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In 1941 Charles Portal of the British Air Staff advocated that entire cities and towns should be bombed. Portal claimed that this would quickly bring about the collapse of civilian morale in Germany. Air Marshall Arthur Harris agreed and when he became head of RAF Bomber Command in February 1942, he introduced a policy of area bombing (known in Germany as terror bombing) where entire cities and towns were targeted.
One tactic used by the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Force was the creation of firestorms. This was achieved by dropping incendiary bombs, filled with highly combustible chemicals such as magnesium, phosphorus or petroleum jelly (napalm), in clusters over a specific target. After the area caught fire, the air above the bombed area, become extremely hot and rose rapidly. Cold air then rushed in at ground level from the outside and people were sucked into the fire.
In 1945, Arthur Harris decided to create a firestorm in the medieval city of Dresden. He considered it a good target as it had not been attacked during the war and was virtually undefended by anti-aircraft guns. The population of the city was now far greater than the normal 650,000 due to the large numbers of refugees fleeing from the advancing Red Army.
On the 13th February 1945, 773 Avro Lancasters bombed Dresden. During the next two days the USAAF sent over 527 heavy bombers to follow up the RAF attack. Dresden was nearly totally destroyed. As a result of the firestorm it was afterwards impossible to count the number of victims. Recent research suggest that 135,000 were killed but some German sources have argued that it was over 250,000. Whatever the figure, it was probably greater than the 51,509 British civilians killed by the Luftwaffe during the whole of the Second World War and the 70,000 immediate deaths at Hiroshima after the dropping of the first atom bomb on 6th August 1945.
(1.) Internal Royal Air Force memo (January, 1945)
Dresden, the seventh largest city in Germany and not much smaller than Manchester, is also far the largest unbombed built-up the enemy has got. In the midst of winter with refugees pouring westwards and troops to be rested, roofs are at a premium. The intentions of the attack are to hit the enemy where he will feel it most, behind an already partially collapsed front, to prevent the use of the city in the way of further advance, and incidentally to show the Russians when they arrive what Bomber Command can do.
2.) After the Second World War Air Marshall Arthur Harris came under attack for the bombing raid on Dresden. In his autobiography he explained why he ordered the bombing of the city in February, 1945.
With the German army on the frontiers of Germany we quickly set up GH and Oboe ground stations close behind the front line and this ensured the success of attacks on many distant objectives when the weather would otherwise have prevented us from finding the target. At the same time the bombers could fly with comparative safety even to targets as distant as Dresden or Chemnitz, which I had not ventured to attack before, because the enemy had lost his early warning system and the whole fighter defence of Germany could therefore generally be out-manoeuvred.
In February of 1945, with the Russian army threatening the heart of Saxony, I was called upon to attack Dresden; this was considered a target of the first importance for the offensive on the Eastern front. Dresden had by this time become the main centre of communications for the defence of Germany on the southern half of the Eastern front and it was considered that a heavy air attack would disorganise these communications and also make Dresden useless as a controlling centre for the defence. It was also by far the largest city in Germany-the pre-war population was 630,000-which had been left intact; it had never before been bombed. As a large centre of war industry it was also of the highest importance.
An attack on the night of February 13th-14th by just over 800 aircraft, bombing in two sections in order to get the night fighters dispersed and grounded before the second attack, was almost as overwhelming in its effect as the Battle of Hamburg, though the area of devastation -1600 acres - was considerably less; there was, it appears, a fire-typhoon, and the effect on German morale, not only in Dresden but in far distant parts of the country, was extremely serious. The Americans carried out two light attacks in daylight on the next two days.
I know that the destruction of so large and splendid a city at this late stage of the war was considered unnecessary even by a good many people who admit that our earlier attacks were as fully justified as any other operation of war. Here I will only say that the attack on Dresden was at the time considered a military necessity by much more important people than myself, and that if their judgment was right the same arguments must apply that I have set out in an earlier chapter in which I said what I think about the ethics of bombing as a whole.
(3.) Alexander McKee, Dresden 1945: the Devil's Tinderbox (1982)
From a firestorm there is small chance of escape. Certain conditions had to be present, such as the concentration of high buildings and a concentration of bombers in time and space, which produced so many huge fires so rapidly and so close together that the air above them super-heated and drew the flames out explosively. On the enormous scale of a large city, the roaring rush of heated air upwards developed the characteristics and power of a tornado, strong enough to pick up people and such them into the flames.
(4.) Margaret Freyer was living in Dresden during the firestorm created on 13th February, 1945.
The firestorm is incredible, there are calls for help and screams from somewhere but all around is one single inferno.
To my left I suddenly see a woman. I can see her to this day and shall never forget it. She carries a bundle in her arms. It is a baby. She runs, she falls, and the child flies in an arc into the fire.
Suddenly, I saw people again, right in front of me. They scream and gesticulate with their hands, and then - to my utter horror and amazement - I see how one after the other they simply seem to let themselves drop to the ground. (Today I know that these unfortunate people were the victims of lack of oxygen). They fainted and then burnt to cinders.
Insane fear grips me and from then on I repeat one simple sentence to myself continuously: "I don't want to burn to death". I do not know how many people I fell over. I know only one thing: that I must not burn.
5.) Otto Sailer-Jackson was a keeper at Dresden Zoo on 13th February, 1945.
The elephants gave spine-chilling screams. The baby cow elephant was lying in the narrow barrier-moat on her back, her legs up in the sky. She had suffered severe stomach injuries and could not move. A 90 cwt. cow elephant had been flung clear across the barrier moat and the fence by some terrific blast wave, and stood there trembling. I had no choice but to leave these animals to their fate.
I had known for one hour now that the most difficult task could ever bring was facing me. "Lehmann, we must get to the carnivores," I called. We did what we had to do, but it broke my heart.
6.) Members of the RAF bombing crews became increasingly concerned about the morality of creating firestorms. Roy Akehurst was a wireless operator who took part in the raid on Dresden.
It struck me at the time, the thought of the women and children down there. We seemed to fly for hours over a sheet of fire - a terrific red glow with thin haze over it. I found myself making comments to the crew: "Oh God, those poor people." It was completely uncalled for. You can't justify it.
7.) After the war Robert Saunby, Deputy Air Marshal at Bomber Command, commented on the bombing of Dresden.
That the bombing of Dresden was a great tragedy none can deny. It is not so much this or the other means of making war that is immoral or inhumane. What is immoral is war itself. Once full-scale war has broken out it can never be humanized or civilized, and if one side attempted to do so it would be most likely to be defeated. That to me is the lesson of Dresden.
8.) Winston Churchill, memorandum to Air Marshall Arthur Harris (28th March 1945)
It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land. We shall not, for instance, be able to get housing material out of Germany for our own needs because some temporary provision would have to be made for the Germans themselves. I feel the need for more precise concentration upon military objectives, such as oil and communications behind the immediate battle-zone, rather than on mere acts of terror and wanton destruction.
"Wer das Weinen verlernt hat, der lernt es wieder beim Untergang Dresdens."
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by Ernest W. Lefever
The Los Angeles Times, August 30, 2000
As we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the end of World War II, we might well look at America's fascination with guilt feelings about selected past sins. Why do some Americans feel guilty about our justified bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which immediately killed 120,000 Japanese (some estimates are significantly higher), and not about the unjustified bombing of Dresden, which killed 135,000 Germans? City bombing is always brutal, but sometimes it is a tragic necessity. In a just war, and certainly the Allied cause was just, all military action should be designed to destroy the enemy's capacity and will to continue fighting. First, the key facts about the bombing of Dresden on the night of February 13-14, 1945, 10 weeks before Germany's surrender, when everyone knew that Germany was beaten: Dresden was a beautiful Baroque city known as the Florence of the north. It had no war industry and little military value. Its population of 630,000 had been doubled by German refugees, mainly peasants from Silesia fleeing the Red Army.
The concerted British and American attack dropped 650,000 incendiary bombs, causing a firestorm engulfing eight square miles and killing an estimated 135,000 men, women and children. Why visit such carnage on the cusp of Germany's defeat? Some analysts say it was merely a continuation of the Allied strategy to bring Germany to its knees, but a postwar U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that such bombing did little to erode civilian morale or impede war production. Others say it was vindictive anger over Hitler's bombing of London and other British cities.
But Hitler's barbarity did not justify the fiery destruction of Dresden. Dresden was not a legitimate military target. British historian Paul Johnson has called the bombing "the greatest Anglo American moral disaster of the war against Germany." Yet few Americans have expressed shame or guilt. So why do guilt-prone Americans continue to fault their government for Hiroshima while ignoring Dresden? Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft recently called Hiroshima a satanic act, placing it in the same moral category as Auschwitz, the Bataan Death March, the Gulag, the Ukraine famine, the Rwanda tribal massacres, Pol Pot's killing fields and Mao's Great Leap Forward. Most historians render a different verdict. They agree on the basic military situation in August 1945:
America had broken the Japanese military code and President Truman had no substantial evidence that Japan was about to surrender. Though Tokyo and many other Japanese cities had been firebombed, Japan had made elaborate plans to resist an American invasion. It had assembled a Kamikaze suicide armada and mobilized 1 million soldiers and civilians equipped with a variety of suicide devices to stop the Americans on the beaches. Japan had a vast arsenal of chemical and bacterial weapons it likely would have used. The atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed 120,000 civilians and military personnel immediately, according to Paul H. Nitze's postwar bombing survey. But these terrible weapons ended the war. Japan's expansionist empire, which had slaughtered millions of innocent Chinese and other Asians, was brought to its knees. The war's abrupt end spared some 400,000 American prisoners of war and civilian detainees in Japanese hands, all of whom were to be executed had the U.S. invaded. The U.S. Pacific command estimated that at least 500,000 Americans and three times as many Japanese would have died in an invasion. Thus, the atom bombs may have saved 2 million lives, mostly Japanese. Why, then, is the atom bombing demonized when the March 9, 1945, firebombing of Tokyo, which killed 85,000 Japanese in one night, is not? The Tokyo raid and other U.S. air raids already had claimed some 500,000 Japanese victims. What is the moral distinction between killing people by an atomic blast or by a rain of fire bombs?
All war is hell, but our cause was just. We should be proud that America and its allies liberated hundreds of millions from the brutal empires of Hirohito and Hitler. Beating our breasts over Hiroshima distorts history, but an expression of contrition over the unnecessary firebombing of Dresden redeems it and us.
http://www.eppc.org/publications/xq/ASP ... detail.htm
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What makes the Los Angeles Times a better source than Bergander, Reichert and the Dresden city archive, in your opinon?
THE DRESDEN RAIDS
From Mr. David Irving
Sir, -- Your newspaper has an enviable reputation for accuracy, and
your readiness to correct the smallest errors from one day to the
next is an inspiration to your readers; but how can a historian
correct a mistake, when once he finds himself to have been wrong? I
ask the indulgence of your columns.
