A new London Transport Museum exhibition marking the 70th anniversary of the Blitz was officially opened by the Mayors of London, Dresden and Coventry last night.
Under Attack: London, Coventry and Dresden has been developed by the museum in partnership with with Coventry Transport Museum and the Verkehrsmuseum Dresden and also marks the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden.
Exploring the history and myths surrounding the bombings, the exhibition focuses on the role public transport played in helping create a sense of identity and normality.
Speaking at last night’s launch Mayor of London Boris Johnson said the air raids on the capital had been “an unparalleled act of barbarism” but praised the way that London and other cities affected had recovered from the effects of the bombings.
Mayor Johnson also suggested that the need for populations to shelter together with no consideration of social differences had helped secure Britain’s post-war settlement and the creation of the welfare state.
Lord Mayor of Coventry Brian Kelsey shared his personal experiences of the Blitz and talked of the scars left by the bombings and paid tribute to those cities, including London, which provided buses after the city’s tram system was destroyed.
Noting her city’s co-operation with the exhibition had not met with “complete acceptance everywhere”, Helma Orosz, Mayor of Dresden, said she understood why but observed that the air bombings had left the fates of the three cities “interwoven”.
Mayor Orosz said there was “no doubt” that the suffering which affected Europe throughout World War II “originated in Germany” but said it was a “wonderful symbol of reconciliation and friendship that we are together opening this exhibition today.”
The opening was also attended by acting German Ambassador Dr Eckhard Lübkemeier who said the exhibition was a “testimony to the remarkable courage and resilience of the people of London, Coventry and Dresden.”
Dr Lübkemeier added: “As a German born after the Second World War I bear no personal responsibility for Nazi Germany’s aggression and the immeasurable sufferings it caused, however as a German belonging to the post-war generation, I do feel both a special sense of responsibility for what happened and a special sense of obligation to see to it that nothing even remotely resembling it ever happens again.”
Listen to the three Mayor’s speeches
Under Attack: London, Coventry and Dresden Exhibition, 7 September 2010 – 31 March 2011, London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, WC1E 7BB