How Dresden Looked After a World War II Firestorm 75 Years Ago

Germany commemorated 75 years since the Allied bombing devastated the city. But the milestone has taken on new meaning with the rise of the far right.

Comments: 240

  1. I was in Dresden for 3 weeks last year this time. It is indeed remarkable how some of the structures have been rebuilt from scratch. It was also remarkable to witness protests by both the right and left as I sat reminiscing about the history. The statue of Martin Luther, renowned as the Protestant awaking, echoed a darker side to the intolerance of the Jewish people even in his day. Because of my race, I have always been somewhat careful in Germany from my first visit shortly after the wall came down. There will also be somewhat of a shared guilt for the past. On the other hand there is no doubt that there were innocents who suffered on both sides.

  2. Dresden's sister city is Düsseldorf, from which much of its architecture was copied.

  3. 25.000 or 200.000? To me it is not the important question. Why was this city bombed? Made it any sense? Was it useful? Did it advance the end of the war? Did it save lives of allied soldiers? Or was it done out of pure desperation?

  4. @Jan Coumans Read "Among the Dead Cities" by A.C. Grayling. It gives a thorough analysis of the morality of the Allied bombing campaigns in Europe and Japan. The way I read the book, the answer is that it wasn't worth it, that similar military results (destruction of the Luftwaffe) could have been achieved without killing so many civilians.

  5. @Andrew Yes, hindsight is 20/20. Where was A.C> Grayling when it was happening?

  6. @Jan Coumans: According to "The Second World War", by J.F.C. Fuller (1948) it was 25,000, and the "excuse" (his word) was to deny the road and rail connections there to the Germans, who could otherwise have used them to reinforce their defences against the advancing Russians. He goes on to claim that "all that was necessary was to keep their exits from the city under continuous bombardment". General Fuller was a respected British military historian, writing shortly after the events and before the age of laser-guided bombs. Most of this book is detailed technical discussion of the military tactics and strategy of the war.

  7. Because we have a daughter who lives in Germany, I have begun to read about the World War II period particularly. I found Jorg Friedrich's book "The Fire" eye-opening. The Brits learned early that bombing with explosives alone was inefficient. The British Bomber Command developed a science of how to destroy cities by fire-bombing. Often the targets were the old city centers, full of wooden structures that acted like kindling. The British estimated that it would take about three hours for a firestorm to develop. Perhaps the worst bombing campaign was directed at Hamburg. Given the combination of British tactics and hot weather in July, 1943, the enormous Hamburg firestorm developed even before the last of the bombers overflew the city. It was an atrocity beyond what happened to Dresden. The British then turned their attention to Berlin, and their objective was the "Hamburgization" of Berlin. Yet, that did not come to pass because of Berlin's sprawling nature. All in all, a sordid story. For anyone interested in the debates in Germany over German World War II guilt, read Susan Neiman's "Learning from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil." Yes, the debates still go on in Germany as to victimization, but at least, there has been a serious attempt at "vergangenheitsbewältigung" -- to work out the past. Neiman contrasts the difficult German engagement of guilt and responsibility with our own failure to adequately deal with racism in America.

  8. My first introduction to the destruction of Dresden was from Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five." The book argued about the horrors of attacking a highly populated city without military targets at the end of the war. His book put the death toll at 130,000. It also shaped anti-war views during the Vietnam war. And it shaped my own. I'm surprised this article makes no mention of it.

  9. @Larry Buchas Yes, it was a very important book to me at the time and definitely shaped my views. It made me realize we are hardly infallible or morally superior to the rest of the world, something the MAGA people have never learned. Actions speak louder than words.

  10. @Larry Buchas My first thoughts as well. Vonnegut seemed to feel the destruction was not needed for the war effort and may well have agreed with the characterization as a war crime.

  11. Military targets are not always the point. Spreading terror is. September 11 is what you should refer to.

  12. I took a choral group on a tour of Germany and the Czech Republic in 2017, and so thankful it included a stop in Dresden. A beautiful city, and the Frauenkirche was stunning.

  13. Dresden is now home to the Bundeswehr Military History Museum, which is the military museum of the German Armed Forces. Unlike in the US, where we tend to glorify war and lionize our side's participants for political purposes, the museum is a moving and clear-eyed statement on the horrors of war, regardless of which side you are on or which side wins or loses. Dresden is a beautiful city worth visiting, and the museum is a beacon for those who believe war is always evil, even if it is sometimes necessary.

  14. The seeds of Dresden’s destruction were planted in the incendiary bombing of Guernica.

  15. Dresden is vivid proof that every side in war is capable of grotesque atrocities. The allies basically bombed a city full of artists and refugees fleeing barbaric treatment by the Soviets, incinerating thousands of innocent people, most of them women and children and old men. As our species evolves, we must work relentlessly to put an end to all wars. Dresden and future Dresdens are the sad alternative.

  16. Dresden was a major communications hub. The red Army was approaching from the East. The Russians had no strategic bomber force. IN order to assist the Russians, it made sense to destroy communications through Dresden. Dresden was a legitimate target. So were all the other German cities. The Germans started it- and not just the war. They also were the first top bomb cities- Warsaw and Rotterdam. Thery fired thousand of cruise missiles at London and Southeast England from August 1944 until March of 1945. They only stopped when the we and the British had knocked or captured out all their sites and airfields in racge. By then they were firing V2 rockets too. Sow the wind. Reap the whirlwind.

  17. @Lefthalfbach Hopefully Americans will realize this is EXACTLY what happened to our GOP, now the Party of Trump, and vote them out of office and hold the equivalent of Nuremberg trials for them (including Toady Barr).

  18. People remember the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but few people remember or even know about the firestorms that occured in Dresden, Hamburg and Tokyo. More people died in those storms than from the atom bombs.

  19. Dresden looked like Warsaw at the same time after uprising in 1944. We should take these pictures as a stern warning against building hatred among people. Even if instigators of hate and cruelty and their followers feel initially powerful and secure, eventually they will pay too.

  20. Sadly, the burning to death of thousands of innocent refugee women and children did not hasten the end of the war by a single day. The fire bombing of Dresden is but another example of ruthless, ,blood thirsty and vengeful men displaying their cruel instincts.

  21. @Mark You are absolutely correct. Unfortunately the vengefulness of the English and French after WWI who ignored Pres. Wilson warning about the brutal conditions of the Versailles Treaty lead to the conditions that breed the rise of Hitler. Hitler never cared about lives of individual Germans and was still demanding in 1945 that they fight to the death. Of course, he took a convenient clean bullet to the head rather than being crushed or burned to death. Bombing Dresden did little to change the behavior of the Nazi regime but it told a lot about the mentality of the Allies by 1945. As for the Germans, only when the Red Army penetrated into the outskirts and streets of Berlin did Goering and Himmler flee (not surrender) and Wehrmacht soldiers started running toward my father's 405th Infantry unit to surrender their weapons near the Elbe to avoid the Russians who would have done worse than the Dresden bombing. Everybody was crazy by February 1945.

  22. @Michele Jacquin Look up the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk some time. The Allies were merciful in comparison to the terms the Germans inflicted upon the Russians in 1918.

  23. I am puzzled by the first photo toward the top of this article. Multiple intact trees appear in the boulevard after the bombing. I wonder how long after the bombing the photo was taken? I would expect that the trees would have been engulfed in the firestorm.

  24. @Tad Cook When I drove through Dresden in 1965, the central city was preserved as it had been after the 1945 firebombing

  25. Dresden was no more (or less) a war crime than the Allied bombing campaign overall. Area bombing was a policy followed by British Bomber Command throughout the war. The objective was general degradation of German industrial capacity, disruption of transport and diversion of resources from the fronts. Overall, historians believe these goals were met. According to Karl Donitz, the head of the German submarine program, the bombing campaign was critical in preventing mass production of the advanced Type XXI U-boat, a diesel sub that could have won the War of the Atlantic and starved Britain. Albert Speer credited the bombing with crippling German industry late in the war. Unfortunately up to 600 thousand Germans were killed. Of interest, the mortality rate for British bomber crews during the war was 45%, by far the highest in the Allied ranks. The bombers certainly paid the price as well. My mother-in-law survived Dresden as a five year old child. She's been in Canada since she was 18. We visited Dresden together about ten years ago. We've argued about the morality of the Dresden bombing. But we agree on one issue. We are both horrified that this event is being utilized by neo-Nazis from Dresden to minimize Nazi atrocities.

  26. I lived in Germany for eight years and it was a thought provoking time with exceptional people who rose up from the rubble. They understand the cruelty of the war, being both the instigators and victims of the same. And since then, these images are not unlike what we can observe on a contemporary basis today, with the attendant tears, regrets, anger and evasion attached. Has all of humanity learned? I think not, while some cohorts have. Japan hasn't fully come to terms with what they had done to China, Korea and elsewhere. Russia has morphed their 'Great Patriotic War' and justifiable love of 'Mother Russia' to another purpose. The west is served up as Neo-Nazi at it's core, keeping their country down - a trope that serves the well placed elites. Russia and Japan isn't alone in this mythology and illusionary, evasive thinking. Humanity has much to learn, we all has much to learn. To include America, be careful of leadership that shouts out from on high about current and past grievances and murderers, rapists.

  27. Andrew Roberts, in "The Storm of War", does cite German civil authorities' lack of preparation for attack as partially responsible. Should have been cited in article.

  28. Poignant and chilling. Dresden bombing was 75 years ago, but facts from even last week now seem so far away and also under assault ...

