Dresden 1945
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Phlegethon
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Dresden 1945
"You guys burnt the place down, turned it into a single column of flame. More people died there in the firestorm, in that one big flame, than died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined."

- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.


[Image: 2,w=985,c=0.bild.jpg]

[Image: dresden2.jpg]

[Image: Dresden_pile_of_bodies_cropped_200712180​61248.jpg]

[Image: dresden_dees.jpg]



Not in haunts of marble chill,
Temples drear where ancients trod,—
Nay, in oaks on woody hill
Lives and moves the German God.

2015 Feb 13 14:15
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Godyfa
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RE: Dresden 1945
Quote:Dresden 1945 - Total war amid the war

Dresden thought it was safe, protected by its architectural beauty. But seventy years ago, the city paid an enormous price for Hitler's war, suffering bombing attacks of a ferocity unparalleled in Germany.


Dresden 2004: The city council set up an interdisciplinary commission to investigate the question: How many people lost their lives in the bombing raids of 13, 14 and 15 February, 1945?

For decades, there has been wild speculation. 70,000 is one guess, but 35,000 seems a more likely estimate - but just an estimate all the same. The Dresden commission came to a definite conclusion, calculating that 25,000 people were actually killed by the bombings. It produced evidence backing up this number in its final report released in 2010.

Twenty-three deadly minutes

It is much easier to document exactly what happened over Dresden 70 years ago. On 13 February 1945, 245 four-engined Lancaster bombers from the No. 5 Group of the Royal Air Force (RAF) took off from England. Their target: Dresden on the Elbe River, a city that at the time had a population of 630,000, with an estimated 100,000 refugees. To a large extent, Dresden was strategically and economically unimportant for the further course of the war in Europe, which had already been decided by 1944.

At 8.39 p.m., the sirens in the city began to wail. In the space of just 23 minutes, some 3,000 high-explosive bombs and 400,000 incendiary bombs rained down on the "Florence of the Elbe," as Dresden was known because of its beautiful architecture and wealth of art treasures. The city center was vaporized. The glow of the fires was so intense that British pilots headed for Dresden reported being able to see the city burn from 320 kilometers (200 miles) away and from an altitude of 22,000 feet (6,700 meters). The temperatures reached were so high that glass melted in cellars. Some 15 square kilometers (5.8 square miles) of the city were razed to the ground in two British attacks and a subsequent raid by US bombers.

Hundreds of British and American pilots were involved in Dresden's annihilation, but one person was in charge: Arthur Harris, Marshal of the British Royal Air Force. He was Churchill's right-hand man for the area-bombing attacks on Nazi Germany, a military method of demoralizing the enemy.

Arthur "Bomber" Harris

”No hobbies. Never read a book. Didn't like music. Lived for his job”: That is a short summary of the character of this top military figure, who remains controversial to this day. Harris was a kind of "anti-Englishman." He totally lacked the proverbial British politeness, being coarse and sometimes even insulting. Broadly nicknamed "Bomber Harris," some within the RAF at the time called him simply "Butcher Harris."

Harris already discovered his passion for aerial warfare between the world wars. He was a wing commander in Pakistan and Iraq, often flying himself. He liked using incendiary bombs against Kurds and Arabs, whose straw-roofed huts easily burst into flame, and was enthusiastic about the effectiveness of war conducted from the air.

Like many air force officers both in Britain and elsewhere, Harris believed in the military superiority of bombers. As far back as 1943, he promised to bomb Germany into surrender just from the air, without using any ground troops. A year later, in 1944, Harris took stock: 45 of the 60 most important German cities had been destroyed, including Cologne and Hamburg. He called for the rest to be finished off as well. That included Dresden.

War on cities

Some historians see the bombing of Dresden as part of an increased military cooperation between the Western powers and the Soviet Union in the last phase of the war. The Allied offensive against Germany on the Western Front had become bogged down since the end of 1944, while the Red Army was advancing in the east with increasing speed.

In January, shortly before the Yalta Conference, Churchill thus began looking into whether "Berlin and no doubt other large cities in East Germany should not now be considered especially attractive targets." The purpose of all this was to impress Moscow. For Stalin was distrustful, having called on the Western powers to open a second front for years.
Another theory runs like this: Because central Germany had been promised to the Soviets as an occupied zone even before the Yalta Conference, the British and Americans unleashed a blind destructive fury in Dresden and other eastern German cities.

Whatever was the case: Harris had his eye on Dresden. And there were warnings long before February 13. Allied radio reports and even newspapers described the possible scenario that every German city could become a front city as the war continued. In addition, Dresden was a junction for roads and train lines running both east to west and north to south.

