We love the name Dresden, but...

So, DH and I had settled on a name: [name_m]Dresden[/name_m]. We think it’s a beautiful name, meaning “from the riverside forest”. We initially thought of it as it’s the name of the main character in the [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] Files, an [name_u]Urban[/name_u] [name_f]Fantasy[/name_f] book series that both DH and I have really enjoyed for years. (Seriously, it’s like 14 books at this point). It’s set in Chicago, IL.

Aside from the book/TV series, we knew that [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] was also a [name_m]German[/name_m] capitol, and based on what our more-traveled friends had relayed, it’s a beautiful city of art, architecture, history, and a gorgeous countryside. We’ve tested it on about a dozen people, and have gotten almost universal positive response. One person of an older generation, though (late 50s, early 60s, a near stranger in my dance class), had a major negative response, as it is also the name of a town that was bombed during world war II, and her parents lived in the next town over.

I looked it up, and she’s right, it was fire bombed in WW2, there was great loss of life, and it’s still debated if it was a necessary action. Having learned more about its history, I now see it as a city of resilience and triumph over tragedy. It is a center of learning, architecture, and art today. But it’s still given me some pause.

Any location with a long history is sure to have chapters both wonderful and terrible. And [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] has a long, deep history. I’ve had the opportunity to chat with a couple current or recent residents of [name_m]Dresden[/name_m], and their opinion is that they like where they live, and though the city had more than its share of tragedy in WW2, the city of today is so much more.

However, I would like to avoid giving our child a name that makes a lot of people he meets feel like we named him “Devastation”. So, that’s where we are.

Looking around the web, I’ve seen reactions range from “What an awesome name!” to “[name_m]How[/name_m] could anyone even consider that?” I’m interested in other’s thoughts.

If you’d like to suggest alternate names, there’s an additional challenge: It can’t be on the current top 100 names in the US. My first name is a variation of the #1 name of my generation, and I’d like my child to avoid that experience.


Well, first of all, even if you named your son [name_u]Noah[/name_u] or [name_m]Jacob[/name_m] he wouldn’t have the same experience as you did. The top names of this generation aren’t nearly as popular as the top names of 20 years ago. That said, I’m glad that you’ve taken the time to research this name. There’s definitely some heavy baggage associated with the name [name_m]Dresden[/name_m], which you’re well aware of. If you feel that the good outweighs the bad - and it seems like you do - then I don’t see a reason why you shouldn’t use it.

I think [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] would be a great name. The city may have had a lot of tragedy, but it also overcame it all and that should be what is looked at, because it wouldn’t be devastation, but perseverance and triumph.

[name_m]Dresden[/name_m] is a great name! It’s great that you are being sensitive to those who may have a personal connection to the city’s history but as you’ve already noted, some people have an overwhelmingly positive response to the city too!

Honestly, I doubt more than 1% of the people you introduce to your son and who he will meet will make the connection to the city, even less to a tragic chapter in the city’s life. What’s most important is how YOU feel when you think of your son’s name. [name_f]Do[/name_f] you get a ridiculous smile because of how awesome the name is?Then you should go ahead and use it. If there is ever a negative response to his name, I doubt it will be for this reason.

This ^^

I love the name :slight_smile:

I love this name and all the meaning behind it, what a great choice. There are going to be some people who find negative things to say about basically everything, don’t let that ruin a name you love and have put lots of research into.

Im sorry!! I instantly think of tragedy and devastation unfortunately, I also think of the [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] Dolls as in the band and in Flowers in The Attic.

Luckily I asked my SO and he’d never even heard of it before so I think I’m definitely in the minority. [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] has the potential to grow on me but I definitely jumped straight to the tragedy, I feel like your son would probably get questioned about it here and there from people he met, but unlikely so much that it would cause him any real issues.

It’s a ‘no’ for me because of the history. Citizens of other cities that got bombed during World War II will still love their cities and view it in a positive light as well but their cities aren’t as eponymous with devastation and pointless bombing as [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] is. Not every city that got bombed is off limits in that sense but [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] just sounds weirdly specific, like naming your child [name_f]Pearl[/name_f] [name_u]Harbor[/name_u] or Hiroshima. The city I live in now was bombed by the allied forces (it’s not even in Germany) but if the name were usable it’d be less weird to me than [name_m]Dresden[/name_m]. This could just be because of where I live and how the war is still remembered and quite extensively taught at schools.

[name_m]Dresden[/name_m] is really handsome! My SO has read all the ‘[name_m]Dresden[/name_m] files’ books (and I have started to read them, too) so I immediately associate it with [name_m]Harry[/name_m] [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] and, well, he’s pretty awesome from what I’ve read so far! I don’t think the name is unusable because of the city, and I like how you describe your impressions of it.