  29. Melissa Eddy's article is critically important, especially today at a time when powerful nations are led by figures who use mendacity as a deliberate tactic to gain and retain power. The utter catastrophe of war must never be forgotten. As horrific as it was, the carnage of Dresden was but a small part if the total calamity wreaked upon humanity by humans during WW2. Whatever your faith; whatever your nationality; whatever your politics, never forget. Resist those who would cynically have you deny facts.

  30. I used to believe that “never again” was a likely hope for the future. Now I begin to wonder if it is a possibility.

  31. I always think of Kurt Vonnegut when I hear the name of Dresden. He had been captured by Germans and moved to Dresden for whatever details he, and many other prisoners, might be tasked by the Germans. He wrote a book many years later after the war called Slaughterhouse Five, fiction. But, the Slaughterhouse actuallay existed and the prisoners were kept there, three stories below. Vonnegut was one of them, three stories down during the bombing. His character name in the book was Billy Pilgrim. I made my own bumper sticker recently. It says, "Billy Pilgrim for President."

  32. This should be a point of unification, not division. The civilians killed during the bombing of Dresden were innocent victims of a war started by their own government. They were victims of Nazism by extension, as well as victims of overzealous bombing practices by the Allies, who were by no means perfect despite generally being on the right side of history. We should all remember the horrors of war so that we remain committed to peace, a commitment that should transcend politics. -NW

  33. @Dr D: Germans as "innocent victims of a war started by their government". - I think not.

  34. @Artur On one side of my family, my grandmother's brother was convicted of high treason by the Nazis and went to a concentrate camp. On the other side of my family my grandmother fed her Jewish neighbors when everything was taken away from them. She also fed Russian prisoners of war being moved thorough her town under the threat of death by German soldiers. Would you do the same? Think not.

  35. What a horrific scene. Hopefully all the horrors of WW II will not be forgotten as the Silent Generation departs this earth (of which I am a member). I am 83 (seven when the war ended) and American with only one distant relative lost in battle, but a few years ago I was on a tour with a woman who was just a bit older than me, and as we walked around the beautiful restored city of Dresden, she told me she and her family survived this ghastly firebombing. I hope subsequent generations will have a better shared experience.

  36. An anniversary is certainly coming up of the strafing and firebombing of Gernika, the cultural heart of the Basque people, by the Geman and Italian Air Forces on April 26 1937, during the Spanish Civil War. This preoduced Picasso's arguably greatest painting, Guernica, a year later. Turnabout is fair play, is it not?

  37. @Dave in Northridge I visited Guernica in 1994. The famous jai-alai player and resident of the city, Remen gave me a tour of a mountain range describing the tree where Basque leaders of the town met after the bombing. The Basque movement has always been strong and Picasso felt a kinship with them. Thus the inspiration led to the massive black, white and gray painting hung in the queen's museum in Madrid.

  38. "Slaughterhouse Five" (both the great novel by Kurt Vonnegut and the impeccable film adaptation directed by George Roy Hill) is the greatest treatment of the Dresden bombing and all that it represents of human destructiveness. It is a supreme irony that 75 years after destroying that cultural center, the United States is in the grip of a dictator and showing all signs of a march toward totalitarian madness: A populace that cares little about its political life, is complacent in the face of open graft, flouted law and rising militarism, and seems ready to return that dictator to power.

  39. You know what caught my eye? The very first picture. What do you notice that's odd about that image? Think about it for a minute. ... Okay? An unharmed row of trees centers the bombed out city. Look at the image. There's a column of urban trees mysteriously untouched by anything around them smack in the middle of the photograph. I understand fire breaks and everything but that's just plain weird. Both physically and visually.

  40. @Andy You raise an interesting point. The photo had to be taken well after the bombing. It was still winter when the bombing took place; even if the trees survived, they would likely be bare. Most of the debris has been removed (the streets are clean), although the shells of buildings are still standing. Because the trees are in bloom, the picture has to be from spring/summer/early autumn. And just perhaps the trees had recently been planted -- and rather than plant saplings, more mature trees were planted as the first step in renewal. An excellent eye; looking beyond the obvious.

  41. @Andy The photo was not dated, just said "after". Could have been 1946 or later. The 1952 photos look like the city was still a mess.

  42. @Andy Similar capriciousness can be observed when looking at photos of wildfire events in the US. The town of Paradise CA was burned to the ground, but some trees in the town survived almost unscathed. The Dresden trees appear similarly unscathed; their crowns appear to have been undamaged. It makes me wonder if a few people survived by huddling beneath them.

  43. The. Fire bombing of Dresden was unnecessary the war was almost over Dresden had no significant military targets it was psychological terror on a enemy already defeated.

  44. @James mCowan Meanwhitle the Nazi were busy hiding every trace of their handiwork including moving people east for elimination and supplies east. Dresden was a hub. People cry it was a city of art and cultural importance. People forget Hitler gave orders to level Paris and wipe Moscow off the map.

  45. When Pres. Trump talked of bombing cultural locales in Iran a horrified world responded: that would be a war crime. Fortunately for us and the world, he held back. Thus the bombing of Dresden was, per definition, a war crime, plain and simple, and it was carried out to the max. It was replicated many times over by the American and British Air Forces, throughout Germany and Japan during WWII. As Americans, that's part of our history, we need to recognize it and learn how to live with it. Yes, enormous war crimes were carried out in our name. Teach your children, meditate long and hard on it.

  46. @Al from PA And now we are aiding the Saudis in the bombing and starvation of the innocent in Yemen. What is our excuse for this crime we are participating in? Maybe it was a business deal worked out between the prince and our president. Why are we not stopping this? No excuse.

  47. The citizens of Dresden, locked arm-in-arm, hand to hand is one of the most heart warming photo (with humans as the subject) I've seen in years. Hmmm, my faith in humanity, I thought it's been snuffed out.

  48. Even as the Allies were driving towards Berlin and Germany’s sure defeat, the Nazis and their allies continued their vicious violent murderous attacks on tens of thousands of innocent Poles, French, Russians, Jews and many many others. They could have surrendered, and the bombing of their cities would have ended. But instead they kept killing and torturing, poisoning wells and slaughtering peasants and intellectuals. War is horrible...and Germany was the worst. Far fewer Germans died in the war than they rolled over and burned. While I certainly feel for them, I am sickened by their claims of innocence and victim hood.

  49. @BSargent Let's please distinguish - it appears mosty Germans of the far right, hopefully a small fringe but who knows how things will evolve, are claiming innocence and victim hood.

  50. What the Germans did during World War II was horrific beyond measure. They started that war and they prosecuted it mercilessly. Remember Moscow, Leningrad, and Stalingrad. The Germans are lucky that the Russians didn't kill every German they could get their hands on, destroy all evidence that there had ever been a German nation, and spread salt on every inch of German soil. In France, they killed my mother's family in 1940. I don't hate today's Germans, but I won't shed a single tear for anything that happened to their ancestors as a consequence of the evil things that they did. And I say the same about the ancestors of today's Japanese when anyone brings up Hiroshima. Remember Nanjing.

  51. Well said.

  52. @2REP : "Remember Nanjing." I wonder if the average American thinks we should remember Vietnam, Iraq, Guatemala, and El Salvador, and many more. (I wonder if the editors of this paper, who supported everything we did in those countries, think we should remember them.) Probably not.

  53. @Ken Reiff I agree. When Col. Tibbets was asked after the war if he was bothered after dropping the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima he allowed that he never lost a minute of sleep. We had many Canadian Hong Kong POW's hereabouts who have pretty well all passed on and their treatment by the Japanese was to say the least horrific. Just ask the Chinese or Koreans.

  54. I don't have any problem accepting that the bombing of Dresden was a war crime. That the AfD is a wretched party doesn't make that historical fact wrong. It was widely reported that Churchill himself ordered it's destruction in retaliation for what was done to London. It was known not to have any military targets. It was targeted for its beauty and art collections. It was a heritage site.It was destroyed to cause suffering and to humiliate. It doesn't lessen the crime because "only" 25,000 died instead of 200,000. I'm quite certain that among the dead were people guilty of actively supporting the holocaust, as well as people the germans would have rounded up and killed. That's what bombs do - kill the good and the bad and all shades in between. I can not tell you how many times I've seen someone on TV during my live claiming the answer to a problem was bombing. Politicians generals the man on the street all allowed to calmly call for bombings because collective guilt is still believed in. But all of the allied population were not responsible for Dresden anymore than all of the germans were responsible for Auschwitz. Bombs kill the blind, the deaf, the centenarians and the babies. There is no such thing as collective guilt.But there is collective responsibility. In a Democracy your vote makes you responsible (even when you choose not to) of what will unfold because of it. Our Senators have forgotten that. Let the rest of us remember. Wars begin with elections.

  55. The famed writter Kurt Vonnegut shared his first hand of Dresden's bombing as a prisoner of war in his classic book on the absurdity of war "Slaughterhouse five".

  56. Having studied in Germany and traveled there many ,and as a rare American who can speak German, I can tell you the vast, vast majority of Germans take full responsibility for the horror of WW2 perpetrated by the Nazis. Unlike many of us in the US, the Germans do not dodge the atrocities in their past. I wish for our own country that we would look more objectively at the horrors that we too inflicted on hundreds of thousands of civilians, mostly women and children, in Germany and Japan with our bombing. Whether 25,000 or 200,000 that died that night, their deaths in firestorms were horrible and unjustified as there was little of military value in Dresden. The US and UK air forces decimated cities of any size in Germany and the US in Japan. We should acknowledge this horror and vow never to repeat it. It is indeed frightening that the far right is emerging in Germany, just as it is gaining ground in the US and Europe and we must fight against any political movement that tries to leverage such destruction. America needs to do its part to make sure this does not ever happen again.