The bombing of Dresden in 1945 has in recent years been adduced by
some people as evidence that conventional bombing can be more
devastating than nuclear attacks, and others have sought to draw
false lessons from this. My own share of the blame for this is
large: in my 1963 book _The Destruction of Dresden_ I stated that
estimates of the casualties in that city varied between 35,000 and
The higher figures did not seem absurd when the circumstances were
taken into account. I had tried for three years to bring to light
German documents relating to the damage, but the east German
authorities were unable to assist me. Two years ago I procured from
a private east German source what purported to be extracts from the
Police President's report, quoting the final death-roll as "a quarter
of a million"; the other statistics it contained were accurate, but
it is now obvious that the death-roll statistic was falsified,
probably in 1945.
The east German authorities (who had originally declined to provide
me with the documents) have now supplied to me a copy of the 11-page
"final report" written by the area police chief about one month after
the Dresden raids, and there is no doubt as to this document's
authenticity. In short, the report shows that the Dresden casualties
were on much the same scale as in the heaviest Hamburg raids in 1943.
The document's author, the _Hoehere SS- und Polizeifuehrer Elbe_,
was responsible for civil defence measures in Dresden, it should be
His figures are very much lower than those I quoted. The crucial
passage reads: "Casualties: by 10th March, 1945, 18,375 dead, 2,212
seriously injured, and 13,918 slightly injured had been registered,
with 350,000 homeless and permanently evacuated." The total
death-roll, "primarily women and children," was expected to reach
25,000; fewer than a hundred of the dead were servicemen. Of the
dead recovered by then, 6,865 had been cremated in one of the city
squares. A total of 35,000 people were listed as "missing".
The general authenticity of the report is established beyond doubt,
because within a very few days of receiving the first, a second
wartime German report was supplied to me, this time from a western
source. It repeats _exactly_ the figures listed in the above report,
upon which it was evidently based.
The second report, a Berlin police summary of "Air Raids on Reich
Territory", dated March 22, 1945, was found, quite by chance,
misfiled among the 25,000 Reich Finance Ministry files currently
being explored at the west German Federal Archives. It was forwarded
to me by one of their archivists, Doctor Boberach.
I have no interest in promoting or perpetuating false legends, and I
feel it is important that in this respect the record should be set
I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,
25 Elgin Mansions, W.9.
Source of quote:
http://www.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/places/ft ... ualties-01
Emphases are mine.
Bis 10.3. 1945 früh festgestellt: 18 375 Gefallene, 2 212 Schwerverwundete, 13 718 Leichtverwundete. 350 000 Obdachlose und langfristig Umquartierte. Aufgliederung der Personenschäden nach Geschlechtern m. Rücksicht auf bestehende Schwierigkeiten (Abwanderung großer Teile der Bevölkerung, Überführung eines großen Teils der Verwundeten nach außerhalb, vollkommene Verkohlung bzw. starke Verwesung der Leichen) noch nicht bzw. überhaupt unmöglich.
Überwiegend handelt es sich aber um Frauen und Kinder. Nach Angaben der Kripo im Laufe der Zeit möglich, etwa 50% der Gefallenen zu identifizieren. Nach den bisherigen Feststellungen ist der überwiegende Teil der Gefallenen in den LS-Räumen und außerhalb durch mittelbare oder unmittelbare Brandeinwirkung sowie durch Verschüttung umgekommen. Auch durch Abwurf von Mienen- und Sprengbomben
insbesondere während des 2. Nachtangriffs auf Straßen und Plätzen sowie Grünanlagen einschli. Ausländer wird auf Grund der bisherigen Erfahrungen und Feststellungen bei der Bergung nunmehr auf etwa
25 000 geschätzt. Unter den Trümmernmassen, insbes. d. Innenstadt, dürften noch mehrere tausend Gefallene liegen, die vorläufig überhaupt nicht geborgen werden können. Genaue Feststellungen der Gefallenenzahl erst möglich , wenn durch Vermißtennachweis
u. Meldeämter der Polizei feststeht, welche Personen Dresden verlassen haben. Beim Vermißtennachweis und der Stadtverwaltung liegen z. Z. etwa 35 000 Vermißtenmeldungen vor. Unter den Gefallenen bisher etwa 100 Wehrmachtsangehörige festgestellt. Meldungen hierüber in den Wehrmachtsdienststellen oder in den Kasernen liegen noch nicht vor. Die Zahl der gefallenen Wehrmachtsangehörigen wird verhältnismäßig niedrig sein infolge des Ausgehverbots.
[Abschnitt H. Besondere Vorkommnisse:]
1. Bergung der Gefallenen, soweit nicht verschüttet, mußte durch Kräfte des örtlichen LS-Leiters erfolgen, ebenso die Überführung nach den Friedhöfen. Mit Rücksicht auf die schnelle fortschreitende Verwesung und bestehende außerordentliche Schwierigkeiten bei der Bergung, sowie Mangel an geeigneten Fahrzeugen zur Überführung auf Friedhöfe mit Zustimmung des Gauleiters und der Stadtverwaltung auf dem Altmarkt
6 866 Gefallene eingeäschert. Die Asched. Gefallenen wurde auf einen Friedhof überführt. Bergung von herrenlosem Luftschutz- und Reisegepäck einschl. Wertsachen wird gleichfalls vom örtl.
2. Plünderer: Von der Schutzpolizei, insbes. durch eingesetzte Streifen, bisher 79 Plünderer festgenommen. Eine größere Anzahl bereits hingerichtet. Vorstehender Bericht wird nach Abstimmung der Unterlagen mit der Kreisleitung d. NSDAP erstattet.
Source: Götz Bergander: Dresden im Luftkrieg, page 225. Quote provided by Hans, emphases are mine.
Standard military arguments, coupled with the demonstration of alliance solidarity and a show-off presentation of [the Bomber Command’s] capacities, cost the lives of about 25,000 people in the night from the 13th to the 14th of February, 1945.This figure results from recent investigations of the Dresden city archive and is based on documents, assessed for the first time, of the departments of the city of Dresden which had been in charge of recovery and burial of the victims at the time. The city administration continued to function even after the attack, the recovery and burial of the dead was by no means carried out in a chaotic manner, there was accurate registration. The number mentioned includes 6,865 dead who were burned on the Altmarkt in order to prevent the spread of diseases. Former rescue workers consider it a myth that dead should have been burnt to ashes in cellars with flame throwers. The figure also includes 1,557 dead bodies which were found in 1957 under the ruins during construction works in Dresden. These data coincide with other official documents which in March of 1945 had contained detailed listings of the dead, but thereafter been crudely manipulated and thus lead to confusion after the war - a forger had added a naught to all the figures.
When discussing the total balance of the horror, the question is often put how many refugees were in the city at the time of the attack. It is widely maintained that these people, unknown in Dresden, died in their tens of thousands in the firestorm. Yet no eyewitness confirms that caravans of refugees crossed Dresden in the middle of February on horse carriages. Neither could massive lodgings in Dresden households be established. Only such a measure would have made it possible to accommodate hundreds of thousands of externals in a city that still had about 600,000 inhabitants. Great numbers of refugees could be seen, however, in the vicinity of the railway stations; many were also lodged in restaurants, hotels, schools and other centers of reception. Serious estimates consider that, including the about 30,000 prisoners of war and forced laborers, there were about 100,000 externals inside the city; other sources mention 200,000 people from abroad in the city itself and in the surrounding area.
Some controversies about the number of victims in the past took the form of macabre technical considerations. It was considered possible, for instance, that many people were burned in the firestorm into heaps of ash so small that they could not be found. Fire department experts and forensic medics have in the meantime responded to this question very clearly – hardly a human body burns completely to ashes. This means that six digit numbers of victims that have been talked about for decades must be seen as pure speculations.
The above I translated from: Guido Knopp, Unser Jahrhundert -Deutsche Schicksalstage, 1998 C. Bertelsmann Verlag, München, page 258. Emphases are mine.
As I see it, raising the death toll without or even against evidence is an insult to those who really and horribly died.
Anyway, impressive photographs. Here are two more:
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The night of February 13th, and February 14th, Valentine's Day, mark an ominous anniversary in the history of Western Civilization. For beginning on the night of February 13th, 1945, occurred the destruction of Dresden. On the eve of Valentine's Day, 1945, World War II in Europe was nearly over. For all practical purposes Germany was already defeated. Italy, and Germany's other European allies, had fallen by the wayside. The Red Army was rushing to occupy vast areas of what had been Germany in the East, while the allies of the Soviets, the British and Americans, were bombing what was left of Germany's defenses and food and transportation infrastructure into nonexistence. And what was Dresden? Most of you have probably heard of Dresden China, and that delicately executed and meticulously detailed porcelain is really a perfect symbol for that city. For centuries Dresden had been a center of art and culture, and refined leisure and recreation. She was a city of art museums and theatres, circuses and sports stadia, a town of ancient half-timbered buildings looking for all the world like those of medieval England, with venerable churches and centuries-old cathedrals gracing her skyline. She was a city of artists and craftsmen, of actors and dancers, of tourists and the merchants and hotels that served them. Above all, what Dresden was, was defined during the war by what she was not. She had no significant military or industrial installations. Because of this, Dresden had become, above all other things that she was, a city of children, of women, of refugees, and of the injured and maimed who were recovering from their wounds in her many hospitals.
These women and children, these wounded soldiers, these infirm and elderly people, these refugees fleeing from the brutal onslaught of the Communist armies to the East, had come to Dresden because it was commonly believed at the time that Dresden would not be attacked. Its lack of strategic or military or industrial significance, and the well-known presence of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilian refugees and even Allied prisoners of war, seemed to guarantee safety to the city. Surely, it was thought, not even a the most powerful and determined enemy would be so depraved and sadistic, and so wasteful of that enemy's own resources, to attack such a city. But the people of Dresden, who were happily attending the cinema or eating dinner at home or watching the show-horses in the circus on that fateful night were wrong, wrong, wrong. And their leaders were also wrong, for the city was virtually open and undefended and only minimal civil defense preparations had been made.
Dresden's population had almost doubled in the months before the attack, mainly as a result of the influx of refugees from the Eastern Front, most of them women and young children. According to British historian David Irving, the briefings given to the British bomber squadrons before the attack on Dresden were curiously different. In one, the soldiers were told that their target was the railway center of Dresden. In another, they were told that the target was a poison-gas factory. In yet another, they were told that the target was a marshalling-grounds for troops in the city. Another was told that the target was a major arsenal. These were all lies.
The only marshalling-grounds for what few troops were in the area were located well outside the city. The arsenal had burned down in 1916. There were factories for toothpaste and baby-powder in Dresden, but none for poison gas. There were, in fact, no fewer than eighteen railway stations in Dresden, but only one was hit by the bombing, and that was barely touched and in fact was operating again just three days later. According to copious documentation unearthed by David Irving from the archives of the American and British governments, the point of the attack was in fact to inflict the maximum loss of life on the civilian population and particularly to kill as many refugees as possible who were fleeing from the Red Army. In achieving these goals it was highly successful. It was thus planned and executed by those at the very highest levels of the British and American governments, who to attain their purposes even lied to their own soldiers and citizens, who to this day have never been told the full story by their leaders.
