Dresden: Don’t apologise – understand

The debate surrounding the sixtieth anniversary of the firestorming of Dresden shows how sober analysis of history is being distorted by angst about the world today.

James Woudhuysen

Topics Books

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On the night of 13 February 1945, 700 Royal Air Force bombers, directed by Air Marshall Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, dropped 2,690 tonnes of incendiaries and high explosives on the capital of Saxony. In a few short hours, at least 35,000 civilians lost their lives.

Dresden’s inferno was visible over 100 miles, and the city’s flames were not put out for a week. Apart from the Allied raids on Hamburg in 1943, in which an estimated 22,500 women, 17,100 men and 5,400 children died, Dresden was a firestorm unparalleled in the whole European theatre of the Second World War.

Not long after, a gigantic amount of mythmaking began to spring up around the raid. On 28 March 1945, prime minister Winston Churchill noted in a now-famous memorandum: ‘Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing.’

In fact, Sir Charles Portal, chief of the Air Staff, swiftly challenged the Churchill memo. As a result, Churchill went on to substitute, for it, what a recent and sympathetic RAF biographer of Harris describes as ‘a much more guarded and acceptable note’ (1). Churchill’s volte face was quite consistent with his wartime policy of bombing German civilians. Along with the whole British War Cabinet, he had backed the destruction of Dresden, just as he had that of many other German cities.

Once the Luftwaffe bombed Coventry in November 1940, Whitehall ordered a reprisal in the shape of an ‘area’ bombing of Mannheim. That meant that the town’s most densely built-up areas were wreathed in fire. Indeed from December 1940 on, Mannheim and then Ludwigshaven were bombed more than 100 times. By the time of Dresden, then, total war – war that did not distinguish between military and civilian targets, or combatants and non-combatants – had been British policy and practice for more than four years.

The enormity of Dresden means that it deserves sober assessment. Yet the recent discussion and calls for an apology provide the opposite. The further Dresden retreats into history, the more it is viewed as a timeless allegory of human evil, for which current and future generations must feel guilt, and atone. The actions of one man, ‘Bomber’ Harris, are singled out as barbarities that epitomise the depths to which man can sink in the pursuit of war. Such a treatment sheds no light on the Second World War as an historical event, but is all too revealing about the crisis of self-doubt among the Allied elites today.

The purpose of this essay is to examine what Dresden really meant in the context of the Second World War, and what makes the contemporary understanding of Dresden problematic.

From a ‘serious query’ to deepening regret

Winston Churchill had covered his back about Dresden by putting down, for the record, a ‘serious query’ about it. Yet what was, in 1945, a query for the British elite has, over 60 years, turned into deepening official British regret.

When veterans from Bomber Command financed a statue of Arthur Harris in 1991, churchmen such as Donald Soper, Bruce Kent and Paul Oestreicher spoke out about the ethics of Britain’s bombing of civilians. The Times (London) and The Independent were also critical. When the Queen Mother unveiled the statue on 31 May 1992, she spoke of her pride and gratitude to Harris, but called upon her audience to ‘remember those from every background and nation who suffered as victims of the Second World War’ (2).

On the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing, in 1995, the Duke of Kent went to Dresden to give its citizens money, raised from private contributors and Her Majesty’s Treasury, to set a new orb and cross aloft the city’s baroque Frauenkirche, which had been destroyed in the raid. The cross was placed on top of the church dome in June last year, in a highly symbolic gesture of reconciliation.

In November 2004, the Queen herself went to Dresden. She did not make the apology then demanded of her by Bild and other German tabloid newspapers. But she did insist on ‘remembering the appalling suffering of war on both sides’ (3). And while The Times concurred with her posture, it too was sad about the whole affair – and anxious ‘not to bash Germans’: ‘Knocking Germany [once] seemed to be warranted by nostalgia for Albion’s finest hour, envy at the sight of the German economic miracle and frustration at rarely being able to triumph over the German football team… It is past time to abandon the nostalgia, and not too soon to show some magnanimity. It is right to challenge German policies, but not to bash Germans.’ (4)

The defensiveness that now surrounds Dresden on the part of the Allies highlights the fact that the Second World War is no longer, as it once was, the benchmark for self-belief among the world’s English-speaking elites. In 1971, Harvard professor of government Michael Walzer, a highly regarded philosopher of war, could still be fairly confident about what had needed to be done in the face of what he called the ‘immeasurable evil’ of the Nazis. ‘I dare to say’, he wrote of his bashful but broadly positive attitude to the bombing of Germany, ‘that there will be no future or no foreseeable future for civilisation and its rules unless I accept the burdens of criminality’ (5). But today such burdens weigh much heavier with the old Allies than they did a third of a century ago.

