When the Isakowitz family came to Dresden they found a vibrant and sophisticated modern city. Well established since medieval times, Dresden, ‘The Florence of the Elbe’, was one of the great European cities. A major economic centre and transport hub, it was influential and world renowned for its culture and architecture. At the time, the city was enjoying a brief period of calm after the turmoil of the hardships imposed by the Treaty of Versailles and the hyperinflation of the Deutschmark.
Dresden had developed dramatically in the 18th Century, under Elector Friedrich August I (Augustus the Strong), to become the city of the Baroque, instantly recognisable by its iconic skyline (top).
The royal court and nobility commissioned extensive building work and encouraged outstanding artistic achievement. The original ‘schloss’, or castle, originated from the 13th century but had been greatly added to over the centuries. The master builder and architect Matthäus Pöppelmann built the Zwinger and Taschenbergpalais in 1711, the Japanese Palais in 1715 and the summer palace in Pillnitz in 1721. The Frauenkirche, designed by George Bähr, was completed in 1734 and the cathedral in 1755. The outstanding collections of the Picture Gallery and the Green Vault were established and the first European porcelain manufactory, which later moved to Meissen, was founded.
Dresden continued to grow rapidly in the mid-19th century. Additional bridges over the Elbe, new railway lines, stations and a port were built, along with a new city hall and numerous other public buildings. The first electric tram line (centre) opened in 1893. The city became recognised for car production, banking and the fabrication of medical equipment. It also became famous for its many camera works, including Zeiss Ikon, and its cigarette factories. The Yenidze factory, known as the ‘Tobacco Mosque’, was built by Jewish entrepreneur Hugo Zietz in 1909 and still dominates the riverside at Dresden Friedrichstadt.
After various temporary addresses the Isakowitz family rented a spacious first floor flat at Werderstrasse 44 (bottom left), in the north eastern part ofDresden Plauen. The house was on the corner of a square, at the centre of which stood the Lukas Kirche, an imposing, now reconstructed, late Victorian Lutheran church and important Dresden landmark. Plauen was a recently developed suburban area south of the Altstadt (Old Town) and the Hauptbahnof, the main railway station. Characterised by large detached villas with handsome facades and spacious gardens, it was
taken up by the middle and professional classes. The house contained several apartments, was centrally heated and their apartment had a bathroom, a conservatory known as the ‘winter garden’, maid’s quarters and telephone. Furnished with contemporary Bauhaus style furniture (bottom right) and work by artists including their friend Conrad Felixmüller, it was a comfortable home for a professional Jewish family.
Erich had his practice at 25 Königsbrücker Strasse and drove there by car. The family used the car, driven by both Erich and Sofie, for outings and foreign holidays. This is testified to by a considerable number of photo albums. The family were on friendly terms with their neighbours, in particular the Rickenback family and their son Peter, who lived next door. They all frequented the tennis club opposite, which remains to this day. The house itself took a direct hit during World War II and has been recently replaced with a modern building, having been for many years an empty site. The street has been renamed and is now known as Andreas-Schubert-street after an eminent 19th century engineer.From 1926 Lore attended the Deutsche Oberschule in Plauen, now known as the Gymnasium Dresden Plauen. Built in 1896, it was spared the bombing and remains largely as it was during her attendance. Lore kept a remarkable amount from her time at school including school reports, diaries (see writing across centre) and photo albums of school events and trips.