For those of you who speak German, that was not a typo. It snowed so much here in February that even my German teacher made the mistake of saying that the sun snows instead of saying that the sun shines. February 2013 was the darkest month on record. Regardless, the sun snows in beautiful Saxony.
After spending a wonderful week in the Netherlands with Oleksiy, I flew off to Dresden. There I met the Boston University group with whom I am spending my time in Germany. Over the past two weeks, I have gotten settled into my new home, the Max Kade dorm here at the Dresden Technical University. Though it has the same benefactor as our Max Kade Center on the fourth floor of Pardee, there are many differences between here and Lafayette. My dorm here is almost twice as big as South, the biggest dorm at Lafayette, and it houses both Germans and many international students.
The old city was destroyed in 1945 when it was targeted with a fire bombing. Ash Wednesday was the anniversary of this terrible event. Many of the students from Boston followed the RAs to a human chain to promote peace which was being organized by the mayor of the city. The people of Dresden and the international community rebuilt the old city center over the course of 60 years.
We took a bus tour of Dresden during our first week and learned about the history of this beautiful city. We saw die Frauenkirche, which was completed in 2005, just in time for the 800th anniversary of Dresden’s founding. We also passed der Zwinger, which used to be place for fancy gatherings but is now a museum. We rode along the river Elbe and saw the vineyards covered in snow. I hope to go biking along the river later in the semester once the snow clears.
As part of my sociology course, we have been traveling to some of the local museums in Dresden. We visited the Technological Collections (die Technische Sammlungen) where we learned about the camera and computer industries that have led Dresden to be called the heart of the Saxon Silicon Valley. While there, we also examined the differences between West Germany and East Germany (including Dresden) and discussed why the camera companies in Dresden collapsed after reunification.
The Military History Museum is the best museum I have been to in Dresden. Unlike many other war museums I have been to, this museum shows much more than how people wage war and what weapons they use. A section on children’s toys made me think about how children play with war, from knights in shining armor to water guns. The exhibit ended with a single toy tank which had lived through the fire bombing. It is so somber to see how toys, which seem so harmless, can grow into games that destroy lives.
Other exhibits showed how animals were used during wars or how fashion was changed by the wars. They even had samples of porcelain which a Prussian king had traded for a dragoon of soldiers from Saxony in the time when soldiers were like slaves. It was amazing to see the craftsmanship that went into building chain-mail and the progression of technology through the ages.
In March, the sun finally came out, and I have begun to really feel at home in Dresden. My walk to school has become brighter, though it still snowed again yesterday.
The sun is shining, and spring is coming soon. In my next blog, I will share the trips that I have taken to Meißen, Prague, Freiberg, and Berlin.