How was this devastating effect accomplished ?
At 10:10 PM on February 13th, the first wave of the attack, consisting of the British Number 5 Bomber Group, began. The attacking force consisted of about 2,000 bombers with additional support craft, which dropped over 3,000 high explosive and 650,000 incendiary bombs (more commonly known as firebombs) on the center of the city. Incendiary bombs are not known for their efficiency per pound in destroying heavy equipment such as military hardware or railroad tracks, but are extremely effective in producing maximum loss of human life. The loads carried by the bombers were over 75 per cent incendiaries. In fact, the goal of the first wave of the attack was, according to British air commander Sir Arthur Bomber Harris, to set the city well on fire. That he did. The lack of any effective anti-aircraft defenses allowed the bombers to drop to very low altitudes and thus a relatively high degree of precision and visual identification of targets was achieved. Despite the fact that they could clearly see that the marked target area contained hospitals and sports stadia and residential areas of center city Dresden, the bombers nevertheless obeyed orders and rained down a fiery death upon the unlucky inhabitants of that city on a scale which had never before been seen on planet Earth. Hundreds of thousands of innocents were literally consumed by fire, an actual holocaust by the true definition of the word: complete consumption by fire.
Dresden after its holocaust
The incendiaries started thousands of fires and, aided by a stiff wind and the early-on destruction of the telephone exchanges that might have summoned firefighters from nearby towns, these fires soon coalesced into one unimaginably huge firestorm. Now such firestorms are not natural phenomena, and are seldom created by man, so few people have any idea of their nature. Basically, what happened was this: The intense heat caused by the huge column of smoke and flame, miles high and thousands of acres in area, created a terrific updraft of air in the center of the column. This created a very low pressure at the base of the column, and surrounding fresh air rushed inward at speeds estimated to be thirty times that of an ordinary tornado. An ordinary tornado wind-force is a result of temperature differences of perhaps 20 to 30 degrees centigrade. In this firestorm the temperature differences were on the order of 600 to 1,000 degrees centigrade. This inward-rushing air further fed the flames, creating a literal tornado of fire, with winds in the surrounding area of many hundreds of miles per hour--sweeping men, women, children, animals, vehicles and uprooted trees pell-mell into the glowing inferno. But this was only the first stage of the plan. Exactly on schedule, three hours after the first attack, a second massive armada of British bombers arrived, again loaded with high explosive and massive quantities of incendiary bombs. The residents of Dresden, their power systems destroyed by the first raid, had no warning of the second. Again the British bombers attacked the center city of Dresden, this time dividing their targets--one half of the bombs were to be dropped into the center of the conflagration, to keep it going, the other half around the edges of the firestorm. No pretense whatever was made of selecting military targets. The timing of the second armada was such as to ensure that a large quantity of the surviving civilians would have emerged from their shelters by that time, which was the case, and also in hopes that rescue and firefighting crews would have arrived from surrounding cities, which also proved to be true. The firefighters and medics thus incinerated hadn't needed the telephone exchange to know that they were needed--the firestorm was visible from a distance of 200 miles. It is reported that body parts, pieces of clothing, tree branches, huge quantities of ashes, and miscellaneous debris from the firestorm fell for days on the surrounding countryside as far away as eighteen miles. After the attack finally subsided, rescue workers found nothing but liquefied remains of the inhabitants of some shelters, where even the metal kitchen utensils had melted from the intense heat. The next day, Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day, 1945, medical and other emergency personnel from all over central Germany had converged on Dresden. Little did they suspect that yet a third wave of bombers was on its way, this time American. This attack had been carefully coordinated with the previous raids. Four hundred fifty Flying Fortresses and a support contingent of fighters arrived to finish the job at noon. I quote from David Irving's The Destruction of Dresden:
"Just a few hours before Dresden had been a fairy-tale city of spires and cobbled streets .... now total war had put an end to all that. ...The ferocity of the US raid of 14th February had finally brought the people to their knees... but it was not the bombs which finally demoralised the people ... it was the Mustang fighters, which suddenly appeared low over the city, firing on everything that moved .... one section of the Mustangs concentrated on the river banks, where masses of bombed-out people had gathered. ... British prisoners who had been released from their burning camps were among the first to suffer the discomfort of machine-gunning attacks .... wherever columns of tramping people were marching in or out of the city they were pounced on by the fighters, and machine-gunned or raked with cannon fire." [Image: Dresden skyline after Allied saturation bombing.]
Ladies and gentlemen, on this program I can only give you a bare glimpse of the inhuman horror of the holocaust of Dresden. In Dresden, no fewer than 135,000 innocent victims died, with some estimates as high as 300,000. More died in Dresden than died in the well-known attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More destruction befell Dresden in one day than was inflicted on the whole of Britain during the entire war. And yet you haven't been told.
EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT, DRESDEN 1945
Since the facts of the combined USAF and RAF raids on Dresden became known, mostly through the novel 'Slaughterhouse Five' by Kurt Vonnegut, there has been great controversy as to why this appalling raid was considered necessary. The city had no military targets to speak of, and it was known that it was packed with civilian refugees from the east. Here is an eye-witness account by Lothar (shown here with his sister), just nine years old, who survived.
It was February. 13th, 1945. I lived with my mother and sisters (13, 5 and 5 months old twins) in Dresden and was looking forward to celebrating my 10th birthday February l6th. My father, a carpenter, had been a soldier since 1939 and we got his last letter in August 1944. My mother was very sad to receive her letters back with the note: "Not to be found." We lived in a 3 room flat on the 4th floor in a working class region of our town. I remember celebrating Shrove Tuesday (February 13th) together with other children, The activities of the war in the east came nearer and nearer. Lots of soldiers went east and lots of refugees went west through our town or stayed there, also in the air raid night February13th/14th. About 9:30 PM the alarm was given. We children knew that sound and got up and dressed quickly, to hurry downstairs into our cellar which we used as an air raid shelter. My older sister and I carried my baby twin sisters, my mother carried a little suitcase and the bottles with milk for our babies. On the radio we heard with great horror the news: "Attention, a great air raid will corne over our town!" This news I will never forget. Some minutes later we heard a horrible noise — the bombers. There were nonstop explosions. Our cellar was filled with fire and smoke and was damaged, the lights went out and wounded people shouted dreadfully. In great fear we struggled to leave this cellar. My mother and my older sister carried the big basket in which the twins were lain. With one hand I grasped my younger sister and with the other I grasped the coat of my mother. We did not recognize our street any more. Fire, only fire wherever we looked. Our 4th floor did not exist anymore. The broken remains of our house were burning. On the streets there were burning vehicles and carts with refugees, people, horses, all of them screaming and shouting in fear of death. I saw hurt women, children, old people searching a way through ruins and flames. We fled into another cellar overcrowded with injured and distraught men women and children shouting, crying and praying. No light except some electric torches. And then suddenly the second raid began. This shelter was hit too, and so we fled through cellar after cellar. Many, so many, desperate people came in from the streets. lt is not possible to describe! Explosion after explosion. It was beyond belief, worse than the blackest nightmare. So many people were horribly burnt and injured. lt became more and more difficult to breathe. lt was dark and all of us tried to leave this cellar with inconceivable panic. Dead and dying people were trampled upon, luggage was left or snatched up out of our hands by rescuers. The basket with our twins covered with wet cloths was snatched up out of my mothers hands and we were pushed upstairs by the people behind us. We saw the burning street, the falling ruins and the terrible firestorm. My mother covered us with wet blankets and coats she found in a water tub.
We saw terrible things: cremated adults shrunk to the size of small children, pieces of arms and legs, dead people, whole families burnt to death, burning people ran to and fro, burnt coaches filled with civilian refugees, dead rescuers and soldiers, many were calling and looking for their children and families, and fire everywhere, everywhere fire, and all the time the hot wind of the firestorm threw people back into the burning houses they were trying to escape from. I cannot forget these terrible details. I can never forget them.
Now rny rnother possessed only a little bag with our identitiy papers. The basket with the twins had disappeared and then suddenly my older sister vanished too . Although my rnother looked for her immediately it was in vain. The last hours af this night we found shelter in the cellar of a hospital nearby surrounded by crying and dying people. In the next morning we looked for our sister and the twins but without success. The house where we lived was only a burning ruin. The house where our twins were left we could not go in. Soldiers said everyone was burnt to death and we never saw my two baby sisters again. Totally exhausted, with burnt hair and badly burnt and wounded by the fire we walked to the Loschwitz bridge where we found good people who allowed us to wash, to eat and to sleep. But only a short time because suddenly the second air raid began (February14th) and this house too was bombed and my mothers last identity papers burnt. Completely exhausted we hurried over the bridge (river Elbe) with many other homeless survivors and found another family ready to help us, because somehow their home survived this horror. In all this tragedy I had completely forgotten my l0th birthday. But the next day rny mother surprised rne with a piece af sausage she begged from the "Red Cross". This was my birthday present.
In the next days and weeks we looked for my older Sister but in vain. We wrote our present adress an the last walls of our demaged house. In the middle of March we were evacuated to a little village near Oschatz and on March 3lst, we got a letter from my sister. She was alive! In that disastrous night she lost us and with other lost children she was taken to a nearby village. Later she found our address on the wall of our house and at the beginning of April my rnother brought her to our new home.
You can be sure that the horrible experiences of this night in Dresden led to confused dreams, sleepless nights and disturbed our souls, me and the rest of my farnily. Years later I intensively thought the matter over, the causes, the political contexts of this night. This became very important for my whole life and my further decisions.