  57. @David Chandler The Germans take full responsibility? How many billions that were looted in WWII were ever returned? Looted art is continually being discovered even now - and the surviving true owners have to mount battles to have their property returned. They claim to be sorry, but true repentance means that they would willingly return what they stole - and they have not done this.

  58. @David Chandler I've spent a lot of time in Germany (including Dresden) over the past couple years. I speak pretty fluent German--not 100%, but decent. The thing that amazes me is the number of caucasian Germans who pull me aside to tell me that "Trump is doing the right thing." They're not in favor of annihilation, but they certainly are almost all in favor of the "purity of the German race." For what it's worth, they also think that Germany should be a much better partner in NATO.

  59. The images are truly incomprehensible from today's perspective, where armed conflict has been narrowed to the personal level and mass destruction is rarely seen. There may have been combatants in the city; there may have been those who supported the war on the Allies; but there must have been thousands of people just trying to get along, making life a little better for themselves and their children. The bombing did not discriminate. War inevitably leads to catastrophes like this because it is based on the belief that power over life can force those who oppose one's ideas to accept them, or at least obey them for a time. Hitler's desire to subjugate the world to his will was an atrocity. But so it this.

  60. Dresden, Warsaw, Hiroshima, London City, look very much the same in the pictures of that time. We should remember those who perished, especially those innocent. There is never a “good cause”, is it?

  61. Dresden is a graphic reminder of the madness of war. Before casting blame on the Allies, it is important to remember: 1) The horrors of Auschwitz, which was liberated just weeks earlier, were becoming known to the world. 2) Despite the defeat of the Battle of the Bulge and the advance of the Russians to the east, Hitler still refused to surrender. 3) In the face of certain defeat, the Nazis continued to develop V-2 Rockets that could reach London. If successful, this technology could have prolonged the war. Dresden was a horror and may all the innocents killed rest in peace. At the same time, we should be careful to not unfairly judge the actions of the Allies in the midst of the inferno of World War II.

  62. Check out the documentary “Bomber Boys” featuring Colin & Ewan McGregor. It’s an interesting exploration of the ambivalence around British bomber command and the legacy of firebombing.

  63. Anecdote coming up. Sorry. I was a member of a Bible study / prayer group many years ago. One of us was a German national--fine Christian man, spoke flawless English. Another man was a World War II vet--served in the navy in the Pacific. "Oh gosh," the vet moaned. "My sister. She's got some cockamamie idea of going to JAPAN and apologizing for the U.S. built, U.S. dropped atomic bombs." Instantly, I began to feel uncomfortable. My German friend's face was totally impassive. Expressionless. "I quite agree with you," he said (speaking matter-of-factly). "If you drop a bomb that kills 200 thousand people-- "--it does no good at all to come up later and say SORRY." It is unclear to me (who was never in the military) that the so-called "strategic bombing" hastened the end of the war in Europe. The goal was: knock out their factories. But the factories were moved underground. So what the bombing did was: kill thousands and thousands of civilians. But who doubts the atomic bombs DID help finish off the war with Japan. Even some Japanese will concede that. War. Horrible war. "Give us peace in our time, oh Lord we pray." It says in the Book of Common Prayer. Amen.

  64. Fortunate for the U.S. that we won the war, because Dresden would have resulted in our generals being tried for crimes against humanity.

  65. @Bill For sure. When the trials were held in the court room in Auschwitz or Nuremberg or Dachau, I'm sure the US generals would have been found guilty. What's your point?

  66. The firebombing was a war crime. The Brits had perfected the firebombing technique by the time of Dresden. They had figured out the optimum mix of high explosive and incendiaries -- and the best sequence to drop them -- in order to maximize the fire storm. The high explosive opened up the buildings -- punched giant holes -- through which the flames from the follow-up incendiaries could leap and grow and coalesce into a fire storm -- a hurricane of fire so intense it boiled people sheltering in basements. This was demonic. Criminal. But then, as someone once noted, "war crimes" is redundant. Because all war is a crime. I blame Dresden on British military impotence. After Dunkirk, Churchill knew better than ever again to commit British land forces on the continent -- at least not until they could be immersed in a sea of Americans. But there was always, especially from Stalin, the pressure to "do something." Dresden was that something. It enabled Churchill to look Stalin in the eye. I'm Jewish. When I watch old footage of German refugees at the very end of the war -- the old men, the mothers pushing prams, the utter ruination -- I try to sustain sympathy but, inevitably, I fail. I can't sustain it. Images of adoring crowds hailing the Fuhrer crop up -- and worse. But I try. Because it's important to try. And it's important to acknowledge that Dresden was a crime.

  67. @Barry Schreibman I think you are even handed. My wife's grandparents were Jewish refugees from Germany. They and other Holocaust survivors I've known who grew up in Germany never reached judgments about "Germans" but only about individual Germans.

  68. Unbelievable photographs. About the only German city not destroyed in the war was Heidelberg. It was deemed too beautiful, and was turned into the US HQ during the invasion. In Bonne, bombers took care to avoid the cathedral, while the rest of the city was destroyed. The firestorm in Tokyo after the bombing raids, where the entire city was made of wood, killed more people than either atomic bomb. I've known many men who fought the Nazis, and the Japanese. My father and his friends, brothers and cousins. All of them gone now. They felt no remorse. They had suffered as well, and it was because of the enemy, who started the war in the first place; most felt that they had it coming. Against that backdrop, consider this. Both countries were rebuilt after this horrible war, with American aid. Show me another country that would have helped their defeated enemies back on their feet. Both countries have been major trade partners, and allies, since. It's that kind of behaviour that defines American Exceptionalism. Notice that it's not called American Perfectionism. Benchmark it against reality, not your imagination.

  69. Gratuitous. The bombing of Dresden speaks for itself as a tragedy. The pictures are stark. The is no need to pick the bones of the victims to make a political point.

  70. All that massive devastation - and almost in the middle of the photograph - there is a double rows of trees standing. I wonder if those trees are still there?

  71. "a revisionist view of the Nazi state." The last thing needed in this world right now.

  72. Dresden made equipment for the German military, specifically ball bearings. The people were ardent supporters of Hitler. The Germans got a taste of what they did to cities throughout Europe. To make the Germans the victims is obscene.

  73. What about Warsaw, how’d they do ?

  74. @Jonathan E. Grant Schweinfurt is the city you speak of. But who cares about details or facts in this day and age.

  75. The most good the NYTimes can do is to show the reality of violence and war.

  76. There is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. --Kurt Vonnegut, "Slaughterhouse-Five

  77. @Mary Albanese well, seems like plenty here are trying.

  78. @Mary Albanese Not to dismiss Vonnegut, but I'm pretty sure that his family weren't among the Jews that were murdered in eastern Germany from 1940 to 1945. His brother wasn't part of the armies who were moving westward in February 1945 trying to eliminate the Nazis and asking the Americans and British to do whatever they could to prevent the Wehrmacht and SS from moving east. His family wasn't among the Auschwitz slaves who were forced to build war supplies in Dresden in February 1945 and were the ones first pushed out into the firestorm by the Nazis when the bombing started.

  79. The horrors of war, yes indeed, but let's not forget the Holocaust or the London Blitz.

  80. A basic tragedy of the human condition is that evil leadership, in the case of Germany the Nazi government and its supporters, can mislead a society to evil deeds which inevitably provoke terrible consequences. And after the disaster we frequently see the same type of future leader wannabes try to manipulate and achieve control, almost always with revisionist history of the historical disaster, aka 'fake news'. There is only one solution to avoid repeating the cycle, and that is for the decent people act soon enough and firmly enough to prevent a new generation of evil leadership from assuming control.

  81. While horrors of war are despised by all, the Allies had no choice but to be vicious in their attack on the brutal Germans and end the war. It is all very fine for them today to mourn their loss back then; however, we remember the millions who died because of their wish for supremacy not to forget the six million Jews, Gypsies, Disabled people and Gays who ended up in the Ovens. Extreme measures were necessary.

  82. @Philip W Exactly. Hitler insisted on "total war." And he brought total war to Poland, Russia, England, France, and many other points on the globe. Are the bombings of London and Poland, and elsewhere, now forgotten, forgiven? So many comments insist that, with the advantage of decades of hindsight, the Allied bombings were just "too mean." Try to place yourself in the war 75 years ago without the accumulated hindsight. Hitler bombed civilians with no compunction. The Allies responded proportionately. The war had dragged on for five or six years, and the slaughter just continued. The Allies did what was necessary to stop the war and end the worst bloodletting the earth had ever seen.

  83. @Philip W The TOTAL number of victims was approximately 12 million, of whom 6 million were Jews. We must remain vigilant. It could happen here.

  84. @Philip W This has nothing to do with that. First, new of the atrocities at Auschwitz and other death camps had not really reached the West. It would take their liberation for the scale of the horrors to really sink in. The Holocaust does not justify the murder of thousands of innocents. Come on. Surely, you cannot blame the children for the behavior of the fathers. That is just barbaric.

  85. The German people worshiped a madman and avidly supported his conquest of neighboring countries, the enslavement of free people and the torture and murder of innocents They reaped what they sowed and I hope Dresden is remembered as a lesson to those with similar aspirations

  86. Steve, just like not all of you Americans adore Trump, you can’t claim all Germans were nazis. Many did, but many didn’t. Imagine the Dresden bombings took place in our day and age. For example in Iran were “everybody loves the ayatollahs” (which I know for sure isn’t the case). Would you be ok with that? Loss of life at any scale is tragic. Let’s keep that in mind.

