battle of dresden 1944

[140], In late July 1943, the city of Hamburg was bombed in Operation Gomorrah by combined RAF and USAAF strategic bomber forces. Harris was no doubt remembering that the German Luftwaffe had first engaged in “area bombing tactics” when it helped Francisco Franco in his civil war to topple the Spanish government in 1937, and then again when it bombed Polish cities during Germany’s invasion of Poland in September 1939. ]]> “Explosive bombs don’t work, but it can be done with incendiary bombs—total destruction of London. (Unfortunately, the historical record shows that the first intentional “area bombing” of civilians in World War II was conducted by the RAF against Mönchengladbach, Germany, on May 11, 1940, on Churchill’s orders the day after he became prime minister, and four months before the Luftwaffe began its Blitz of British cities.) [35], According to the RAF at the time, Dresden was Germany's seventh-largest city and the largest remaining unbombed built-up area. The 8th Infantry Division was also recalled; however, the 9th remained near Dresde… Actually Dresden was a mass of munitions works, an intact government centre, and a key transportation point to the East. She runs, she falls, and the child flies in an arc into the fire. Perhaps the Dresdeners felt lucky because the city on the Elbe River, 120 miles south of Berlin, was well known as a cultural treasure—the “Florence on the Elbe” and the “Jewel Box”—and was regarded as one the world’s most beautiful cities for its architecture and museums, with few industrial or military sites worth bombing. [126], The reconstruction of the surrounding Neumarkt buildings continues to this day. In the United States, U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, who also felt the heat from the destruction of Dresden, authorized an inquiry that came to the conclusion that the raid, based on the intelligence available, was fully justified because Dresden was a place through which German forces could be moved to reinforce their lines on the Eastern Front. The unease was made worse by an Associated Press story that the Allies had resorted to terror bombing. Once the bombing stopped, Anita emerged from the cellar after but could not find her parents. He was in Dresden at the time and saw what happened. And yet here they were, virtually untouched. The faces of others were wracked with pain, the bodies stripped almost naked by the [fire] tornado…. Attacks there, where main railway junctions, telephone systems, city administration and utilities were, would result in "chaos". A British paratrooper, Victor Gregg, who had been taken prisoner at Arnhem, Holland, was a POW at Dresden, and he said, “The people of Dresden believed that as long as the Luftwaffe kept away from Oxford, Dresden would be spared.”. It took three weeks before he was reunited with his mother. 6. The southeastern suburbs and two nearby towns were hit this time, along with bridges, train stations, depots, warehouses, and railroad marshaling yards. According to Max Hastings, by February 1945, attacks upon German cities had become largely irrelevant to the outcome of the war and the name of Dresden resonated with cultured people all over Europe—"the home of so much charm and beauty, a refuge for Trollope's heroines, a landmark of the Grand Tour." A British charity, the Dresden Trust, was formed in 1993 to raise funds in response to the call for help, raising £600,000 from 2,000 people and 100 companies and trusts in Britain. At a press briefing held by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force two days after the raids, British Air Commodore Colin McKay Grierson told journalists: First of all they (Dresden and similar towns) are the centres to which evacuees are being moved. Early in the war, British Chief of the Air Staff Charles Portal had calculated that a concerted program to bomb the Third Reich’s cities could kill 900,000 people in 18 months, seriously injure a million more, destroy six million homes, and leave 25 million Germans homeless, thus creating a humanitarian crisis that, he believed, would lead to the collapse of the Nazi government. The bombing of Treviso took place on 7 April 1944, during World War II. The only inaccuracy that I found in it is that it does not say that the night attack which produced the holocaust was a British affair. The Allies were aware of the effects of firebombing, as British cities had been subject to them during the Blitz. Transported to Dresden, Vonnegut was housed, not in a regular POW camp, but in a large building used as a slaughterhouse. [151] He further argues there was a strong prima facie case for trying Winston Churchill among others and a theoretical case Churchill could have been found guilty. After the war, and again after German reunification, great efforts were made to rebuild some of Dresden's former landmarks, such as the Frauenkirche, the Semperoper (the Saxony state opera house) and the Zwinger Palace (the latter two were rebuilt before reunification). It is a baby. "The Strategic Air Offensive against Germany" (SOA), HMSO (1961) vol 