On 70th Anniversary Of Dresden Bombing, Now And Then Photos Show A City Rise From The Ashes

02/13/2015 01:18 pm ET | Updated Feb 13, 2015

On Feb. 13 and Feb. 14, 1945, in the last year of World War II, American and British bombers flattened the German city of Dresden, engulfing the picturesque medieval town in a firestorm. The two days of raids left some 25,000 people dead. Hurricane force winds caused by the fire had swept many of those who had survived the bombings into the inferno.

"Wherever I turned, I was confronted with flames, smoke and dust – and all the time blocks of debris falling from the sky," British rifleman Victor Gregg, who was imprisoned in Dresden at the time, recalled in his ebook Dresden, a Survivor's Story. "People of all shapes, sizes and ages were slowly sucked into the vortex, then suddenly whisked into the pillars of smoke and fire, their hair and clothing alight," he wrote.

On Friday, Germany marked the 70th anniversary of the Allied raids. "We remember all of those who were killed at that time, as victims of violence and war, not only in Dresden, but also in other places," German President Joachim Gauck said during a ceremony at Dresden's Church of Our Lady, which was reconstructed after being destroyed in the bombing.

The high civilian death toll in Dresden ignited controversy in Europe and the U.S. "Dresden remains today a powerful symbol of war and destruction," the BBC explains.

To mark the anniversary, Getty Images photographer Sean Gallup revisited some of the sites pictured in historic images of the carnage, creating powerful composite images of Dresden now and then.

  • Fred Ramage/ Keystone/ Sean Gallup/ Getty Images
    The ruins at Theaterplatz square in 1946 after the Allied firebombing of Feb. 13, 1945, contrast with the square today, pictured on Feb. 7, 2015.
  • Fred Ramage/ Keystone/ Sean Gallup/ Getty Images
    Women carry bricks in this 1946 image outside the Martin Luther church in a neighborhood still wrecked by the Allied bombing, as well as the same area pictured on Feb. 12, 2015.
  • Fred Ramage/ Keystone/ Sean Gallup/ Getty Images
    Moritzstrasse and the Juedenhof palace shown in 1946, still in ruins from the Allied bombing, as well as the same area pictured on Feb. 7, 2015.
  • The Evening Standard/ Sean Gallup/ Getty Images
    The ruins of the city center, including Prager Strasse, following the Allied bombing in 1945, and the same view on Feb. 7, 2015.
  • Fred Ramage/ Keystone/ Sean Gallup/ Getty Images
    From left, propaganda director Heinz Grunewald, Dresden mayor Walter Weidauer and town architect Dr. C. Herbert outside the wreckage of City Hall in March 1946, and the same area on Feb. 12, 2015.
  • William Vandevert/ LIFE/ Sean Gallup/ Getty Images
    The ruins of the Zwinger art museum in 1946, and on Feb. 12, 2015.
  • William Vandevert/ LIFE/ Sean Gallup/ Getty Images
    The ruins of buildings around Neumarkt square pictured in 1946, and the same scene on Jan. 22, 2015.
  • William Vandevert/ LIFE/ Sean Gallup/ Getty Images
    The ruins of the Frauenkirche church and the empty pedestal for a statue of Martin Luther in 1946, shown with an image of the reconstructed church and statue on Jan. 22, 2015.
  • Richard Peter Sr/ Archive Photos/ Sean Gallup/ Getty Images
    A statue on the tower of City Hall looking down at the ruins of the city center wrought by the Allied bombing of Feb. 13, 1945, as well as the same scene on Feb. 12, 2015.
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