Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by jonwilly, Jan 10, 2009.

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  1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1078529/WW2-Dresden-bombing-killed-far-fewer-people-half-million-new-records-show.html#

    Gents if you read the above artical less then 25,000 people where killed in the Infamous Raid of Dresden according to German Historians.
    When the artical first appeared I mentioned to a German friend that he would soon be reading in his subscription copy of Der Spiegal a new view on the Dresden raid but from an authoritative German source.
    It has never been published my friend tells me.
    Is the artical Rubbish or ?
    My friend turned 16 back in 45, a quite Gentleman of the old school.
    I have only once seen him lose his temper.
    A exceptionally vulgar Yank, bloody big lad, was mouthing off about 'How we Bombed the Iraqis to sh1t', my friend who was not involved in the conversation, turned to him and said
    Don't you ever talk about Bombing, You know nothing, I do I was in Berlin 43-45 Shut up.
  2. How interesting. Not that Bomber Harris would care, but he may yet get his reputation restored!
    25'000 is still pretty heavy mind you, but you have to agree with the conclusion of the article stating that it was Goebbels' biggest propaganda success.
  3. And with hinsight and records from the time they arrive at he figures mentioned.

    From the hate

    They worked through miles of archived paperwork for the past four years to arrive at their figures, using death certificates, hitherto sealed eyewitness reports, registration cards for people made homeless and hospital records.
    The historians found most people died in cellars, suffocated when the oxygen was sucked out of their hiding place or killed by the concussion of the falling bombs.
    Strange climactic conditions combined to create 2,000 degree centigrade “firestorms” which whipped walls of flames through the heart of the city, incinerating everything in their path.By contrast Operation Gomorrah, the saturation bombing of Hamburg, did indeed cause at least 50,000 deaths.


    My bold underlined.

    At the time over 300,000 refugees had poured in to Dresden, this is a known fact. And not one was registered by the ordnungsamt, Dresden Rathaus.

    NONE of the refugees were registered on any german documents. after all the Rathaus was empty and the document takers were sitting in thier kellers and shoiting themselves.

    The so called "firestorms" were capable of turning a human body into ash in a matter of seconds.

    Talking to some of the survivors, a tv program (1970's) asked "what did you see?"

    They answered with "I never SAW anything, I was in a DEEP celler. But when we emerged there was a lot of ash laying everwhere and a smell of fried beef/pork/chicken in the air. "

    At the time there was NO FOOD IN DRESDEN, let alone MEAT.

    Must be some American tv producer wanting to create a "Saving Fraulein Schultz with a dcik stuck in her warm corpse" horror movie.
    Or a day at the office for MDN.
  4. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    Don't 'blame' Harris, (1) this was strategically agreed at the highest level way above his pay grade and (2) it was a valid military objective, to bottle up the Wermacht so that the Russians could get a good poke at them. Dresden would have been fried earlier in the war if it had been within range. The Germans not only willed the war but invented the aerial bombing of civilians (in 1915), and had made short work of Rotterdam in 1940 when Holland was aneutral country, so don't waste any tears on them. It was Attlee, who snubbed Bomber Command after the war.
  5. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    Totally agree
    IMHO if anyone should recieve more stick it should be Churchill who pressed for cities in Eastern Germany in particular Leipzig, Berlin and Dresden and then distanced himself from it afterwards

    Dresden and before it Hamburg weren't freaks of bombing it was in reality what was wanted on every raid and had Bomber command acheived it they probably would have shortend the war

    The bombing strategy was in part based on the Germans own tactics of HE and incenderies which were dropped to create a firestorm
    The HE bombs would smash windows blow doors in etc to allow the air to move through the buildings once the fires started

    The Germans almost got it right with Coventry and in fact coined the word Coventration which meant a city that had been anihalated by bombers

    One thing that Bomber command learned was that the Germans couldn't carry a big bomb load so they went back and reloaded this meant the second wave often hit the emergancy services and rescue crews, this is often why Bomber command would wait an hour or two in between waves to draw everyone in

