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Thread: Dresden.

  1. #1 Dresden. 
    Forum Ph.D. Cat1981(England)'s Avatar
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    This is in no way meant to belittle the sacrifices made by our friends, family or countrymen during the second world war.
    I nearly got my nose broken once by a elderly gentleman when i suggested light heartedly that the bombing of Dresden was "a bit over the top". I also know that some people (especially some Germans) consider it a war crime bordering on genocide. So i would like to know what you think about the bombing of Dresden by the Allies? Was it a vengeful war crime, or was it a necessary action which demoralised the Germans and saved lives in the long run ?

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    I do realise that this has nothing to do with science but it seemed to be better to post it here then in 'General Discussions'.


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    When i was younger (not so long ago mind you) i read a horrible historys book on the world war's.

    was one of my favourite books, insightful and a good read.

    it had chapters on using urine as invisible ink to amuse

    but one story, was the bombing of Dresden. but they told it as if it was a british town.

    it was one of the more horrible historys and drove the point home that there are some actions which should never have been.

    the germans did some bad things. (understatement)
    but to say that the allies were defending what was good, right, life and freedom, well i think at times they were as bad.

    This is in no way meant to belittle the sacrifices made by our friends, family or countrymen during the second world war. - same goes for me only i had no friends family, just fellow Human beings.

    I dont agree that it was a war crime cause if the natzis could have done the same they would have, while if the they had perhaps it would be called a war crime?


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  4. #3  
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    Killing, looting, raping, genocide,... the list is endless, but such is the nature of war. If there is anything I still find surprising it's that even today, with a relatively good sense of human history, people stubbornly retain a certain romantic feeling about wars they call "honorable". There is no such thing, and there never was. Defense and attack, crime and punishment, aggression and retaliation are in the eye of the beholder.
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  5. #4 Re: Dresden. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat1981(England)
    This is in no way meant to belittle the sacrifices made by our friends, family or countrymen during the second world war.
    I nearly got my nose broken once by a elderly gentleman when i suggested light heartedly that the bombing of Dresden was "a bit over the top". I also know that some people (especially some Germans) consider it a war crime bordering on genocide. So i would like to know what you think about the bombing of Dresden by the Allies? Was it a vengeful war crime, or was it a necessary action which demoralised the Germans and saved lives in the long run ?
    It was a vengeful war crime IMO and like the London Blitz, Hiroshima*, and even 9/11 have shown, these type of attacks tend to raise civilian morale rather than demoralize.

    * I do think the A-bombs hastened Japanese surrender in WW2 (along with the late Soviet entry into the fray), but it wasn't due to a demoralized civilian outcry, just a rare lucid moment by the Japanese military. I don't think the Japanese would have surrendered as quickly (after 2 bombings) if the Soviets stayed out of it myself. Since the invasion of Japan proper never took place the argument could be made that the A-bombs did save lives on both sides, but I often wonder if a "demonstration" or two on some uninhabited atoll would have been sufficient. We'll never know.

    Aside to M: Excellent post.
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  6. #5 Re: Dresden. 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat1981(England)
    Was it a vengeful war crime, or was it a necessary action which demoralised the Germans and saved lives in the long run ?
    It was partly the former (i.e. some inndividuals may have approved ti on that basis), but it was, largely a strategic move to eliminate an important manufacturing base that had thus far been unscathed by attack, and to complicate and slow troop movements.
    Harris, head of bomber command, commented that Dresden "was a mass of munitions works, an intact government center, and a key transportation center.” Adding, β€œIt is now none of those things.”

    Source for Harris quote: http://www.afa.org/magazine/oct2004/1004dresden.asp
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    I think we have to split the question in two:
    1)Did the allied bombing of German cities shorten the war?
    2)Was it unfair to bomb German cities to such an extent?

    I think number 1 is a difficult one. Maybe it shortened the war a bit, but I don't have the impression that the bombings were very effective. The bombers were very effective at setting residential area's ablaze, but did they really hurt war production? German war production was still near it's peak at the very end of the war.
    But even if the massive killing of German civilians wasn't very effective, was it unfair? I think not. In WW1 it would've been a warcrime, but in WW2 it was one of the few ways the allies could try to stop the destruction camps as fast as possible. Every day meant another thousand or so people were gassed or worked to death in the camps. In such circumstances I think it's acceptable to use extreme measures, like massive bombing of civilians, even if they're not very effective yet very costly in human lives.

    Sometimes people use the metaphor "kill the criminal to save the victim", but it's a bit hard to apply it here. I don't think it's unfair to kill a thousand criminals to save one innocent victim, but then one has to assume that all Germans alive during WW2 were guilty of the holocaust. And that's open to debate. Are all people guilty of the acts of their government, in a dictatorship? Tough question.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    I think we have to split the question in two:
    1)Did the allied bombing of German cities shorten the war?
    2)Was it unfair to bomb German cities to such an extent?
    In relation to the first question it is more pertinent to ask "Did the planners who instituted bombing believe that it would shorten the war."
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    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    Dresden was not an industrial city and leveling it did not aid the Allied war effort. It was a retaliation for hitting British civilian targets and cities that also had not relevance to the war effort. Dresden was a German cultural landmark and it is sad to see things like that lost.

    But it is self-serving to compete with each other on who hates war the most! We humans have a 5,000 year history of organized war and before that, unorganized war. It is apart of our social evolution and the result is we have populated the globe and built up an immense cultural heritage. We have done well.

    If we want to reduce the number and size of wars, what we need to do is more than wring our hands in horror and come to an agreement on a new religion that will unite the world The old religions just divide us because they are all too old to attract all of mankind. We need one that will unite the whole human race. That will end wars.

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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    Dresden was not an industrial city and leveling it did not aid the Allied war effort. It was a retaliation for hitting British civilian targets and cities that also had not relevance to the war effort. Dresden was a German cultural landmark and it is sad to see things like that lost.
    Your statements are quite simply wrong.

    Dresden was an industrial city. At the time of the bombing the Zeiss-Ikon camera factory was making fuses and bombsight optics. There were at least least 110 factories and industries in the city. Some 50,000 people worked in munitions and armaments production.

    Moreover it was a strategically important rail junction with large marshalling yards.

    Doubtless some of those promoting and approving the bombing did so out of a desire for revenge, but militarily there was sound justification for the attack on Germany's hitherto untouched seventh largest city.

    I share with you a powerful distaste for the loss of life and regret for the destruction of cultural and historical masterpieces, but please let us not distort the truth behind the mission.
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  11. #10  
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    If they wanted to destroy the industry in Dresden, why did they bomb the whole city then? Not the whole city was industry.
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  12. #11  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    The accuracy of bombing in WWII was crap. The most efficient way of destroying a target was by massive 'carpet' bombing.
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