The Angel of Dresden comes to Rugby to remind us of the horrors of bombing raids

The Angel of Dresden.
The Angel of Dresden.

In February 1945 a city similar in size to Manchester was engulfed in a hellish inferno for two days that would kill around 25,000.

Survivors recall running past adults cremated to the size of children as they ran for their lives.

The Angel of Dresden.

The Angel of Dresden.

Mothers covered their children in wet blankets and clothes to protect them from the fire storm– but many succumbed to oxygen deprivation, fainting as they fled.

The citizens of the German city of Dresden learned the Luftwaffe, which had inflicted terror across Europe earlier in the war, was now decrepit and powerless to stop hundreds of RAF and USAAF aircraft from dropping thousands of tonnes of incendiary bombs.

Even during the war, there was much debate as to whether the Dresden bombing was justified – debate that rages on still.

Now, over 70 years since the raids, a sculpture of an angel stands in Rugby’s St Andrew’s Church to mark the suffering of the victims of bomb attacks on all sides.

The sculpture, named ‘The Angel of Dresden’ and created by artist Charles W. Hazzard in 1995, will be displayed at St Andrew’s until November 18.

“This work refers to the bombing of Dresden in the late stages of the Second World War,” said Mr Hazzard.

“I was affected by both the loss of human life and of a city of Rococo cultural heritage destroyed by aerial bombardment - indicative of such events as inflicted by both the Allied and Axis Powers against each other during the War.

“I wished to convey to the viewer the figure sculpture as an intercessory angel between those still alive amongst the destruction, and the terror raining down from the aircraft overhead.

“The ascending angle of the apparatus from rear to forward of the figure, and oblong attachments to the assembly either side of the figure sculpture, suggests a primitive flying apparatus not capable of actual, but of symbolic flight.

“The huge circular drums, I imagine as voices of the vanquished.”

The angel has previously been displayed at Coventry Cathedral – particularly poignant as Coventry suffered greatly during the Luftwaffe’s Blitz – which saw the Cathedral bombed.

Mr Hazzard said: “The neutrality of this work enables us here to reflect on the earlier and comparable mass bombing of the medieval city of Coventry in November 1940.

“The piece reminds us of the effort to peace and reconciliation Coventry Cathedral has sought with Dresden and to subsequent spheres of conflict since the very end of the second world war.”

This work was displayed in the nave of Coventry Cathedral earlier this year as part of the Cathedral’s current year-long Plumbline Arts Festival which celebrates the Cathedral’s diocesan centenary.

Coventry Cathedral then invited parish churches within the Warwickshire diocese to display the angel at various times in 2018 as part of the continuing centenary celebrations.