Thursday, July 18, 2024
Michael Stone Online

The Real Slaughterhouse Five (in photos)


A G.I. taken prisoner in the Battle of the Bulge, Kurt Vonnegut was held by the Germans in Schlachthof Fünf, or Slaughterhouse Five, an actual slaughterhouse in the eastern German city of Dresden. This prison acted as a shelter for Vonnegut and other American prisoners when Allied planes bombed the city in mid-February 1945, killing about 25,000.

The site—popularized as the title of Vonnegut’s most famous book, which includes scenes before, during, and after the bombing—has been preserved and remains today. Though you have to schedule and pay for a tour to get inside the building, the general grounds are accessible to the public.

When I visited one evening in June, aside from some teenage skateboarders on an adjoining street, there was literally no one else around. There could be some contributing factors: Dresden isn’t as big of a tourism city as Berlin or Munich, the site is a little out of the way from the city center’s sightseeing hotspots, Slaughterhouse Five comes from an American author and hence isn’t as renowned in Germany, and/or I visited after everyone else had earlier in the day.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad I took the time to venture over and grab some people-less photos. One corner of a building was marked with a “Slaughterhouse Five” sign, as seen above and below. But, after doing some research to try to find out, I’m still not 100 percent sure that was actually it.

If you do by chance know which one was Vonnegut’s, let me know.


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