3 pp. “Behind us everything was burning,” she recalled, “[and] in front of us everything was burning.” Neutzner, Matthias (2003). (, This page was last edited on 14 February 2021, at 09:57. Some figures from historians include: 18,000+ (but less than 25,000) from Antony Beevor in "The Second World War"; 20,000 from Anthony Roberts in "The Storm of War"; 25,000 from Ian Kershow in "The End"; 25,000–30,000 from Michael Burleigh in "Moral Combat"; 35,000 from Richard J. Evans in "The Third Reich at War: 1939-1945". Dresden was attacked seven times between 1944 and 1945, and was occupied by the Red Army after the German capitulation. Seven hundred and twenty-two heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force and 527 of the USAAF would drop more than 3,900 tons of high explosives and incendiary devices as part of the planned bombing of Dresden. Now I do not need to write it, because Vonnegut has written it much better than I could. There was no electricity or water. There would be four separate raids commencing on February 13. [35] The bombing of Dresden was a Western plan, but the Soviets were told in advance about the operation. On 23 February 1945, the Allies bombed Pforzheim and caused an estimated 20,000 civilian fatalities; the most devastating raid on any city was on Tokyo on 9–10 March (the Meetinghouse raid)[139] caused over 100,000 civilian casualties. [130] Specifically, whether the attack can be considered a war crime depends on whether the city was defended and whether resistance was offered against an approaching enemy. propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('nationalinterest_content_12'); }); Civilian strafing was in fact a regular practice of the Luftwaffe throughout the war. Dresden – The Worst War Crime Of WWII – 600,000 Dead The holocaust unleashed on Dresden had no strategic or tactical advantage whatsoever for the Americans or the British. All these civilians' remains were burned to ashes".[161]. She only realized that they were dead when she saw their bodies laid out in the street in front of the rubble of the building; all the other people in the cellar, including her parents, had suffocated due to the firestorm that sucked almost all the oxygen out of the basement. Nora Lang was 13 years old when the bombers struck and set fire to her family’s apartment building. [7] These factories manufactured fuses and bombsights (at Zeiss Ikon A.G.),[138] aircraft components, anti-aircraft guns, field guns, and small arms, poison gas, gears and differentials, electrical and X-ray apparatus, electric gauges, gas masks, Junkers aircraft engines, and Messerschmitt fighter cockpit parts. There were 200,000 incendiaries in all, with the high-explosive bombs ranging in weight from 500 to 4,000 lb (230 to 1,810 kg) —the two-ton cookies,[52] also known as "blockbusters", because they could destroy an entire large building or street. And the city was woefully unprepared for any sort of major aerial attack. As a centre of military and munitions production, Coventry suffered some of the worst attacks on any British city at the hands of the Luftwaffe during the Coventry Blitzes of 1940 and 1941, which killed over 1,200 civilians and destroyed its cathedral.[119]. The Wehrmacht's main command post in the Taschenbergpalais, 19 military hospitals and a number of less significant military facilities were also destroyed. "[165] Dyson later goes on to say: "Since the beginning of the war I had been retreating step by step from one moral position to another, until at the end I had no moral position at all". This group of 254 Lancasters carried 500 tons of high explosives and 375 tons of incendiaries ("fire bombs"). [d] Historian Götz Bergander, an eyewitness to the raids, found no reports on strafing for 13–15 February by any pilots or the German military and police. The stench of burned wood and human flesh hung over the city like a shroud, and Dresden’s architectural treasures lay in ruins. Still in the forefront of his mind was the Luftwaffe’s indiscriminate bombing of London and other British cities during the Battle of Britain in 1940. First among these are the Nazi government's exaggerated claims immediately afterwards,[15][16][17] which drew upon the beauty of the city, its importance as a cultural icon; the deliberate creation of a firestorm; the number of victims; the extent to which it was a necessary military target; and the fact that it was attacked toward the end of the war, raising the question of whether the bombing was needed to hasten the end. Howard Cowan, an Associated Press war correspondent, subsequently filed a story saying that the Allies had resorted to terror bombing. [7] Several researchers claim that not all of the communications infrastructure, such as the bridges, were targeted, nor were the extensive industrial areas outside the city centre. I can never forget them. Dresden was a civilian town with no military significance. It was dark, and all of us tried to leave this cellar with inconceivable panic. There seemed no good reason for the status quo to change. All these civilians’ remains were burned to ashes.”, In a new introduction to the 1976 reprint of the novel, Vonnegut wrote, “The Dresden atrocity, tremendously expensive and meticulously planned, was so meaningless, finally, that only one person on the entire planet got any benefit from it. ]]> Some business I’m in.” In that sense it is an absolutely exemplary tragedy for the horrors of 20th century warfare and a symbol of destruction.”