Schlachthof Funf

Speaking of eerie vibes: we’re passing through Dresden, Germany, right now and all I can think of is that Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.

It was here in Dresden on a night in 1945 that Allied warplanes dropped so many bombs at one time that it created a firestorm, incinerating more civilians than we did a short while later with the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. It was an event chronicled by Kurt Vonnegut in his classic novel, “Slaughterhouse Five.”

Obviously I can only see what’s visible from the train but Dresden looks to be a clean, modern city, far removed from the bleak East German days of communist rule. It’s set in a broad valley with modern apartment towers and one old church steeple standing out against a blue sky, the whole scene much more 21st century than the more pastoral scenes just an hour ago in the Czech Republic.

I’ve no idea if the subterranean slaughterhouse in which Vonnegut and other prisoners of war survived the firebombing still exists, and if it does, if there’s anything that marks the event. It kinda looks as though Dresden has cleaned up and moved on. But as a big Vonnegut fan, there are ghosts here, too.

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