I was lucky to be able to travel the small town of Zwickau to work with IFZW, which manufactures cremators for crematoriums. On the way to Zwickau myself and my guide to Zwickau Barbara stopped in Dresden. The location of the controversial fire bombing that took place near the end of WWII that turned the historic city into ruins and killing over 25,000 civilians. The beautiful city was rebuilt using stones from the ruined buildings and new stones offering the viewer a contrast of past destruction and rebirth.
Church in Dresden
Charred and damaged stones are found intermingled with bright white stones. The image of these buildings was daunting as well as impactful. It was difficult to stand in their prescience without thinking of how many lives were forever changed due to the events of the war. However there was a glaring difference in the center of the city amongst these recreated buildings, three busses propped vertical.

Three buses propped vertical

During the Syrian Civil War, a picture was taken of three busses propped vertical in the ruins of a city square to provide cover against snipers. Artist Manaf Halbouni created this artwork, called Monument in the historic city center of Dresden. The importance of this work being placed in Dresden shows how war greatly alters the innocent, just as the controversial bombings of Dresden in 1945. The Monument greatly alters Dresden’s city square, but forces a passerby to inspect it. On the underside of the busses there a letters written in pleas to end war. The most moving was a poem in German from the perspective of a Syrian refugee saying in summary “we have shelter, we have food, we have safety, we are content.”

Information on the monument

The Syrian Civil War is controversial on a political level as certain countries aid opposing sides. But the issue of what to do with the many Syrian refugees is often what people debate. What is easy to forget is that people just like myself, my family, my friends are fleeing and desperately looking for safety. Their home is now a ruin, many of their family and friends are dead, and the the world often complains who should have to offer these refugees who have lost everything, safety. My perspective will be forever changed standing in a city square that was once a ruin full of death, that is now a symbol of hope and rebirth, and seeing the Monument which represents the loss of life in another war torn country.

Text and Images by Matt