The blitz stories from Coventry's twin city of Dresden
Boarding a Dresden tram in 1946, a year after the bombings
Coventry was devastated on the night of the big raid on 14 November 1940. It was a night where over 500 people died and the heart of the city was raised to the ground. It wasn't just one night, Coventry suffered nine months of raids which affected so many people, with the loss of homes, friends, neighbours and relatives. One person who survived, but lost everything, was Michael Logan. He was six years-old when his air raid shelter took a direct hit on 18 October 1940. You can hear his story in our
special interactive map of Coventry Blitz stories
Very soon after the bombing, Coventry started its role as a city of peace and reconciliation. It started twinning with other cities which were devastated by war, one of those cities was Dresden in Germany. Prior to its attacks, this city was planned as a substitute capital for Berlin.
Before the war, Coventry had been described as the most well preserved mediaeval city in Europe, but it was all but gone after the events of 1940. With the war still intensifying, Allied forces planned an attack which would replicate that of the Coventry Blitz. The firestorms of 1945 were masterminded by looking at how Coventry was destroyed and trying to repeat it in Dresden, Eastern Germany, a city almost untouched by the war until that point.
A view of Dresden from City Hall Tower after three days of bombings
There are many similarities between the two cities in terms of their size and beauty before the bombing. Over the period of 13-15 February 1945, there were three separate concentrated attacks in a 20-hour period. There were hundreds of 'planes and thousands of tonnes of bombs dropped. It resulted in 15-square km being totally destroyed with 18 million cubic metres of rubble. The firestorms raged through the streets and temperatures were thought to have reached 1500°C. There is still no definite death toll from the attacks, but it is over 25,000, with some even claiming the final toll could reach one million. There were too many bodies for the authorities to dig a mass grave, so instead the bodies were piled in the squares and cremated.
Meeting Dresden survivors
A month before the 70th anniversary of the Coventry Blitz, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire took blitz survivor Michael Logan to Dresden to meet German survivors of the allied fire bombings in 1945 and to share their experiences. You can hear about Michael's experiences in Dresden by
You can see photographs of the visit by clicking on the link to the gallery below:
Nora and her family sheltered from the raid in their basement, but the fires took hold and as they left, she lost her parents. A lady took her and her brother and they had to go into the firestorm to survive.
Days later she returned to the city and found her parents again.
Anita and her parents sheltered from the raids in a basement, with damp dressing gowns and towels over their faces, Anita passed out from the smoke. When she awoke she looked for her parents. She left the city with a lady who was looking for her husband. Days later they returned to the city and the street where she lived, a man stopped her from going any further.
Dead bodies were stacked outside each of the houses, he went and took the rings from her mother and father's hands and gave them to her, it was at that point she realised she was all alone.
Christa lived with her mother and her 7 month-old sister. Their house took a direct hit in the raid and they managed to escape from the basement.
They fled the city but the heat of the streets and the rubble burnt the shoes from their feet.
Rudolf was a young soldier who was recovering in a military hospital in Dresden. After the first raid, he tried to save the hospital but as the fire took hold he and some others had to go into the gardens.
They huddled together for safety desperately trying to beat the flames from their clothes. His father found him the next morning.
Ulricht was only 3 ½ years old when his house was damaged by a direct hit and he was buried in the rubble.
He lost family members and loved ones only days before the end of the war.
You can find out more about Dresden by visiting the City of Dresden website:
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