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.