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Dresden: the forgotten war crime? Part 1 of 2

Dresden,  well known for its cultural importance - sometimes referred to as "Florence on the Elbe" -  the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. The city center of Dresden was bombed and burned down by Allied forces near the end of the war on the 13th to 15th of February 1945.

There were many reasons given by the British Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces for this act. But up to this day, after several historians, philosophers, politicians, military, survivors and even the (neo-)Nazis had their say, still this mater isn't really closed.

The military reasons given ...

… for what the Allied Forces considered to be a strategic bombing of Dresden was to destroy as they put it a vital communication center, the major rail transportation and military facilities insuring an earlier end to the Second World War. To some Dresden, at the time of the Second World War the 7th largest city of Germany, was also seen as a replacement governing city after Berlin. During the war there were several other major cities of Germany bombed, like Hamburg in the north. Still the only one that sparked so much controversy to this day is that of Dresden.

Reasons not to bomb Dresden

At the time certain facts about Dresden were well known by the British and United States leaders:

  • The city was a save haven for up to 300,000 refugees, especially women, children and the injured fleeing from the Russian Red Army that was advancing at the eastern front of Germany, to find a sanctuary and medical assistance in Dresden. So there was a great number of refugees, and there for an increased number of civilians in the city.

  • The remarkable military facilities were in the outskirts of Dresden, in the north not in the city centre.

  • But these military facilities never played an important role during the war. For Dresden didn't have a military garrison at the time.

  • The extensive industrial areas were also outside the city center in the suburbs.

  • Dresden was a cultural landmark of little to no military significance to the war effort.

  • Not Dresden but Munich the capital city of the Free State of Bavaria where Hitler had his retreat the Berghof in Obersalzberg, was considered to be the capital of the Nazi movement and there for a replacement governing city, because it was of importance to the rise of National Socialism. And the NSDAP headquarters as well as many so called Fuhrer-buildings were located there around the Konigsplatz.

  • The British royal family, the Windsors had a special bond with Dresden through the Royal House of Wettin of which they descent on paternal side.

What was also known to the Allied Forces was:

  • The Russian Red Army was advancing steadily at the German eastern front and that it wouldn't be long before take Dresden in.

  • The British experienced the Blitz, the bombing of England by the Luftwaffe of the Nazis, and experienced there for the destructive effects of fire bombing.

  • The war was already at an end, and that the Allied Forces would win the war, which actually happened on the 30th of April 1945 by seizing the Reichstag, parliament in Berlin. So holding the Nazi regime accountable for whatever they did in Europe, would be a matter of a short while.

Even if it was really necessary to bomb the city of Dresden, it was possible to do this in a different way. In Italy where the fascist regime of Mussolini was in power during the war, Florence suffered one year of German occupation as well from 1943 to 1944. After Mussolini lost power and fled trying to reach Germany, only to be caught and executed by Partisans, the Germans moved into Italy trying to claim territory while plundering for example the works of art of Florence. To liberate Florence the Allied Forces successfully applied precision bombing on selected targets like trains stations - an American Army Air Force bombing method already successfully used on certain targets in Nazi Germany - which resulted in Florence keeping most of its buildings of cultural interest, unlike Dresden would.

Dresden, a cultural landmark, wasn't to be treated the same way as the city of Florence!

Author: © Mrs A. vd Laan-LeitoPosted in: Opinion