Mirko joined me at the restaurant. He was from Dresden, an eastern city of Germany.
He said his city was the most ravaged in the Second World War. He repeated over and over again that Dresden was heavily devastated by the Second World War. I felt sorry for him, as he seemed traumatized by the memories of the ravages of his native city.
But the Dresden bombing has made a lasting impact on Germans around the world. The devastation of the bombing has influenced their art, culture and literature as well. Science fiction novelists Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle placed the General who ordered the bombing of Dresden in Hell in their novel Inferno.
The Dresden bombing was one of the world’s worst tragedies of the twentieth century.
The bombing of Dresden by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) remains one of the more controversial events of World War II.
Historian Frederick Taylor says: “The destruction of Dresden has an epically tragic quality to it. It was a wonderfully beautiful city and a symbol of baroque humanism and all that was best in Germany. It also contained all of the worst from Germany during the Nazi period. In that sense it is an absolutely exemplary tragedy for the horrors of 20th Century warfare…”
In the summer of 1944, plans for a large and intense offensive targeting the Dresden and other selected cities had been discussed under the code name Operation Thunderclap, but then shelved.
But early in 1945, the Allies’ political-military leadership started to consider how they might aid the Soviets with the use of the strategic bomber force. The plan was to bomb Dresden, Berlin and several other eastern cities in conjunction with the Soviet advance.
Sir Charles Portal, the Chief of the Air Staff, noted on January 26, 1945, that “a severe blitz will not only cause confusion in the evacuation from the East, but will also hamper the movement of troops from the West”.
Sir Norman Bottomley, the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff requested Arthur “Bomber” Harris, Commander-in-Chief of RAF Bomber Command and an ardent supporter of area bombing, to undertake attacks on Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, and Chemnitz as soon as moon and weather conditions allowed.
The Allies had in mind to exploit the confused conditions in these cities during the successful Russian advance.
Western Allies (US, France and Britain) had already decided to target Dresden when they met at the Yalta Conference with Russia on February 4.
RAF Air Staff documents state that it was their intention to use the RAF bomber command to “destroy communications” to hinder the eastward deployment of German troops, and to hamper evacuation, not to kill the evacuees. The priority list drafted by Bottomley for Portal, so that he could discuss targets with the Soviets at Yalta, included only two eastern cities with a high enough priority to fit into the RAF targeting list as both had transportation and industrial areas. These were Berlin and Dresden. Both were bombed after Yalta.
RAF briefing notes mentioned a desire to show, “the Russians, when they arrive, what Bomber Command can do.” It was not clear whether the Allies wanted to really help the Soviets or they wanted to show their abilities in advance to the Soviets on the event of a possible Cold War.
About the Author
Dresden Plate Tutorial – Quilting Made Easy!