Striking Dresden is perhaps one of the most famous cities in Germany, and not only for its exciting regal past, but perhaps more somberly for its devastating destruction as a result of the carpet bombings during WW II, which destroyed more than 75% of this incredible city and brought the capital of Saxony to its knees.
Starting off life as a city in 1206, well over 800 years ago, Dresden was the lavish home to many Saxon’s King and Prince – including the legendary Augustus the Strong or August der Starke. Perched on the banks of the winding Elbe River, Dresden is heaving with an abundance of cultural icons and historic landmarks that brings some 10 million visitors annually to visit.
An eerie facet in and around the pulsating heart of the city is the remnants of some of the post war buildings, that have not as yet been restored and are still black and gloomy – a sober reminder of the devastation that the city faced, losing a documented 30,000 residents – the exact number still unknown today. But Dresden picked itself up and has spent decades rebuilding the city that now closely resembles its former regal glory.
One of the most distinctive rebuilt landmarks in the city that is an iconic symbol for peace is the Frauenkriche – painstakingly restored from ruin as a symbol of unity and reconciliation. With an astounding art collection and some of the world’s most breath taking panoramas, tourism is experiencing a boom, as people flock from all over the world to experience the sights and sounds of historic Dresden.
Best Time to Go to Dresden
The wonderful mild and moderate climate makes the city of Dresden perfect for visiting all year round, but during the summer months it is certainly very busy. There is something on right throughout the year, and every season has its own exciting line up; all you have to decide is how much money you are willing to spend and how many people you are willing to share the city with.
From May to October the city is heaving with people, the weather is great and peak season hits the city, along with the crowds and the high prices. Although it can get quite hot during the middle of summer, it’s worth braving the heat to experience the Dresden Museum Summer Night. Everything including the museums stay open all night and there are other events to be enjoyed over that time as well such as Stadfest in August in the Old Town.
Christmas is great: The snow is thick, the mood is festive, the mulled wine is flowing, the Christmas markets have arrived and the holiday season is in full swing. But if you like mild weather, lower prices and less people then fall and spring are your best times of the year to visit. The weather is moderate, most visitors have just left or are leaving and the hotel and flight prices take a nice dip, which will suit the traveler on a budget. Also it is nice not to have to stand in queues to see all of the attractions and get into historical sites as well.
Getting Around Dresden
Dresden is easy to get around by foot, bicycle or bus and tram and there is no need for visitors to hire cars, which can be a stressful way to navigate the city if you are just passing through. Old Town is easiest on foot and there are dedicated cycle paths all throughout the city and cycling is most certainly the fastest way to get around especially in gridlock traffic. But you should take care in the older sections of the city where there are cobblestones as they can be very slippery when it has been raining and uncomfortable to ride on in general.
If you are travelling some distance, you can pop your bike on the tram as you make your way through the city, just don’t forget to buy a separate ticket for your bicycle.
The Straßenbahn is a combination of local transport all rolled into one system – trams, busses and trains. It can be very busy during the day time, but after the rush hour and at night it is much quieter, making it the perfect mode of transport if you are going out for dinner or the evening. Its good value for money and if you are traveling with your family you can get a Family Day Ticket that will take you all around the places in the city that you wish to see up until 4am the following day.
If you are after a little bit of romance or something different, you can hop on a horse-drawn carriage which will take you on a tour around the city. Or book a biketaxi, which is great for a short distance, but you can also book guided tours with them as well, which is one exciting option to see the sights of the city.
Major Attractions and Sights
Dresden is not called the Florence at the Elbe for nothing. This city gem owes much of its glory to its gorgeous location on the banks of the Elbe River, as well as its abundance of stunning architectural feats of genius, fascinating museums and elegant air of Baroque romance felt everywhere. Many of the highlights are within walking distance of each other, which is great for any visitor doing a self-guided tour of the city.