    Dresdon had been pretty much spared in WW2 exept for some USAAF bombing as a secondary target a rumour was spread that Churchill had spared it because his aunt had lived pre war their and she had ordered his to spare it and this led to it being seen by Germans as a place of sanctuary

    Post war papers proved that it had about 110 - 150 factories all turned over to war work it was famous amongst other thigs for it's optical equipment and bomb sites (ironically) was one of the things produced

    The Germans had ordered that air raid shelters be built but this had not been carried out exept for the thick cellar walls demolished and replaced with thinner ones that could easily be broken down to allow residents to move from cellar to cellar as houses caught fire

    Far from the starving anti Nazi town often portrayed one of the places hit by bombs was the circus which included horses etc

    Also the last of the towns jews had received their orders to report to the local Gestapo and the bombing destroyed many of these recors saving the jews who blended in afterwards (Jews also weren't allowed in the shelters either)

    The wave of bombings should have been USAAF, RAF, USAAF
    Weather scrubbed the first mission so the RAF opened proceedings

    The actual bombing was a bit of a master piece(that'll have the anti war brigade on my back)
    The initial pathfinders dropped their target indicators within 50 yards of the town footbal stadium which was literally dead centre and the aiming point this is compared to Hamburg when the indicators on the first wave fell up 7 miles away

    Most bombers operated in a fan from the target (IIRC each aircraft moved 2 degrees left or right depending where they were and flew out that way) most aircraft from the first wave bombed within 2 minutes of getting the order to bomb

    The second wave could spot the fires already under way and the master bomber enlarged the bombing area to adjust for this fact

    During the day the USAAF found the target obscured by smoke so bombed on radar

    Many Dresdoners felt they had ben singled out for special treatment because of this bombing and this has led to accusations of inhumanity
    There was also reports of US fighters straffing the ground but many now feel this was misinterpreted because there was some heavy dogfights over Dresdon

    Specialist disposal teams were brought in from concentraion camps to dispose of the bodies the Germans put the number of dead at 20,000 - 40,000

    It is thought Goebbels simply added an extra zero to these figures and leaked them to the neutral press with photo's of burned children and claims that Dresen was a cultural centre

    Howard Cowan, an Associated Press war correspondent picked up on a comment that aprt from destoying munitions and war transport one of the reasons for bombing was to inflict terror and lower German morale

    He then wrote a piece about the terror bombing of Dresdon and amazingly S.H.A.P.E. allowed it to be published this led to questions on both sides of the Atlantic about the moral issue of the bombing policy

    After the war the Soviets kept the same figures and during the cold war called it a demonstration of Anglo American Terror although released documents post war showed evidence of the Soveits asking for Dresden to be bombed
    So citizens interveiwed in the 70's and 80's proably did belive the figures

    The raid on Dresden was no larger than any other in fact less bombs were dropped than on some other cities
    After Dresden Pforzheim was raided this also produced in excess of 20,000 deaths
    Tokyo Firestorms produced over 100,000 deaths

    Make no mistake given the chance the Germans would have subjected towns and cities of this country to similer or worse if they could have
    Dresden has become a milstone around the necks of some very brave men of bomber command and perhaps now it will be put to rest once and for all
  6. Thanks for setting the record straight b_s. I was only commenting with reference to Arthur Harris' (in my opinion undeserved) post-war reputation. Indeed it is doubtful the Germans would have had any similar qualms.
    I think that the concept of strategic bombing as a whole has been given undeserved criticism. It came very close to succeeding, albeit at a price, but I seem to recall this was the subject of a previous thread.
  7. Niall Ferguson in 'War of the World':

    "In denouncing the bombing war, one German writer has consciously applied the language normally associated with the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis.: this was Vernichtung (extermination) perpetrated by flying Einsatzgruppen, who turned air raid shelters into gas chambers."

    "For all its indescriminate character, there is no denying that area bombing inflicted significant damage on the German war effort. It diverted air cover from the strategically vital Eastern Front... Furthermore, strategicbombing greatly hampered Speer's considerable efforts to mobilize Gedrmany's economy for total war."