Berlin, May 1999
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- Joined: 04 Apr 2002 11:03
Knopp, Guido - Bislang hielt man Guido Knopp für einen Historiker. Das hat sich inzwischen jedoch als Gerücht herausgestellt. In Wirklichkeit ist er eine Art Kabarettist, dessen einzige Programmnummer darin besteht, einen Historiker zu simulieren. Genau das richtige für das ZDF, bei dem er angestellt ist und dem er die Sendeplätze bis zum Anschlag zumüllt, so daß kaum ein Tag mehr vergeht, an dem nicht ein serviler und beflissener Hauch von Guido Knopp in die gute Stube der Deutschen strömt, wenn seine Schmalzstimme erklingt und Seriosität heuchelt. Guido Knopp, das Versprechen, aus Geschichte Brei zu machen, eine Melange aus Plapperei und Ermahnung, eine histoire banalité mit eimerweise Kleister aus zähem Kitsch, der alles zusammenhalten muß, was bei Knopp auseinanderfallen würde. Aus jedem dünnen Manuskript wird eine mehrteilige Dokumentation und aus jedem dürftigen Filmchen ein opulentes Buch. Bei dem täglichen Output könnte man ihn auch für eine Textverarbeitungsmaschine halten, wüßte man nicht, daß Knopp - wie früher Alexandre Dumas - eine ganze Armee von lohnabhängigen Skribenten in einem Verlies jeden Monat mehrere Drehbücher und einen dicken Wälzer für sich schreiben läßt, wobei sich die Schlagzahl zur Jahrhundertwende erhöht und Guido Knopp vom Peitschenschwingen schon einen Tennisarm bekommen haben soll. Nach unbestätigten Berichten sind bereits die ersten Opfer zu beklagen. Darauf läßt eine speziell bei arbeitslosen Historikern grassierende Krankheit schließen, bei der die gleichen Symptome auftreten wie nach systematischem Schlafentzug, einer bekanntlich stalinistischen Foltermethode. Den Obduktionsberichten zufolge weisen die Augenlider der Opfer gerötete Stellen auf, was darauf schließen läßt, daß Streichhölzer benutzt wurden, um die Fließbandschreiber am Einschlafen zu hindern. "Schlimmer als bei der Stasi" soll es gewesen sein. Das seien, so erzählt die Frau eines Opfers, die letzten Worte ihres Mannes gewesen. ZDF und Knopp halten sich bedeckt, denn natürlich wollen sie unter allen Umständen vermeiden, daß die Presse ihr schändliches Treiben aufdeckt. Vor allem, wenn sich herausstellen sollte, daß einer der Historiker ein gelernter Zoni gewesen ist, könnte das dem Ansehen des Senders schweren Schaden zufügen, denn Geschichte war bei denen da drüben schließlich die nackte Indoktrination.
Aber auch aus der eigenen Zunft sind vermehrt kritische Stimmen zu vernehmen, und zwar ziemlich kritische. Arnulf Bahring z.B. moserte, daß das Zeug, das unter dem Namen Knopp den Buchhandel verstopft, extrem flach und disparat sei. Ahnungslosigkeit sei zwar dessen unverkennbarer Stil, könne aber allein wegen der Masse niemals allein von Knopp geschrieben worden sein, der den bislang von Jürgen Roth gehaltenen Rekord von dreizehn Büchern im Jahr um ein mehrfaches übertreffen würde. Das aber ginge nicht mal theoretisch, da Knopp am Tag, wie Bahring errechnete, 45 Stunden in der Geschwindigkeit eines Nachrichtentickers Sätze in den Computer hacken müßte. Der im Mißbrauch bzw. in der Ausbeutung studentischer Hilfskräfte auch nicht gerade zimperliche Ulrich Wehler, im Bohren von dünnen Brettern ebenso bewandert wie sein Bruder im Geiste Guido Knopp, spricht offen von "Wettbewerbsverzerrung", und auch Hans Mommsen ist schwer beleidigt, daß er trotz seiner Körperfülle mal wieder übergangen wurde. Die letzten Knopp-Würfe heißen "Unser Jahr100 - Deutsche Schicksalstage" und "100 Jahre - Die Bilder des Jahrhunderts", das Buch zur ZDF-Serie, die ab dem 23. September täglich nach dem heute-journal in die Haushalte geblasen wird. Da fiel natürlich auch was für Markworts Focus ab, dem der ZDF-Historiker auf die Schnelle eine "Jahrhundert-Bilanz" zusammengerührt hat. Als Willy Millowitsch unter den Historikern steigt Guido Knopp für den kleinen Mops aus München in die Bütt: "Rein historisch sind wir heute (...) schon im 21. Jahrhundert. Was für ein Jahrhundert wird das werden? Sicher eine Zeit, die uns mehr abverlangt als die Jahrzehnte davor." Da wiegt selbst der pfeifeschmauchende Opa sinnend das Haupt, während die Fachwelt rätselt, was Guido "Sphinx" Knopp gemeint haben könnte. Der meint damit: Könnte sein. Könnte aber auch anders sein. Oder, in den Larifari-Worten Guido Knopps: "Einen schicksalhaft vorherbestimmten Todespfad von Potsdam über Langemarck nach Auschwitz gibt es nicht. Obwohl es immer eher möglich war, daß es so kommen konnte, hat es nicht so kommen müssen." Und was ist die "Botschaft unseres Jahrhunderts"? Na? "Wir, die Europäer, sitzen allesamt in einem Boot." Wäre es nicht schön, wenn Guido Knopp zufällig in dem Boot sitzen würde, das bekanntlich voll ist? Dann nämlich könnte man ihn wenigstens zwecks Fütterung netter Fische über Bord schmeißen, so aber reitet Guido Knopp eine Metapher nach der anderen zuschanden, dem trüben Licht der schwammigen Aufklärung entgegen, wo die ewige Ödnis des Salbaderns und Raunens über Gott und die Welt herrscht.
Guido Knopps Helfer
Die Berliner Zeitung deckt die Verbindungen des ZDF Historikers Guido Knopp ins ultrarechte Milieu auf.
von stefan wirner
Dr. Tadeusz Guz ist schwer enttäuscht. Er kann es nicht fassen, dass jemand solche Unwahrheiten verbreitet. Nichts, aber auch gar nichts sei dran an den Vorwürfen. Diese Diffamierungen seien unter allem Niveau. Der aus Polen stammende Priester habe so etwas »selbst unter dem schlimmen Sowjetkommunismus nicht erlebt«. Was war geschehen? Am 29. März berichtete die Berliner Zeitung von der Verbindung des ZDF Historikers Guido Knopp zur Gustav Siewerth Akademie im badenwürttembergischen Weilheim. Guido Knopp ist einem Millionenpublikum bekannt durch seine historischen Features wie: »Hitlers Helfer«, »Hitler - eine Bilanz« oder durch das Fernsehspiel »Der Dritte Weltkrieg«, in dem er Russland kurzerhand einen Atomkrieg beginnen ließ. Die Berliner Zeitung entlarvte nun die Gustav Siewerth Akademie als ein äußerst »fragwürdiges Umfeld« für den populären TV-Historiker: »Denn ein Großteil des leitenden Senats, dem Knopp angehört, steht ultrarechten, geheimbündlerischen Organisationen wie dem Opus Dei (Werk Gottes), dem Engelswerk und der Psychosekte VPM (Verein zur Förderung der psychologischen Menschenkenntnis) nahe.«
Die Verbindungen lassen auf einen rechtsklerikalen Sumpf im Umfeld Knopps schließen. Gründerin und Leiterin der Akademie ist die Heidegger Schülerin Alma von Stockhausen. Die Akademie entstand im Bestreben, den »Neomarxismus« der Frankfurter Schule um Theodor W. Adorno und Max Horkheimer zu bekämpfen. Zwei Mitglieder des Senats sollen mit dem Opus Dei in Verbindung stehen, drei mit der Psychosekte VPM. Alma von Stockhausen habe sich persönlich und öffentlich für VPM eingesetzt. Der Rektor der Akademie, Graf Brandenstein Zeppelin, unterhalte Beziehung zum Engelswerk. Das Seniorenstudium der Akademie leite der Marinerichter a.D. Hans Filbinger.
Filbinger scheint das Verbindungsglied zum Studienzentrum Weikersheim zu sein, dem think tank der extremen Rechten in Deutschland. Dort ist Filbinger Ehrenpräsident. Prof. Lothar Bossle von der Gustav Siewerth Akademie, der bei VPM Kongressen aufgetreten ist, halte, laut Berliner Zeitung, Filbinger für das Opfer einer Rufmordkampagne und Hitler für »einen Linken«. Das Senatsmitglied der Siewerth Akademie Leo Scheffczyk habe das Opus Dei geehrt, einen katholischen Geheimbund, dem Kritiker Methoden der Gehirnwäsche und Nähe zum Nationalsozialismus und zum FrancoóFaschismus vorwerfen.
Dr. Tadeusz Guz bedrücken diese Vorwürfe. Er ist Mitarbeiter der Gustav Siewerth Akademie. »Wie kann man nur so schlampig recherchieren«, sagt er gegenüber Jungle World, »in dieser freien Welt!« Das sei alles sehr ungerecht und unerträglich. Filbinger sei überhaupt nicht Leiter des Seniorenstudiums der Akademie, nur ein Mal habe er einen Vortrag gehalten. Und es gebe keine Verbindungen zum Opus Dei. Nur ein Professor habe mal so eine Vorlesung gehalten. Welcher Professor? »Ein Professor.« Und überhaupt, Knopp bemühe sich doch, das Beste zu leisten. Die Akademie habe schon ihre Rechtsanwälte eingeschaltet, um die Dinge richtig zu stellen. Alles Lüge eben. »Gottes Segen für Sie und Ihre Arbeit.«
Den Rechtsanwälten jedoch dürfte es schwer fallen, alle Vorwürfe zu entkräften. Schließlich hat nicht einmal Guido Knopp die Verbindungen seiner Senatskollegen zum rechtsextremen Umfeld bestritten. Er habe von den Verbindungen gehört, habe jedoch mit den betreffenden Leuten keinen Kontakt, zitiert ihn die Berliner Zeitung. Sein Wirken für die Gustav Siewerth Akademie sei nur Beweis für deren Pluralismus. Pluralismus? Stimmt: Von allen möglichen ultrarechten Organisationen sind im Senat der Akademie offensichtlich gleich mehrere vertreten.
Die Verbindungen sind nicht von der Hand zu weisen. Professor Bossle etwa wird einen Vortrag im Studienzentrum Weikersheim halten, beim »8. Kaminabend« am 10. Oktober. In selbiger Veranstaltungsreihe, am »6. Kaminabend«, wird Hans Filbinger referieren. Sein Thema lautet: »Aus erlebter Zeitgeschichte ó Die Botschaft eines christlichen Politikers«. Ob er über seine Erlebnisse bei der von ihm angeordneten Hinrichtung eines Deserteurs zur NSóZeit berichten wird? Das Bekanntwerden dieses Vorgangs hatte 1978 zu seinem Rücktritt vom Amt des Ministerpräsidenten von BadenóWürttemberg geführt.
Leo Scheffczyk von der Siewerth Akademie wiederum lobt nicht nur das Opus Dei. Er ist auch Autor des Christiana Verlages. Die Hauszeitung des Verlags, Timor Domini, offenbart die Brandbreite des rechtsklerikalen Gedankenguts: Neben Geschichten über das »Turiner Grabtuch«, über Marienprozessionen in Kuba oder die »missverstandene Ökumene« kann man darin auch Loblieder auf Ernst Jünger finden. Mit ihm »verlor Deutschland seinen größten Schriftsteller«, »ein vehementer Antinationalsozialist« sei er gewesen, »ein äußerst kultivierter Mann«. Natürlich sei er ein Ultrarechter gewesen, kein Anarchist, sondern »ein Anarch«. Aber das nur deshalb, weil die Nazis eigentlich Linke gewesen seien. In einem Artikel mit dem Titel »Perversion statt Aufklärung« wird gegen eine AidsóAufklärungsbroschüre mobil gemacht. Und zu ihrem 70. Geburtstag wird Alma von Stockhausen geehrt. 1968 stand sie in einem »bisweilen lebensbedrohenden Kampf« gegen den »Terror der Studenten« und gründete aus dieser Erfahrung heraus die private Akademie als »Pflanzstätte der Wahrheit«.
