Dresden, 1945

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BarKokhba
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by BarKokhba » 24 Mar 2017 04:56

Hi Histan / John, thank you for the earlier note about 'proportionality' in war. My comment about that term being from the roaring 1960's was not meant to reference any resulting undesired 'collateral' civilian damage as a result of a military attack; but I recall the term was used by Russian, Red Chinese and North Vietnamese propagandists and their replicators (Eastern Bloc, Egyptian) in the sense that their forces (of pseudo-liberation) were smaller, and therefore not in propportion to the scale of western forces (American, Israeli) or the scale of materiale / money that they had.
Also, thanks to all for the sober attacks on Holocaust denier David Irving; anyone using him as a credible source is just silly.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by Sid Guttridge » 24 Mar 2017 12:33

Hi histan,

I would suggest that the key difference between Dresden and the so-called "Holocaust" is that the Jews were helpless and in the custody of the Germans, who were therefore responsible for their welfare. By contrast the population of Dresden was not in the custody of the Allies and the city was engaged in active war work that was a threat to them. Which could bring us back to the Open City alternative......

It is a measure of the cynicism of the Nazis that not only were they prepared to murder millions of helpless individuals who they considered as enemies, but were unwilling to protect their own civilians through resort to Open Cities.

Cheers,

Sid

The Black Rabbit of Inlé
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by The Black Rabbit of Inlé » 25 Mar 2017 00:46

histan wrote:I have found in another study a reference to an estimate produced by the Luftwaffe. Any idea what that might be?
histan wrote:There was a Foreign Military Studies (FMS) study P-050. It quotes some figures but provides no references for them - a couple seem similar to others I have seen quoted here but the rest I am unsure about. Some of the dates seem hazy and need correlating with other allied raids. The author was in a senior staff position in Dresden at the end of the war but was not in post at the time of the attacks and doesn't seem to have any first hand knowledge of the attack or its immediate aftermath.
You mean the alleged "Berechnung der Luftwaffendienststellen 250 000" claimed by Wilhelm Kirchenpauer von Kirchdorf in his 7 page report he wrote for the USAF Historical Division in 1950.[1]

I think he invented it, but I think we can speculate as to what his inspiration was.

SHAEF were passed English translations of numerous messages relating to Dresden [and probably other bombings] that had been intercepted and then decoded at Bletchley Park. These documents are now in the USAF Historical Division Archives and have been quoted in USAF Historical Division reports as early as 1953.[2]

If these reports had been passed onto the USAF Historical Division by the time Kirchenpauer was commissioned to write a report for them about Dresden, he may well have seen or heard about the messages of 14th and 15th February that were sent to the Luftgaukommando III in Berlin. The first mentions "500,000 are homeless", the second was the "Preliminary report from A.R.P. [Air Raid Protection] Area DRESDEN" about the damaged caused in the third-wave day-light attack.

If Kirchenpauer learnt that LK III had been sent reports on the attack, and even saw/heard about the immense homeless estimate from one, this may have been what sparked his imagination to invent an *official* Luftwaffe estimate to supposedly back-up his own estimate of 200,000.

If there was any sort of Luftwaffe estimate it would be known by now. Irving looked through the Luftwaffe Command's day diary, and he doesn't mention any death toll estimate.


1. Although it's been claimed that he was only one of two authors, and that it dates from 1948, e.g. Tusin's report mentioned below:

2. "Why Dresden Was Bombed", by Mr. Joseph P. Tustin, Chief Historian, USAF in Europe, 1953. Tusin also mentions Kirchenpauer's report.
https://media.defense.gov/2011/Feb/08/2 ... resden.pdf

histan
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by histan » 25 Mar 2017 01:14

Hi Black Rabbit

Got it in one! You have answered my questions.

Since he wasn't in post at the time I did wonder where his information might have come from.

The FMS studies tend to be pretty good when the author was directly involved but do need to be treated with care when the author wasn't there and is speculating.

Thanks

John

histan
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by histan » 25 Mar 2017 02:46

It is often forgotten that there are obligations placed on the defender as well as the attacker when considering bombardments.

One of thee is to separate military forces from civilians whenever possible. Given the location of the barracks in Dresden and an apparent lack of serious military casualties this seems to have been the case.

A second is to separate the production and storage of weapons, etc from the civilian population. Impossible to achieve this in second world war large cities, where the intermingling of manufacturing industry with civilian housing had happened over a considerable period of time. This applied both to British and German cities and such a separation can be considered impossible to achieve.

A third is to provide protection for the civilian population. In Dresden there was a major lack of protection for the civilian population. The experience of Hamburg had shown that civilians that were in properly design shelters survived the worst of the firestorm. Indeed, people in such shelters walked out through doors that were still being hosed down and stepped over the dreadful remains of those who had been unable to gain access and were caught outside. How many of the citizens of Dresden might have survived if such shelters had been provided.

