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Firebombing of Dresden

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Eric Zeng

on 21 May 2014

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Transcript of Firebombing of Dresden

- At the Yalta conference, the Allies decided that they would strategically bomb German cities containing war production and manufacturing in order to bring the German war machine crashing down

-Dresden was a hospital city for wounded soldiers. Not one military unit, and not one anti-aircraft battery was deployed in this city.

-One of the official reasons given for the attack was that by destroying Dresden, a major communication center, they could interfere with the Nazis' ability to convey messages

-The actual bombing exceeded the destruction necessary to hamper German communication causing others to believe that it was really an attempt to punish the Germans for their compliance and for the Blitz attacks in England

- No matter the reason behind it, strategic or not, this specific bombing always brings about the question "Was it justified?"

Firebombing of Dresden
February 13th - February 14th 1945
Allies and Axis
Allies: British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Army Air Force (USAAF)
Axis: Germany

What Happened? - Events
Goebbels, the evil genius that he was, decided to use the burning of thousands of citizens as yet another propaganda ploy. The newspapers circulated inflated casualty numbers accompanied by images of charred children and decimated buildings. Goebbels used the bombings in a last ditch effort to boost public morale. The newspapers attempted to shock citizens with depictions of these "Allied horrors" and "Terror bombings". Yet at the same time men, women and children were being shot, starved to death, and beaten within German concentration camps.

Neutral Countries:
While this bombing did not sway countries on their view of the Nazis it did affect how the Allies were perceived. They could no longer claim complete moral superiority. The fire bombing of Dresden did not result in the greatest number of deaths, but it did involve the killing of thousands of refugees and citizens, not the destruction of an invaluable military base.

What Happened?German People
German people were forced to find shelter in underground basements, although there was little protection.
those injured included refugees, injured soldiers, women and children
Underground areas heated up like ovens (1800 degrees)
Bombings -> Fire storms -> build up of carbon monoxide -> people could not escape the basements and died due to suffocation
People outside -> stripped of clothes due to wind -> feet burned in the tar caused by melted roads
"There were people there who in their desperate need had clawed themselves onto the metal fence. They were burnt and charred; they were not only adults, there were children"
Why Dresden?
Dresden was a camp set up in eastern Germany. It was mainly used to house Nazi soldiers injured and refugees during the war
In October of 1944, Dresden was reported as a potential bombing target.
People were unsure why Dresden was a chosen target because: (a) it was an old city, (b) had not been touched by air raids before and (c) it was left undefended. HOWEVER, it was used by Nazi soldiers as a transport joint (strategic target)
Churchill believed that by bombing it, Soviets advancement on Germany would speed up.
Would also serve as a retaliation for the German Blitz on London
Bombing Dresden might help the Russian war effort.
Retaliation for the Blitz and bombing of Warsaw
What Happened? Events cont.
Interesting Facts
The Soviets also made propaganda use of the Dresden bombing in the early years of the Cold War to alienate the East Germans from the Americans and British.
SS Guards were brought in to burn bodies
1477.7 tons of High Explosive bombs
1181.6 tons of Incendiary bombs
"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
Works Cited
2/13/1945 10:09 p.m
The first bomb was dropped. The attack lasted 24 minutes, leaving the inner city a raging sea of fire.
2/14/1945 1:22 a.m
The second raid came with no warning.
Twice as many bombers returned
Goal was to spread the raging firestorm into the Großer Garten.

2/14/1945 10:30a.m
On the morning of February 14, the last raid swept over the city.
Lasted 38 minutes.
"Allied Bombing of Germany during the Second World War." The Guardian.
Guardian News and Media, 10 Sept. 2009. Web. 21 May 2014.

BBC News. BBC, 14 Feb. 1945. Web. 20 May 2014.

"The Bombing of Dresden." The Bombing of Dresden. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2014.

"Churchill & Dresden." The National Archives. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2014.

"Firebombing of Dresden." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 20 May 2014.

Gregg, Victor. "I Survived the Bombing of Dresden and Continue to Believe It Was a War Crime." Theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media, 15 Feb. 2013. Web. 20 May 2014.

Hills, Suzannah. "'I Would Have Destroyed Dresden Again." Mail Online.

Associated Newspapers, 11 Feb. 2013. Web. 21 May 2014.

Sewall, Sarah, and Frederick Taylor. JSTOR. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2014.

Three significant bombings
Between US + Britain vs Germany
Dresden held many refugees who were fleeing the Red Army
Dresden did not have any military forces because the Nazis were at Berlin
Undefended city
The allies could no longer claim complete moral superiority in the war.
February 13th 1945: United States Eighth Air Force
Britain's Bomber Command dispatched several raids
Planned a total of
three major bombings
First Bombing
: February 13th
First group: British Avro Lancaster Bombers, No.5
Known as the Pathfinders
Second group: De Havilland Mosquitoes
1000 lb. target indicators
Third group: main bombing force
254 Lancasters dropped 500 tons of high explosives and 375 tons of incendiary bombs
Main bombing attack was called "Plate Rock"
Second Bombing: Februrary 14th
Three hours later
529 Lancaster bombing planes
Left the city burning throughout the whole night
Areas of destruction: Großer Garten and Hauptbahnhof
Most destructive bombing and left city in flames
Third Bombing: February 14th
Later that day, the Allies planned to bomb synthetic oil plants in Magdeburg
Then bombed Dresden, again
Dropped H2X scatter bombs over the southeastern suburban areas
The firebombing and subsequent decimation of thousands of German civilians and refugees residing in Dresden challenged the concept of a justifiable war, forcing the world to look at the Allies in a new light. While some historians claim the destruction to be for strategic purposes, others see it as an Allied attempt for revenge on the German people, in an effort to crush their already defeated morale. The dropping of incendiary bombs led to the destruction of the once glorified city as the civilians watched in horror. The Allies continued to plague the city with explosives, creating a massive firestorm that raged rampant throughout Dresden, resulting wreckage of 16,000 acres of the city center alone. The Allied bombers left the city with charred bodies, melted streets and buildings turned to dust. This attack sparked controversy regarding it relevance to the downfall of the Nazi party.
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