Knopp hat inzwischen den Vorwurf der geistigen Nähe zu diesen Professoren und Organisationen in einem Leserbrief an die Berliner Zeitung als »absurd« zurückgewiesen. Er habe nichts mit »innerkatholischen Fachdebatten« zu tun. Ihm gehe es nur um eine »Renaissance von Primärtugenden wie Ehrlichkeit und Treue, vulgo 'Moral'«. Auf welche Art er das Comeback dieser deutschen Tugenden organisieren will, lässt sich an seinen TV Produktionen ablesen. Die gegenwärtig im ZDF ausgestrahlte Serie »Hitlers Kinder« suggeriert auf subtile Weise, dass die Deutschen die ersten Opfer Hitlers gewesen seien, ob Soldaten oder Zivilbevölkerung: ausnahmslos Verführte. Knopps TV Serie »Hitlers Helfer« war die Retourkutsche auf Daniel Goldhagens Buch »Hitlers willige Vollstrecker«. Knopp moderierte auch die Diskusionsveranstaltung im ZDF im Rahmen der Auseinandersetzung mit Goldhagens Studie. In der LiveóSendung wurden antisemitische Zuschaueranrufe an Goldhagen durchgestellt mit Fragen wie: »Haben die Juden nicht selber ziemlich viel Schlimmes angerichtet?«
Das ZDF war bisher nicht zu einer offiziellen Stellungnahme zu Knopps Verbindungen mit der Siewerth Akademie bereit. Man weiß wohl in der Abteilung Zeitgeschichte des Mainzer Senders, dass man mit Knopp als zuständigem Historiker für deutsche Geschichte den Bock zum Gärtner gemacht hat. Wer solche Historiker hat, hat keine Probleme mehr mit der Vergangenheit.
DAS SATIRE-MAGAZIN "TITANIC" ÜBER HERRN KNOPP
Guido Knopp, der knoppäugige Leiter der ZDF-Redaktion Zeitgeschichte, gilt unter Historikern längst so viel wie Jürgen Fliege unter Bibelforschern. Seine Hitlerserien erreichen sogar Marienhof-Fans und sagen ihnen, wer gut (Rommel) und wer böse (Keitel) war. Soeben kam aus Knopps Ressort ein neuer History-Hammer. “Der dritte Weltkrieg” – eine topwissenschaftliche TV-Analyse: Was wäre, wenn Gorbatschow 1989 Pfarrer Eppelmann und Vaclav Havel nicht mit Kerzen und Plakaten hätte herummachen, sondern teeren und federn lassen? Genau: Lichtblitz, Druckwelle, Gardinenlöschen. Fußballreporter nennen dieses Verfahren seit etwa 3000 Jahren “Hätte-wenn-und-aber”, für Guido Knopp jedoch ist es “Counterfactual History”. Woraus sich die Frage ergibt: Was wäre, wenn Guido Knopp nicht nur Redaktionsleiter, sondern Programmdirektor des ZDF wäre?
DER MEISTER IM EIGENEN WORT
Guido Knopp ist promovierter Geschichtsprofessor. Die ganze Nation fasziniert er mit seinen Fernsehdokumentationen. Bis zu sieben Millionen Menschen haben die ZDF- Reihe über Hitler und seine Helfer gesehen. Guido Knopp stieg über Zeitungen in den Journalismus ein und wurde dann beim ZDF Leiter der Redaktion Zeitgeschichte. Dort entstehen die großen Dokumentationen mit bewegenden Zeitzeugen, aus denen dann Guido Knopps Bücher entstehen. Der Geschichtsprofessor will als Journalist bewusst ein Massenpublikum erreichen. Er möchte, dass die Menschen die Geschichte begreifen.
Viele Menschen sind Ihren Mitmenschen gegenüber, insbesondere, wenn deren Schicksal schon eine Weile zurückliegt, eigentlich recht gleichgültig. Sie versuchen die Menschen aufzurütteln für Ihre Mitmenschen und für das, was sie in der Vergangenheit erlebt haben. Warum machen Sie das?
Geschichte ist etwas, was uns alle angeht, vor allem in Deutschland. Geschichte ist etwas, was in unser tägliches Leben hineinspielt, gerade die Grenzerfahrungen des 20. Jahrhunderts, die Nazizeit, der 2. Weltkrieg, lässt uns bis heute nicht los. Wir erleben ja jedes Jahr, dass die großen Debatten in unserem Land sich um diese Themen drehen. Die Zwangsarbeiterdebatte, die Wehrmachtsdebatte, die Holocaust-Debatte, alle möglichen Diskussionen, die oft sehr erbittert und sehr leidenschaftlich geführt werden, gehen um die Frage, wie gehen wir damit um. Und ich versuche, die Frage mit filmischen Mitteln zu beantworten. Wie war es eigentlich? Denn bevor wir uns die Frage stellen, wie gehen wir damit um, müssen möglichst viele Menschen wissen, wie es war.
Ist es auch ein politisches Anliegen? Wollen Sie aufrütteln und informieren?
Ich denke, ja. Denn wir Deutschen haben ja Geschichte lange Zeit in den letzten Jahrzehnten verdrängt, weil sie uns unbequem gewesen ist. Keiner hat natürlich gerne solche bösen Phasen der Geschichte mit in seinem Gepäck, wie wir es nun mal tragen, und wir müssen damit umgehen. Und ich denke, den Leuten zu vermitteln, dass das zu unserer Geschichte gehört, genauso wie Goethe oder Schiller. Das ist ein Anliegen, dass wir trotzdem nicht mit eingezogenem Haupte durch die Welt streifen müssen, sondern dass wir sagen können, die deutsche Geschichte ist reicher, sie ist nicht nur eine Vorgeschichte der Nazizeit, sie ist nicht nur eine Nachgeschichte derselben. Die deutsche Demokratie ist ein ureigenes Kind der deutschen Geschichte, kein Importartikel aus dem Schatzkästlein der Alliierten. All diese verschiedenen Stränge gehören zusammen und führen am Ende zu etwas, dass mithilft, das Geschichtsbewusstsein in unserem Lande vertieft wird.
Die religiös motivierten Auseinandersetzungen sind immer die heftigsten und die grässlichsten. Welche Rolle spielt die Religion für dieses Geschichtsbewusstsein? Warum wirkt die Religion so stark nach, auch wenn sie Jahrtausende mitunter zurückliegt?
Für den Bereich der Neuzeit und der frühen Neuzeit mag das, was das Politikum betrifft, stimmen. Denn die Auseinandersetzungen in Deutschland bis hin zum 30-jährigen Krieg waren ja Religionsauseinandersetzungen. Das hat aber doch in den letzten Jahrhunderten eigentlich schon deutlich nachgelassen. Dass wir natürlich für die Zukunft, und wir wollen es nicht hoffen, Auseinandersetzungen fürchten müssen zwischen Christentum und Islam, ist eine andere Frage. Aber auch diese potentielle Auseinandersetzung ist ja nicht eine Auseinandersetzung zwischen Religionen. Ein überzeugter Muslim und ein überzeugter Christ können sich ja viel besser verstehen, als ein fanatischer Islamist und ein Agnostiker. Und ich denke, da muss man die Religion nicht mit hineinziehen, denn die Urgründe liegen ganz wo anders.
Wie sehen Sie das, wie ist Ihre persönliche Einstellung zur Religion?
Ich bin kein Kirchenreligionsmann, ich bin nicht sehr involviert in das alltägliche kirchliche Leben. Ich gehe gelegentlich in die Kirche, ich fühle mich auch der Evangelischen Kirche verbunden, aber ich sehe es als eine persönliche Entscheidung an zu sagen, dass ich nicht mit allen Fascetten evangelischer Alltagspolitik in Deutschland einverstanden sein muss.
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- Joined: 04 Apr 2002 11:03
As I see it, raising the death toll without or even against evidence is an insult to those who really and horribly died.
Ach tatsächlich, ist es das ? Ist es nicht viel eher ein Hohn gegenüber den Massen von Menschen, die tatsächlich bestialisch ermordet wurden, aber von der geschönten Statistik nicht erfasst werden, nämlich gut 100.000 ? Seltsame Logik, oder ?
DRESDEN - A MONUMENTAL ACT OF MASSACRE AND TERRORISM
On the evening of February 13, 1945, an orgy of genocide and barbarism began against a defenseless German city, one of the greatest cultural centers of northern Europe. Within less than 14 hours not only was it reduced to flaming ruins, but an estimated one-third of its inhabitants-- possibly as many as half a million--had perished in what was the worst massacre of all time. Compare this with the 50 to 100 times less than that who died in the recent attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. The following account, taken from the February 1985 issue of the NS Bulletin, tells us what REAL terrorism is like. Toward the end of World War II, as Allied planes rained death and destruction over Germany, the old Saxon city of Dresden lay like an island of tranquility amid desolation. Famous as a cultural center and possessing no military value, Dresden had been spared the terror that descended from the skies over the rest of the country. In fact, little had been done to provide the ancient city of artists and craftsmen with anti-aircraft defenses. One squadron of planes had been stationed in Dresden for awhile, but the Luftwaffe decided to move the aircraft to another area where they would be of use. A gentlemen's agreement seemed to prevail, designating Dresden as an "open city."
On Shrove Tuesday, February 13, 1945, a flood of refugees fleeing the Red Army 60 miles away had swollen the city's population to well over a million. Each new refugee brought fearful accounts of Soviet atrocities. Little did those refugees retreating from the Red terror imagine that they were about to die in a horror worse than anything Stalin could devise. Normally, a carnival atmosphere prevailed in Dresden on Shrove Tuesday. In 1945, however, the outlook was rather dismal. Houses everywhere overflowed with refugees, and thousands were forced to camp out in the streets, shivering in the bitter cold. However, the people felt relatively safe; and although the mood was grim, the circus played to a full house that night as thousands came to forget for a moment the horrors of war. Bands of little girls paraded about in carnival dress in an effort to bolster waning spirits. Half-sad smiles greeted the laughing girls, but spirits were lifted. No one realized that in less than 24 hours those same innocent children would die screaming in Churchill's firestorms. But, of course, no one could know that then. The Russians, to be sure, were savages, but at least the Americans and British were "honorable." So when those first alarms signaled the start of 14 hours of hell, Dresden's people streamed dutifully into their shelters. But they did so without much enthusiasm, believing the alarms to be false, since their city had never been threatened from the air. Many would never come out alive, for that "great democratic statesman," Winston Churchill--in collusion with that other "great democratic statesman," Franklin Delano Roosevelt--had decided that the city of Dresden was to be obliterated by saturation bombing.
