[lit-ideas] Re: When a civilized society fights a barbarous one

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 15:54:39 -0700

The logic of your note seems to be one of chiding - chiding me for
suggesting that someone who underwent the bombing of London would approve
the bombing of Dresden: You go on to tell me that your garden was bombed and
therefore (I assume if your note is intended to be logical) you are in a
much better position to say what someone who experienced the London bombing
would say, and you say Dresden should not have been bombed.  Was that your


It would seem, by the way, that the incendiaries were the work of the
British rather than the Americans if I read A.C. Grayling (Among the Dead
Cities, the History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in
German and Japan) right: "Eight hundred RAF bombers attacked on the night of
13-14 February 1944; and the next day and the day after, the Americans
followed with 300 and 200 aircraft respectively.  The Americans aimed at the
railway marshalling yards, but the RAF night attack of the 13-14 used a
stadium in the city centre as its aiming-point.  The majority of bombs
dropped in Bomber Command's night attack were incendiaries, 650,000 of them.
The firestorm that resulted wiped out the Baroque city, and killed somewhere
in the region of 25,000 people."


Grayling on page 72 writes "The destruction of Dresden was an epochal
moment.  Suddenly and markedly, attitudes to the whole strategy of area
bombing changed among those who had supported or at least tolerated it
throughout its employment.  An outcry went up in Germany of course, but the
first effect was the shock felt in the United States when the words of an
RAF intelligence officer were quoted by an American war correspondent
covering Allied HQ.  The RAF officer told a press briefing that the Allied
Air Chiefs were employing a strategy of 'deliberate terror-bombing of German
population centres as a ruthless expedient of hastening Hitler's doom'.  The
words reached front pages in the United States, but were censored in


"But the risk that public concern over the destruction of Dresden would
escalate into a major problem for the Allied governments was defused by
something even more horrifying: the news of what was found when Belsen,
Buchenwald and other camps were liberated by Allied troops.  Newsreel
footage from the concentration camps hugely revived anger and hostility
towards Germany.  For many in this mood, the area bombing in general and the
destruction of Dresden in particular seemed no more than just punishment."





From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Judith Evans
Sent: Monday, June 26, 2006 12:59 PM
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: When a civilized society fights a barbarous one


>Now while you say that "Dresden . . . can't ever be justified" 

>in your book and that "it was monstrous of Churchill to have 

>ordered it," you didn't live through the London bombing - the Battle of


Nor did you, Lawrence.  Nor did you have a family that lived through the

bombing of Bristol, hiding from the bombs while the house next door

fairly savage bombings carried out, it's thought, in error or because of a

lack of fuel; Cardiff was the real target, my garden now, perhaps a

the next road, certainly, was bombed.


Between 7 September 1940

and 16 May 1941, British cities were bombarded pretty relentlessly.

43,000 people died and over one million houses were destroyed.


In London, one night, 430 Londoners were killed and another 1600



By ordinary bombs.  


And Dresden?  Dresden was firestorm-bombed.  


"This was achieved by dropping
<http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWincendiary.htm> 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."



"On the 13th February 1945, 773
<http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWavro.htm> Avro Lancasters 

bombed Dresden. During the next two days the 

 <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWusaaf.htm> USAAF sent over 527
heavy bombers to follow up

 the  <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWraf.htm> RAF attack. Dresden
was nearly totally 

destroyed. As a result of the
<http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWfirestorm.htm> firestorm it was 

afterwards impossible to count the number of 

victims. Recent research suggest that 35,000 

were killed but some German sources have 

argued that it was over 100,000."




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