A Weekend in Dresden

Marisa Shadburn
Museum of Military History , Dresden
(Photo by: Marisa Shadburn)

The trip to Dresden was organized as part of the class ‘Berlin: Experiment in Modernity’, taught by Florian Becker. On an extremely chilling winter evening we all left Berlin with Florian Becker and Zoltan Helmich (Residential Life Coordinator) and set on our adventure.

In Dresden we stayed at the Technical University’s “Gästehaus”. The Guesthouse was nothing less than a four star hotel and upon arrival we spent the evening eating and drinking in the guest-house’s restaurant. Our chaperons kept us entertained with their ingenious sense of humor. The next morning we all set forth to see the grand Christmas Stollen (an enormous cake which weighs 400 pounds), baked by various bakers. The Stollen was being prepared in the city center, where all the important buildings and churches are also to be found. We arrived at the center hoping to see the cake and the parade that was to follow. We were promised by Florian Becker that whoever catches a glimpse of the cake first would get a piece of it. That seemed like a difficult task given that we all were amid hundreds of people. And since we were all eager to try a piece of that famous gigantic cake, it was all a matter of strategy: I stood in a line that ultimately allowed me to weasel my way to a spot, which provided me with the angle that made me the first one to see the Stollen. As promised, as the first to catch a glimpse of the desert, I got a piece, rich in delicious raisins, which, after all, we all ended up enjoying (since a single piece weighed more than half a kilo––and that whole savory giant––for the price of only 5 Euro).

After a whole morning spent exploring the amazing Christmas Markets of Dresden, we all moved to our next destination: The Old Masters Picture Gallery. We had an amazing guided tour, as we moved from Raphael’s Madonna to Rubin’s beautiful women. The Gallery introduced us to art from the Renaissance to the Romanticism and evinced how across generations religious art gradually turned into a way for humans to express their deepest and darkest desires. The art featured in the gallery reflected the way artists from various historical periods thought about God and mankind. It was an awe-inspiring moment to stand in front of the paintings; they seemed to encompass history, emotion and a deep perspective on the human condition. The guide also remarked briefly how love for women or love for God had inspired the various artists to paint certain artworks, which further strengthened our bond with the pieces displayed. We slowly moved out of the gallery, hoping for a good meal and looking forward to equally wonderful and informative visits. Our hopes were rightly met the next day when we went to the Museum of Military History.

This was the place where one could become acquainted with the development of warfare from ancient times up to the present. It displayed weapons, tools, animals, stories and toys that reflect the effect of wars on society and human beings. The Museum is designed by the famous Daniel Libeskind––the same architect who is responsible for the unique architecture of the Jewish Museum in Berlin. In Dresden as well, Libeskind had added open spaces that, actually and metaphorically, shed light on a ‘way out’ from battles and wars for us as society. The Museum tour dealt with essential and important issues relating to military education. And it was quite interesting to see objects used in recent wars such as the Afghan and Iraq Wars of the 2000s. After the tour ended we went on the top of the building to catch a panorama view of Dresden.

The Museum tours enlightened us as to how and why certain objects had been preserved. These tours demonstrated the manner in which humanity through ages had expressed itself, as well as the complex relationship we humans have with God, society and violence. Amidst these intellectually stimulating museum tours, we all enjoyed the amazing Christmas Markets’ hot Glühwein and cakes. The trip demanded physical strength and the harshness of winter did not make it easy, yet we all marched happily from one place to another. It was the boisterousness of the group and the fascinating museum trips that made the trip ever so memorable and enjoyable.

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