What were Churchill's motives? They appear to have been political, rather than military. Historians unanimously agree that Dresden had no military value. What industry it did have produced only cigarettes and china. But the Yalta Conference was coming up, in which the Soviets and their Western allies would sit down like ghouls to carve up the shattered corpse of Europe. Churchill wanted a trump card--a devastating "thunderclap of Anglo-American annihilation"--with which to "impress" Stalin. That card, however, was never played at Yalta, because bad weather delayed the originally scheduled raid. Yet Churchill insisted that the raid be carried out--to "disrupt and confuse" the German civilian population behind the lines.
Dresden's citizens barely had time to reach their shelters. The first bomb fell at 10:09 p.m. The attack lasted 24 minutes, leaving the inner city a raging sea of fire. "Precision saturation bombing" had created the desired firestorm. A firestorm is caused when hundreds of smaller fires join in one vast conflagration. Huge masses of air are sucked in to feed the inferno, causing an artificial tornado. Those persons unlucky enough to be caught in the rush of wind are hurled down entire streets into the flames. Those who seek refuge underground often suffocate as oxygen is pulled from the air to feed the blaze, or they perish in a blast of white heat--heat intense enough to melt human flesh.
WOMEN AND CHILDREN TARGETED
One eyewitness who survived told of seeing "young women carrying babies running up and down the streets, their dresses and hair on fire, screaming until they fell down, or the collapsing buildings fell on top of them." There was a three-hour pause between the first and second raids. The lull had been calculated to lure civilians from their shelters into the open again. To escape the flames, thousands of civilians had crowded into the Grosser Garten, a magnificent park nearly one and a half miles square. The second raid came at 1:22 a.m. with no warning. Twice as many bombers returned with a massive load of incendiary bombs. The second wave was designed to spread the raging firestorm into the Grosser Garten. It was a complete "success." Within a few minutes a sheet of flame ripped across the grass, uprooting trees and littering the branches of others with everything from bicycles to human limbs. For days afterward, they remained bizarrely strewn about as grim reminders of Allied sadism. At the start of the second air assault, many were still huddled in tunnels and cellars, waiting for the fires of the first attack to die down. At 1:30 a.m. an ominous rumble reached the ears of the commander of a Labor Service convoy sent into the city on a rescue mission. He described it this way: "The detonation shook the cellar walls. The sound of the explosions mingled with a new, stranger sound which seemed to come closer and closer, the sound of a thundering waterfall; it was the sound of the mighty tornado howling in the inner city."
MELTING HUMAN FLESH
Others hiding below ground died. But they died painlessly--they simply glowed bright orange and blue in the darkness. As the heat intensified, they either disintegrated into ciders or melted into a thick liquid--often three or four feet deep in spots. Shortly after 10:30 on the morning of February 14, the last raid swept over the city. American bombers pounded the rubble that had been Dresden for a steady 38 minutes. But this attack was not nearly as heavy as the first two. However, what distinguished this raid was the cold-blooded ruthlessness with which it was carried out. U.S. Mustangs appeared low over the city, strafing anything that moved, including a column of rescue vehicles rushing to the city to evacuate survivors. One assault was aimed at the bands of the Elbe River, where refugees had huddled during the horrible night.
In the last year of the war, Dresden had become a hospital town. During the previous night's massacre, heroic nurses had dragged thousands of crippled patients to the Elbe. The low-flying mustangs machine-gunned those helpless patients, as well as thousands of other old men, women and children who had escaped the city. When the last plane left the sky, Dresden was a scorched ruin, its blackened streets filled with corpses. The city was spared no horror. A flock of vultures escaped from the zoo, and fattened on the carnage. Rats swarmed over the piles of corpses.
A Swiss citizen described his visit to Dresden two weeks after the raid: "I could see torn-off arms and legs, mutilated torsos and heads which had been wrenched from their bodies and rolled away. In places the corpses were still lying so densely that I had to clear a path through them in order not to tread on arms and legs." The death toll was staggering. The full extent of the Dresden Holocaust can be more readily grasped if one considers that well over 250,000--possibly as many as half a million--persons died within a 14-hour period, whereas estimates of those who died at Hiroshima range from 90,000 to 140,000. Allied apologists for the massacre have often "twinned" Dresden with the English city of Coventry. But the 380 souls killed in Coventry during the entire war cannot begin to compare with over 1,000 times that number who were slaughtered in 14 hours at Dresden. Moreover, Coventry was a munitions center, a legitimate military target. Dresden, on the other hand, produced only china-- and cups and saucers can hardly be considered military hardware!
It is interesting to further compare the respective damage to London and Dresden, especially when we recall all the Hollywood schmaltz about the "London blitz." In one night, 1,600 acres of land were destroyed in the Dresden massacre. London escaped with damage to only 600 acres during the entire war. In one ironic note, Dresden's only conceivable military target--its railroad years--was ignored by Allied bombers. They were too busy concentrating on helpless old men, women and children.
If there ever was a war crime, then certainly the Dresden Holocaust ranks as the most sordid one of all time. Yet there are no movies made today condemning this fiendish slaugher; nor did any Allied airman--or Sir Winston--sit in the dock at Nuremberg. In fact, the Dresden airmen were actually awarded medals for their role in this mass murder. But, of course, they could not have been tried, because they were "only following orders." This is not to say that the mountains of corpses left in Dresden were ignored by the Nuremberg Tribunal. In one final irony, the prosecution presented photographs of the Dresden dead as "evidence" of alleged National Socialist atrocities against Jewish concentration-camp inmates!
Churchill, the monster who ordered the Dresden slaughter, was knighted and the rest of his career is history. The cold-blooded sadism of the massacre, however, is brushed aside by his biographers, who still cannot bring themselves to tell how the desire of one madman to "impress" another one led to the mass murder of up to to a half million men, women and children. To this day, those responsible for this unspeakable act of terrorism and barbarism have never had the decency to apologize to the victims or their families. They have been too busy preparing other acts of terrorism and barbarism. They have no moral credibility in judging others.
NEVER FORGET !
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(i) Misstatement of circumstances: low-level strafing in Dresden.
1. The most authoritative book on the Dresden raids is by Götz Bergander, published in 1977 after almost two decades of research. Amongst his aims was to combat the many myths and legends which had come to surround the attacks. One such myth was the strafing of civilians and refugees by Allied fighters during the attack, an act most people today would condemn as a particularly despicable or even as a criminal act of war. Bergander points out that although other authors have cited witnesses for such an attack, Irving’s is the last account in which any credence is given to the story. He then proceeds to disprove Irving’s assertion that such low-level strafing of civilians took place, either by night or by day. Irving’s documentation betrays his knowledge of the charge levelled at him.
2. In his book Irving described the 20th Fighter Group’s role in the American bombing of 14 February:
For this mission ... the Group was subdivided into two groups, denoted ‘A’ and ‘B’.... ‘A’ Group pilots were briefed that as soon as the bombers’ attack on Dresden was over they were to dive to roof-top level and strafe what were euphemistically referred to as ‘targets of opportunity’.... Most of the pilots appear from eye-witness accounts to have decided that the safest attacking runs could be made along the Elbe river banks. Others attacked transport on the roads leading out of the city, crowded with columns of people. One ‘A’ Group P-51 of the 55th Fighter Squadron flew so low that it crashed into a wagon and exploded. The other fighter-pilots were, however, disappointed by the lack of opportunities for combat, especially the crews of the ‘B’ Group aircraft.
3. Elsewhere in the same edition of his book (the Corgi paperback, published in 1966) Irving states as a matter of proven historical fact that:
it was the Mustang fighters, which suddenly appeared low over the streets, firing on everything that moved, and machine gunning the columns of lorries heading for the city. One section of the Mustangs concentrated on the river banks, where masses of bombed out people had gathered. Another section took on the targets in the Grosser Garten area.
Civilian reaction to these fighter-strafing attacks, which were apparently designed to perfect the task outlined in the air commanders’ directives as ‘causing confusion in the civilian evacuation from the east’, was immediate and universal; they realised that they were absolutely helpless.
American fighters strafed Tiergartenstrasse, the road bordering the Grosser- Garten on the southern side. Here the remnants of the famous Kreuzkirche children’s choir had taken refuge. Casualties on record here include the Choir Inspector, seriously wounded, and one of the choir boys killed. British prisoners who had been released from their burning camps were among those to suffer the discomfort of machine-gunning attacks on the river banks and have confirmed the shattering effect on morale. Wherever columns of tramping people were marching in or out of the city they were pounced on by the fighters, and machine-gunned or raked with machine gun fire.
It is certain that many casualties were caused by this low-level strafing of the city, which later became a permanent feature of the American attacks.
4. Bergander’s criticism of this account was devastating in its detail. Irving dates the strafing to the day of the 14th and attributes them to the Americans, but many witnesses likewise claimed to have been seen strafing during the British attack the night before. Bergander first explained how it was impossible that the British could have undertaken such attacks on the night of the 13th and exactly why many people may have believed that dive-strafing was taking place. He pointed out that there never would have been enough surplus fuel on such an extended flight over Germany to descend slowly, circle and then regain height. He noted that it would have been unthinkable to risk such valuable machines in low level-flying, at night, over unknown territory. Lancasters were long range-range bombers and unsuitable for such attacks; the smaller mosquitoes were used to drop the initial markers, and were likewise unsuitable for such attacks. Dresdeners who had not yet reached the safety of their cellars may well have seen the Mosquitoes at 300 meters drop their red markers. Finally, the practicalities of the situation made low-level strafing impossible. By all accounts the fire-storm threw immense heat and smoke into the air at great heights. To send planes into this cauldron to strafe civilians would have been pure folly.
(ii) Misrepresentation of eyewitness testimony.
1. Irving’s initial witness was taken from one of the first books on Dresden (minus the page number), describing the attack on the Tiergartenstrasse. Bergander approached the same witness who told him that he had been unconscious at the time and that those who related the details to him had been in a severe state of shock. He was hit by shrapnel, not by machine-gun fire. Most tellingly, as quoted by Seydewitz, the witness said that the attack to which he was victim, described by Irving as taking place during the following day, had taken place at night (i.e. the 13th). Irving transposed the story to substantiate his more believable allegation that the strafing of civilians took place during the day.
2. Bergander added that in Und Deutschlands Städte starben nicht an eyewitness was cited by name who described how huge trees were torn out of the ground in the park [Große Garten] and thrown hundreds of metres into the eye of the fire storm. This passage was excised from Der Untergang Dresdens because the ‘witness’ complained that he had said no such thing to Irving and that the story had been put into his mouth. Nevertheless the story remained in 1966 and 1995, albeit minus a source. Here is another example of Irving’s cavalier disregard for the truth.
