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Deconstructing Dresden

DW readers had some strong opinions about whether the bombing of Dresden was a necessary military move or an unforgiveable act of senseless violence.

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The anniversary of Dresden's destruction: emotionally charged


The following comments reflect the views of our readers. If you would like to have your say, click on the feedback button below. Not all reader comments will be published. DW-WORLD reserves the right to edit for length and appropriateness of content.

Germans were clapping and laughing at the bombing of Poland, Russia and Britain. While the Germans had the upper hand they were happy. I have no sympathy for the people of Dresden and any time I think about the kids under the bombs I think of my kids as slaves of the Reich. I don't care if the war was nearly over. I don't care if there were no military targets. Dresden was our way of saying "if you think we are going to play nicely when you start a war, think again." -- Darren Smith

The people who were responsible for the bombing of Dresden should have been executed for war crimes. I find it horrid that whenever the subject is brought up, the reply is always that the Nazis were to blame. This trivializes the reality of the situation and attempts to justify evil. There is no justification for the crime against humanity committed on the city of Dresden. It was nothing short of sadistic murder of defenceless civilians. It must never be forgotten. Schröder shames Germany by not standing up for those who died there and calling the act exactly what it was. He is the one trying to rewrite history. He is not worthy of leading Germany. -- John Young

I have seen the evidence of allied destruction in several of your cities in your beautiful country. I don't see why Germany should be blamed for WWII. The British still seem to be anti-German, after 60 years. It's time to forget the war. Move forward! -- Paul Hoare

Why should innocent people not be victims? To excuse the burning alive of Germans just because they are Germans is to subscribe to some perverse "collective guilt" thesis. The "Hitler made me do it" is a cheap fig-leaf. To murder children and civilians is a crime, period. If we start making excuses in one case, our whole Western reputation (already much doubted by non-Western nations) will really go down the sewage drain. The FDR administration promoted collective guilt during the war as a tool for its wartime objectives. That Germans adopt that collective guilt 60 years after the fact as their credo is simply "sick." -- Thomas Reimer

The truth about Dresden is that it was a deliberate attempt to kill as many Germans as possible by roasting, and to destroy an exquisite city dear to the hearts of Germans at the same time. Any number up to 400,000 were killed. Trying to gloss over it, especially by Germans, will make it worse in the future. There is already the perception that the media and the politicos in the western part of Germany are a sort of German type of carpetbaggers. This perception could only be enhanced by your attempts at being even-handed about what was manifestly a criminal act. -- Mario Formosa

What was the real reason Dresden was firebombed? Surely it was a non-military target, which questions the reason of it being firebombed at all by the allies. Perhaps in a broader sense it was done to show the German people the might of the Anglo-American allies and what they could do to Germany. Beyond that fact, there is no earthly reason why it should have been firebombed at all. To honor those innocent victims who were roasted by war criminals of the Anglo-American Air Forces, there should be a day that they hold their heads down in shame for their brutality. -- Kenneth T. Tellis, Mississauga , Ontario , Canada

I studied in Dresden in February 1989. I attended the commemorations of the 13th and 14th of February; spoke to people who lived through the bombings and have read English and German versions of the bombings. I was also told that Allied prisoners of war as well as forced laborers from Central and Eastern Europe were in Dresden during the bombings. Given the nature of the attack, I believe many more people died than is officially recognized. -- S. Rizzi, Australia

The bombing of Dresden appears to me a redundant and retrograde action not only because of the catastrophic loss of life and the heartbreaking experience of those who survived, but because it fostered a powerful resentment against those immediately responsible and their successors -- on both sides. In a sense, Germany brought upon itself all of the disasters it experienced in World War II by way of retaliation. The tragedy is that such acts constitute the essence of warfare: neither aggressor nor victim are immune -- and in the long run, all are victims. -- Michael Sharkey, Armidale, NSW Australia

One can be horrified by the rise of the far-right, who attack immigrants as well as Jews, and still condemn the bombing, which accomplished no military gain. 35,000-135,000 civilians reduced to ash!? Although of course I knew about the Dresden bombing. I hadn't known this many people were killed. For what? Vengeance? -- Ellen , USA

The intellectual examination of the bombing of Dresden can yield contradictory views. On one hand, the bombing was indeed a military strike against a nation considered to be hostile. Like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the bombing also served two postwar purposes: scare the Soviets into stopping their forward momentum and preventing a major land grab with an extreme show of force, and make the point that if you start hostilities which involve the US and its allies, you will regret it. On the other hand, to say that the bombing was a war crime is to place it into the arena of legal definition and not military strategy. Commemorating the horror that were concentration camps can be done at the same time as grieving the losses at Dresden. These are not mutually exclusive ideas. Germany lost a great deal as a result of its country's military and its sadness and regret shouldn't be limited to Jews in concentration camps. There is nothing wrong with saying collectively that we (Germans) are sad for the events of Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, etc. while simultaneously asking that the atrocities committed by the allies at least be recognized, if even for historical accuracy. -- MJ Claus

Thank you for posting this information. I have lived with the mystery and questions surrounding World War II and Dresden my entire life and am grateful that there exists a more open attitude toward these events now. This open attitude helps me to find my place in the course of events since World War II and the relations between the United States and Germany; in a larger sense, being a "baby boomer" born after the war's end, a relative of one of the bomber pilots and a descendant of an engineer connected with the moon landing, it helps me find a place in the cosmos inhabited by humans. -- Gretchen Trupiano

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  • Date 15.02.2005
  • Author Compiled by DW staff (jp)
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/6Fmi
  • Date 15.02.2005
  • Author Compiled by DW staff (jp)
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/6Fmi