Frauenkirche : The Church of Our Lady has a poignant past that all started with WW II. When the city was under attack, the Church was part of the almost 80% of the city that was completely destroyed by bombs. The majestic old dame was crushed, collapsing into a heap of debris some 42 feet high, during one catastrophic air raid attack on the city. And what is even more heartbreaking is that the grand lady stayed that way for some 50 years, until private financiers from all over the world started contributing money to rebuild what is now an iconic landmark of international peace in Dresden.
The Semper Opera is one of those unforgettable venues and also sadly one of those structures that were totally destroyed by the air raids in 1945. It too has been beautifully restored and was re-opened in 1985 with a moving performance – exactly the same one that was performed just before the theatre was bombed.
Brühl’s Terrace (Brühlsche Terrasse) is located between the Old Town and the River Elbe and was once part of the city’s original embankment until it was made to be the Royal Palace garden. Bordered by 4 monumental bronze statues, the majestic staircase will bring you to the top where you can walk along the boardwalk of the Balcony of Europe.
The Green Vault or Grünes Gewölbe, can be found in the treasure chamber of the Dresden Palace. Commissioned by August the Strong, the 18th century treasure trove is filled with ivory, bronze, gems, silver, amber, opulent artworks, gold and enamel. Here you will also be able to see the biggest green diamond on the planet.
The Zwinger Palace was built in the early to mid-1700s and was a fine venue for tournaments and festivities hosted by the royal court. Probably one of the most magnificent specimens of the romantic Baroque architecture in all of Germany, the complex now houses some of the world’s most famous museums, such as the Old Masters Gallery. Explore the galleries, sweeping pavilions and secluded courtyards.
Pfund Molkere – Pfund’s Dairy is in the Guinness Book of Records as holding the title of the most beautiful milk store in the world. Having gone from strength to strength since being opened by the Pfund brothers in the late 1800s, it is ornately decorated in opulent inlaid hand-painted porcelain tiles that line the shop from floor to ceiling in a true neo- Renaissance feast. Make sure you try their fresh buttermilk, homemade ice cream and cheese.
The Albertinum Museum is a stunning fine art exhibition showcasing masters like Monet, Degas and van Gogh. There is a comprehensive collection of sculptures and paintings from the 19th and 20th century.
The Procession of Princes (Fürstenzug) is a colossal porcelain mural, in fact the biggest of its kind in the world. Portraying a parade of princes and dukes from Saxony, the mural commemorates the Wettin empire reign of some 1000 years. Made from some 25,000 Meissen tiles, the mural is a whopping 330 feet long.
Shopping in Dresden
There are loads of shopping opportunities in Dresden, even though many of the places are still undergoing some reconstruction. The area of Altmarkt in the historic centre is a great place to be, and there are plenty of sidewalk cafes and restaurants to enjoy a good cup of coffee and a nice meal while waiting for the markets to open, or after they have closed.
Extending all the way from Ferdinandplatz to Wildsdruffer Straße, there is just about everything you could possibly want from groceries, big department stores, cinemas, cafes, restaurants, bars, some boutiques, clothing and specialty stores.
If you are looking for vintage markets, bargains, books and bric-a-brac, you should head out of Alberplatz to Äußere Neustadt. The high end stores with big name brands and exclusive price tags are located more on the Innere Neustadt side between Elbe and Albertplatz.
Eating Out in Dresden
If you have a love of food, then Dresden will not disappoint. The local cuisine is full of rich, hearty dishes; comfort food at its best. Sweet potato pancakes, marinated beef, eierschecke – a rich German cheesecake, plenty of German beer and lots of sweet pastries. The city is full of modern eateries, offering menus from the classic and traditional right through the modern and international palate. Christmas time in Dresden is a real treat with all sorts of traditional Christmas dishes coming out of the woodwork, accompanied by much mulled wine and cheer.
High tourist sections of the city like the region around Frauenkirche are going to be expensive for food, and you would be better off for both your pocket and your palate, to head down to the northern bank of the Elbe and Blaues Wunder for good food and good prices.
Look out for the doner kebab which can be picked up at many restaurants cafes and sidewalk markets – a delicious kebab served with salad and sauce in pita bread including sold by Arabian restaurants.