For decades after 1945, English-speaking elites invoked the Second World War whenever they needed another war to fight. In the Cold War, the struggle against the Soviet Union was portrayed as akin to the struggle of democracy against the Axis, in that it was a fight between freedom and totalitarianism. With British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in the Falklands War, and in the original Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, advocates of war accused their critics of an appeasement of dictators like that of Neville Chamberlain, prime minister of Britain from 1937 to 1940.

Even today, British and American elites looking to justify foreign interventions continually raise the spectre of the Nazis. In February 2004, US President George W Bush justified his unpopular decision to invade Iraq by comparing current British prime minister Tony Blair with Churchill in his determination to ‘do the right thing, and not the easy thing’ (6). Yet in this case, few, in Britain at least, were convinced by Bush’s comparison. The current discomfort with overt displays of military power by America and Britain in Iraq is too great to be tempered by glib comparisons with the Allied fight against the Nazis, harking back to the last ‘just war’ in the historical imagination.

Moreover, the growing worry about military adventures today finds echoes in the understanding of the Second World War in history. While the Nazis are always used as a sure symbol of Evil, there is less of a sure sense that ‘our side’ was quite so Good as it was assumed to be. The contrast between the Allies’ willingness to bomb Dresden and its failure to bomb the railway lines to Auschwitz caused no small amount of breast-beating around the recent anniversary of the death camp’s liberation. Of course, the Allies’ motives were never quite as pure as they have been painted. But it says a lot about the profound sense of self-doubt in American and British society today that even the Second World War has now become subject to the same kind of moral relativism that informs discussion of more recent conflicts.

Doubts about the motives of the Allies are not confined to the left. In 1994, the right-wing historian Andrew Roberts discovered that Churchill had been a racist (7). And as readers of the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph have been reminded regularly over the years, Britain had the Duke of Windsor and other aristocratic appeasers of Nazism (8). In this we have elements of what looks like just another dubious conspiracy.

Reinforced by a little Marxism, the German military theorist Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), author of On War (1832), might have suggested that, from the Allies’ side, the Second World War was the extension of politics by other means – the politics of the dominant wings of the mid-century British and American ruling classes.

But Clausewitz is not in vogue nowadays. Rather than a cool assessment of the social, political and economic circumstances that gave rise to the Second World War, it has come to be understood, over the years, through a rather less enlightening framework. The Second World War, and the strategic bombings that were a part of it, are portrayed as just one more instance of a terrible, eternal and immutable trait of mankind: its willingness to turn selected opponents into victims.

If conspiracy theories are vulgar, this framework adds a timeless sentimentality to the analysis of war. Here’s how the Daily Mirror reacted to the pictures of destruction that accompanied the most recent invasion of Iraq: ‘As we have seen in the images thrown up by the most televisual war ever, it’s the same old dirty, nasty game…. Baghdad and Basra today are simply modern equivalents of Dresden and Coventry.’ (9)

The elites, too, find it hard not to have such doubts. Just before the Queen visited Dresden, Sir Peter Torry, Britain’s ambassador to Germany, went to Braunschweig, 300km northwest of Dresden. There he expressed not just his country’s regret, but also its remorse for bombing that town, speaking of the ‘bleak and terrifying moment’ when it was hit (10).

Other influential members of the English-speaking world have been more critical still. In January 1992, the Canadian Broadcasting Company showed Death by Moonlight: Bomber Command, a two-hour protest at the one in three survival rate for the 50,000 Canadians who took to the air in the Allies’ cause (11). Channel 4 then broadcast the film in Britain, to much studio controversy.

On 5 June 2004, on the eve of the sixtieth anniversary of D-Day, Channel 4’s studio discussion World War Two: Our Finest Hour? saw Birkbeck University’s Joanna Bourke, a New Zealand feminist and historian of war, castigate Britain for failing to face up to its misdeeds. Bomber Command, she suggested, had not done what it did to prevent the Holocaust. Then, on 15 January 2005, Channel 4 devoted a two-hour film to attacking Bomber Harris, from his nefarious interwar bombing of the Middle East to his wartime destruction of Germany. It also highlighted how, in 1932, prime minister Stanley Baldwin had argued that killing women and children by mass bombing was essential to national survival.

Of course, part of what animates Allied angst about Dresden is the scale of losses incurred by ‘White Commonwealth’ aircrew members dragooned into dying for Harris (12). Not for nothing was Harris known, even to British crews, as ‘Butcher’ Harris. But critics of the Allies’ conduct in the Second World War do not just say that the motives for it may have been suspect, or that it was barbaric for Germans and for the aircrew of the Allies.

First, they strip the Allies’ behaviour from its historical and social context, and, in place of that, give the unchanging mantra of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ an accent that concentrates always on individual emotions.