  87. @Steve I completely agree! Anyone who seriously reads the history of that tragic time knows that most Germans were completely enthralled by that lout and his henchmen - people who ardently served as enablers of the nazi regime and willingly stood by him until the end. Let us all remember what Germany (and the Germans) did to England (and Poland) to keep things in balance here.

  88. Why can there be leaves on the trees in the first photo?

  89. @Kip Good question. The trees on the riverbank probably could have survived being singed, but not the trees shown in the centre of the road. Only Australian eucalypts can regrow like that after a fire. My guess is that this photo was taken a few years later, say in 1949; you will note a new-looking building to the left of the trees in the boulevarde. The trees are still quite small and probably planted as saplings in mid 1945.

  90. I wondered that myself and finally concluded that this must have been taken in the summer after the rubble had been cleared away. It’s still a very disturbing photo.

  91. @Greg Ooops. I meant Bruce's explanation about the date is correct.

  92. Whoever pits the dead of Auschwitz against the dead of Dresden , seeks to talk down Allied wrongs. They also abuse the memory and suffering of the holocaust for the sake of finger pointing. Dresden was a war crime. It's not black and white since the city was full of Nazi- complicit German citizens and also POWs in forced labour. It was not, however, a legitimate military target and the level of destruction sought and achieved was evil in it's own right. The author seems to think 25,000 dead is not so bad. The whiff of biased whitewashing is strong in this carefully cherry-picked article. I note that, as someone who has witnessed firestorms, the likelihood of "hours clinging to a lamppost as the hot winds of the firestorm raged around them" is very low. The radiant heat would have killed them if the smoke didn't get them first. Finally, American apologists like that photo at the head of the article as it was taken more than a year later when trees had regrown and the whole place tidied up. It doesn't seem so bad now does it?

  93. Hmmmm Warsaw, London?

  94. @Alan Totally. Mass murder is mass murder. End of story. Pitting victims of genocide against other victims of genocide is an insult to the memory of the holocaust. These were civilians not the murderers of the Nazi war machine.

  95. @Odd, You are correct. Mass murder is mass murder. But there was mostly an element of vengeance by the British who had seen London bombed during the blitz. They wanted to exact revenge before the war was over. But that being the case, the Germans knew that their war was over after the American recovery from there Battle of the Bulge. They could have surrendered earlier than they did. But then again, the Soviets would still have exacted their vengeance in Berlin.

  96. Far right stupidity now does not lesson the 1945 war crime Churchill and Roosevelt perpetrated in Dresden and most major German cities in WWII that were intentionally firebombed. Hospitals, schools, houses and churches targeted. Dresden was a city packed with refugees fleeing Stalin’s Army. There is no authoritative figure for the dead. It may have been far in excess of the 25,000 now being disseminated. However many civilians died, the perpetrators should have been put on trial. It’s disgraceful how Churchill has been turned into an oracle of western civilization. He set a precedent for savagery.

  97. @Michael Hoffman No, he did not. Churchill was not perfect but he did order a "final solution" He did not blitzkrieg into Poland. He did not elevate Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich to positions of power. Dresden was a mistake. And a bad one, but at the end of the day, this never would have happened if Hitler had not gone to war. It was not far right stupidity. It was far right racism, anti-semitism and nationalism combined into a violent perfect storm of authoritarian violence.

  98. @Michael Hoffman , Certainly not a precedent- facing a clear evil and survival of his society, he took the steps necessary to turn the tide of the war. I only hope we still have brave men and women willing to do the same the next time we are threatened with such a costly war.

  99. @Michael Hoffman Savagery was well established before Churchill came on the scene. Read about the discussions between the Big Three at the Tehran Conference. Stalin declared his plan to arbitrarily execute 50,000 German officers. Churchill remonstrated that such arbitrary mass executions in retaliation for collective guilt was barbaric and unjust. Roosevelt supported Stalin.

  100. Let’s remember who started the war and the many atrocities committed by the Germans. The innocents of Dresden were victims of the Nazi war machine as well. I assume the next Times article will be about the bombing of London. I didn’t think so.

  101. @James Actually Churchill taunted Hitler to bomb London with an RAF raid on German civilian targets. Prior to that, Germans were targeting only military and industrial targets.

  102. @James Why is that really important. The "they started it" logic does not justify a war crime. There was ZERO strategic important to Dresden. It was a cultural city. It showed the Russians nothing. This incident will always go down as one of our most horrifying war crimes. The fact that the Nazis were so monstrous does not justify the mass incarnation of countless women and children. It was a shameful act and history has and will always remember it as such. The "necessary evil" logic has long been dismissed by history.

  103. @James Actually there has been many stories about the bombing of London and it is used for the justification of incendiary bombs in destroying Dresden. It almost seems like it was getting even because the war was already won and it was the heart of the city that was destroyed and not any military targets. Both sides suffered but we have not learned our lesson and continue to causes the deaths of innocent men, women and children

  104. There was no military need for the mercilessness of the US and British firebombing. The industrial suburbs of Dresden were left alone, while the US/UK area bombing destroyed the historical part of the city. One of the reasons for the bombing was an attempt to frighten the Soviets as the following excerpt from a letter to airmen from Command stated: "... 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."

  105. @nikolai burlakoff You have no idea what you're talking about. The bombing of Dresden was an effort to HELP the Soviets, not frighten them. In February 1945, the war on the Eastern Front was on the doorstep of Dresden. It was a key pathway into Berlin. The Russians literally begged the US and the British to bomb Dresden in order to make their battle into eastern Germany marginally easier. Dresden was a legitimate hub for both the Wehrmacht and the SS in February 1945. Maybe we shouldn't have done the third raid, but the prior two are entirely justifiable. (and the third raid really didn't contribute significantly to German casualties or to US/British strategy)

  106. Interesting to me that so many of the commenters seek to justify our history in Dresden. Seems the author is tell a story based on fact - no more, no less. When people offer justifications in the absence of being challenged, well we all know what that means. It's like trump being asked about the weather and replying: "No Collusion." Either way, the war was a tragedy for everyone involved - both victor and vanquished.

  107. @Buelteman Yeah, right, but it's not justification. It's just pointing out that when you sow the wind, expect to reap the whirlwind.

  108. Even the British recognize that it was a horrible mistake..

  109. World War II was, perhaps, the first real total war, in that it was a war that involved the entirety of the people of the various combatant nations. It’s impossible and unfair to look back from this point in time and objectively judge the morality of actions at that time. It’s enough for us to decry the wasteful loss of life and limb on all sides, and to pray that someday we’ll learn the real lesson that, regardless of the competing causes, war is always vicious and brutal to everyone who gets caught up in it, civilians and soldiers alike, and almost never the solution.

  110. @Cinclow20 As total wars go, the Mongol invasions of the 13th century must rank very near the top. If the invaded chose to resist, they were simply wiped out. China was the first victim, and lost half her population.

  111. After WW1 the German military leaders said that war was lost because the politicians had betrayed the military and not, as was actually the case, because the Germans were militarily beaten by the French, British and Americans. This was the stab-in-the-back myth used by Hitler and his supporters to justify creating an aggressive, militaristic, nationalistic and expansionist Germany in the 1930's. The allied leaders of the 1940's were going to make sure that the Germans would be left with no doubts about the outcome of the war so that the lesson would not need to be repeated a third time.

  112. Quote: "...Today, when we remember the history of the bombings in our country, we remember both the suffering of people in German cities and the suffering that Germans inflicted on others...We, as Germans, do not forget our guilt and we remain true to our responsibility,...Always..." {President F.W. Steinmeier, in a Thursday speech at the official ceremony} If only the (alleged) leader of my country, who was recently, impeached...had 1/1200th. the wisdom of President Steinmeier,

  113. Sad sights, to be sure, but if ever there was a case of sow the wind, reap the whirlwind it was probably Nazi Germany. War, yes: war crime, probably not.

  114. 75,000 Jews lived in Dresden before 1939, after 1942 none remained. Think of them when you hasten to feel sadness for Dresden and its inhabitants. Dresden was one of the most loyal cities to Adolph Hitler and National Socialism during the Nazi era. Let its destruction stand as a warning to those who support the same philosophies, those of racism, antisemitism and hatred, today.

  115. @Shane Look closely over the presernt landscape. Once you do, can you say with certainty that your fellow citizens are immune from those philosophies?

  116. @Shane It's not quite true that there were no Jews left in Dresden after 1942. I recommend Victor Klemperer's diaries published as "I Will Bear Witness." He was a Jew and along with the few remaining Jews managed to escape Dresden in the chaotic aftermath of the bombing and avoid certain death. Why was he not shipped off to a death camp sooner? Because he was WW I veteran and was married to a Catholic he was considered a lower priority for extermination...

  117. Amen, brother. See my comment below.

  118. Warsaw after the Nazis razed it was even worse. The horrors of war.

  119. Behold the insanity of war....

  120. WWII historian Max Hastings, no self-hating, guilt-ridden lefty, makes clear that there was no meaningful military target in Dresden. Britain's Bomber Command intended to bomb Dresden to ashes in order to punish the Germans and attempt to persuade the people to rise up against Hitler. This happened in other German cities as well. In the context of war against a truly evil system, it doesn't ipso facto make the bombing of Dresden "wrong," but we ought not pretend that it was anything but conscious "terror bombing."