Incidentally, just to confirm that Dresden wasn't particularly special it doesn't have a place in the top three large cities in Germany for percentage of the city destroyed. Top of the list for a single raid is probably Pforzheim with 83% of the town's built up area destroyed

It also isn't top of the list of German cities for number killed per ton of bombs dropped - that's Hamburg, probably around 17 for the firestorm raid itself
In fact Dresden at between 9 and 13 depending on whether you use 25,000 or 35,000 is alongside Darmstadt with 12.5 and Pforzheim with 9.6

Of course, these numbers are below the figure of 19 to 21 achieved by the Luftwaffe at Rotterdam.

Interesting to compare some of these figures with Hull, the most damaged city in the UK. Only 6,000 out of 91,000 homes were undamaged at the end of the war - 6.5%.
In addition, 152,000 people were rendered homeless compared with a pre-war population 0f 320,000 or 47%. In Dresden the comparable figures are 350,0000 and 640,000 or 54%.

Regards

John

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by Sid Guttridge » 25 Mar 2017 13:01

Hi Histan,

I thought the Hull figures highly improbable, so I checked:

"1,472 were totally destroyed, 2,882 were so badly damaged that demolition was necessary, 3,789 needed repairs beyond the scope of first aid, 11,589 were seriously damaged but patched up and 66,983 were slightly damaged. Some of the 86,715 were struck more than once, in some instances twice and thrice, so that altogether 146,915 individual damages were sustained with 152,000 people rendered temporarily homeless. There were 4,910 fires in the Hull Blitz with 27 churches and 14 schools destroyed."

I guess a cracked window pain would count in the statistics as damaged.

Sid.

histan
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by histan » 25 Mar 2017 13:39

Hi Sid

Lies, damn lies, and statistics. Nothing I posted wasn't true!

Just lacked the qualifying data you posted.

I was hoping for a response from some one else. Should have guessed that in fact it would come from someone who looks to establish the truth about such things.

Best Regards

John

michael mills
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by michael mills » 11 Apr 2017 11:05

In the following discussion it is important to remember that what Irving had obtained in Dresden was a copy of a copy of a document, unauthenticated by any distinguishing marks such as a signature or an official stamp of any description.
Sounds like the well-known Hossbach Protocol.

michael mills
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by michael mills » 11 Apr 2017 11:37

What has changed since the 1980s is the realization that David Irving created a Dresden myth and that in the light of all the currently available information no one except the "minimizers" now equates Dresden to the Holocaust.
I doubt that Irving created the "Dresden myth".

I visited Dresden in 1969, when the Altstadt was to a large extent still very much a rubble-strewn wasteland, with only a new city in typical Soviet architectural style having been rebuilt. However the famous Zwinger had recently been rebuilt, and I recall that it contained an exhibition on the bombing of Dresden, the main theme of which was the "barbarity" of the Western Allies in contrast to the "humanity" of the Soviet Union which did not target innocent German civilians, only "Fascists".

I cannot remember exactly the figure of dead that was quoted in the exhibition, except that it very large, certainly a six-digit one. So it would seem that Irving was not the only person to use an inflated figure, and indeed such use was not restricted to alleged "Holocaust-deniers", but was promoted by a government at the opposite end of the political spectrum.

I personally see no reason to believe that the casualties resulting from the bombing of Dresden would have been substantially greater than the casualties resulting from the similar bombing of Hamburg. The crucial historical fact is that the number of civilian casualties caused by those two single raids was comparable with the total number of British civilian casualties caused by German bombing.
Equating Dresden to the Holocaust is a key element used by the Holocaust deniers and those who wish to question its unique place in the Second World War and the 20th century history of Europe.
Why so you feel the need to resort to this sort of apocalyptic thinking? The claim that the deaths of millions of Jews is somehow "unique" in 20th Century history implies that the killing of Jews is somehow morally worse then the killing of non-Jews, given that the number of non-Jews who perished during the Second World War was immensely greater than the number of Jews who perished.

The reference to the killing of Jews is in my opinion a bit of a red herring in this context, and serves only to denigrate the persons you are arguing against. This discussion really should be limited to the military justification for the bombing of Dresden, and perhaps to the whole question of the morality of the targeting of civilian populations by both sides during military operations.

