Company history of the MESSE DRESDEN

In 1887 the first international gardening exhibition took place in Dresden. This year was the beginning of exhibitions in Saxony with numerous programs. Nine years later, in 1896, the Exhibition Palace was created which made Saxony's Capitol one of the first german exhibition centers.

After destruction of the Palace in the Second World War, business went on in the improvised exhibition palace grounds at Staßburger Platz. April 1, 1969 the companies "Volkspark Großer Garten" and "Technischer Dienst der Stadt Dresden" consolidated and formed the "Veranstaltungsbetrieb Dresden".

Palace of Stübelplatz 1894/96

The "Dresdner Ausstellungsgesellschaft mbH" was founded December 23, 1993. A change of location had become necessary since The Transparent Factory of Volkswagen settled at Straßburger Platz in 1999.

A decision of Dresden's councilmen concluded that the historical parts of the "Erlwein'scher Schlachthof" would be used to form the new exhibition center at the Ostragehege. One of the most beautiful european exhibition centres evolved. On September 17, 1999 the area at the Ostragehege opened its gates.

Kugelhaus of 1928, Dresden exhibition company at Straßburger Platz until 1999

Back then, Halls 2, 3 and 4 were ready for exhibition in the first construction stage. Hall 1, the largest of all four, opened after the second construction stage on February 23, 2001 and offers space for 10,000 Rock - and Pop concert visitors.

Besides exhibitions, especially concerts and shows take place. Increasingly Hall 1 is used for large congresses. On April 10, 2002 the "Dresdner Ausstellungsgesellschaft" changed its name and structure and formed the "MESSE DRESDEN GmbH".



Slaughterhouse-Five memorial wall


One space in MESSE DRESDEN has a very special and moving story to tell. Although difficult to discern today, the basement of “Slaughterhouse-Five” was used as a prisoner-of-war camp by the Germans during World War II. Among them was the US writer Kurt Vonnegut Jr., who survived the Dresden bombings and wrote about his experiences in his novel “Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade” many years later. To commemorate this period and as a memorial to it, MESSE DRESDEN created a memorial wall together with the artist Ruairi O´Brien and Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau.

The novel describes the night of 13-14 February 1945, when the British and US troops destroyed Dresden in air attacks. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. projects his own experiences onto the main character, Billy Pilgrim. As one of the most important works of US-American literature in the second half of the 20th century, this anti-war novel does not depict the thousands who died over the course of one night, as the city was filled to the brim with refugees, but instead shows the psychological annihilation of one individual’s soul. Internationally, the basement of the HALLE 1 Foyer and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s book are well known under the name “Slaughterhouse-Five”, but few in Dresden know the book or the history behind it. MESSE DRESDEN wanted to change this and created a memorial wall together with the Dresden artist Ruairi O´Brien and Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau.

In a modern and visual way, the memorial wall depicts the layout of Dresden in 1945, shown in contrast to original pictures of the destroyed city. In 135 back-lit display cases, intriguing elements help visitors experience the content of the book and the story of a prisoner of war. One third of the display cases protrude slightly to show original quotes from the book next to what really happened. In this way, visitors can familiarise themselves with this topic step by step. Look closely and you can discern the most fitting quote by Billy Pilgrim in the centre of the memorial wall: “It was like the moon” – referring to the shocking destruction of the city centre of Dresden after the bomb attacks.

Ruairi O´Brien, one of the artists and the designer of the memorial, said: “The modern look and the cartoon-like depiction enhance the accessibility of the content, while maintaining the dark side of the topic. I think Kurt Vonnegut Jr. would have liked it.” MESSE DRESDEN wants to familiarise younger generations with this part of history and help commemorate the prisoners of war of Slaughterhouse-Five.

Visiting the memorial wall

The day-to-day use of MESSE DRESDEN means that the memorial wall is not accessible to the public except for guided tours, called “Auf den Spuren von Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse Nr. 5 Tour”, “In the footsteps of Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse No. 5 tour”.

If you want to take part, please register here:

Nightwalk Team Dresden
Sebnitzer Strasse 49
01099 Dresden
phone: +49 172 7815007