  121. @Livonian Frederick Taylor makes it clear using a large number of primary sources that the Germans were using Dresden as the primary railway to the eastern front. They were using huge numbers of Auschwitz prisoners as slave labor for factories making military hardware. They city had been especially antisemitic for at least 5 years. Those who are continually inclined to indict the West versus the worst regime in modern history are free to do so.

  122. The Nazi's themselves did a formal inquiry and count of those killed at Dresden, and reached a figure of 20,000. Goebbels saw the propaganda value in the attack, and added an extra zero to the number. With Russians advancing on the Eastern front, this helped to galvanize the German populace against the allies. Churchill himself was disheartened by the firestorm bombing campaign, even while acknowledging its likely necessity. The Bomber Group was the only one Churchill did not honor as contributing to the war effort, at the conclusion of the conflict.

  123. @Peter Adair I believe it was called Bomber Command, not Group.

  124. @John Harper Yes, you are correct, it was Bomber Command.

  125. I was born 18 years after the end of World War II. Too late to have any personal experience with the conflict. One of my family members has done some genealogical research on our family. He determined that entire branches of our extended family were killed by the Nazis. Third-, fourth-cousins. All dead. I don't know if any of my late distant relatives lived in Dresden. But if they did, they certainly didn't live long enough to experience the fire bombing in 1945. Many of the German citizens who supported the rise of Nazism saw fit to that.

  126. One good thing came out of the destruction of Dresden - it allowed Victor Klemperer and his wife to escape Dresden the day before he was to be shipped off to a death camp. If you have never heard of him, Klemperer was a (non-practicing) Jew by birth, a professor of philology and the author of one of the most important first hand accounts of what it was like to survive as a Jew during the entirety of Hitler's regime. (He was from a prominent family that included the famed conductor Otto Klemperer and was a cousin of Werner Klemperer who played Colonel Klink in Hogan's Heroes!) His diary is called "I Will Bear Witness." Without the bombing and his subsequent escape, it is likely his diaries would never have come to light.

  127. @Menckenistic Victor Klemperer's diaries from 1933 until the aftermath of the Dresden bombing('I Will Bear Witness' vols 1&2) represent an extraordinary account of events that no-one would ever want to imagine let alone live through. That they were written on the ground in Dresden at the time on a daily or weekly basis knowing that his demise could come at any moment makes them riveting, vital and moving. Certainly not 'light' reading by any means but one of the truly exceptional and important texts of the twentieth century. Professor Klemperer, an incredible survivor if ever there was along with his wonderfully supportive 'Aryan' wife Eva without whom he most likely would have suffered the same grisly fate of so many of their friends and others they knew.

  128. That stage of the war was about unbridled retribution. We had had enough atrocities and we had the opportunity to unleash our own upon German civilians.

  129. A whole Dresden story with no mention of Kurt Vonnegut. Disappointing.

  130. @Andrew I learned of the bombing of Dresden in his book 'Slaughterhouse Five' some 35 yrs. ago. His description of the scene has haunted me ever since.

  131. @Andrew My thoughts, exactly, Andrew....And so it goes.

  132. Indeed, as many below have commented Kurt Vonnegut came first to mind about Dresden - so surprising that he was not quoted in the story. I have been to Germany a few times and have German friends. As an interpid traveler, meet many German tourists who all appear to be fine and jovial - except at World Cup football. So, indeed it is perplexing how these folks became a killing machine - especially given European culture etc. But I think Europe that we know today never existed before WW II. After all, the "war to end all wars" was just completed but a couple of decades earlier with Germany the loser. Europeans have always been fighting each other and waging wars on each other - either in name of a religion or monarchies. And the undertone of resentment against others is always there and still there. So, for Nazis to exploit this sentiment - not surprised at all. Unfortunately, their target, the Jews - paid a heavy price along with many others.

  133. On my recent visit to Germany, the tour guides came close to complaining about the Allied bombings of Germany. I had my answer ready for anyone who overtly complained: Germany could have avoided all of this damage by surrendering.

  134. @Barbara8101 Actually, they couldn't. Roosevelt and Churchill had declared that only unconditional surrender and occupation would suffice (Casablanca Conference in 1943). Hitler or no Hitler the Germans were stuck with a war they had started up to the bitter end. That was US policy.

  135. @Barbara8101 It is important to note that "Germany" and "the German people" are not some monolithic metaphor. The Germans are comprised of children. Of old people. Scared people. Angry people. Young women. Few young men. And, also, horribly misguided murderers. Did you speak up when the US killed a million Iraqis in the name of regime change? Did your voice make a difference? Mind you, you live in a country of free speech. To a German in 1945, surrender wasn't exactly an option you could vote for.

  136. By today's standards, the bombing of cities -- be it London, Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, wherever -- is subhuman and monstrous. How can a military purposefully destroy so many innocents? Thank you for showing a modern picture of Dresden. To anyone who has been there you will know it is beautiful and gleaming now -- a testament to the resolve and endurance of Germans. Right wingers make it embarrassing for a modern Germany that is peace-loving and seeks enlightenment.

  137. @David Yet it continues: Sarajevo, Mostar, Grozny, Aleppo, Sana, Idlib, to name but a few. Man has not evolved to transcend barbarity, only to develop new technologies for destruction.

  138. Dresden was a cultural target - it had zero military importance. Additionally, Dresden was housing refugees escaping the war in the east. I was not only unnecessary to bomb the city - the Brits didn't want to do it, the US insisted - but Dresden wasn't just bombed, allied forces gratuitously Napalmed Dresden.

  139. @MN Student Checking history - British Air Minister Arthur Harris ordered the Dresden mission to go forward and solicited US support. Low-altitude incendiary bombing to cause firestorms was perfected and used by the Brits. A commemorative statue to Harris, to be erected in England in the 1960's, was abandoned when the Federal Republic of Germany strenuously objected. US assets concentrated on outlying military targets.

  140. @MN Student I could be wrong but my understanding is that the British instigated the attack in response to the German bombings and rocket attacks on London. I don't remember my source, alas, from decades ago.

  141. @MN Student Good post, though I am not so sure about the Brits not wanting to bomb Dresden. My father was 8th Army Air Force and bombed Germany during WW II--he wasn't on the Dresden mission. He told me when I was a kid that Dresden's firebombing was a war crime. The war was almost over, and the city wasn't militarily significant. My father believed that the attack was payback for the bombing of London and ordered by Churchill. Not sure there is much out there about the decision making leading up to the firebombing of the city.

  142. It is possible that the firebombing of Dresden was undertaken with the foreknowledge that Dresden would be under Soviet control after the end of WWII. If so, that would make it a war crime.

  143. @humanist That hadn't been determined at that point. The possibility of divided occupation was not foreseen.

  144. @humanist What? There was not mystery. The Soviets asked the British and the Americans to destroy Dresden because it was the major hub in eastern Germany to transfer wehrmacht and SS soldiers to the eastern front. It also had several sub-concentration camps as well as a significant SS presence. For what it's worth, the number of people killed in Dresden were about 2 days worth of those killed in Auschwitz or Majdanek. The last days of Auschwitz were only 10 days prior to the bombing of Dresden.

  145. @Bill Uicker Post war Europe was divided up a year before at Yalta.

  146. As we are reminded of Dresden remember the United States Armed Forces lost 407,316 killed and 671,278 wounded during World War2. About 20 million soldiers and sailors were killed and 40 million civilians killed.

  147. @HPS The US lost 55,000 from the 8th Air Force alone,flying out of the UK. Every time a B17 went down, eleven men died. RAF losses were additional.. I don't have that figure.

  148. @HPS Very important point. Although I think your figure for the civilian deaths is low. The German's got off easy given their crimes.

  149. My father was a B-17 pilot in Europe during WWII. He was one of the ones who bombed Dresden. What many people don't know is that the 8th Air Force pilots and crews like my Dad's REFUSED to bomb civilian targets in Germany & German held areas UNTIL Hitler's V-1 & V-2 rockets started landing quite indiscriminately on London (his usual base was fairly close to London). Dad told me that when he and his compatriots saw the civilian damage in London, they finally allowed as how that's the way it was going to be - and so Dresden & other German cities were bombed, heavily.

  150. @Mike Czechowski The first intentional area bombing of civilians was done by the Allies, on Churchill's orders the day after he was elected, in Monchengladbach on May 11. 1940. Germany began civilian area bombing months later. I don't doubt your father's story, but the idea that terrorism against civilians morally justifies retaliatory terrorism against civilians has always been questionable.

  151. @Mike Czechowski I am glad they did. God bless the airmen of the 8th air force for their unbelievable courage. I only regret they did not start the intense bombing 4 years earlier.

  152. @Mike Czechowski The V-1 rockets were first launched in June 1944. The City of Hamburg was firebombed by the 8th Air Force in 1943. Your father's story was a bit of fiction. The generals made the decisions, not the flyers.

  153. William Sherman invented this style of warfare during the American Civil War. He hated war but figured that the worse we made it for our enemies, the sooner they'd give up. James Reston Jr's book, Sherman's March and Vietnam, is a fascinating study of a modern approach to war and its philosophical father. States Sherman: "Those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out."

  154. @Eric Yes, it’s called Total War. But it ignores the difference between “those who brought war” and innocent civilians.

  155. @Eric Gen Sherman also stated" War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over."

  156. @Eric This normalizing war crimes—for the victor. Total war is ancient and was not invented by Sherman. With the support of Lincoln, he made it an acceptable routine part of modern warfare. Not the Germans in Ukraine, not the Soviets in East Prussia, not the Japanese at Nanking, but Billy Sherman right here in America, against Americans. I think there is a monument to him somewhere in Manhattan.