The Allies also saw Dresden as a likely place of refuge for Hitler and the Nazis if the transport hubs of Berlin and Leipzig were eliminated as supply routes. So the city was high on the Allies' list of potential targets.
And Churchill was obviously not just a passive onlooker with regard to the merciless bombing methods of his aerial strategist Harris. Shortly before his death, Harris wrote that the attack on Dresden "was at the time considered a military necessity by people more important than myself."
The deed and its perpetrator - still a controversy

The Red Army under Marshal Shukov was just 80 kilometers (50 miles) to the east of Dresden when British and American bombers gave the Soviets this sign of cooperation against Hitler's Germany in February 1945. "The Soviet army would never have been capable of such a barbarity," Shukov said later.

And to this day, the bombing of Dresden is an emotive issue in England as well. When a 2.7 meter-high (8 ft. 10 in.) bronze statue was erected to "Bomber Harris" in the center of London in 1992, the Queen Mother praised him as an "inspiring leader" - while hundreds of demonstrators chanted: "Mass murderer, mass murderer."

http://www.dw.de/dresden-1945-total-war-...a-18254985

Quote:United in devastation

The Frauenkirche, destroyed in the raid and rebuilt after the end of the Cold War, will host dignitaries including President Joachim Gauck, the Archbishop of Coventry Justin Welby and representatives from other cities devastated in the Second World War — Coventry, Wroclaw, Rotterdam and St Petersburg.

The mayor of Dresden, Helma Orosz, will speak at 4:23 pm, says the programme distributed by the town hall. It will be Gauck’s turn at 4:37 p.m. Then there will be a human chain around the city centre as a sign of peace and reconciliation.

Nazi-watchers in the city expect some 2,000 neo-Nazis to show up on or around the day, more than last year. One of the groups that has registered a march calls itself “Patriotic Civil Rights Movement for Freedom of Opinion and National Self-Determination.” That could attract Pegida supporters in droves.

“A whole lot of Pegida supporters will show up at the ceremonies because they crave acceptance as part of mainstream society,” said Danilo Starosta, a civil rights campaigner based in Dresden.

People will hold up banners with the “Wir Sind das Volk” (We Are the People) slogan that Pegida controversially took over from the 1989 anti-GDR demonstrators, twisting the meaning into an anti-immigrant slant, Starosta predicted.

“It’s their opportunity to show ‘look we’re not evil, we’re with you, we’re part of you,’” said Starosta, an analyst of far right trends at an NGO called Kulturbüro Sachsen.

He believes official ceremonies to mark the anniversary should be scrapped altogether because they encourage a revisionist view of the past.

“There can only be one conclusion drawn from all this commemoration— that the destruction of Dresden was one of the many consequences of Nazi barbarism.”

Historians puncture propaganda

It is surprising that there was no official attempt to estimate the death toll until 2004, when Dresden appointed a commission of historians to clear up the controversy. They reported in 2010 that 25,000 people at most died, and that the figure was more likely to be around 20,000.

The historians examined records on burials and public registers, scrutinised fire damage reports and interviewed eyewitnesses. They also refuted a dogged rumour that Allied fighter planes had machine-gunned survivors fleeing the burning city. A ground survey found no bullets in open ground along the banks of the Elbe river.

The historians refuted several myths, including the widespread belief that temperatures in the city reached 2,000 degrees in the firestorm — a temperature at which humans turn to ash.

“We were able to prove that wasn’t the case,” said Thomas Wildera of Dresden’s Technical University, a member of the commission. “We disproved the notion that tens of thousands of people disappeared without trace.”

They did so by analysing photos that showed the condition of the brickwork on buildings after the raid. On lower floors, where people were likely to have been sheltering, temperatures rose no higher than 300 to 500, below cremation levels.

Not a soft target

Another myth was that Dresden had no military significance and that its destruction was merely intended to rob Germany of a cultural jewel at a time when the war had already been decided.

“Dresden was the last working centre of the German armaments industry at that point. All other cities had been hit and destroyed. A lot of important war industries had been moved to Saxony during the war,” said Wildera.

“And it was the only working transport hub. So Dresden had always been an important target for the Allies.”

Factories in the city manufactured torpedoes, submarine parts, optical systems for targeting devices, and detonators. Many started working again days after the raid.

“Dresden is only average in terms of destruction,” said Wildera. “Hamburg, Cologne and Pforzheim suffered more destruction. But Dresden was the only city where the intended firestorm worked.”

The bombing indirectly saved Jewish lives. The city's last remaining Jews, over 100 people, were due to be deported to concentration camps on February 16. They managed to escape their fate in the confusion of the bombed-out city.

After the war there was widespread moral unease in Britain about the RAF’s Area Bombing Directive, which was aimed at destroying not only German industry but the morale of the German population.

The campaign cost some 500,000 German lives. The death toll among air crews was staggering. Of 125,000 aircrew who served in the strategic bomber force between 1939 and 1945, 55,000 were killed and another 18,000 wounded or taken prisoner - a casualty rate of 60 per cent.

The misgiving were reflecting in the length of time it took to erect a memorial to the casualties of Bomber Command in London. It wasn’t unveiled until 2012.

"I have to confess that I was ashamed we had sunk to the level of the 'Krauts'," said Harold W. Hall a radio operator serving on American bomber over Dresden, according to the city's military museum.

There, bomb-damaged paving stones from Dresden and the Polish town of Wielun, a civilian target attacked by German bombers on the first day of the war, are on display side-by-side.

'We owe this to Hitler'

For Eberhard Renner, it’s clear who’s to blame for the destruction of Dresden. He said his father had said as much while the bombs were raining down.

“My father wasn’t brave usually but while we were sitting in the cellar he had the courage to say ‘we owe this to this criminal’. He meant Adolf Hitler. And no one contradicted him.”

“The attack was a war crime under the Geneva Convention. But Germany started it and bombed Manchester, Birmingham and Coventry and London and so on. And you can’t expect anyone not to respond with what is after all an effective method of war.”

“The only question is, whether it’s worth saving the lives of a few hundred Allied soldiers by shortening the war if that means sacrificing the lives of 25,000 civilians.”
http://www.thelocal.de/20150203/dresden-...3-february

Some pre-war images of Dresden:

[Image: dresdengallery1.jpg]

[Image: dresdengalley2.jpg]

[Image: dresdengallery3.jpg]
2015 Feb 13 17:20
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Aptrgangr
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RE: Dresden 1945
[Image: k6oeemeu.png]

"The secret to happiness is freedom... And the secret to freedom is courage."
Thucydides

“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” Carl Schurz

"Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms."
Aristotle

"Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." Thucydides
2015 Feb 13 18:06
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Phlegethon
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RE: Dresden 1945
Rotterdam got several chances to surrender. So did Warsaw. Both were important military targets. Only Wieluń was not, but compared to the other raids it was on a far different level (though a terror raid nevertheless). Dresden did not have any military value and was filled with refugees and forced laborers. The attack on Dresden was simply premeditated genocide.


Not in haunts of marble chill,
Temples drear where ancients trod,—
Nay, in oaks on woody hill
Lives and moves the German God.

2015 Feb 14 00:43
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Godyfa
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RE: Dresden 1945
(2015 Feb 14 00:43)Phlegethon Wrote:  So did Warsaw.
The picture refers to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, not the bombing of 1939. The 1944 events killed countless tens of thousands of Varsovians and reduced to rubble almost all of the city. Much of the destruction took place after the rebels surrendered.

Digital reconstruction of destroyed Warsaw as of 1945:





https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=warsaw...920%3B1080

Rotterdam and Warsaw weren't the only German bombing targets. The Germans bombed a number of places in Poland, including Wielun and Lodz, and later, the Soviet Union. Most major cities in my country, Britain were bombed too. We lost several 10s of 1000s to the German air raids.

Two wrongs don't make a right ofcourse. I think the RAF's bombing policy of Germany was wrong. But if civilian bombing is wrong, then surely it applies just as much to German bombings as it does to British.
(This post was last modified: 2015 Feb 14 16:42 by Godyfa.)
2015 Feb 14 12:32
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Godyfa
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RE: Dresden 1945


2015 Feb 14 16:42
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Aptrgangr
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RE: Dresden 1945
Quote:"The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everyone else, and nobody was going to bomb them. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw, and half a dozen other places, they put their rather naive theory into operation. They sowed the wind, and now they are going to reap the whirlwind."
Arthur 'Bomber' Harris

Dresden was not declared an open city and de-militarized, instead it was a declared a fortified district and remained a garrison town.

"The secret to happiness is freedom... And the secret to freedom is courage."
Thucydides

“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” Carl Schurz

"Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms."
Aristotle

"Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." Thucydides
2015 Feb 14 17:40
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Phlegethon
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RE: Dresden 1945
In February 1945 being a garrison town made no difference at all, as the barracks were all deserted.


Not in haunts of marble chill,
Temples drear where ancients trod,—
Nay, in oaks on woody hill
Lives and moves the German God.

2015 Feb 14 19:53
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Surtr Kvlt
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RE: Dresden 1945
(2015 Feb 13 14:15)Phlegethon Wrote:  [align=center]"You guys burnt the place down, turned it into a single column of flame. More people died there in the firestorm, in that one big flame, than died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined."

- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

He got his kill counts from David Irving...

totalitARYAN
2015 Feb 14 21:59
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Phlegethon
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RE: Dresden 1945
Take the International Red Cross instead.

By the way, Vonnegut was actually there. Guess what "Slaughterhouse 5" refers to?


Not in haunts of marble chill,
Temples drear where ancients trod,—
Nay, in oaks on woody hill
Lives and moves the German God.

2015 Feb 15 03:10
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