It is noteworthy that after the bombing of Dresden, Churchill himself began to try to distance himself from the strategic bombing campaign, leaving "Bomber" Harris to bear the onus for it.
Last edited by michael mills on 11 Apr 2017 12:07, edited 1 time in total.

michael mills
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by michael mills » 11 Apr 2017 11:47

......the Environment Secretary Michael Helestine....
"Heseltine", I think.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 Apr 2017 12:59

Hi Michael Mills,

Churchill went further in that he suspended area bombing in late March 1945, over a month before the end of the war, which he didn't have to do and which undoubtedly must have cost a number of Allied lives at the expense of saving some German ones. This is often forgotten in the general arguments about Dresden. Brutal as it was, the campaign wasn't quite pushed "à outrance".

Cheers,

Sid.

histan
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by histan » 11 Apr 2017 16:32

Hi Michael

The military justification for the bombing of Dresden is precisely what I have been focusing on. Indeed I have provided a framework within which such a discussion can take place - Valid Military Targets, Discrimination, and Proportionality.

In order to carry out such a discussion a set of facts have to be established, such as what targets were there in Dresden, what attempt was there in the ways and means used to attack these targets to discriminate between them and civilian infrastructure, and what was the level of civilian casualties that resulted from the attacks.

In establishing these facts there is wide scope for discussion and the marshaling of information support any contention. An obvious example of this is an examination of the raid plan produced by 5 Group and the instructions given to the bomb-aimers. These are highly relevant to a discussion around Discrimination.
As an aside, when I presented information that some Bomber Command squadrons were tasked with attacking the Dresden marshaling yards this was airily dismissed with "they attacked the city centre".

Establishing the number of civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure is important to the discussion of Proportionality. In this case we are fortunate that all of the available evidence has been examined and tested twice. Once by a judge in an English court and again by a German Commission. These have concluded that there were between 25,000 and 35,000 civilian fatalities.

I accept these figures, indeed why would anyone not?

Is it not reasonable to question why someone would assert that the number was significantly higher, present no information whatsoever to support that assertion and instead smear the people who assessed the evidence? What "narrative" about the Second World War do they believe and are pushing that makes it so important that this higher figure is used? Are they interested in discussing the military justification for the bombing of Dresden at all?

For my part I accept the assessed evidence and the resulting casualty estimates. If new information is forthcoming I am prepared to accept it. Non whatsoever has been provided.

Regards

John

histan
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by histan » 11 Apr 2017 16:40

Hi Michael

Just to follow up on my last post.

With regard to my comment about David Irving "creating" the Dresden myth, you have provided additional information and I have modified my view!

I think you are right and that that statement is too strong.

The starting point for the Dresden myth is the German propaganda, immediately after the raid and the deliberate inflation of the casualty figures that had been produced by the Dresden authorities. After an initial period when the Soviet Union was open about the Dresden figures, the communist regimes in East Germany and the Soviet Union realized that Dresden was a stick with which they could beat the Western Allies and influence the population of East Germany. So as you illustrate in your post they also used an inflated figure.

You visited in 1969, which was after the first publication of Irving's book. I wonder if they used Irving's figure of 135,000 in their exhibition?

At the time of the publication of his book on Dresden, Irving was regarded as a reputable historian and his figure of the number of civilian casualties was accepted almost without question. His figure was quoted not just by other historians but by academic researchers looking into areas such as civil defence. It would make sense for the East German's to use a figure almost universally accepted in the West.

Whilst Irving did not "create" the myth and as you say was certainly not the only person to use it for political ends, he did have an important role in propagating it.

Regards

John

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Annelie
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by Annelie » 11 Apr 2017 17:20

The question of numbers of people whom were killed during the bombing has been
asked before over the years.

I also believe the numbers were higher...

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/05/the ... -did-good/#
the night of 27 July that most of Operation Gomorrah’s 40,000 victims would die. The ten-day pounding of Hamburg was, Air Chief Marshal Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris conceded, ‘incomparably more terrible’ than anything thus far visited upon Germany. Ten square miles of the city were obliterated, forcing 900,000 of its inhabitants to flee. In the
http://ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle ... I-Database
ww2dbaseDresden was the capital of the state of Saxony, situated on the Elbe River. It was a cultural center, containing famous landmarks as the Frauenkirche, and was dubbed the Florence of the Elbe. Population of the city was largely anyone's guess as refugees flooded into the city shortly prior to the bombing as Soviet troops advanced to the city's east, however common estimates put the population at the time of bombings at greater than 650,000.
seems unreasonable to assume that only 25,000 souls were killed

histan
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by histan » 11 Apr 2017 18:50

Annelie

You are free to believe what you like but the evidence has been examined and tested. have you read the details of the David Irving trial and have you read the results of the work by the commission? Do you have any actual evidence that the figures were higher?

If you examine the figures relating to other firestorms it is unreasonable to assume that the death toll would be any higher than 25,000 to 35,000.

Regards

John

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