Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Mythologies of Dresden


President Obama's Visit to Germany: Mythologies of Dresden Must Be Rejected
On February 13, 1945, 1,100 British and American bombers attacked the city of Dresden, which lies south of Berlin. The bombers dropped a mix of high explosives and incendiary bombs, which created a firestorm that destroyed the center of the city. The number of casualties will never be known, but at the time Nazi authorities privately estimated that 25,000 people lost their lives. A 2004 study of the raid by British historian Frederick Taylor sets the toll at between 25,000 and 40,000 killed,[1] while in 2008 an authoritative commission of German historians estimated the likely toll at 18,000 and definitely no more than 25,000.[2]

The attack on Dresden was not unusual. In July 1943, a British raid on Hamburg created a similar firestorm that destroyed 56 percent of the city's dwellings and killed 40,000 people.[3] Both attacks were part of the Anglo-American strategic bombing campaign that was launched after U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943. That campaign followed the German bombing of Warsaw in September 1939 and Rotterdam in May 1940, the Nazi blitz against London in the summer and fall of 1940, the German destruction of Belgrade from the air in April 1941, and the British bombing campaign against Germany that began in May 1940 and intensified in 1942.

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