Dresden, 1945

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Sid Guttridge
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by Sid Guttridge » 12 Apr 2017 11:53

Hi Guys,

The number of people in the city at the time is irrelevant, as the casualty estimates are based on the number of bodies actually found (±25,000) plus a proportion (±10,000) for the number of missing-never-to be-recovered based on experience from previous raids. In these circumstances, whether Dresden contained 65,000 people, 650,000 people or 6,500,000 people at the time of the raid doesn't make any difference to the estimated total of losses.

Cheers,

Sid

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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by michael mills » 14 Apr 2017 09:21

It seems that there is an inordinate amount of self-righteous sermonising about the ten-fold exaggeration by German propaganda of the death-toll from the Allied bombing of Dresden.

But the Germans were by no means the only ones to resort to such mendacious propaganda. A far more egregious example was the Allied propagandising in regard to the bombing of Rotterdam on 14 May 1940.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic ... _June_1940
The strike killed between 800–1,000 civilians, wounded over 1,000, and made 78,000 homeless.[88][89] Nearly twenty-five thousand homes, 2,320 stores, 775 warehouses and 62 schools were destroyed.[90]

Whilst German historian Horst Boog says British propaganda inflated the number of civilian casualties by a factor of 30,[91] contemporary newspaper reports show the Dutch legation in Paris initially estimated 100,000 people were killed,[92] the Dutch legation in New York later issued a revised figure of 30,000.[93] International news agencies widely reported these figures, portraying Rotterdam as a city mercilessly destroyed by terror bombing without regard for civilian life, with 30,000 dead lying under the ruins.[82] Neither claim was true. Furthermore, the bombing was against well-defined targets, albeit in the middle of the city, and would have assisted the advancing German Army.[82
So while the German Government in 1945 inflated the Dresden death-toll by a factor of 10, the Netherlands Government initially inflated the Rotterdam death-toll by a factor of 100, but then modified it to a still enormous factor of 30. Nowadays the accepted figure seems to be 884 dead.

It seems Goebbels was just following in the footsteps of his Allied predecessors, albeit a lot less outrageously.

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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by histan » 14 Apr 2017 09:53

Hi Michael

This thread is about discussing the bombing of Dresden.

Key to that discussion is the number of civilian deaths.

A key element in that discussion is to understand how an inflated number became established in the public perception and why inflated numbers are still being quoted.

Goebbels inflated the numbers to create a narrative for consumption both internally and externally that would help his cause (that's what propaganda guys do sometimes!)
The Soviet Union and east Germany inflated the figures as part of a narrative that the West and NATO were a threat and likely to use nuclear weapons (they don't care about mass civilian deaths - look at Dresden)
The "far right" inflated the figures as part of a narrative that there was moral equivalence between activities of National Socialist Germany and the allies. Every action by the National Socialists is matched with an "equivalent" action by the allies.
The latest narrative is "Germans as Victims" and that narrative likes to emphasize the number of civilian deaths and to categorize allied bombing as a "crime"

All of this helps understand the reluctance of some to accept the figures established by the commission and in the British courts.

Regards

John

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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by michael mills » 14 Apr 2017 10:34

The latest narrative is "Germans as Victims" and that narrative likes to emphasize the number of civilian deaths and to categorize allied bombing as a "crime"
That is a quite reasonable narrative. Germans who suffered various forms of violence during the war were just as much victims as any other people; the fact that their government was a major perpetrator of violence against other peoples does not negate the victimhood of Germans who suffered.

There is no need to exaggerate the numbers of German victims, it is substantial enough in historical reality. For example, the number of Germans who were expelled from their homes by the Polish Government immediately after the end of the war greatly exceeded the number of Poles who were expelled from their homes by the German Government during it.

A German who died violently is just as dead as a Jew who died violently.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by Sid Guttridge » 16 Apr 2017 06:48

Hi Michael,

You do not appear to be describing entirely similar processes regarding Dresden and Rotterdam.

The ten-fold multiplication of the fatalities at Dresden appears to have been done at a stroke of a pen by Goebbels, as a conscious professional act in his role of Minister of Propaganda.

By contrast, some Allied figures for Rotterdam may be greater exaggerations, but they do not, on the evidence you present, show quite the same deliberate falsification. The Dutch were not long in possession of Rotterdam after the bombing. The Dutch reports you refer to were made from outside the Netherlands in countries, some neutral (i.e. The Milwaukee Journal), with relatively free presses prone to lean towards the most sensational versions available. Tracking down the propaganda origins of the exaggerated Rotterdam figures seems more difficult than in the Dresden case, but exaggerations there certainly were.

Whereas Goebbels added a "0" to the 25,000 recovered bodies for Dresden, in Rotterdam's case the number of damaged buildings seems to have become the number of dead (±30,000).

Furthermore, while the Rotterdam fatality levels were quickly established in post-war publications, for some reason there are still some rearguard actions being conducted in defence of higher Dresden figures nearly 75 years on. It is not Goebbels' original, transparent falsification that now presents the problem, it is the continued defence of exaggerations-beyond-the-evidence and false equations with the so-called "Holocaust" that do so.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by michael mills » 16 Apr 2017 07:17

It is not Goebbels' original, transparent falsification that presents the problem today, it is the continued defence of exaggerations-beyond-the-evidence today and false equations with the so-called "Holocaust" that do so.
Is there really a problem today?

Or is it all just quixotic tilting at the windmill of "denial"?

The exaggeration of the number of victims of the bombing of Rotterdam was produced by agencies of the Netherlands Government. Whether those exaggerations were deliberate or the result of a lack of knowledge, I do not know. The Netherlands Government did reduce its initial claim of 100,000 dead to 30,000, which is a point in its favour.
Furthermore, while the Rotterdam fatality levels were quickly established in post-war publications........
It would be interesting to know whether during the war the Germans ever published an accurate number of victims of the Rotterdam bombing, based on a count of the bodies recovered, which it would have been possible for them to do as occupiers, and it they did, whether the Netherlands and British Governments accepted that number, or whether they dismissed it as "denial" and continued to propagate their initial grossly exaggerated estimates.

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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by Sid Guttridge » 16 Apr 2017 11:20

Hi Michael,

You ask, "Is there really a problem today?"

One of the first things in the first paragraph of the first post on this thread reads, "Recent research suggest that 135,000 were killed but some German sources have argued that it was over 250,000."

As long as we are debating such exaggerations, I would suggest there is a problem.

I would imagine the Germans would have published their own version of events along with casualty statistics. However, I rather doubt that the Allies would have any good reason to modify their own version in the light of this, because it would remain a useful tool to the end of hostilities.

Cheers,

Sid.

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BillHermann
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by BillHermann » 20 May 2017 19:59

Sadly the question of Dresden has become a rallying cry for individuals that want to downplay Nazi crime. The Dresden bombing was tragic and one could debate wether it was necessary but the energy that is put forward regarding a comparrison to Nazi crimes is unbelievable.

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markh
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by markh » 01 Aug 2017 18:56

Just a quick question, Victor Gregg, a British POW held in Dresden when the attack took place, states that incendiary bombs with "jelly like stuff" stuck to men, who consequently burned to death; the jelly like stuff could not be extinguished. Presumably he is referring to Napalm, so my question is, what Napalm bombs did the British use during WW2, and were they used against Dresden? Would such a weapon be used against civilians? Surely not?

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Sergey Romanov
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Re: Dresden, 1945

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wm
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by wm » 01 Aug 2017 22:31

markh wrote:Just a quick question, Victor Gregg, a British POW held in Dresden when the attack took place, states that incendiary bombs with "jelly like stuff" stuck to men, who consequently burned to death; the jelly like stuff could not be extinguished. Presumably he is referring to Napalm, so my question is, what Napalm bombs did the British use during WW2, and were they used against Dresden? Would such a weapon be used against civilians? Surely not?
You don't need napalm for this. Nebelwerfer rockets with incendiary warheads used against Warsaw in 1944 had a similar effect. People caught in the blast were burned to a cinder, and nothing could have been done to save them.
Napalm was used against cities but mainly in Asia.

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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by Sid Guttridge » 02 Aug 2017 11:21

Napalm was just one incendiary amongst many. I am not clear if it was dropped on Dresden, but the RAF had certainly first used it the year before in a combat situation and nearly half the total bombs dropped on Dresden were incendiaries, so it is quite likely.

One wonders if it counted as a "chemical weapon" in terms of pre-war treaties?

Cheers,

Sidf.

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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by Gorque » 02 Aug 2017 13:17

The first large-scale use of incendiaries by the RAF occurred on 3-28-'42 against the city of Lübeck. The Germans responded to the "Palm Sunday Raid" with the Bädecker Blitz.

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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by StrangerHereMyself » 02 Aug 2017 17:51

Napalm was not used by the ‘heavies’ of Bomber command. From what I can find, the first ‘Napalm gel’ bombs dropped by the RAF were on Neuruppin and Jüterborg airfields on 14/15 April 1945 by 141 and 169 Squadrons flying Mosquitos, in the first of the ‘Firebash’ raids. (Ref: Bowman, Martin W. 100 Group (Bomber Support): RAF Bomber Command in World War II. Barnsley: Pen & Sword, 2006. 123. Print. And also: “Bomber Command: Campaign Diary, April and May 1945.” Royal Air Force. 6 Apr. 2005. Via The National Archives.)

On the first night, in two waves, the RAF dropped:
Type.............................................Quantity................Tons
8,000-pound mines.......................................1
4,000-pound mines....................................528
2,000-pound mines....................................127
1,000-pound HE........................................166
500-pound HE........................................1,376
250-pound HE bombs..................................155
Total explosives.....................................2,353................1,466.8
250-pound markers.....................................90....................10
Illuminators (Christmas trees).......................159
4-pound stick incendiaries......................372,423
4-pound incendiaries with explosive charge....37,977
4-pound incendiaries bundled in containers...244,186
Total incendiaries.................................654,586................1,170.2
(Figures from Taylor, Frederick. Dresden: Tuesday 13 February 1945. London: Bloomsbury, 2004. 256–7,278–80; ch. 21–2. Print.)

The 4 lb incendiaries were magnesium and are described in detail in Bolan, G.T. (F/Lt). The Development of British Incendiary Bombs During the Period of the 1939–45 World War. Armaments Design Establishment Technical Report No. 23/46. December 1946. Online, courtesy of the Defense Technical Information Center.
5.2 The original Mk.I bomb is shown in Fig. 12. This consisted of a hexagonal magnesium body with a stool nose and a tin plate tail. The safety devices of the striker were a safety plunger, brass ferrule and creep spring. It had a 1.62 grain detonator and a solid magnesium tail plug.

5.10 A Mk.III design of bomb (Fig.16) was prepared to cover these amendments to design. The Mk.III bomb, therefore, differed from the Mk.I and II bombs in the following particulars:–
(a) Cap holder in brass instead of magnesium.
(b) Cast-iron nose instead of steel.
(c) Skeleton magnesium tail plug instead of solid magnesium plug.

In all other respects, the bombs were identical with the Mk.II bombs.

5.13 During 1941, the 4 lb. Mk.IV bombs were put into production in the U.S.A. for supply to both the R.A.F. and the U.S.A.A.F. American suggestions to facilitate production in the U.S.A. were –
(a) Nose and body to be fixed by a pin or crimped.
(b) Floating anvil detonator and blunt striker point to be used.
(c) Primed cambric to be omitted.
(d) Vent holes to be closed by copper cups cemented in.
(e) Alternative igniting composition to be used.
With the exception of (a) and (c), these were agreed. … These bombs were manufactured to American drawings under the nomenclature of AN-M50-AI and were introduced into the British service as the 4 lb. Mk.V.
If any napalm was dropped on Dresden, then it might have been by the USAAF, Taylor writing (p.328), ‘The house had, in fact, probably been hit by an M-17 gasoline bomb canister.’ Previously, (p.325) he noted the 303rd group’s commander report:
Thirty-six A/C dropped a total of 210 x 500 G.P. bombs, 140 x 500 M17 incendiary bombs and ten units of T-298 leaflets on Dresden. Bombing was PFF through practically solid undercast with results generally unobserved, although there are a few reports of bombs hitting the city.
However, as far as I know, the 500 lb M17 cluster was similar to the RAF’s SBC (Small Bomb Container) in being containers for the aforesaid AN-M50, the US designation for the British 4 lb Mk.V, i.e. a magnesium-based incendiary not napalm. (On this page, courtesy of the Eighth Air Force Historical Society, is a photo of ‘M-17 500lb Aimable Incendiary Clusters bombs falling in Templehof area’. For comparison, pics of the British SBC can be found on the IWM’s site: here being prepared by armourers; and here, loaded in the bomb bay.)

As for the use of incendiaries against urban targets—we were only applying the lessons taught us by the Germans, such as the Coventry bombing on November 14, 1940, which killed 568 people (267 more than were killed in the 1942 Lübeck bombing) and the December attack on London, known as the ‘Second Great Fire of London’.
At about seven o’clock on the moonless evening of Sunday, December 29, 1940, Luftwaffe bombers arrived over the “City” of London—the historic heart, where much of its finest architecture and most venerable buildings were to be found. This was marked on the aircrew’s maps as target area “Otto”. Guidance beams previously locked onto the docks, farther east along the river, had been redirected to cross exactly here. The Pathfinders of KG 100 started dropping their special incendiaries—more than ten thousand even in that first, marking phase—and by the time the main force arrived the area was well on fire.

That night, London lost eight churches built by Sir Christopher Wren, as well as its exquisite fifteenth-century Guildhall. Fires also raged through the narrow streets and alleys in and around London’s ancient center of printing and the book trade, Paternoster Row, hard by St. Paul’s Cathedral. … All the area’s fine old buildings were destroyed, along with thousands and thousands of precious books and other printed matter. … The result was that smaller fires combined to form a single fire covering half a square mile, which was officially name a “conflagration”. It was the nearest London came to what later would be called a firestorm.

The big attack on the City of London had been planned as a nine-hour operation, which might have caused incalculably more widespread damage, but … was abandoned after three hours. Dense cloud had developed over the bombers’ home bases in northern France, making the intended shuttle operation impossible. The weather worsened further overnight, eventually turning to snow and grounding the entire German bomber fleet. Fate had intervened … The Luftwaffe would never come so close again. Now it was the RAF’s turn.
Taylor. Dresden. 107–8; ch. 10.

But the RAF Bomber Offensive was less revenge than classic ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’ from Game Theory (Flood & Dresher, 1950, and Tucker, 1992): do not hamper yourself by adhering rigidly to rules long discarded (if ever observed in the first place) by your opponent.
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markh
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Re: Dresden, 1945

Post by markh » 02 Aug 2017 19:21

Many thanks for the excellent answers, quite a response! Going back to my question, I did think that the statement by Victor Gregg seemed "unusual", but in his description of part of the attack, he refers to the target markers dropped by the pathfinders, called "Christmas trees" by the Germans. He talks about red coloured markers before the 1st wave of bombers struck, therefore, the 1st RAF night attack. Perhaps his memory of the burning "jelly like stuff" sticking to men is mistaken? Perhaps this occurred during the American daylight raid? But, then again, perhaps the RAF did use a "Napalm" type munition, supplied by the Americans?

Just another thing to mention, Naplam type bombs were first used in Europe by the Americans against German fortifications on the island of Cézembre, off the Brittany coast, in 1944.

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