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The following obituary was written by David Woodhead, a close friend of Alan's and a trustee of the Dresden Trust from 2005 - 2017

Dr Alan Russell, OBE, MA, DPhil 1932–2019 Founder of The Dresden Trust

Alan Russell was not a natural demonstrator. Street protest was for other people. Yet in June 1992 this hitherto undemonstrative former European civil servant engaged in a silent protest and held a banner in the presence of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
The apparently innocuous occasion was her unveiling of a statue outside the Royal Air Force church of St Clement Danes in London’s Strand. But the statue was of the late Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris – known as “Bomber” Harris because of his World War II predilection for flattening old German towns and their civilian populations.
Russell and others stood under a banner declaring that the annihilation of Dresden (and similar civilian centres) had not been a justifiable act of war. Moreover, they believed a statue of an unknown airman (rather than a provocative one of the controversial Harris) would have been a more appropriate memorial to the Bomber Command crews who died.
Russell recalled how, 40 years earlier, he had faced the moral and strategic arguments over the fate of eastern Germany’s renowned cultural centre. While doing his National Service in the Rhineland, he discussed war and German war guilt with a local student friend, Gunter Lafere. The latter acknowledged the criminality of the Nazi regime but posed a question of his own: what about Dresden? That question and the answer would in due course have profound significance for a large part of Russell’s life.
Indeed, more than a quarter of his life was to be deeply affected by an event in Dresden on 12 February 1990, when a group of prominent Dresden citizens issued an appeal – the Ruf aus Dresden – calling for “worldwide action to rebuild Dresden’s Frauenkirche as a Christian centre for the promotion of peace in the new Europe … a uniquely important architectural wonder that would once again complete one of Europe’s most beautiful city panoramas”.
Russell knew this required a response from the UK. The result was the founding in 1993, by a small group led by Russell, of The Dresden Trust, even before his first visit to Dresden. That took place a year later and he was captivated by the city. It was suggested by a group of Dresdeners on that occasion that the Trust might contribute to the Frauenkirche project by creating the golden orb and cross which would surmount the dome of the rebuilt church.
Ten years later the objective was achieved, the Trust having raised within the UK the equivalent of 1.5 million euros for the purpose. And so, one of the glories of baroque Dresden was recreated and, with it, the iconic city skyline. To add special piquancy, the London goldsmith in charge of crafting the orb and cross was the son of a Bomber Command pilot involved in the air raids on Dresden – which his father forever regretted.
The Trust itself continued to flourish under Russell’s inspirational leadership and a succession of able, committed and imaginative fellow trustees with a range of skills and expertise, as well as royal patronage (HRH The Duke of Kent became its royal patron at an early stage). Its activities have embraced educational, cultural, environmental and humanitarian initiatives and activities similarly dedicated to the cause of Anglo-German reconciliation in general and restoring the historic connections between the UK, the city of Dresden and the state of Saxony in particular.
As a result, it has largely achieved its goal of post-war reconciliation. Whereas Britons were treated with mistrust and hostility in Dresden for many years after the war, today they are welcomed as friends with shared human values.
Russell gave a strong impression that his life until the early 1990s had been a preparation for the years that followed and that these were the years that gave him most fulfilment, in which he found limitless sources of energy, for organisation, fundraising and prolific writing. Indeed, he became an ‘honorary Dresdener’ who felt as much at home in his apartment in Dresden’s beautiful Neustadt as in his homes in Oxford and then Chichester (which he named, of course, ‘Dresden House’).
Alan Keith Russell, born in London on 22 October 1932, was educated at Ardingly College in Sussex and Lincoln College, Oxford, where he graduated in Economics and Political Science; later in his career he was a Fellow of the college. He took his DPhil at Nuffield College. He served in the Colonial Office, Ministry of Overseas Development and Foreign & Commonwealth Office in 1959-69 and 1972-75, with a spell at the Civil Service College between those dates. He had three periods as a senior official of the European Commission (1976-79, 1981-86 and 1988-89), as well as serving for two years as Director of the Inter-University Council for Higher Education Overseas after his first spell in Brussels.
In 1959 he married Philippa Stoneham (now Dame Philippa Russell, a leading expert in learning disabilities and, from 2007 until 2015, Chair of the Prime Minister’s Standing Commission on Carers) and they had two sons and a daughter.
Dr Russell was appointed OBE in 2000, for services to Anglo-German relations, and was awarded the City of Dresden Medal of Honour and the Erich Kästner Prize in 2006. He twice received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, in 1997 and 2006.
He wrote and contributed to many publications about Dresden and the historic relationship between Great Britain and Saxony, including Dresden: A City Reborn (1999),Why Dresden? (2000), Firestorm: The Bombing of Dresden 1945 (2006), After the Berlin Wall (2009) and A Trust for Our Times: The Story of The Dresden Trust, a comprehensive account of the development of the Trust and its achievements, which was published in 2015.
He also produced studies on Mauritius, the Liberal general election landslide of 1906, Edwardian radicalism and a collection of poems. His interest in rebuilding, conservation, town planning and civic improvement led him to take a Certificate in Architectural History and a Diploma in Historic Conservation at Oxford Brookes University in the late 1990s; he had firm views on the rebuilding of Dresden, not least as a Dresden resident.
Alan Russell himself wrote of Dresden that it had been “an architectural and artistic powerhouse in the 18th century, an intellectual and industrial leader in the 19th century and a musical giant throughout these years. Dresden is now a striking amalgam of all of these. Its 21st century vocation is surely to become a crucible for reconciliation and peace within the European Union and beyond”. His principal legacy is to have made a notable contribution to the fulfilment of that vocation.

Dr Alan Russell, who died on 6 February 2019 aged 86, was Chairman of The Dresden Trust from 1993 until 2013 and then Hon. President.
He was succeeded as Chairman by Mrs Eveline Eaton.