The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Seventeen — Dresden, Germany, by Megan Hennen

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Seventeen — Dresden, Germany, by Megan Hennen

C_Users_Owner_Pictures_Europe 2012_Deutscheland_Copy of DSC_1568

In the northeastern state of Saxony, Germany, you can find the city of Dresden.  This once soviet-occupied used to be nothing more to me than the setting for Kurt Vonnegut’s anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse-Five.  And then, I was there.  Standing in the middle of Dresden’s Altstadt (old city), looking up and admiring at all of the blackened facades.  There’s a kind of beauty about the charred buildings, but there’s also no denying that it has a haunting quality, too.  In the middle of February 1945, WWII had been inching closer to its end, when the Allied forces released their disastrous cargo, which would not only leave Dresden in ruins, but also killing thousands of civilians.  These scorched structures serve as a reminder of this event, a sort of memorial for the lost lives of the fire raids.  In a way, it had reminded my of the United States’ Statue of Liberty.  Lady Liberty had once been copper, like a penny, which is hard to imagine considering I’ve only ever known her as being green, similarly, there’s a difficulty in picturing Dresden’s Altstadt without its burns.

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[Photo of the Zwinger Palace Glockenspiel]


For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see

For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see

The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Reports.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world.  We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year

(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.


Filed under Megan Hennen, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

9 responses to “The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Seventeen — Dresden, Germany, by Megan Hennen

  1. Zhiyu Yang

    We have to admit that one of the most important function of architecture is for memory, especially war memory. This kind of architecture has unique beauty. Just like the author said, the charred buildings have hunting quality. This made me think back about YuanMing Palace. It was destroyed during the WWII time as well. After the fire, nothing remained of the magnificent buildings of the palace but only ruin. It has become a memory of invasion. Architecture is another form of art that let people remember history.

  2. Mindy Aubin

    It looks like a very pretty city from those pictures I couldn’t even imagine what it looks like actually being there. Thats crazy how you were standing right there where the where all of that was happening!

  3. Kaitlyn Young

    I really enjoy your pictures of Germany! I had the opportunity to travel there, but was unable to see Dresden. It looks like a very beautiful city. The charring makes it unique. It tells a story about the history of Germany. The fact that it is still standing is wonderful!

  4. Ashley Svihel

    That was a very interesting comparison you gave with the Statue of Liberty. It seems to like all places around the world are beautiful, but when the history is unraveled about that beauty it becomes a whole other thing that is adored. Very beautiful pictures also.

  5. Kendra Johnson

    Reading this really made me think how different places are in actuality compared to how I think they’ll be when I visit. It’s interesting too to learn the background and history of a place before you visit it because it just makes that much more of an impact when you experience it for yourself.

  6. Morgan Young

    I love the comparison between the United States statue of liberty and the Dresden Altstadt architecture! History can be beautiful and haunting, but it is important to remember it. It’s always interesting to learn about a place, but then feel the emotion and history once you get the chance to visit it.

  7. Samantha Roettger

    I am hoping to some day visit Germany due to ancestry. Dresden looks like an absolutely beautiful and historic city. I love that you compared the Dresden buildings to our own Statue of Liberty. It is important to make a connection like this that the reader would know about. I wish you would have said a little more about this comparison because I think it was an interesting point to make.

  8. Cassandra Mahlberg

    This article, while terribly brief, is still very impactful to read. I don’t know that much about Dresden or much of Germany outside of the few places I’ve visited. 1945 seems so distant when we talk about it, but in reality some of our parents grew up directly in the aftermath of WWII or our grandparents fought in it. I have seen so many monuments and memorials to the victims of the Holocaust and the war, but I have never seen the scars on the cities this directly. I hope I will be able to visit Dresden and get a better understanding of its past because it holds so much history. Historical memory is what shapes the future. If we don’t recognize the scars, both visible and invisible, we cannot craft the future because history will repeat itself.

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