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Dresden has a loaded history, one that its residents are not likely to forget. A walk through the downtown area is fraught with reminders of the Allied bombing of the city in 1945. Ruined buildings stand amidst modern structures, and the emblematic Frauenkirche, nearly destroyed in the bombing, was reconstructed with some of the charred, original stones incorporated into the structure. Residents don't want to forget what happened, but they also want to move past it. Since the bombing, the city center has been reconstructed to nearly what it was before the war when it was known as one of Europe's most beautiful cities on account of its stunning baroque architecture. Thus, Dresden is an often intriguing paradox and mix of seemingly opposing forces.
Dresden was also a part of the former socialist East German republic, whose influence can still be felt today. Former East Germans and West Germans still poke fun at each other according to old stereotypes. Former West Germans boast that they are the intellectuals of Germany whose scientists and thinkers are the true leaders of the country and that the East Germans are nothing but a bunch of country bumpkins. Former East Germans, on the other hand, will tell you that their determined work ethic holds the country together while the West Germans sit around doing nothing but talk. Indeed, Dresden is a center for industry and production, home to many important plants and factories. But it's not all muscle and smoke. Dresden is also a major center for arts and culture, host to one of the largest jazz festivals in Europe. So, call it what you will, Dresden is continually defying stereotypes, busy crafting and re-crafting itself as one of the most unique, varied and vibrant cities in the world.