(iii) False attribution of conclusions to reliable sources.
1. The documentary evidence Irving quoted for the attack is likewise threadbare. Irving quoted the ‘account contained in the 20th Fighter Intelligence Bulletin for 14th February’. Bergander pointed out that this ‘source’ is ‘a partly quite free interpretation’ from ‘Kings Cliffe. The 20th Fighter Group’. Therein appeared the sentence: ‘Shortly after leaving the target ‘A’ Group hit the deck to strafe enemy transportation but found few targets.’ Out of this sentence Irving builds up a narrative which creates the impression that the pilots were somehow spoilt for choice and did not know what to hit first. The implication is also that the pilots were cowardly and that somehow the greed of one of them caused him to hit the truck. Nowhere does the ‘source’ mention a ‘briefing’ to dive over rooftops. Indeed the source mentioned explicitly that ‘Lt. Jack D. Leon (55th) was strafing a truck and either hit the truck or it exploded causing Lt. Leon to crash.’ Another member of the same sortie wrote to Irving that the one thing he distinctly remembered ‘was a friend of mine, Lt. Jack Leon, strafing a truck which exploded. He flew through the debris and evidently struck a piece which downed him.’
2. More slipshod still Irving decided that his source referred to Dresden when in fact Bergander went into painstaking detail to show that the group had in fact attacked Prague! Irving himself had even been provided with a detailed report in 1961 by one of the participants who had gone into some detail to explain exactly how they had hit Prague by mistake. The German Army High Command diaries [Kriegstagebuch des Oberkommando der Wehrmacht - OKW] reported fighter attacks on civilians and dive-bombers on 11, 12, and 13 February. On 14 February, the day that Irving quoted from to support a different point, attacks were reported from the upper and middle Rhine areas, but there is no mention of similar attacks on Dresden, although the OKW would have been amongst the first to receive any such reports.
3. How did Irving then proceed to grapple with his critics? Some of Bergander’s criticisms came to Irving’s attention in 1985, through a book review. Irving firstly tried to defend himself by saying that he had proof that general orders existed to fire on civilians, a point that Bergander never contested. He also claimed that the muzzle of a machine-gun could be seen on films of the British bombers taking part: ‘This surely led to an understandable confusion on the part of the living, fleeing targets: but the word legend is rather rough.’ Considering the prominence and care Irving took in the book to excite in the reader a feeling of revulsion against the attackers, his last refuge reads strangely: ‘The question of dive attacks on fugitives on the banks of the Elbe and in the Große Garten is surely of ancillary importance.’ It is not of ancillary importance in his book. Even if it were, that would in no way excuse his manipulation of the truth.
4. In the 1995 edition, rather than acknowledge, let alone tackle Bergander’s criticisms, he exculpated himself with a disclaimer that: ‘Memories may be fickle and eye-witness testimony is ever suspect’ and then proceeded to relate the events anyway with the addition of one more eye-witness account. Thus the effect upon the reader remained the same one of revulsion, but Irving threw in the sop that in the ‘opinion’ of others the attack took place in Czechoslovakia. Thus his account is presented as fact: the actual truth is presented as ‘opinion’.
5. To bolster his argument Irving quoted the Final Report [Schlußmeldung - see below for fuller details] of 15 March 1945 by the Dresden Higher SS and police leader [Höhe SS- und Polizei Führer]. It states that during all the attacks ‘Strafing by machine gun’ [Bordwaffenbeschuß] had been ‘observed’ [festzustellen]. No mention is made here of the targets of such strafing, however, which could well have been military. Details of the strafing of civilians, including time and place, would have had ample time in the month following the attack to have been taken down and noted in this otherwise meticulous report. When noting the various causes of death of those killed in Dresden during the raid, the ‘Final Report’ contains no mention of machine gun deaths. These points had already been made by Bergander, but again Irving saw no reason to alter his account, despite the fact that they told heavily against his allegation of Allied aeroplanes machine-gunning fleeing civilians.
6. Although Irving had interviewed many of the participants in the events of 13/14 February 1945 in Dresden who claimed to have seen machine-gun fire he was likewise aware of the complete lack of any relevant documentary evidence. By his own count Irving had also interviewed two hundred British airmen and ‘about one hundred’ American bomber and fighter-escort crews for this and other sections of the book. He had ample opportunity to ask them to confirm or deny the story, but the strafing story is supported by not a single one of Irving’s three hundred airmen. He was aware of the fact that other reliable authors such as Bergander had destroyed the credibility of his use, or misuse, of these sources to claim that allied airmen engaged in the low-level strafing of civilians. Yet despite being confronted with the facts, Irving persistently repeated a story that he must know was an invention based on the misstatement of circumstances, the misrepresentation of the evidence and the false attribution of conclusions invented by himself to the testimony of reliable sources. It seems that in this, as in so many other cases, no amount of detailed refutation of his historical narrative can bring him to change it.
Historian Richard Evans submission to the Court in the David Irving trial
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CabinetMinister wrote:Dresden was nearly totally destroyed. As a result of the firestorm it was afterwards impossible to count the number of victims.
Actually the german Aufräumungskommandos have given very detailed data on the number of recovered corpses and very precise estimations for a final death toll. Of course, for certain people the official death toll is far too low, so they invent the myth that it was impossible to count the number of victims. This is the Nährboden for fantastic figures such as:
Recent research suggest that 135,000 were killed
Why 135.000? Why not 120.000? Or 150.000? Or 500.000?
All four figures have one thing in common: they have nothing to do with reality.
but some German sources have argued that it was over 250,000.
There is a handwritten transcript without signature of the Tagesbefehl 47 by the German Ordnungspolizei stating that 250.000 died during the bombing. Unfortunately for certain people, but fortunately for Dresden and its people, this document is a ridiculous forgery, perhaps from somebody in Goebbels' Propagandaministerium. In reality, the report said that 25.000 died in Dresden. For a comprehensive analysis of the TB 47 see Götz Bergander in Dresden im Luftkrieg.
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"Am 8. Dez. 1939, nur 3 Monate nach Kriegsbeginn, ließ er ein Informationspapier über Ziele im Raum Dresden anfertigen. Mit der Operationsnummer D 46 wurde unter der Kategorie 'Schiffsausrüstungen' das Sachsenwerk in Niederschlitz observiert. Das Ziel, so heißt es, sind die Sachsenwerke Licht und Kraft AG, und es handele sich um Hersteller von Apparaten für den U-Bootbau. Ein paar Bilder sind offensichtlich einem Firmenprospekt entnommen. Eingang in die Zielkarte fand ferner eine Landkarte des Gebietes ...
Die primitive Zielkarte beweist ihren Ursprung im Frühstadium des Krieges auch dadurch, daß es hier die Warnung gab, daß Krankenhäuser, die mit einem roten Kreuz in einem Kreis gekennzeichnet seien, gemieden werden müßten. Diese Zielunterlagen wurden nicht benötigt und als die Angriffe stattfanden, waren die Sachsenwerke kein Ziel." (S. 112/13).
Alexander Mc Kee:"Dresden 1945 - Das deutsche Hiroshima", 1982
"England hatte Glück mit seinen offiziellen Historikern der RAF Sir Charles Webster und Noble Frankland. Sie waren es, die zuerst die Schlüsseldokumente fanden und dann abdruckten, die Churchills Unterschrift im Zusammenhang mit der Bombardierung Dresdens enthüllten. In den Vereinigten Staaten jedoch, hat man das Gefühl, bleibt vieles zu sagen übrig! Ein hemmender Faktor auf amerikanischer Seite war wohl auch der diplomatische, daß ein Bündnispartner nur ungern öffentlich verurteilt wurde, denn der Anteil der englischen Gräueltaten überwog weitgehend jenen der amerikanischen." (S. 276). Es sei hier auch erinnert an den Brief von Lord Boothby an den Sunday Express mit dem Verdammungsurteil, die Zerstörung Dresdens sei der heimtückischste Akt der ganzen britischen Geschichte gewesen ! Bereits zu Beginn des Krieges hatte Churchill die Bombardierung Dresdens ins Auge gefaßt, daß sie erst zu Ende des Krieges durchgeführt wurde, hat vielfältige Gründe. Es war das historische Dresden, das brennen sollte: "Fliegt hin und verbrennt die Stadt", war eine der ausgegebenen Parolen, und das hierbei auch noch so viele Menschen umkamen in der mit Flüchtlingen überfüllten Stadt, war eine willkommene Zugabe.
Es gab gleich nach dem Kriege das Gerücht, daß über Dresden die Atombombe abgeworfen werden sollte und daß es nur dadurch, daß die Russen bereits zu nahe waren, nicht dazu gekommen ist. Am 3. September 1939 erfolgte die Berufung von Winston Churchill in das Kriegskabinett, er wurde Marineminister.
Max Seydewitz: "Die unbesiegbare Stadt", Ausgabe 1982.
"Mutschmann und der mit ihm verbundene engere Kreis der Naziführer war schon vor dem 13. Februar von den angloamerikanischen Luftangriffen unterrichtet." (S. 174) Telefongespräch Mutschmann - Goebbels am 14. Februar um 4 Uhr morgens aus Grillenburg, das mitstenographiert wurde und dessen Niederschrift am Ende des Krieges noch vorlag! Hierin beauftragte Goebbels den sächsischen Gauleiter, die Verbindung zu Noble nicht abreißen zu lassen, 'denn der Mann ist nicht mit Geld zu bezahlen.' Das bezog Goebbels auf die Unterstützung, die Noble im Namen seiner Auftraggeber den Naziführern für die Zeit nach der Kapitulation versprochen hatte ... In diesem Telefongespräch beklagt sich Mutschmann auch darüber, daß ihn Noble erst 24 Stunden vor dem Abwurf der ersten Bomben von dem Angriff auf Dresden unterrichtet hatte und nicht wie verabredet schon 3 Tage vorher." (Diese Verabredung einzuhalten war den Amerikanern aber gar nicht möglich, wie aus dem Nachfolgenden zu ersehen ist!)
Konferenz von Jalta 4.-11. Februar 1945. Dieser Konferenz von Jalta ging eine Vorbesprechung zwischen Roosevelt und Churchill auf der Insel Malta voraus. Von Jalta aus erhielt Luftmarschall Harris die Bestätigung des Befehls zur Bombardierung Dresdens (D.I., S. 130).Am 12. Februar erfolgte dann die Meldung der Amerikaner nach Moskau, die dann am 13. Februar wiederholt worden ist, obwohl die beiden Nachtangriffe der Engländer die Stadt bereits in ein Inferno (Hölle) verwandelt hatten. (D.I., S. 180:) " 'Erfolg: Großangriff auf Dresden durch den die Stadt zertrümmert wurde, und wir standen da und sahen zu, wie darf so etwas möglich sein? Man glaubt mehr und mehr an Sabotage, mindestens an eine unverantwortliche Kriegsmüdigkeit der 'Herren' in den leitenden Stäben. Habe ein Gefühl, als ob es mit Riesenschritten dem Ende zuginge. Was dann? Armes Vaterland!' (Dies schrieb ein deutscher Pilot in sein Tagebuch.) Der Luftangriff war vorüber, sie hatten das ganze Schauspiel von einem 8 Kilometer entfernten Flugplatz beobachtet und keinerlei Abwehrmaßnahmen ergreifen können. Der Fliegerhorstkommandant erklärte resigniert, er habe keine Verbindung mit Berlin-Döberitz bekommen, um die Genehmigung für den Alarmstart seiner Staffel einzuholen. Dresden lag im Bereich der deutschen 1. Jagddivision. Der Divisionsstab befand sich in Döberitz bei Berlin." (D.I., S. 153). Außerdem gab es aber auch noch die Verbindung von der Luftkriegsschule Hellerau zur Luftkriegsakademie Berlin-Gatow, zu Göring?)