    "The higher that Allied planes could fly, and the more their routes were fixed by technologies like 'Pathfinder', the more the bomber crews' sense of detachment grew. Herein lay the practical difference between incinerating women and children from thousands of feet in the air and herding them into gas chambers... Allied bombing was as indescriminate as Nazi racial policy was meticulously descriminating. The moral difference between- which has lately been forgotten by some German writers- is that the crew of Bomber Command were flying their missions in order to defeat Nazi Germany and end the war. Whether or not this was the best means of achieving that end was not for them to decide; their intent was not dishonourable. For the Nazis, let it be reiterated, the murder of Jews and other 'alien' civilians was always an end in itself. Hatred filled the minds of the SS men at Belzec; it was absent from the thoughts of Allied airmen."

    Bomber Command's raids materially harmed the German war effort, and probably shortened the war, even if they were not the war-winners that some advocates of air power thought they would be.

    Moreover, they brought the defeat of Nazi Germany closer. And that in itself is justification enough.
  8. as to the bombing dates...

    who dropped what on what to bring about Dresdon in first place?
  9. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    Found these on Wiki from an USAAF post war report
    Both tables show that it wasn't the most or heaviest bombed and the USAAF dropped more on Dresden than anyone

    However the night of 14th Feb 1945 was a perfect night for bombing good weather light defences right mixture of bombs etc
    If a raid could be called perfect this would be it for the RAF everything combined just right to create the firestorm


  10. Whoever quoted the German bombing of Rotterdam as an excuse, it was agreed by all parties that bombing of population centres was unacceptable. During the time of the phoney war the only way to hit back at Germany was for the RAF to bomb Berlin. Therefore the govt reneged on the policy of bombing population centres (it was briefly reinstated after Berlin). So it was the RAF that first started bombing cities.

    As for Bomber Commands strategy-Harris was by all accounts a nasty piece of work in the personal sense and he was by far the strongest adherent of hitting major cities, intimidating his senior officers in the RAF who wanted a switch in emphasis. Many in the RAF and elsewhere were pushing for targetting elsewhere, particularly the Rumanian oilfields, arguing it would by far have a more devastating effect on the war economy. Only quite late in the war were some RAF assets switched to this and it did indeed have a huge effect on the German ability to wage war, grounding much of its fighters periodically. The firestorms arguably just further entrenched German desire to continue fighting. After all the Blitz didn't force GB out of the fight, did it?
  11. so is that why some did not want a statue of "bomber" in london..
    did he get one ?
  12. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    During the Phoney war bomber command was restricted to leaflet drops and bombing Naval targets
    There are records of Wellingtons being shot down over Lubeck and Kiel as they were stoodging round trying to avoid the town and hit ships etc
    Churchill ordered a retalitery raid on Berlin after the Luftwaffe accidently bombed London during the Battle Of Britain
    After the Blitz the gloves were off and Bomber Command were seen as the only hope of hitting back
    After some initial set backs the RAF adopted the area bombing policy whereas the USAAF tried to stick to a presision bombing policy

    The difference between area bombing and presion bombing was:

    The RAF would bomb a town or area and would get any military targets within that area
    The USAAF would aim for a specific target if they happend to flatten the town to get to it so be it

    Harris may have been veiwed as a cunt by many but sometimes that is what is needed

    We view collataral damage now as bad back then it was veiwed a legitamate and evryone was doing it
    Claiming the RAF started it is rubbish a quick look at history will tell you the Condor Legion of the Luftwaffe dropped 22 tons of bombs on Guernica in 1937
    That in itself is not with standing the Zepplin and Gotha raids in WW1

    Harris did get his statue but not his campaign medal
  13. Sorry, my reference to the RAF starting it was in the context of WW2 bombing. Here's me thinking Guernica was something different!

    I stand corrected about the first RAF raid on Berlin but it was the first intentional strike on built up areas belonging to either power by either of the two main protagonists at the time.
  15. Your first two points are relevant. The point is it is arguable that the raids were hitting the wrong places. At the height of the city raids German war production was at its highest. Ergo, bombing the cities doesn't appear to have worked.

    As for your last point. propaganda has nothing to do with it. Did the Blitz force GB out of the fight or not?