Make sure you make a turn at Lila Sosse, tucked away in the Kunsthofpassage. Cozy, quaint and welcoming, the atmosphere is warm and friendly, the surroundings homely, the food is great German cuisine and all served in jars, making you feel like an old friend and less like a tourist.
Planwirtschaft is another one of those relaxed places to hang out, chill out, grab a beer and a bite to eat and loll around under the leafy trees in the summertime.
Nightlife in Dresden
Dresden is the party animal’s enthusiastic playground and no matter what your party style, Dresden has it all. Fancy a leisurely evening at a biergarten or an elite wine bar, or a place to groove the night away to R & B tunes, click your heels up a bit at a salsa club, go out for a boy’s night at a traditional German pub or hang out with the slick people at trendy cocktails bars? Nobody will leave the city disappointed, there is something for everyone. Steamy clubs that have all night parties till dawn with every possible genre of music makes Dresden the ultimate party destination.
Katy’s Garage is the perfect place to chill out in the beer garden when the weather is nice and then just move into their own rock music nightclub after 10pm. When you have been partying all night and are looking for something to line the stomach or you are on your way out and looking for some party cocktails, then head to Café Europa. They are open 23 hours a day and have the perfect post-party breakfast on the menu.
Of Local Interest
Every year in August, the Stadfest is the biggest cultural, artistic and music festival held all over the city. With performances being held on 4 different stages and operating in more than 16 different areas, the city is flooded with over half a million visitors for this weekend event. The Old Town venues make the concerts and venues so much more special.
Wirecard : How Jan Marsalek Friend Henry O’Sullivan became “Corinna Müller”
The Briton Henry O’Sullivan is regarded as the dazzling puller of many Wirecard deals and friend of Jan Marsalek and internal emails show how big his influence was in the company.
Henry O’Sullivan celebrated his 40th birthday in paradise. He invited lawyers, managers and high-ranking executives from Wirecard to the lonely dream island of Benguerra off the coast of the East African state of Mozambique. Board member Jan Marsalek and his girlfriend should also come.
As a souvenir, the host wanted: pens for the school children in town and champagne for the party weekend.
The luxury resort Azura Retreats, which O’Sullivan rented in November 2014, had cabins right on the beach, palm trees, and a beach. On arrival, the guests would have to wade through knee-deep water as the British businessman’s assistant warned a month before the celebration. That wasn’t a problem for Jan Marsalek. He preferred to travel by helicopter anyway, according to an email from his secretary.
The extravagant birthday plans reveal a lot about two of the central key figures in the Wirecard scandal. Jan Marsalek (40) and Henry O’Sullivan (46) are close confidants who worked together on big deals far away from the headquarters in Aschheim. Now the judiciary is asking whether millions have been diverted. Wirecard is insolvent and Marsalek is on the run.
O’Sullivan does not answer inquiries. At the beginning of 2020, he only wanted to talk to the examiners from KMPG and EY under certain conditions but then he was no longer available to them.
The beefy Brit was known for his dissolute lifestyle. In Singapore he often dined in a top restaurant on the roof of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, with a view over the harbor. To save time on business trips, he preferred to travel short distances by helicopter instead of taxi and in the meantime he lived on a yacht in Monaco.
Marsalek had O’Sullivan flown in in 2014 to celebrate with him at the Munich Oktoberfest. A year later they flew through South Africa in the Learjet 45XR. And when the Briton wanted to meet the Wirecard executive board in Jakarta in 2014, he asked an Indonesian employee by email about a hotel that would tolerate the “type of spring break business trips”.
Beyond its luxury life, only fragments of O’Sullivan’s businesses are known. The Briton did not hold an official position at Wirecard. Many consider him a “phantom” in the background, a member of the mysterious clique around Marsalek.
It was stored in the Wirecard address book with an external e-mail address for freelancers – his profile photo showed Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug lord: another bad joke by Jan Marsalek, as insiders suspect.