  157. It is important to note that the destruction of the amazingly beautiful and historic center of the city of Dresden remains a loss to the artistic patrimony of the entire world, not just Germany.

  158. Ultra militarist Germany birthed the idea of total war and not differentiating combatant from civilian in WW1 when they massacred Belgian civilians after invading their country and burnt down the library of louvain. As much as it’s hard to hear, Germans needed to be relieved of the burden of believing they were militarily, culturally , and linguistically superior to their neighbors and were entitled to European hegemony. Mission accomplished.

  159. Today, on a podcast, I heard for the first time the bombing of Dresden was not necessary to win the war; Germany had clearly lost the war by then. The purpose of the bombing may have been to impress Stalin with the great powers of the Allies such that Stalin would think twice about betraying his treaties with the West. Add this question to whether dropping two nuclear bombs on an already defeated Japan was necessary and I am not so sure WWII was our finest moment.

  160. Citizen, we need to come to some agreement (or ultimate disagreement) about what the word "defeated" means. I should say that in the context of WWII, which itself was in the context of 1914-39, "defeated" not only meant "unable to mount defensive operations to preclude occupation," but "unable to rearm thereafter without the permission of the putative victors." It would have been regarded as insanity then (and properly so, IMO) to have regarded it as "the moment when the putative vanquished became unable to mount offensive operations." I don't agree that either Germany or Japan were defeated when you think they were. I'm pretty sure you believe that Germany was "defeated" in 1918. This was no comfort at all to Europe in the mid 1930's. If it had been defeated as Germany was in 1945, there might have been peace on the Continent for 75 years thereafter (at least), 1918-1993, and millions might need have died at mid-century. Instead, Germany was left quite capable of mounting defensive operations even after Versailles, and certainly was not precluded from rearming by the heavy hand of an occupation force. We all know how well that worked out. Defeat is a much more comprehensive state.

  161. @Christopher Bieda Geez, I don't think you would be happy with any war that didn't end up killing hundreds of thousands of civilians so that their nation will never rise up again. What a ghastly leader you would be. I'm not a historian but I have earned a PhD and MD so I am accustomed to entertaining hypotheses without going to war over them (to coin a phrase). So I'll put these ideas out for others to chew on. There is a hypothesis that the severe, punitive measures imposed on Germany after their defeat in WWI led to the discontent and instability that fed into their next war efforts. The treatment of defeated nations by the Allies after WWII, in contrast, were generous and humane. America in victory after WWII, reconstructed Europe with the Marshall plan and we won admiration and allies in Europe that have lasted at least until Trump. And America was extremely wise in its treatment of defeated Japan, leading that nation into the path of democracy. Notably, there was no vengeance exacted on the Japanese emperor who was allowed to stay on the throne. Would that we could be so great and generous in victory again.

  162. @citizen vox : There are important elements of history that both the NYT article and others failed to mention. Dresden is on the Eastern side of Germany, a very far target from London for a bombing run. Also, the city was known as the "Florence of Germany" for its brilliant architecture. To Germans, destroying Dresden would be like destroying the Empire State building to New Yorkers. Or the Statue of Liberty. Churchill personally authorized this bombing and insisted it with the allies. His reasoning: It would subdue the will of Germany's desire to fight. It would show that the allies had air superiority to now reach any target in Germany, unimpeded. And lastly, it showed that if provoked, the Allies can prove to be more lethal than Germany did in bombing London. It's purpose was to make it undeniably clear to the Germans after two World Wars that they are never to start war again. Never. It was a punishment, plain and simple. Today, the city today is mostly rebuilt. Alot of it is poured concrete, as opposed to stone.

  163. The father of a dear old friend was a crew member on the mission that fire bombed Dresden. He was from a family of jewelers, and had a great appreciation for the decorative arts. He told his family that he was told, and he believed, that the city had been evacuated. During the mission he mourned the loss of beauty. When he learned the truth it broke him, and he later took his own life, leaving behind a young widow and a little son. Andy, I hope you don't mind that I shared your family story.

  164. Well, I was in Dresden in 2007. I took a guided tour where I was subjected to the spin “this was a war crime” by a city museum tour guide. Everybody started making clucking noises. I wasn’t having it, as I’ve studied the Third Reich for 40 years, and have a M.A. in military history. So I asked: “How many Jews were in Dresden before the Nazis?” Answer: about 75,000. How many were left in 1945? Answer: silence from the guide. Next: I saw the public baths donated by a Jewish doctor before the Nazis came to power. What happened to him and his family? Answer from the tour guide; silence. My understanding is they perished in the camps. Next: After the July 20 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler, what was the first city to cable Hitler and rededicate its loyalty? Answer from tour guide: silence. Answer: The city of Dresden. Next, wasn’t Dresden a military target? Because the Wehrmacht was certainly routing a lot of military rail traffic through there as it fled before the onslaught of the Red Army. Answer: silence. Answer: it was. Finally, when I lived in Australia a friend’s grandfather was a bombardier over Dresden. He was from Coventry, England and survived the terror bombing there by the Luftwaffe. His comment in Dresden? “I sleep just fine at night.” I was asked to leave the tour. No sympathy here. I’m sorry for the refugees caught in the raids, but they would have never been there if there weren’t people who looked the other way during the rise of National Socialism.

  165. @Lightning14 Great comment.

  166. Well said and I applaud your comments during the tour.

  167. @Lightning14 Thank you for your informed and insightful contribution to this debate. My father was aircrew in RAF bomber command during the war. He survived but he, like many others who went through similar experiences, never really got over it and died at the age of 54. RAF bomber crew deaths amounted to over 55,000 and a similar number of U.S. airmen were killed. After the war they received scant recognition for their service. I find the attempt to re-write the history of this period distasteful in the extreme.

  168. So at the time of the worst atrocities and genocide in the Balkans, I was in on the Swiss-German border city of Basel. I had been asked to go to Croatia by a group trying to save Jewish refugees caught in the middle. I tried discussing the ongoing horrors with my German-speaking colleagues, and they were, to a person, supremely not interested in what was going on down the road (the distance is like Boston to DC or New Orleans to Dallas). The consensus of the Swiss and Germans was that the victims were "barbarians of no culture", and it was absolutely no concern whatsoever of theirs what happened to them: they were only worried that some of them might infiltrate the border and despoil the Rhineland. The bombing of Dresden was horrible, but if I had to pick a people to inflict it on, I couldn't do better than the Germans.

  169. @steven , You and I live in very large countries, and can appreciate the long distances that you mention. We take them in our stride (or more likely planes!). Europeans just don't seem to have the same mindset. Back in 1938 Britain's PM Neville Chamberlain called Czechoslovakia a distant country and peole about which we know nothing. The distance from London to Prague is that same as Sydney to Lismore. Not only are you still in the same country, you are still in the same state (NSW)!

  170. @steven "The bombing of Dresden was horrible, but if I had to pick a people to inflict it on, I couldn't do better than the Germans." So german (and swiss) people are worse than others? Is that what you say?

  171. @steven Or the Japanese.

  172. From the pictures 75 years ago, too much of the town was still standing after the bombings!

  173. An amazing museum was built in Dresden after reunification that serves as a poignant memorial to not just what happened in Dresden to the impacts of war in many conflicts. The Museum of Military History took an 18th Century classical military armory which then was repurposed to display German military implements from the 1300th century to the present. Overlaid on this display was a new building that displays the impacts of war on humanity including what happened in Dresden. This wing has a point where one can look out on Dresden. I would commend this museum to all and am disappointed that it wasn’t mentioned in this article as it’s certainly salient.

  174. Dresden was unnecessary but hardly the only case. My father was on occupation duty in Germany during Korea, Serving in transportation, he traveled on trains throughout Germany. He took photo after photo of ruined cities - all over Germany. The West rebuilt. A good part of the East remained in ruins until reunification. An analysis of WWII bombings came to the conclusion that bombs rarely hit their strategic targets. The British night time bombings were accepted as ineffective in hitting any specific targets and became 'justified' as a war against the civilian work force. The American daytime campaign was marginally more accurate in hitting strategic targets - at great cost. The bombing of Japan became a pure terror campaign. Why this destruction? Because technology had advanced far enough to let us do so. Mass bombings of civilians began with the Spanish Civil War and Japan's invasion of China. I can't help but wonder where humanity might be if the massive waste and destruction of the last century's wars had not occurred. How much has been destroyed over the last 20 years, how many dead and wounded have our never ending wars cost?

  175. @cynicalskeptic Another and effective reason for the bombing was to tie down hundreds of thousands of men (including one future pope) in defending such cities and repairing them, rather than allowing them simply to move to the fronts to prolong the war and kill allied soldiers.

  176. The suffering of the innocent of Dresden is practically unimaginable -- but was provoked by the victims' government, unlike the murders of millions of others during the same period.

