Friday, February 14, 2020

The bombing of Dresden

On February 13, 1945, as war against Germany was nearing its end, 800 Allied bombers mounted a raid on the Germany city of Dresden at around 10 pm.The next wave came at mid-night. The third one came the next morning. Three raids in the space of fourteen hours. The city was reduced to rubble. A firestorm swept through the city.

The casualties are a matter of dispute. The controversial British historian David Irving  claimed that as many as 200,000 could have died. Official estimates are closer to 25,000. It was hard to estimate casualties because the city had had an enormous influx of refugees who were fleeing the Soviet  army advance to the East.

Dresden was thought to have little importance as a military or industrial centre. Its claim to fame was more as a cultural centre. Many writers have contended that the intention was to terrorise the German population and force a surrender on the Hitler regime that was still putting up a tenacious fight. Some have called it a war crime. Others say that there was military objective, which was to disrupt communications in the region and prevent the flow of troops to the Eastern front.

Dresden was not unique in the savage treatment it had received. Berlin, Hamburg, Tokyo and other cities were severely bombed.  Then, we have the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nevertheless, the bombing of Dresden will be forever remembered as a symbol of the savagery of World War II. Here is one appraisal of the event and here is another.

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