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Essay/Term paper: Bombing of dresdon

Essay, term paper, research paper:  College Papers

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Fire Storm

On February 13-14, 1945 the British Royal Air Force gave the
clearance to commence what would later become known as one of the
greatest atrocities that has ever been commited against a civilian
population. That night the RAF launched 796 bombers and 9 Mosquitoes
which carried 1,478 tons of explosives in addition to 1,182 tons of
incendiary bombs (Dear 311) which turned the city of Dresden, Germany
into a virtual inferno. This attack included another strike by the US
Air Force the following morning. The attack on Dresden was never a
legitimate act of war, and its result was the terroristic mass murder
of over 135,000 people.
Bombing civilian targets in enemy territory became an open
issue on
March 30, 1942 when the Prime Minister.s science advisor, Professor
Lindemann (who later was recognized as Lord Cherwell) delivered to
Winston Churchill a report which contained a strong argument in favor
of striking civilian targets. .Cherwell.s report contained the final
rationalization for the program Bomber Command was undertaking., and
it would henceforth be paper-clipped to the plans of the bomber
offensive. (Hastings). In his report,
Lindemann estimated that forty tons of explosives detonated in
heavily populated areas would destroy the homes of 4,000-8,000 people.
The report also stated that there was a population of 22 million
people in fifty-eight of the major cities in Germany. Lindemann
claimed that a nation of refugees could be the result of strategic air
attacks. It is wildly believed among scholars that the information
cont.ained in this report was the basis of the attack on Dresden.
Lindemann¹s figures were correct, but his thinking was immoral
inhumane. The people to whom his statistics referred so objectively
innocent civilians, more than half of them women and children. The
assault upon them was nothing more that out-right murder. Any benefit
gained by destroying these civilians. lives, families, and homes was
countered ten-fold by the moral reprehensibility of such a clearly
criminal act.
The city of Dresden was a historic center of Europe, and was
known world wide for its splendid architecture. It was the capital of
Saxony, and located along the banks of the Elbe river. Dresden had
very little industrial activity, and it was a target only once before
in a small raid by the US Air Force in October of 1944. It was a city
that was also known for its production of fine China, and its glorious
museums (Dear 311). The city was not at all suspected to be a target
for attack because of the population influx that had occurred in
result of refugees running from allied forces. Due to this situation,
the Germans moved most of their air defense stations to other cities
that were more likly targets. The city had become a hub for not only
refugees, but also for POW camps, and hospitals. Of the 19 hospitals
in the city, three were totally demolished, and the rest were
partially damaged. Many of these hospitals housed wounded allied
soldiers. (Barnes Review 10) The attack resulted in the incineration
of over 135,000 civilians. The motive behind the attack was to destroy
the city, and in effect weaken enemy morale both militarily, and on
the home front. The Allied forces did not take into account the
political harm that this tremendous loss of of civilian lives would
bring upon them.
In January, 1943, at the Roosevelt-Churchill Casablanca Conference
this directive read
³Your primary aim will be the progressive destruction and dislocation
of the German Military, industrial and economic system, and the
undermining of the morale of the German people to the point where
their capacity for armed resistance is fatally weakened..(Barnes
The method comprised to strip the Germans of their morale was the
destruction of their cities. Several weeks after the fact, rescue
teams found bunkers where
³the heat had been so intense that nothing remained of their
occupants: only a soft undulating layer of grey ash was left in one
bunker, from which the number of victims could only be estimated as
between ³¹250 and 300¹ (Irving ???)²
This layer of ash the was the remains of hundreds of people was the
result of the firestorm that the incendiary bombs created. The
explosions required oxygen, and as a result it created gust moving
toward the center. These gusts became intense fireballs, and scorched
everything in the city. One eye witness said
³Howling gusts of hurricane force whipped flames in all directions.
Nothing seemed to be spared. I watched little trains of flame race
alone garden paths and ignite a tree of even stone ornament.
Very little survived the path of this burning storm. Most of the city
was destroyed, and the death toll was enormous. Even Churchill himself
went on record to admit that this had not been a positive military
procedure. He was quoted in saying ³we...see to it that our attacks do
not do more harm to ourselves in the long run than...to the enemy¹s
war effort.(Parrish 164)²)
Even though it was later admitted a mistake by the allies, it is
possible that they had valid military intentions, but did not
carefully weigh all of the cause and effects the would result. The
idea that lowering the morale of an enemy nation was a key strategy,
and was taken very seriously by the commanders of the allied forces.
There was a major train station in the city of Dresden, and and even
though it was one of few sites not greatly damaged, the use of the
city as a transportation hub was terminated by the Germans. It is very
true that destroying homes results in refugees which cause problems
inside the country, but blowing the homes up and killing the people
was the only to acomplish this goal. The idea of lowering morale
probably should have been investigated a little more thoroughly, but
the allies did what they felt they had to do in order to terminate
Hitler¹s Reign.

The bombing of Dresden was not a legitimite act of war, it was a
horrible mass murder of a civilian community, but it may have have
aided the allied cause in some ways. Even though the allies lots
respect on their home front, and subjected themselves to the criticism
of the media, in some ways the result helped the cause. It is only
logical that this Holocaust in Dresden lowered morale throughout
Germany¹s civilians. Germany had to have realized at this point how
terrible the war had become, and what its results could be. This is a
terrible way to get that point across, but the point was made quite
successfully, at the expence of 135,000 lives, mostly of
women,children, and elders.
The bombing of Dresden was a terrible mistake on the part of the
allied forces. They failed to properly predict the consequences of
their actions, and as a result destroyed a beautiful city, and a large
percentage of its inhabitants. Even if the death numbers were not
intended to be so high, negligence is no excuse. The results of any
aggression are responsibility of the aggressor, and in this case the
aggressors actions resulted in mass murder.

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