Subject: Bombing of Dresdon


Fire Storm
On February 13-14, 1945 the British Royal Air Force gave
the final clearance to commence what would later become
known as one of the greatest atrocities that has ever been
commited against a civilian population. That night the RAF
launched 796 bombers and 9 Mosquitoes which carried 1,478
tons of explosives in addition to 1,182 tons of incendiary
bombs (Dear 311) which turned the city of Dresden, Germany
into a virtual inferno. This attack included another strike
by the US Air Force the following morning. The attack on
Dresden was never a legitimate act of war, and its result
was the terroristic mass murder of over 135,000 people.
Bombing civilian targets in enemy territory became an open
issue on March 30, 1942 when the Prime Minister.s science
advisor, Professor F.A. Lindemann (who later was recognized
as Lord Cherwell) delivered to Winston Churchill a report
which contained a strong argument in favor of striking
civilian targets. .Cherwell.s report contained the final
rationalization for the program Bomber Command was
undertaking., and it would henceforth be paper-clipped to
the plans of the bomber offensive. (Hastings). In his
Lindemann estimated that forty tons of explosives detonated
in heavily populated areas would destroy the homes of
4,000-8,000 people. The report also stated that there was a
population of 22 million people in fifty-eight of the major
cities in Germany. Lindemann claimed that a nation of
refugees could be the result of strategic air attacks. It
is wildly believed among scholars that the information
cont.ained in this report was the basis of the attack on
Lindemann¹s figures were correct, but his thinking was
immoral and inhumane. The people to whom his statistics
referred so objectively were innocent civilians, more than
half of them women and children. The assault upon them was
nothing more that out-right murder. Any benefit gained by
destroying these civilians. lives, families, and homes was
countered ten-fold by the moral reprehensibility of such a
clearly criminal act.
The city of Dresden was a historic center of Europe, and
was known world wide for its splendid architecture. It was
the capital of Saxony, and located along the banks of the
Elbe river. Dresden had very little industrial activity,
and it was a target only once before in a small raid by the
US Air Force in October of 1944. It was a city that was
also known for its production of fine China, and its
glorious museums (Dear 311). The city was not at all
suspected to be a target for attack because of the
population influx that had occurred in result of refugees
running from allied forces. Due to this situation, the
Germans moved most of their air defense stations to other
cities that were more likly targets. The city had become a
hub for not only refugees, but also for POW camps, and
hospitals. Of the 19 hospitals in the city, three were
totally demolished, and the rest were partially damaged.
Many of these hospitals housed wounded allied soldiers.
(Barnes Review 10) The attack resulted in the incineration
of over 135,000 civilians. The motive behind the attack was
to destroy the city, and in effect weaken enemy morale both
militarily, and on the home front. The Allied forces did
not take into account the political harm that this
tremendous loss of of civilian lives would bring upon them.
In January, 1943, at the Roosevelt-Churchill Casablanca
Conference this directive read ³Your primary aim will be
the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German
Military, industrial and economic system, and the
undermining of the morale of the German people to the point
where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally
weakened..(Barnes Review)²
The method comprised to strip the Germans of their morale
was the destruction of their cities. Several weeks after
the fact, rescue teams found bunkers where ³the heat had
been so intense that nothing remained of their occupants:
only a soft undulating layer of grey ash was left in one
bunker, from which the number of victims could only be
estimated as between ³¹250 and 300¹ (Irving ???)² This
layer of ash the was the remains of hundreds of people was
the result of the firestorm that the incendiary bombs
created. The explosions required oxygen, and as a result it
created gust moving toward the center. These gusts became
intense fireballs, and scorched everything in the city. One
eye witness said ³Howling gusts of hurricane force whipped
flames in all directions. Nothing seemed to be spared. I
watched little trains of flame race alone garden paths and
ignite a tree of even stone ornament. (tunley???)²
Very little survived the path of this burning storm. Most
of the city was destroyed, and the death toll was enormous.
Even Churchill himself went on record to admit that this
had not been a positive military procedure. He was quoted
in saying ³we...see to it that our attacks do not do more
harm to ourselves in the long run the enemy¹s war
effort.(Parrish 164)²)
Even though it was later admitted a mistake by the allies,
it is possible that they had valid military intentions, but
did not carefully weigh all of the cause and effects the
would result. The idea that lowering the morale of an enemy
nation was a key strategy, and was taken very seriously by
the commanders of the allied forces. There was a major
train station in the city of Dresden, and and even though
it was one of few sites not greatly damaged, the use of the
city as a transportation hub was terminated by the Germans.
It is very true that destroying homes results in refugees
which cause problems inside the country, but blowing the
homes up and killing the people was the only to acomplish
this goal. The idea of lowering morale probably should have
been investigated a little more thoroughly, but the allies
did what they felt they had to do in order to terminate
Hitler¹s Reign.
The bombing of Dresden was not a legitimite act of war, it
was a horrible mass murder of a civilian community, but it
may have have aided the allied cause in some ways. Even
though the allies lots respect on their home front, and
subjected themselves to the criticism of the media, in some
ways the result helped the cause. It is only logical that
this Holocaust in Dresden lowered morale throughout
Germany¹s civilians. Germany had to have realized at this
point how terrible the war had become, and what its results
could be. This is a terrible way to get that point across,
but the point was made quite successfully, at the expence
of 135,000 lives, mostly of women,children, and elders.
The bombing of Dresden was a terrible mistake on the part
of the allied forces. They failed to properly predict the
consequences of their actions, and as a result destroyed a
beautiful city, and a large percentage of its inhabitants.
Even if the death numbers were not intended to be so high,
negligence is no excuse. The results of any aggression are
responsibility of the aggressor, and in this case the
aggressors actions resulted in mass murder.


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