Today is Dresden Memorial Day. All day long, I struggled against writing this ZGram. In the end I decided to re-run the first Dresden Zgram I wrote four years ago, February 13, 1997:
Fifty-two years ago today, the Allies decided to make of the city of Dresden a moonscape.
The holocaust unleashed on Dresden had no strategic or tactical advantage at all for the Americans or the British. Dresden was one of the most beautiful cities in Germany, dubbed the "Florence of the Elbe" because of its world-renowned collection of Baroque architecture. It was known as a showplace of culture. It had no military bases, no major communication centers or heavy industry. It had no air defense. In the last months of the war, it was known as "Die Lazarettstadt" - it had been declared a hospital town. It was also known as the "Fluechtlingsstadt" - the City of the Refugees.
Norman Stone, Professor of Modern History at Oxford, wrote in the Daily Mail:
"Already, by 1944, it should have been clear to most people in the government that we would have to deal with . . . Germans once victory had been won . . .
(W)e went on bombing German cities months and months after it had been clear that we would win, and that Stalin would be as potentially deadly an enemy. Some of the bombing was just pointless. In the last days of the war, we struck at the old gingerbread towns south of Wuerzburg, where there was no military target at all . . . just refugees, women and children.
Of these acts of gratuitous sadism, the worst was the bombing of Dresden."
In the early weeks of 1945, the coldest winter in a century, Dresden was swollen with refugees fleeing the advance of the Soviet Army. By then, the Soviets stood on German soil, and Ilya Ehrenburg, Stalin's Jewish propaganda demon - that monster master journalist of hate! - had for years hammered away in broadcast after broadcast aimed at the Red Army and repeated in millions and millions of leaflets: "Kill. Kill. Kill. Nobody is innocent. Neither the living, nor the yet unborn. . . " or ". . . if you have not killed a German a day, you have not done your duty to the Soviet motherland."
Now the Red Army was approaching - and by mid-February stood only 60 miles away from Dresden. Each new refugee train, each new river of wagons, trucks and cars brought fearful accounts of horrendous Soviet atrocities - murder, torture and brutal mass rapes. Hundreds of thousands of refugees flooded into the city of Dresden. The inhabitants moved closer together and took them all in, but even so, there was no room for all. Most of the refugees lived in the city's main park and in what was known as Die Altstadt - the Old Town. Weeping children lay on the cold and wet ground huddled against shivering dogs.
By then, the Allies knew the war was lost for Germany. No one in a decision-making capacity - civilian or military - believed that the German Reich could survive, much less rise to be a threat to the Allied military juggernaut.
In what can only be described as a premeditated institutional act of terror and deliberately planned mass murder, the decision was made by the British and US Air Force commanders at the prodding of the sadistic Churchill-Roosevelt-Morgenthau trio to exterminate these hapless people trapped utterly defenseless in Dresden.
In January of 1945, it was decided that several large cities in Eastern Germany that had escaped heavy bombing should now be subjected to "area bombing" to "wreak havoc" on German morale so as to pressure Germany to surrender sooner. Churchill himself wanted more than two cities a month razed - until none was left.
So, on February 13 and 14, 1945 nearly 1200 British and American bombers, followed by waves of bullet-spitting fighter bombers, conducted a triple air raid on Dresden - an aerial holocaust. The code word for this act of terrorism was "Clarion."
The first wave of bombs struck at 10 PM on February 13, 1945, dropping high explosive bombs on the Old Town to blast the roofs off buildings in preparation for incendiary devices. It knocked out the air raid warning system and caused massive destruction and death. It also destroyed the fire halls and water mains.
The next wave brought the fire. It turned the Altstadt into a howling ocean of flames - 3 miles long and 2 miles wide. Air temperatures rose to 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. Winds up to 100 mph sucked all oxygen into the center of the storm. Hundreds of thousands of people were burned alive or otherwise fell victim to this second carpet bombing, followed quickly by a third.
