Obama in Dresden: The Non-Controversy Controversy
On both sides of the Atlantic, much has been made of Barack Obama's decision to spend Thursday night in Dresden, the German city known primarily as the site of a horrific bombing campaign by U.S. and British forces just months before the end of World War II. The bombing, which lasted 63 minutes, started fires that ultimately claimed the lives of between 18,000 and 25,000 Germans, according to a recent report by historians commissioned by the city.
In Germany, speculation surfaced in the press that Obama's decision to visit Dresden, instead of the capital of Berlin, could be seen as a slight to Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, who faces challenging parliamentary elections in September. In a press conference Friday morning, Obama himself knocked down this idea, saying the choice of Dresden had more to do with his tight schedule, which left scant time between his Egypt visit and his visit Friday afternoon to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp and the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where he will meet with wounded U.S. soldiers.
"Most of the speculation of my schedule in Germany doesn't take into account simple logistics," Obama said, before jokingly chiding reporters to stop promoting controversies without clear basis."Stop it, all of you," he told the press, in a light tone."We have enough problems out there without having to manufacture problems."
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