  177. My parents survived the Dresden bombardment as children: My father (7 yrs old in a basement in D-Neustadt with his mom covered by a blanket), my mother (4 yrs old) in my great-grandmother‘s house in what is today‘s Dresden suburbs. They were/still are traumatized. Intergenerational trauma is real and the Dresden citizens who were only freed in 1989 could not speak openly about their experiences. Details of the bombardment were taboo. Putin was head of the KGB in Dresden until 1989. My mom and I walked by WWII ruins on my way to pre-school in 1974. There were still severe housing shortages. My child could still see the LSR (air raid protection room) sign on a building in 2018. I still don‘t own the truth about Dresden. The numbers of casualties vary wildly, with Vonnegut‘s estimate being in the middle of the range. Whom shall I believe? I don’t want to pass on the trauma of two successive totalitarian regimes and post-1989 de-industrialization to my child. Dresden’s tragedy started in 1933. The people of Dresden are deeply sorry about what happened to its Jewish and it’s disabled population. Impossible to heal, to not feel guilty. The majority of Dresden‘s and Saxony‘s citizens want democracy, peace and prosperity. The erosion of the middle class leads to division, polarization and the rise of far-right and far left. War violence has ripple effects far into future generations. We learn from this that the US middle class needs to be significantly strengthened very quickly!

  178. Horrible, just horrible photographs. And nothing can really "justify" such devastation. But as context for the Dresden photos, and to help understand (not explain away) the motivation for such bombing, perhaps these photos should be paired with others of London during the Blitz (which went on for 2 months) and London after V1 and V2 attacks, indiscriminately fired into population centers (after the ultimate outcome of the war was apparent), as well as photos of Stalingrad, Warsaw, and similar devastations? Had the outcome of the war been reversed, most of Europe would have looked like Dresden and Stalingrad, as might other countries too. And horrible reprisals and retributions would have taken place after the end of overt war in pitched battles. Instead, under the visionary Marshall Plan, $billions were spent to rebuild Europe and help provide an economic recovery. This approach contrasted strongly with the retribution and reparations approach that followed World War I (which helped hasten German and European economic collapses in the 20s and early 30s, in most historians' views, I believe). The Marshall Plan, and some other similar measures, was an attempt to help rebuild and recover, not exact more revenge. Perhaps THAT should be the lesson we take away from the aftermath of the devastation of Dresden, London, Warsaw, etc.? It IS possible to try and rebuild and move ahead, not seek revenge and a repetition of disastrous past actions and policies?

  179. That human chain photograph in this article, is so striking. I drove through Dresden in '75...still a horrendous wreck. So inspiring to see it Arise again to such a Beautiful Splendor...ringed by righteous Germans.

  180. I first became curious about what happened at Dresden because of a Pink Floyd lyric, "The Hero's Return" off of The Final Cut. Ever since that time when I first heard the song in the 80's, I read about Dresden whenever it comes up. It's what made me read this article. Dresden was the first time I encountered stories about possible war crimes and atrocities by the Allies in Europe, and if the war had gone differently I wonder how history would look at it. Here's that lyric - "Jesus, Jesus, what's it all about? Trying to clout these little ingrates into shape. When I was their age all the lights went out. There was no time to whine or mope about. And even now part of me flies over Dresden at angels one five. Though they'll never fathom it behind my Sarcasm desperate memories lie."

  181. World War II was the greatest and most barbaric upheaval in human history. The more you read, the more you learn, the more you try to grasp its enormity, the more bewildering it becomes — rather than becoming more understood as most subjects would with a lifetime of rigorous study. The most apt description I can come up with is that it was time of mass insanity. As the war reached its amoral, barbarous peak everyone seemed to lose their minds.

  182. For those wringing their hands over the bombing of Dresden, spend some time looking into the earlier V1 and V2 rocket programmes aimed primarily at London. Oh, but that might be inconvenient because it leads directly to SS member Wernher von Braun, spirited away at the end of the war for his rocket science, to ultimately contribute to the Apollo programme. Events such as Dresden are bite-sized, discrete chunks of history, more easily remembered than their pre-cursors.

  183. Perhaps 75,000 dead Germans, in a war in which 60 million died. A war started by - you guessed it - the Germans. Live and die by the sword. I am glad the majority claim to have learned their lesson, as their aggression was an unprecedented global human catastrophe. But I do not feel guilt for the efforts needed to defeat their aggression.

  184. @rob so much hubris. War is evil. It does not distinguish good or evil. Roosevelt hesitated for the longest time to have the US become involved until it was ultimately unavoidable. Innocent people get killed in wars, destruction is caused. Nowadays it seems all too easy to conduct a bombing attack or drone launch. We should not forget that human lives are always at stake, and hate generates more hate. The mantra should be “never again”, yet there are revisionist politicians and demagogues (and their followers) on the rise in many countries throughout the world.

  185. Why Dresden was bombed is immaterial and may be disputed for another 75 years. What is important about this article is that Dresden is now symbolic. A truly enlightened city whose residents are reflective, engaged, and demonstrating actively a positive this world could learn from.

  186. There are no winners in war but as I remember the facts, Germany was first to start bombing London in what was known as The Blitz. The raids over Germany were in response to that.

  187. Nothing contradictory about monumental war crime perpetrators being an occasional war crime victims themselves. After all, the "Greatest Generation" shot plenty of prisoners. Denying small truths always discredits larger truths.

  188. Many comments leave the impression that the war in Europe was pretty much wrapped by 1945 and that Dresden was a terrible example of “overkill “ on the part of the Allies. Yet the German military fought to the bitter end, sustaining 1.5 million deaths in the four months of the war. I doubt if any allied soldier in 1945, having to fight such a fanatical, irrational, and vicious foe would have supported an end to the bombing campaign.

  189. @David McKinley Good point. I had very strong opinions against fire bombings and the atomic bomb until I read more about history. Bombing is very spectacular, but other types of battles also lead to civilian deaths, be it only through disease and starvation. I think it is easy to judge from the comfort of our living rooms, and more difficult when you are in a plane fully knowing that your life expectancy is far from enviable. There’s a catch.

  190. @David McKinley the question is whether that fighting over the last 3 months (not 4 - Germany surrendered unconditionally on May 8th of 1945) in Germany changed significantly or at all, because of this bombing. It is also worth noting that “German soldiers” of those days constituted more and more of poorly trained and equipped old men and young boys. This does not justify any behavior on either side of the conflict, it just shows that wars are terrible and should be avoided at all cost. War does not distinguish between good and evil. It is evil in and of itself.

  191. @Tobias Strohe , the casualty statistic was for essentially 4 months, January - May 8. Did Dresden change the outcome of the war? Not in any major sense, but thousands of events could not meet that standard (many of which resulted in “unnecessary“ Allied casualties). Now with the benefit of hindsight and reflecting on 50+ million deaths, it’s easy to debate the necessity of specific events.

  192. Bombing Dresden was pure vengeance - it was of insignificant military value especially since the bombs didn't his the factories in the area anyway. Letting this issue fester is only going to agitate the extremists, and the government's push for defiance is only going to make it worse. They should engage with real dialog with the far right, acknowledge atrocities on both sides during war, but make it clear that a War Crimes case against the Allies will result in increased calls for reparations for Poland, Greece etc... Better to leave the past behind because it could come back and bite Germany.

  193. And neither the Germans nor Japanese have not started another war since. Before that, they were responsible for many wars and millions of lives.

  194. @USVictor It is impressive how long WW II propaganda works. How long do we live with these nationalistic distortions that my nation is always right and, in particular, morally superior. The US was not responsible for many wars and many innocents killed ? What's about the Indian wars ? And Cuba, the Philippines, Haiti, etc.: who started ? Before starting to fingerpoint the evil others we must be sure that the finger does not point to us, too. Only if we admit and repent our own nation's evil actions we are trustworthy for others when we try to build a more peaceful world. Dresden and the history of the Second World War and the following wars is a good starting point for atoning for all of us: for Germans, Americans, Russians, ....

  195. So yeah the Germans accept responsibility, to their credit. Maybe I need to study this history a little more, but it would have been great if the article had explained what the Allied justification was in annihilating these civilian targets.

  196. So many innocent people killed,maimed,and mutilated during world war two. When did it begin and when did it end? The Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1932 or 1937? Italy invading Ethiopia in 1935 Germany reoccupying the demilitarized Rhineland in 1936;then invading Poland with Russia in 1939. The horrors necessary and not of this period of history should be lessons on the insanity of modern warfare Can we from our armchairs look back decide which bomb,bullet,or artillery shell was the one that ended the fighting and which ones were not necessary. Speculation about this done from the perspective of ginning up support for the perpetrators as victims by the resurgent far right is a crime

  197. My dad flew in B52's out of Italy . A volunteer, Army Air Corps, dropped out of colleg to serve, top turret gunner. The mission was to eliminate an existential and actual threat to the human race. How have the children of the greatest generation forgotten? Facism, nationalism, nativism in every country.

  198. Your dad certainly did not fly B52s out of Italy, a plane that only entered service in the 1950s. Probably B17s or B24s. The issue is not the morality of the Allied war effort, but whether much of the bombing campaign was morally and strategically justified. Quite apart from the horrendous and unnecessary civilian deaths, military experts even then were convinced that the firebombing of German (and even more so of Japanese cities) was a waste of aircrews and material for little strategic gain. Robert McNamara, who worked on the US strategic bombing staff during WW2, pretty much admitted this in the documentary "The Fog of War."

  199. (You probably mean B-17s or B-25s or B-29s?)

  200. Amongst military historians the bombing of Dresden, a raid designed and ordered by 'bomber Harris', is since long considered as an unnecassary action. The bombing of Dresden is even considered by a large proportion of the historians as a warcrime. The city had no military importance (no production of weapons) and was full of refugees fleeing the advancing Russian forces. It was an important trainhub but at this stage of the war the German military had no more troops or material to send to the east. Furthermore, the trainhub only received a very small portion of the bomb load. However, the city itself was the main target. It is also widely accepted that the concept of 'carpet-bombing', concept develop by 'bomber Harris' as an attempt to destroy the support of civilians for the government, does not influence the support for a government. This was already proven by the London 'blitz'. The bombing of Dresden remains a stain on the allied victory over nazi Germany. And make no mistake, that victory is to be celebrated! But we must never forget that 'mistakes' are also made by the victors.