. Over two days and nights in February 1945, American and British bombers dropped 2,400 tons of high explosives and 1,500 tons of incendiary bombs on the German city of Dresden. Within days after the February attacks, the claimed necessity of the bombing of Dresden came under scrutiny. [7], The second of the five points addresses the prohibition in the Hague Conventions, of "attack or bombardment" of "undefended" towns. After some deliberation, it was included as a legitimate target. He claimed some 45,000 people died on one night during the firestorms that engulfed Hamburg in July 1943. His book is not only good literature. Most of the antiaircraft batteries that ringed it had been removed to protect other cities. (Dresden had, in fact, been first bombed by the U.S. Eighth Air Force on October 7, 1944, and again on January 16, 1945, but the damage and casualties were minimal.). In the case of Dresden, as in many other similar attacks, the hour break in between the RAF raids was a deliberate ploy to attack the fire fighters, medical teams, and military units. In early 1945, the handwriting was on the wall: Nazi Germany was doomed. [56] Frederick Taylor writes that the Germans could see that a large enemy bomber formation—or what they called "ein dicker Hund" (lit: a fat dog, a "major thing")—was approaching somewhere in the east. Many Germans escaped but losses in men and equipment were huge. After he ran from his family’s apartment building, it was destroyed by a bomb; his older sister and her two small children died. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw, and half a hundred other places, they put their rather naive theory into operation. In his postwar memoir, Bomber Command, Harris wrote, “I know that the destruction of so large and splendid a city at this late stage of the war was considered unnecessary even by a good many people who admit that our earlier attacks were as fully justified as any other operation of war. These photos show the human and the more realistic side of the German Army in the war. But its agony was not yet over. The damage to other infrastructure and communications was immense, which would have severely limited the potential use of Dresden to stop the Soviet advance. They scream and gesticulate with their hands, and then—to my utter horror and amazement—I see how one after the other they simply seem to let themselves drop to the ground. Bombs, In the aftermath of the attacks, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, attempting to gain sympathy from the international community, stated that Dresden was only a historic city of culture and that it held no war industries. The first raid of the battle occurred on the night of 18/19 November 1943. Februar 1945", US Air Force Historical Support Division - description, photos, Air operations during the Battle of Europe, Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, Rape during the Soviet occupation of Poland, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bombing_of_Dresden_in_World_War_II&oldid=1006707547, History of the Royal Air Force during World War II, World War II strategic bombing of Germany, Aerial operations and battles of World War II by town or city, Germany–United Kingdom military relations, Wikipedia articles needing factual verification from November 2013, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles lacking reliable references from February 2021, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, 7 aircraft (1 B-17 and 6 Lancasters, including crews), Destruction of most of historic city centre, Military units and anti-aircraft defences were sufficiently close that it was not valid to consider the city "undefended.". It was dark and all of us tried to leave this cellar with inconceivable panic. We saw the burning street, the falling ruins, and the terrible firestorm. Fires everywhere. From January 1943 - June 1945, writer Kurt Vonnegut served in the US Army. Here too, the world-famous Dresden china and porcelain had been made for decades. Grierson answered that the primary aim was to attack communications to prevent the Germans from moving military supplies, and to stop movement in all directions if possible. The second was on 17 April, when 580 B-17s dropped 1,554 tons of high-explosive bombs and 165 tons of incendiaries. //--> and the prisoners... End of the day he died in 1984 Germany and Austria came under scrutiny disrupt communications and destroy production! Mentioned in the Roosevelt administration who had qualms about the future of World war up oxygen feeding... 1.2 million Order of the bombers were shot down 440 Avro Lancaster heavy and... Of raids. 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