As much as O’Sullivan was on business trips, he was always careful to be discreet. This is also shown by an episode from spring 2020, when the Wirecard world was already falling apart and auditors examined the opaque third-party business for which Marsalek was responsible.
O’Sullivan was very knowledgeable about third party business and a strange company purchase in India in 2015. He was therefore a sought-after discussion partner for the annual auditors from EY and the special auditors from KPMG. O’Sullivan apparently managed to convince the supervisory board of a special protective measure.
A sought-after discussion partner for EY and KPMG
O’Sullivan demanded at the end of April or beginning of March 2016 that his name should not be recorded in the “final report” or in any other correspondence with Wirecard. “These papers have a habit of appearing in public,” he wrote to an assistant at Marsalek. He assumes that “everything that is written will ultimately be read by others” and he therefore insists on being given a pseudonym.
This is how Mr. O’Sullivan became Mrs. Müller. On March 4, a legal advisor to the Supervisory Board wrote to Wirecard management: “As discussed yesterday, a code name should be used for all further e-mails and other references. Proposal: ‘Ms. Corinna Müller’. ”On the same day, EY agreed not to use the name in communication with Wirecard international.
According to supervisory board circles, however, it was clear: There should be no special treatment in the confidential internal audit report, and O’Sullivan’s real name would have been mentioned here.
But it did not get to that. According to the “Wall Street Journal”, the special auditor KPMG was cross: O’Sullivan had also made the condition of their auditors anonymous. When they refused, he refused to speak.
He could tell so much in the process. In the ten years before the bankruptcy alone, Wirecard acquired companies for 1.2 billion euros, according to insolvency administrator Michael Jaffé. In his report, Jaffé writes that the deals were one reason for the “enormous consumption of liquidity in recent years”. The public prosecutor is investigating former executives on suspicion of fraud and breach of trust.
O’Sullivan was involved in numerous Wirecard deals. His name is linked to one of the largest and most dubious deals the payment service provider has done in recent years: the takeover of the Indian Hermes group in 2015. Wirecard bought the companies from the Mauritius-registered fund Emerging Markets Investment Fund 1A (EMIF 1A) for 326 million euros. The amazing thing: the fund had only acquired the same company and assets a few months earlier for around 35 million euros and it is still not clear who was behind that deal
Marsalek stated in an interview with Handelsblatt at the beginning of 2020 that he had not checked the background. But insiders report that O’Sullivan and Marsalek were the ones who planned the deal and who ultimately benefited from it. In any case, the original Hermes sellers now feel cheated. They filed a lawsuit that revealed that it was O’Sullivan who negotiated the sale to the EMIF 1A fund for € 35 million.
The central figure in Senjo was also O’Sullivan, even if he did not hold an official position. A PR consultant for the British company stated in 2019 that her client worked for Senjo. That’s only half the story. In practice, O’Sullivan is said to have been the one in charge of Senjo. In Singapore, the authorities are now investigating for falsification of accounts in the vicinity of the group of companies.
How hard Marsalek worked internally at Wirecard for his party friend O’Sullivan is shown by a short-term lending business from 2016, which several Wirecard board members dealt with. Ascheimer Wirecard Bank AG granted Cottisford Holdings Ltd, a generous credit line of ten million euros from O’Sullivan, for which Wirecard AG guaranteed as internal emails and documents prove this.
“Today the supervisory board formally approved the loan retrospectively, but was not ‘amused’ about it,” wrote the then board member Rainer Wexeler of Wirecard Bank AG on March 2, 2016 to Marsalek. He complained that the panel had been poorly informed. Wexeler asked: “Can you please give me the private address of O’Sullivan and some key business data about his business, his connection to Wirecard AG, etc.?”
Wirecard Scandal claims another Victim – Heike Pauls from Commerzbank
It’s not even eight months since Germany’s number one payment service provider imploded: Wirecard had to admit in June 2020 that billions of euros never existed on the balance sheet. As a result, board members had to go to jail or disappeared without a trace. Since then, auditors have been distrusted, and the head of the BaFin supervisory authority has to look for a new job. The youngest victim is Heike Pauls of the German Commerzbank.