  201. @Marc Panaye Very True. War does not discriminate. It does not distinguish good or evil. It brings death and suffering for all involved.

  202. I visited Dresden in 1996 when the work on the cathedral still hadn’t been completed. I also took a guided tour and was shocked at the aggrieved tone that was taken by the tour guide over the “unnecessary bombing”... My late husband, on hearing the guide’s complaints, spoke up and loudly said just one word: “Coventry.” No more whining from the tour guide that day.

  203. Excellent point! Two wrongs make a right!

  204. @John Galt No they don’t. But every day that shortened the war meant a few more Jewish lives saved, and a few less white crosses in European cemeteries (I lived among the white crosses, they are a sight to behold). Let’s not forget the Germans could have surrendered, but chose to fight to the end.

  205. Interestingly, on this day in 1945, 40 American B-17s accidentally dropped 152 tons of bombs on the city of Prague. More than 700 civilians were killed. The planes were supposed to have hit Dresden more than 100 miles to the north. Aircrews attributed the mishap to a navigation error. This from Military History Now (@MilHistNow) on Twitter

  206. So much hatred and finger pointing, and counting guilt against guilt without introspection of those who write the comments. Wondering what these people think about atrocities done by the US around the world, and if they would welcome revenge on their own ground. Just sad...

  207. No mention of the indiscriminate bombing of London that had taken place for years by the Germans. War is not a good thing.

  208. “We, as Germans, do not forget our guilt and we remain true to our responsibility,” he said. “Always.”” Fine words! How about clothing these noble sentiments in some reality and making a truly good faith effort to return the looted art and antiques and money that still remains “missing”? Germany killed tens of millions but how many were actually prosecuted?

  209. If we all thought there was an excessive list of civilian casualties during WW2, wait until the next war.

  210. This horrific event that killed so many people saved the life of Victor Klemperer and his wife. I encourage people to read his diaries.

  211. Two points: 1. Never forget when authoritarian leaders have absolute power to conduct wars. 2. Lessons learned from the Vietnam war have been forgotten. Our Country is currently dancing on the edge of knife, one side, a better, more honest and responsible protector of the Planet or the alternative, a fearful, ignorant tribalism fostering racism and ecological extinction.

  212. @Stephan To the contrary, Trump seems reluctant and cautious in the war setting. Why? Probably in part because Trump did inculcate some lessons from Vietnam. After all, he resisted serving in the Vietnam War along with a lot of others who were skeptical of American muscle-flexing in far-off lands. Selectively targeting terrorists is a different matter.

  213. @Dave Oedel In my opinion, the only reason Trump wants to avoid war is that he may have some investments that could get damaged. I seen no other reason for his backing off of outright war. he is on the precipice of starting a war with Iran that has no direct or indirect reason to directly attack the US. He just wants Iran to understand that he is KING and not mess with him.

  214. @Dave Oedel Trump did not "resist." He evaded serving during Vietnam by claiming bone spurs. There is a difference.

  215. The photographs included in this article are heart-breaking for they summon up the beauty that was Dresden before it was destroyed by wanton Allied bombing mere weeks before the end of the war. Not only were 25,000 people incinerated for no good reason, but humankind was robbed of one of its cultural treasures in this city on the banks of the Elbe. Various reasons have been given to justify the actions of the RAF and the USAAF, that Dresden was a transportation hub to supply the eastern front, that Stalin had to be taught a lesson about Anglo-American airpower, that the bombing of a previously undamaged city would hasten the end of the war, that the Germans started the bombing of cities and deserved it. But the real reason was the ambitions of men like "Bomber" Harris, the head of RAF Bomber Command, who was seeking work for his huge bombers in an already destroyed Germany. Dresden had minimal war industries, was not a military target but a magnet for civilian refugees from the east and contained numbers of Allied prisoners of war, including Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote about the horrors in Slaughterhouse-Five. The destruction of Dresden shows that there were bad guys on the Allied side too, so much so that even Churchill was ashamed and a monument to RAF Bomber Command was delayed and is still controversial. That is a lesson we have learned over and over in Vietnam, Iraq and so it goes.

  216. @John McDermott It was war time, and you seem to forget that the Germans indiscriminately bombed London right from the outset. Also note that Hitler wanted Paris set ablaze as the Germans withdrew, but, fortunately, that did not happen. This is not an excuse for what was done but rather an explanation of the mindset of the times. The better view is to acknowledge the horrors of war and seek to avoid it at all cost, if possible.

  217. @jpduffy3 True there was a mindset but Churchill was critical of Bomber Command and Harris; Dresden was a step too far even for him. By the way, Germany did not bomb London "right from the outset" of the war. The battle of Britain began with a Luftwaffe campaign against shipping in the channel and RAF air bases, the aim being to gain air superiority. It was only after the Germans bombed London by mistake, and the RAF retaliated against Berlin, that the Blitz of London began, one of Hitler's strategic blunders since it gave the RAF a breather.

  218. The Dresden bombing was Churchill's revenge for the bombing of London. That is a fact that is not in dispute.

  219. @Emile deVere No, Churchill did not like Bomber Harris’s approach to war. Bomber Harris was widely criticized by the British, and his own men for his alleged indifference to his troops’ deaths.

  220. @Emile deVere The Brits destroyed Hamburg in 1943 in a far more deadly firestorm and burned 32.000 people to a crisp in one day. Hamburg is and was always very anglophile - and closer to London.

  221. @Sabine Yes, but 1943 was a very different state of war than 1945. All war is atrocious, but bombings of cities unfortunately were tactical decisions to demoralize population. Both from Germany waged on British Cities, as the other way around. In 1943 the war was far from decided. In February of 1945 it most definitely was. It was over by May 8th in Europe.

  222. It is saddening me that so many comments deal with questions of "who deserved what" and "who is guilty". I, as a german, learned another lesson from our dark history. And that is: War is a very very bad and inhumane thing. For all people involved, no matter what side they are on. And it is our collective responsibilty as humans to avoid wars. "Bomb them" seems a good solution for a lot of people. I hope that they never have to find out first hand how it feels when your city actually gets bombed.

  223. We must ask why the Americans participated in this bombing. The British had a thirst for revenge for German bombing of their cities, but we had no such grievance. I wonder whether devious Brits sought to implicate the Americans in this atrocity in order to alienate the Germans from America and bind the Americans to the British in the postwar era. The Americans foolishly agreed to participate to oblige the Brits without realizing their intent.

  224. @Kenneth J. Dillon I suppose that once you get involved in supporting a war effort, you become part of it and must do everything in your power to bring it to a close as promptly as possible. In my opinion, that was certainly part of being complicit in saving Europe!

  225. Condign punishment. RIP Sir Arthur Harris.

  226. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Dresden was the third worst act of "terrorism", the deliberate attacking of civilian populations and civilian infrastructure.

  227. The people to blame for the deaths at Dresden are those who voted for a right-wing, nationalist party in the 1932 German elections. If not for those conservative citizens/voters, the Dresden firebombing deaths wouldn't have happened.

  228. @koobface It's not that simple. One must look at the conditions that were established at the end of WWI, and the famine conditions in Germany that the British had put into place.

  229. @Cheesecake the paris peace accord was implemented by the Americans, the british and the French." Paris 1919 six months that changed the world" should be required reading in every school.

  230. Germany invaded at least 11 countries during the war and occupied more than 4 others. Millions were executed and millions more were killed in battles. It's unfortunate that innocents were killed in Dresden but innocents were killed everywhere the Wehrmacht invaded.

  231. The phrase “A World War II Firestorm” in the headline makes it seem like an act of nature rather than a crime against humanity.

  232. What about fire bombing of London by Germans at start of war?

  233. @Bob Bunsen Indeed. Bomber Command actually looked for the best way to achieve firestorms in the last days of the war.

  234. I hope Tokyo gets a similar tribute in the NYT when the 75th anniversary of the bombing there in March, 1945 rolls around. As many as 100,000 dead and most of the eastern half of the city completely leveled.

  235. In the Dresden bombing, the allies showed that their claim to moral superiority was at best tenuous. They knew they were killing thousands of innocent children and women (few fighting men were left in Dresden, instead the city was filled with efugees) yet did it anyway.

  236. @Bryan Tenuous? Research the Holocaust. Research what happened in the countries the Germans occupied. Dresden happened because the Nazis refused to surrender after starting the war. Also, Americans try war criminals, and Churchill did have moral qualms. So, yes, they were morally superior.

  237. Good for the Times to remember this.. And good for Americans to remember what we did. Of course Germany had done hateful things. But we killed the innocents too. History is tragic.

  238. I get that Germany committed war crimes but I find it disrespectful to mention those on a day that marks the anniversary of a firebombing where several civilians died and many more lost their homes.

  239. My grandfather and two brothers left Europe for the US leaving their nine siblings behind. They lived in a small Jewish village in Eastern Europe. The village was so small the Nazis didn't notice it on their way east nor during the occupation. On the way back west, being chased by the Soviets, it came to their attention. The Nazis risked their own lives to go out of their way and murder every last person. My wife's grandfather was a Soviet general whose troops liberated camps. Words are powerful but Dresden is a fine reminder that behavior like the Nazis displayed has consequences. I don't feel one gram of sympathy.

  240. Totally agree with you .