of these pictures were taken looking backwards.

I didn’t go to the end of a line, so do they go round in a loop or is each end of the tram convertible from driving position to four seats for tail-gunners? If it’s the latter, they would surely be ideal for somewhere like Blackpool, which runs another variant of Bombardier’s Flexity trams.

Note that nearly all Dreseden’s trams are low-floor models and unlike many other systems I have ridden, getting in and out is easy for all. I would say, that if you are in a wheel-chair and want to go to a historic city, then Dresden would be a place to put on your list. But make sure you check the arrangements, if you’re using the trains.

 

I didn’t see one, but Dresden’s tram network is possibly unique in allowing cargo trams to use the network. I think that we’ll see more developments around the world, where trams or even tram-trains are used to transport commercial loads. Look at a city like Manchester or Sheffield with an extensive tram netwqrk, that in future will call at major industrial parks and shopping centres. Would it be easier and cheaper to deliver goods for shops say to an outlying depot and then wheel them on to a low-floor tram for delivery to the shopping centre, where they are then wheeled off to the shop. This could be done at night, just as freight for shops and businesses is now delivered into Euston station.

June 14, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

An Inscription In The Pavement

I came across this inscription in the pavement dated to the 8th October 1989 by the Dresden Hauptbahnhof.

An Inscription In The Pavement

An Inscription In The Pavement

I can’t find anything about it directly on the web, but it is probably connected to this section in Wikipedia’s entry for the Monday Demonstrations In East Germany, which says this.

A major turning point was the events in the West German Embassy of Prague, where thousands of East Germans had fled in September, living there in conditions reminiscent of the Third World. Hans-Dietrich Genscher had negotiated an agreement that allowed them to travel to the West, in trains that had to pass first through the GDR. Genscher’s speech from the balcony was interrupted by a very emotional reaction to his announcement. When the trains passed Dresden’s central station in early October, police forces had to stop people from trying to jump on the trains.

I should have taken more pictures.

June 14, 2015 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

An Excursion From Dresden To Chemnitz

I started early and caught an early train to Chemnitz or Karl Marx Stadt as was.

These pictures tell the story of the journey.

Note the following.

1. I took a break on the way out at Freiberg. It looked a pleasant small town in Germany and there’s the Alekto hotel by the station, that is on the Internet. Wikipedia says this about the town.

Its historic town centre has been placed under heritage conservation and is a chosen site for the proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Ore Mountain Mining Region. Until 1969, the town was dominated for around 800 years by the mining and smelting industries. In recent decades it has restructured into a high technology site in the fields of semiconductor manufacture and solar technology, part of Silicon Saxony.

So things are looking up for Freiberg and perhaps in a few years time, it will be a good base from which to explore.

2. The quaintly named Frankenstein Station.

3. It is quite a scenic line and is much more so than the line from Dresden to Leipzip, that I rode the next day.

4. It is undergoing a lot of refurbishment, which judging by the wooden sleepers and some of the other things I saw, hasn’t been done for years.

5. As it’s Germany, all the clocks seem to be working. Network Rail take note!

June 14, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Archaeology In Dresden

There is a lot of rebuilding going on in Dresden, and I came across this site that was being investigated for archaeological purposes.

In a couple of places across Germany, I’ve recently come across examples of developers doing the sort of PR you see in London, to passify those affected by large developments.

Perhaps, everybody is watching Crossrail, who have used archaeology virtually as a PR weapon to fight off protesters and bad press!

June 13, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

A Wet Evening In Dresden

The weather up to now had been hot and sunny, but by the time I got to Dresden it was raining hard.

But hey, I’m English and we may go out in the mid-day sun, but we also don’t shrink from the rain.

The meal was excellent and it would warrant a separate post if more of my pictures came out properly.

June 13, 2015 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , | 1 Comment

An Encounter With A Latex Lady

As I descended in the lift in the Ibis hotel in Dresden to brave the weather and explore the city, I was joined by a couple aged about forty, who as he was carrying a folded umbrella and she was wearing a short black, buckled and belted, expensive-looking mac, were obviously better prepared for the weather than I was.

She man was beside me and she stood opposite us on the other side of the lift directly facing us, pulling poses at her partner!

It was then that I noticed that the mac was exceedingly short and that I couldn’t see any skirt or trousers beneath. I did think to myself, that that was sensible given the foul weather and it was then that I noticed she was wearing shiny black latex tights . On her feet were a pair of absolutely flat lightweight black leather shoes. Nothing fetishistic at all!

Leaving the lift they walked straight out of the door to wherever they were going, whilst I walked downtown.

It all reminded me of an evening about twelve years ago, where C had handled the divorce for a lady, to whom fetish clothing was no stranger. Although, C did say, that their sexual habits and preferences had contributed to the breakdown of the marriage. After the case, the lady gave C a pair of latex tights, that she said C might like to try.

As in Dresden that evening was very wet and let’s say it was very enjoyable.

June 13, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment