how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

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Sid Guttridge
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 26 Apr 2019 13:58

Hi Peter989,

You post, "....given the military situation in 1944-1945 it wasn't even necessary."

Who says so?

Certainly the war could probably still be won without bombing in 1944-45, but at how much extra Allied cost? Every day less bombing of Germany necessarily meant more Allied casualties. Which Allied soldiers and civilians are you proposing should pay your price?

However disappointing the effects of bombing were for its advocates as an outright war winner, it certainly advanced the end of the war. Its real measure is not how much German war production was destroyed in 1944-45, but how very far German production fell below its targets because of it.

And what about the Germans in 1944-45? They were firing even more indiscriminate V-1s and V-2s. Why should the Allies stop their somewhat less indiscriminate (and far more risky) bombing when that was happening? Especially as it wasn't then illegal.

Cheers,

Sid.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 26 Apr 2019 14:14

Hi lartiste,

You post, "We can in my opinion only discuss whether liquidation of cities by bombers was not put on the lists of war crimes due to the fact that allies would be held responsible as well."

There is some truth in this.

In the late 1930s the Japanese, Italians and Germans were bombing urban areas in China and Spain.

The British and French, who felt themselves inferior in the air, proposed the regulation of bombing under international law.

However, the Germans, Japanese and Italians had all left the forum for this - the League of Nations - and expressed no interest in the idea, presumably because they then felt superior in the air.

However, during the war the balance of power was reversed to the advantage of the Allies, so they too had no interest in constricting their use of air power.

Only after WWII did all concerned agree to regulate the use of aerial bombing.

Pragmatism and self interest seem to have trumped humanitarianism throughout.

However, the fact remains that, perhaps due to Axis pre-war intransigence, Allied bombing, horrible though it may have been, was technically legal during the war.

In recent decades "smart bombs" have been developed to allow strikes with in cities without mass casualties, but mistakes still occur. Only yesterday Amnesty International listed 1,600 civilian deaths to air strikes in Raqqa (Syria) whereas coalition air forces claimed to have caused about one tenth of that.

If you go to war this will always happen. Only in WWI were there more military than civilian deaths. In every other conflict of note throughout history the reverse has been the case. The British and American publics, whose countries fight almost all their wars abroad, seem unaware of this. The rest of the world has a different experience from them.

The only way not to kill civilians is not to go to war in the first place.

Cheers,

Sid.

aurelien wolff
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by aurelien wolff » 01 May 2019 08:20

that kind of bombing was allowed by the law at that time,am I right?

Sid Guttridge
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 01 May 2019 13:56

Hi Aurelian wolf,

From memory, the first two Hague Conventions had been agreed before aircraft were significant. They dealt with the shelling of cities rather than their bombing. Thus by the 1930s the Hague Conventions were not up to date regarding aerial warfare.

If something isn't specifically illegal, it is, by default, legal.

Cheers,

Sid.

lartiste
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by lartiste » 19 May 2019 22:48

Sid Guttridge wrote:
26 Apr 2019 14:14
Hi lartiste,

You post, "We can in my opinion only discuss whether liquidation of cities by bombers was not put on the lists of war crimes due to the fact that allies would be held responsible as well."

There is some truth in this.

In the late 1930s the Japanese, Italians and Germans were bombing urban areas in China and Spain.

The British and French, who felt themselves inferior in the air, proposed the regulation of bombing under international law.

However, the Germans, Japanese and Italians had all left the forum for this - the League of Nations - and expressed no interest in the idea, presumably because they then felt superior in the air.

However, during the war the balance of power was reversed to the advantage of the Allies, so they too had no interest in constricting their use of air power.

Only after WWII did all concerned agree to regulate the use of aerial bombing.

Pragmatism and self interest seem to have trumped humanitarianism throughout.

However, the fact remains that, perhaps due to Axis pre-war intransigence, Allied bombing, horrible though it may have been, was technically legal during the war.

In recent decades "smart bombs" have been developed to allow strikes with in cities without mass casualties, but mistakes still occur. Only yesterday Amnesty International listed 1,600 civilian deaths to air strikes in Raqqa (Syria) whereas coalition air forces claimed to have caused about one tenth of that.

If you go to war this will always happen. Only in WWI were there more military than civilian deaths. In every other conflict of note throughout history the reverse has been the case. The British and American publics, whose countries fight almost all their wars abroad, seem unaware of this. The rest of the world has a different experience from them.

The only way not to kill civilians is not to go to war in the first place.

Cheers,

Sid.
I absolutely agree with only on very last comment and issue - since the definitions of war crimes to be judged in Nürenberg were created afterwards (post war), it possible guilt of victors was one of the aspect of it. Are you aware of any book dealing with legal preparation of the trial?

Sid Guttridge
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 20 May 2019 03:58

Hi lartiste,

Sorry, no.

I imagine that it was rehearsed for the trial of Field Marshal Alexander Lohr, who was the only air commander prosecuted for bombing - in his case of the Open City of Belgrade in April 1941. However, this was not the main charge against him.

Sid.

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wm
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by wm » 20 May 2019 09:37

The definitions of war crimes weren't created after the war.
It wasn't definitions anyway but sentencing guidelines for the judges based on existing international agreements so the judges didn't have to be burden with reinventing them again and again.

It wasn't like before the war you could gass people, or invade other countries.

aurelien wolff
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by aurelien wolff » 28 May 2019 12:14

Dresden was still a legetimate target from what I see on the topic.

aurelien wolff
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by aurelien wolff » 28 May 2019 12:15

also why the death number get inflation to go up to 600000 dead sometimes?
like in this link: https://www.thelocal.de/20100317/25945

David Thompson
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by David Thompson » 28 May 2019 15:41

aurelien wolff -- Our rules provide:
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ljadw
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by ljadw » 28 May 2019 20:50

aurelien wolff wrote:
28 May 2019 12:15
also why the death number get inflation to go up to 600000 dead sometimes?
like in this link: https://www.thelocal.de/20100317/25945
The official German figures were some 25000 dead;they can be consulted in WWII stats.com that is hidden somewhere in the internet .

Sid Guttridge
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 29 May 2019 11:03

Hi ljadw,

25,000 was the number of bodies recovered in the immediate aftermath. It was to this figure that Goebbels added an extra "0".

However, the Germans knew from previous bitter experience that up to a third of bodies were not recovered, so the real figure was probably between 35,000 and 40,000.

Cheers,

Sid.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 29 May 2019 11:09

Hi Aurelian Wolf.

Dresden contained some 19 military depots, barracks, etc., and about 8% of all German manpower was administered from the wehrkreis HQ there.

In addition, it was the centre of the German optics industry. Without its output most bomb sights were not available to the Luftwaffe, gun sights to the Heer and periscopes to the U-boats.

It was also a major rail hub for supplying the Ostheer on the nearby Eastern front.

It was thus definitely a legitimate target in terms of the laws of war at the time.

Cheers,

Sid.

ljadw
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by ljadw » 29 May 2019 14:23

Sid Guttridge wrote:
29 May 2019 11:03
Hi ljadw,

25,000 was the number of bodies recovered in the immediate aftermath. It was to this figure that Goebbels added an extra "0".

However, the Germans knew from previous bitter experience that up to a third of bodies were not recovered, so the real figure was probably between 35,000 and 40,000.

Cheers,

Sid.
We should always start from what we know, not from guesses,and I have questions to the claim that a third of bodies were not recovered : how can one know that bodies are not recovered ?
I think that 25000 is the number of victims, the others are people who are missing .

ljadw
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Re: how to justify that Dresden wasn't a war crime?

Post by ljadw » 29 May 2019 14:48

On 31 March 1945 22096 bodies were buried, an additional number of 1858 bodies were found til 1966 .
Source : Abschlussbericht der Historikerkommission Dresden 1945 P 17 .
That's what we know : 23944 dead . The rest is speculating . Probably the number of victims was higher as not all were found back .But we will never know how many ,what we know is that the 250000 figure is a falsification as was the figure of the victims of Bromberg , and eagerly believed by the public .

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