Of the 3,290 tips (later called reviews) that I posted over the years on the now-defunct website VirtualTourist, only one was in the category “Packing Lists” (later called “What to Pack”). It read:

Get a copy of the novel Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, to read on the train on the way to Dresden.

Vonnegut was an American soldier in World War Two. Towards the end he was captured, taken to Dresden and imprisoned in a slaughterhouse which had a very deep cellar to store slabs of meat at cool temperatures.

Here he was one of the few people in Dresden to survive the firebombing on February 13, 1945, in which the entire city was destroyed. At least 25,000 people lost their lives.

Page 178: “It wasn’t safe to come out of the shelter until noon the next day. When the Americans and their guards did come out, the sky was black with smoke. The sun was an angry little pinhead. Dresden was like the moon now, nothing but minerals. The stones were hot. Everybody else in the neighborhood was dead.”

Earlier, on page 146, someone had said: “You needn’t worry about bombs, by the way. Dresden is an open city. It is undefended, and contains no war industries or troop concentrations of any importance.”

Ruins of the Kurländer Palace in Dresden, 2004

See more posts on Dresden, Germany.
See more posts about the now-defunct website VirtualTourist.

9 thoughts on “Slaughterhouse-Five”

  1. The fact that the hero is an optometrist is enough for me to read it! Ms Wildhack and the 4th Dimension help guide us along in this time-bending passage. Perfect, as you say, for the long ride from Berlin to Rome – at least, in more normal times.

  2. Good idea. I haven’t read the book for over 50 years but think I’ll dig around and find it. I’m sure it’s around the house someplace because I can’t bring myself to throw away a book so they keep collecting. This is a good time to read books since we can’t go out or travel.

  3. I’ve never read Slaughterhouse Five, nor been to Dresden, but I can see I should do the former if I ever plan to do the latter! Your one and only VT packing tip sounds spot on 🙂

    1. Dresden is still an interesting place to visit, despite the wartime destruction and the botched re-building afterwards. They have some outstanding museums, and of course the marvelous opera house.

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