Up until a few weeks before the Wirecard scandal burst, several analysts in various banks believed in Wirecard. They unshakably believed that the annual financial statements for 2019, which had been postponed several times, would end well, some experts continued to insist on Wirecard price targets of 180 to 240 euros.
One of the bravest supporters of the scandal group was Heike Pauls from Commerzbank. The analyst was always loyal to Wirecard: She dismissed critical reports about the payment processor as false reports and even a few weeks before the collapse she issued a buy recommendation with a price target of 230 euros for the Wirecard share.
As the Spiegel reported, Pauls had in the meantime also provided the management of the payment processor with sensitive information that it had collected specifically on the capital market. In January Commerzbank had already restructured the research department and relieved the analyst of her duties, now the announcement was made:
“Commerzbank has terminated the employment relationship.”
The Wirecard scandal is far from being dealt with. Further personnel consequences in various economic areas could follow. Extensive claims for damages by investors against the insolvent payment service provider are also examined and the the Wirecard share remains taboo for any investors.
Wirecard Committee – Doubts about Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s Credibility
Didn’t Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg tell the whole truth when he appeared as a witness on the Wirecard investigative committee? Internal documents that are available to the ARD studio fuel the suspicion. The SPD accuses him of having lied to the committee and in the opposition too, doubts about its credibility are growing.
In December Guttenberg was asked about his role in the Wirecard scandal in the Bundestag. It was also about an article that the former CSU minister published in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” at the end of March 2020. The topic: The role of short sales in the Corona crisis. At the time, Wirecard was targeted by shortsellers, i.e. stock exchange traders who bet on falling prices for a company and Guttenberg had argued against such short sales in the article.
Mail to ex-Wirecard boss Markus Braun
Guttenberg apparently did not want to draw a direct connection to his work for Wirecard, but there are doubts about this representation.
An email to the then Wirecard boss Markus Braun, however, indicates that Guttenberg could very well have had the now insolvent DAX group in mind when he wrote the text for the FAZ.
In this email of March 20, 2020, the Managing Director of the communications company Edelman, Rüdiger Assion, proposed a “Short Selling Action Plan” to the Wirecard boss. Among other things, this contained the suggestion that Guttenberg could write a guest commentary on the subject of short sales in the newspapers FAZ or “Die Welt”. An argumentation paper with key messages is also attached to the mail. Just six days later, exactly such a guest comment appears in the FAZ. Guttenberg’s argumentation shows clear similarities with the line proposed in the argumentation paper.
SPD speaks of a lie
The SPD chairman in the Wirecard committee, Zimmermann, therefore accuses Guttenberg of not telling the truth on the witness stand. Zimmermann told the ARD city studio: “He (Guttenberg’s note by the editor) lied to the investigative committee and tried to set the wrong track when he denied arguing for a ban on short sales in the interests of Wirecard. A real surprise is this lack of honesty not with him. ” Now it must be clarified whether Guttenberg deliberately wanted to mislead the investigative committee.
CDU defends Guttenberg
Guttenberg is defended by the CDU. The MP Matthias Hauer said that the SPD should primarily devote itself to the question of why the BaFin, supervised by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, imposed the short sale ban on Wirecard. “This should certainly contribute more to the explanation of Wirecard than an article in the name of an ex-politician on the subject in the FAZ.”
But doubts about Guttenberg’s credibility are also growing among the opposition. The chairman of the Greens, Danyal Bayaz, said that Guttenberg’s remarks on his opinion contribution had already been implausible in the committee of inquiry. “Apparently it was part of the advisory service to specifically win over public opinion for a renewed ban on short selling.” That does not cast a good light on Guttenberg’s honesty.
The Linke chairman in the committee, Fabio de Masi, can imagine summoning the former Federal Minister again: “If Mr. Guttenberg was Baron Münchhausen and had said the untruth in front of the committee of inquiry, this would also be criminally relevant, (…) the question is then whether his other statements that he had met the Chancellor privately are also untrue. “
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