Perfectly stated. I’ve been to [name_m]Dresden[/name_m], and it’s one of the most beautiful, charming places I’ve ever seen, so even though I know about the WWII, I have more positive associations than negative.

i’m from germany and live not far from dresden. i’d heard almost only positive impressions of the city and found those confirmed when we went there for last year’s class trip. the city is beautiful and full of life and culture. i know it was bombed during ww2 but i don’t think anyone of my generation would think of devastation when hearing “dresden” (i am pretty young, though) only thing is that almost no one in germany would call his child the name of a city, but if you you’re not planning to move to germany, that won’t be a problem. :slight_smile: so, i think you there is no need to worry too much about being linked to “devastation”.

Thank you all for taking the time to respond so far!

I am very relieved to hear all of the positive responses. I also appreciate the less-positive responses as well, as it gives me more to think on. I really wish there were a name we liked the sound of even half as well, it would be simpler.

Really what concerns me most is the historical interpretation. I never read Flowers in the Attic (I think it came out before my time) and as far as a band, hey, music is cool. I imagine their name comes from [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] [name_f]China[/name_f] dolls and figurines, part of the porcelain industry the region was famous for (and still produces). Being punk, I’m guessing their name is more of a “we’re no porcelain dolls!” reaction.

And yes, sadly, schools in the US often give the last century shorter shrift in our history classes. While WW2 is covered, it doesn’t sound like it’s anywhere as in-depth as in other European countries.

While I don’t foresee our family ever moving to Europe, we have traveled there in the past, and probably will again. There’s a lot of great wide world to see. :slight_smile:

With [name_m]Dresden[/name_m], I do automatically think of WW2, but as other people have mentioned, the world moves on and rebuilds and it’s now a city of beautiful art, architecture, etc…I think [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] is a handsome name and I briefly thought of it as a name choice if we were having a boy. I also like [name_m]Berlin[/name_m], which also has its share of devastation/tragic history, but has also rebuilt itself. [name_m]Berlin[/name_m] has been used by people and also a celebrity, [name_m]Jeremy[/name_m] Renner (for his daughter [name_f]Ava[/name_f] [name_m]Berlin[/name_m], I believe?) Anyway, [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] is a lovely name.

I think you mentioned wanting to hear other ideas (although [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] sounds perfect for you), here are a few more location names you might like:


My first thought was [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] Dolls.

I love the name [name_m]Dresden[/name_m]. I’ve considered it but my other half says no. But then it only makes me think of The [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] Files, which are great, rather than the city or anything historical.

Some people would answer this question very simply. They would say: [name_f]Do[/name_f] not name your child after a WWII bombing site. I’m more complicated, because I say: [name_f]Do[/name_f] not name your child after a WWII bombing site when you didn’t even know it was a WWII bombing site while seriously considering the name.

When a name holds weight and importance for a relatively large number of people - unless you are one of those people, I can’t recommend using it. I know about [name_m]Dresden[/name_m], I’ve been there, and can’t remember a time not knowing about it. I also happen to like The [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] Files, and I really like the name [name_m]Dresden[/name_m]! Still, I’m not someone who can claim the name [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] is important to me in the least. The name [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] is genuinely important to some people. People who live there, for example, or who had family in the war. If you had known the history (and at the very least the origin of the name) before seriously considering it, then it wouldn’t seem disingenuous at all.

I’ll give you another example of a name that is often used disingenuously. [name_f]Cadence[/name_f] is name that has real meaning to musicians and music-lovers who have a knowledge of how music works. A cadence is not some small part of it music - without cadences, there is no music. It’s actually a weighty concept. Yet parents are choosing it more and more because they “like the sound”. That doesn’t offend me, but it doesn’t strike me as smart.

Is [name_m]Dresden[/name_m] off-limits? No, not at all. Is it a great name? Yes! But is there something that stops me from encouraging it when you have no connection to the origin or real importance of the name? I have to say yes.

The city/bombing is my only association - and I’m absolutely not well travelled or a history buff! I’ve never even been to Germany. I thought it was common knowledge.

I would absolutely avoid it.

Thank you for including more ideas! Sometimes people are better than computers. The name generator gives me names like “[name_m]Lazer[/name_m]” and “[name_m]Abacus[/name_m]” based on [name_m]Dresden[/name_m]. I like different, but not THAT different.

I actually do like [name_m]Caspian[/name_m], but not sure about how the nickname would shake out.