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Why 135.000? Why not 120.000? Or 150.000? Or 500.000?
All four figures have one thing in common: they have nothing to do with reality.
Gegenfrage : warum 25.000 ? Warum nicht 15.000 ? Auch diese Zahl gab es schon. Was macht Bergander eigentlich glaubwürdiger als die Vielzahl anderer Autoren ?
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London , Wednesday, April 19, 2000
Dresden strafing myth is shot down
FROM ROGER BOYES IN BERLIN
A GERMAN scholar has debunked one of the most bitter legends of the Second World War: that British and American aircraft strafed civilians as they fled along the banks of the River Elbe to escape the firestorm engulfing Dresden in February 1945.
Helmut Schnatz's findings have not made him a popular man. In Dresden - where stories of a British and American attack on fleeing civilians are widely believed and reported - there have been strong polemical attacks on his work and he has had death threats.
Picture: David Irving, Apocalypse 1945: the Destruction of Dresden. Picture added by Website: air raid victims are cremated in Dresden city centre.
The historian does not deny or trivialise the force of the 1,000 strategic bombers that flattened the city on the night of February 13-14, killing at least 35,000 Germans.
Herr Schnatz quotes a Dresden woman as saying: "The planes circled around the tree tops. The pilots looked out of their cockpits and aimed their machine-guns at us." Herr Schnatz says in the book, Tiefflieger über Dresden? (Low flying aircraft over Dresden?) published by Boehlau, Cologne, that hundreds of similar accounts are untrue.
He has charted the flight paths of all aircraft from Britain, studied take-off and return times, cross-checked weather conditions and trawled through first contact reports from German radar stations. In the end, he says, there is no choice but to absolve the British and Americans.
Of the hundreds of RAF aircraft over Dresden that night only Mosquitoes could conduct low-level attacks. "The overwhelming majority of Mosquitoes did not fly against Dresden itself but peeled off far away from the city and returned as soon as their guiding mission was over."
Of those Mosquitoes that accompanied the bombers to and from Dresden, most did not have time to strafe people on the ground. Other planes were too high. None of the Mosquitoes had a strafing mission. Herr Schnatz calculates that only three pilots could have had the opportunity but the firestorm would have made it impossible to distinguish people on the ground.
A similar line of argument is pursued against a daytime Mustang attack on civilians by the Americans. Again limited fuel supply and difficult weather conditions made it highly improbable. The Americans were under explicit orders not to carry out lowlevel attacks even on strategic targets.
Far-right historical researchers, notably David Irvine [sic], have drawn on these sources in an attempt to show that Britain and America also committed war atrocities. The mystery is why so many should have testified to the strafing.
Herr Schnatz believes it is the power of suggestion. As resident cowered in the grass they would have heard gunfire from dogfights or other explosions and given credence to someone shouting "They're shooting at us".
The myth seems to have arisen from an early Nazi account taken over by East German historians anxious to show the heartlessness of the "Anglo American imperialist" forces.
Herr Schnatz won praise from British experts yesterday. Andrew Roberts, the historian, said: "It's the last great taboo of the Second World War. It takes courage for a German historian to tackle it. It's the one area where Jorge Heider (the Austrian leader) feels safe - that Dresden was a war crime. It's a sacred cow. But he shouldn't stop there. He should look at the value of the city as a protection against attack from the east. We look forward to his second volume when he can address this issue." Sir Michael Howard, Emeritus Professor of History at Oxford University, said: "It seems to me instrinsically nonsense. The bombing of Dresden was done by high-level bombers and strafing is done at low level by fighters.
"Fighters would not have had the range to be deployed at that distance."
Comment: There were no dogfights, as all Luftwaffe fighter squadrons were grounded those two days. Remarkable, how "hundreds of" eye-witnesses can get things wrong. The History Channel TV programme researchers found in US archives last year clear evidence of the orders given to the US VIIIth Air Force escort fighters to strafe gound objects of all kinds during the raid: Inferno, The Truth about Dresden. As for Andrew Roberts, he is a peddler of untruths.
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"Remarkable, how "hundreds of" eye-witnesses can get things wrong."
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Historian Richard Evans submission to the Court in the David Irving trial
Helmut Schnatz has recently published a comprehensive analysis of the low strifing myth in the book "Tiefflieger über Dresden? Legenden und Wirklichkeit."
Götz Bergander thinks that some witnesses of "low strifing attacks" have in reality seen fights between several german and allied fighters. I think this is a reasonable explanation and also a fair one towards Dresden bombing victims.
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Actually the german Aufräumungskommandos have given very detailed data on the number of recovered corpses and very precise estimations for a final death toll. Of course, for certain people the official death toll is far too low, so they invent the myth that it was impossible to count the number of victims. This is the Nährboden for fantastic figures such as...
Wenn die Zahlen doch so genau sind, warum werden dann von vielen anderen Autoren völlig andere Werte genannt ? Man muß in der Tat schon eine gewisse Naivität besitzen um dem Wert von 25.000 Opfern Glauben zu schenken. Im Vergleich starben schon beim Aufprall zweier Flugzeuge auf das WTC vermutlich knapp 5000 Menschen. Dresden aber wurde über mehrere Tage mit tausenden Tonnen Bomben belegt, die Stadt war zudem mit Flüchtlingen überfüllt. Noch mehrere Wochen nach dem Angriff waren manche Keller so heiß, das sie nicht betreten werden konnten. Es ist unglaublich, wie dreist heute gelogen wird, um den eigenen Interessen gerecht zu werden.
Fritz Löffler: "Das alte Dresden, 1956"
Am Ende des Memento: "Wer im Herbst des Jahres 1944, in der Jahreszeit, in der Dresden seine Reize zum letzten Male in der ganzen Üppigkeit seines Farben- und Formenreichtums wunderbar offenbarte, die Chancen der Stadt in dem unseligen Kriege sorgsam abwog, konnte nicht ganz ohne Hoffnung für ihr künftiges Schicksal bleiben. Ihre besonderen Schönheiten lagen im wesentlichen abgetrennt von den übrigen Bezirken von der Brühlschen Terrasse bis zum Zwinger, vom Neustädter Markt bis zum Japanischen Palais hingezogen. Kilometerweit war dieser Stadtkern von jeder industrieller Tätigkeit entfernt. Der modernen Kriegstechnik wäre es ein leichtes gewesen, diese architektonischen Kostbarkeiten, die der ganzen Welt gehörten und die länger als ein Vierteljahrtausend im Brennpunkt der künstlerischen Auseinandersetzungen gestanden hatten, von jeder Beschädigung sorgsam auszunehmen. Aber wie der Preußenkönig im Sommer 1760 aus Abneigung gegen seinen persönlichen Gegner Brühl gerade die kostbarsten Kunstwerke zerstörte, so vernichteten in der Nacht vom 13. und 14. Februar 1945 amerikanische und englische Bomber systematisch die Kleinodien der Stadt und ließen kriegswichtige Industrien in den weiteren Vorstädten unberührt bestehen. Nicht einmal das inmitten kilometerweiter Parkanlagen sich ausbreitende und von jeder Besiedlung ferne Barockpalais des Großen Garten blieb von den Nachstellungen aus der Luft verschont. Und wie damals der jugendliche Goethe die Worte des Erinnerns für seine Autobiographie 'Dichtung und Wahrheit' festhielt, so fand jetzt der greise Gerhard Hauptmann, schon selbst vom Tode gezeichnet, Worte der Klage und Trauer für alle, die guten Willens sind." (Nicht das Barockpalais im Großen Garten war das Ziel des massiven Angriffs, es waren die Menschen, die über einen Sender unbestimmbarer Herkunft in den Großen Garten gelotst worden sind.)
(M. S., S. 63:) "Gerüchte verbreiten sich schnell in Zeiten der Not. Niemand wußte genau, woher die Parole kam, daß jeder, der laufen könnte, aus der brennenden Innenstadt, in den Großen Garten gehen sollte. Einige wollten diese Parole in Häusern, in denen der elektrische Strom noch funktionierte, im Londoner Sender gehört haben. Die Flucht in den Großen Garten schien tatsächlich ein Ausweg zu sein, so daß die vermutlich vom Londoner Sender ausgegebene Parole in Windeseile weitergegeben wurde ... Zehntausende Menschen waren so mit Entsetzen noch in den Augen aus der brennenden Innenstadt in den Großen Garten gelangt. " Cheesecake: Galt dieses Rufzeichen einem Empfänger in Dresden, der diesen Aufruf dann weitergegeben hat, in dem Glauben, den Menschen der brennenden Innenstadt damit hilfreich zu sein ? So wie bei diesem Aufruf sind wohl auch noch andere in Dresden in die Falle gegangen, die auch in dem Glauben gehalten worden sind, mit ihrem Zusammenwirken das Schlimmste von der Stadt abwenden zu können, und damit zu Helfern dieses infernalischen Planes wurden.
"Ich stand in einer kilometerlangen, kilometerbreiten Leere. In einer Ziegelsteppe. Im Garnichts. Noch heute streitet man sich, ob unter dem Garnichts 50.000 / 100.000 oder 200.000 Tote liegen. Und niemand will es gewesen sein!"
"Die Zahl der Opfer: Drei Faktoren wurden bei den Berechnungen außer acht gelassen, daß es einen Feuersturm gab, daß er, als er ausbrach, eine Bevölkerung verschlang, die durch die Flüchtlinge etwa auf das Doppelte angeschwollen war, und daß die Zahl der Luftschutzräume allein schon für die Ortsansässigen minimal war."
(Alexander McKee, S. 278)
"Die Schockwirkung über die Vernichtung einer Stadt mit 500.000 Einwohnern und 500.000 Flüchtlingen, wobei die Zahl der tatsächlich Getöteten nie feststellbar sein wird, die mit sicherlicher Wahrscheinlichkeit über einer Viertelmillion liegt, ver anlaßte Churchill am 28.3.1945, obgleich er der Initiator des Angriffs war, sich von diesem Geschehen zu distanzieren."
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