Thousands suffocated in cellars as the oxygen was sucked out of the bunkers and pulled toward the blaze to feed the flames. Thousands more were hurled into the air like rag dogs and sucked by the ferocious winds right into the inferno. The air suction of the fire was so strong that it uprooted trees and lifted roofs from houses miles away.
Utter panic struck the people. Horses reared and ran into the crowds. Wild animals such as lions and tigers escaped from the broken enclosures of the zoo and ran into the terrified crowds. Huge snakes slithered between the feet of the fleeing. Hospital trains, still filled with wounded soldiers from the front, were burning and tried to pull out, in the process severing limps from young children who had sought cover from the bombs underneath. Those few who managed to escape the air attack were hounded later from the air by diving planes to kill off any fleeing survivors.
This inferno was described in one account of the bombing aftermath as
". . . scores of Mustang fighters diving low over the bodies, huddled on the banks of the Elbe, as well as on the larger lawns of the Grosse Garden, in order to shoot them up."
When all was said and done, the column of smoke could be seen 50 miles away and stood 15,000 feet high. More than three-fifths of Dresden was destroyed by bombing raids lasting more than 14 hours. This Allied air raid left 24,866 homes destroyed, eleven square miles of prime real estate and irreplaceable cultural treasures devastated, 35,000 recognizable corpses available to be identified, and hundreds of thousands of unrecognizable ones.
How many? Nobody knows for sure. Most honest estimates range from 350,000 to 500,000 dead - many of whom were liquefied into a yellied mass that melted into the asphalt of the roads or were left in piles of ashes amid a city almost totally in ashes and ruins.
One newspaper account published in a German paper, Eidgenosse, (1-3-86) lists 480,000 dead. That count looks like this:
37,000 babies and toddlers
46,000 school age children
55,000 wounded and sick in the hospitals, including their doctors, nurses and other personnel
12,000 rescue personnel
330,000 dead simply described as "men and women."
Just think of Hiroshima. That city's atom casualties were 71,879.
During the entire war, England suffered less than 50,000 casualties from bombings.
380 persons died in bombing raids on the British munitions and aircraft producing town of Coventry, England - a raid which was declared a "German war crime".
The clean-up crews flowing in after the Allied murderers were gone could not bury all of the dead. So they took railroad ties, made an emergency grid, piled the dead on top of each other and burned them in the open air - soldiers, young and old women, boys in short pants, girls with long braids, Red Cross nurses. Babies. While all of Germany shivered for lack of fuel, these pyres burned day and night. Even concentration camp inmates helped in this macabre ritual for weeks.
The documentation of this war crime committed by the Allies, commissioned by the Hitler government in the aftermath of the Dresden holocaust, fell into Allied hands. These mountains of dead captured in the filmed footage were later edited and spliced into Allied propaganda films about "concentration camp atrocities" and were shown to the world at large as "evidence".
Next time you see one of those pictures, think hard about the source.
Remember also that those who planned and ordered these raids - and, yes, the crews who carried out these raids - were and are war criminals by anyone's definition!
Many still walk the streets of England, Canada and the United States with impunity. They have boasted about their deeds for fifty years in your press and in their "Veterans for Foreign Wars" get-togethers.
While the governments and the successors of these war-time governments are still combing the geriatric wards of the Allied countries for German soldiers and their comrades-in-arms who might or might not have shot some Jewish Marxist saboteur fleeing a concentration camp, or returned fire against those who attacked them from behind bushes, rocks and bridge embankments wearing civilian clothes, think about the crime of Dresden.
Those innocents who lost their lives in Dresden were killed - not because of something they had done, but because of an accident of birth. Those who died in the Dresden Holocaust on February 13-14, 1945 were Germans.
Thought for the Day:
"Even now, it would cost nothing to say 'sorry' for gratuitous sadism."
Back to Table of Contents of the Feb. 2001 ZGrams