As early as 1980, Martin Middlebrook’s book The Battle of Hamburg: The Firestorm Raid, though pro-war, helped popularise the personal suffering of individual German civilians subjected to aerial bombardment (13). However, the attention given to the emotional effects of the Second World War, as distinct from its political causes, is mostly a post-Cold War development. Thus it was in 1999, for instance, in her book An Intimate History of Killing, that Joanna Bourke first argued, to almost unanimously uncritical praise, that men, and even women, first imagined killing people and then, in murderous practice, revelled in what she called ‘the pleasures of war’ – whether in the First and Second World Wars, or in the Vietnam War (14). And it was in 2004 that, in a whole book devoted to the bombing of Cologne, Eric Taylor managed to make the perpetrators into victims of what we might call Post-Firestorming Stress Disorder. ‘Many aircrew’, he wrote, were ‘horrified’ at what they had done, and ‘what made it worse was the fact that they could not talk about their feelings of guilt, their doubts or their remorse’ (15).

These broadly psychoanalytical accounts of the Second World War go alongside a mushrooming of historians’ interest in personal testimonies from it. In the UK, Max Hastings, a conservative journalist and renowned military historian, interviewed 170 ‘witnesses’ in his 2004 treatment of the concluding battle for Germany in the Second World War (16). James Taylor and Martin Davidson did the same with 300 veterans of Bomber Command (17). Max Arthur’s Forgotten Voices of the Second World War was a further development of the genre (he had already remembered voices from the Great War) (18). A similar approach burgeoned in America (19).

There is a second way in which critics of the bombing of Dresden take issue with the Allies. More than 30 years ago, the American novelist Kurt Vonnegut issued a best-selling attack on the firestorm raid, Slaughterhouse-Five (20). Among many themes, his point was to ram home the surreal absurdity of war – of being, as he was, an Allied prisoner of war subjected to his ‘own’ side’s aerial bombardment. And since Vonnegut, this worldly but dejected critique has gained many new adherents.

The idea that the bombing of Dresden should be regretted because it was over the top to a ludicrous degree seems attractive. If, for instance, we search for a military rationale for the Nazis’ Holocaust, in which a whole industry had to be built to kill six million Jews, we will search for a long time. Once Germany was engulfed by fascism, all kinds of irrationality were possible.

But the ‘strategic’ bombing of Germany, and especially Dresden, is also singled out as irrational, and in a bizarre way. Remarkably few British or American commentators regret the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as lacking logic. However, most would shy away from the idea that the killing of 600,000 German civilians from the air was simply the extension of the politics of the ruling classes of the Allies by other means.

German commentators also agree that Dresden had no logic to it. In 2004, to widespread acclaim, the Zurich lectures of the late WG Sebald, delivered in 1997, were published as part of a moving anthology titled On the Natural History of Destruction. In ‘The air war and literature’, the German professor of English literature at East Anglia University suggested that the continuation of the air war on Germany ‘in the face of all reason’ meant that its victims on the ground were not just means to Allied ends, but ‘both means and the end in themselves’ (21). More recently, the German historian Jörg Friedrich, who in 2002 condemned the Allies’ action as a war crime, took to the pages of Bild’s special issue on the Queen’s visit to Dresden to denounce the bombing as senseless, and of no military benefit to the Allies (22).

In suggesting a kind of moral equivalence between the Allies and the Axis, critics enrage what remains of the Cold War-inspired right. But that does not mean that we should favour an apology by the Queen, Tony Blair or anyone else. It is not just that today’s generation cannot apologise for the sins of a previous one. Nor is it even, as the commentator Simon Jenkins has cogently argued, a case of ‘give government the task of moral crusade, and it moves towards self-righteous dictatorship’ (23). The proper reasons to reject an apology lie elsewhere.

It is wrong to single out Dresden, or Harris, as uniquely barbarous

Allied bombing in the early 1940s was characterised by sheer technological imprecision: even if only military sites were targeted, there were always likely to be severe civilian casualties. But it was also British policy to target civilians. In the summer of 1940, Churchill wrote to Lord Beaverbrook that the only thing that would defeat Hitler was ‘an absolutely devastating, exterminating attack’ by very heavy bombers (24).

In early 1942, in a notorious paper by Churchill’s friend and personal scientific adviser Lord Cherwell – FA Lindemann, a rich German scientist manqué, a convert to British imperialism and a member of the War Cabinet – it was specified that working-class residential areas were to be the prime targets of Allied raids. Here is how, in 1960, CP Snow described Cherwell’s policy:

‘The bombing must be directed essentially against German working-class homes. Middle-class houses have too much space around them, and so are bound to waste bombs; factories and “military objectives” had long since been forgotten, except in official bulletins, since they were much too difficult to find and hit. The paper claimed that – given a total concentration of effort on the production and use of bombing aircraft – it would be possible, in all the larger towns of Germany (that is, those with more than 50,000 inhabitants), to destroy 50 per cent of all houses.’ (25)

Bomber Command was directed to aim at labour, not capital. Only by the final quarter of 1943 did the proportion of the bombing tonnage devoted to industrial sites and submarine bases begin to reach even 20 per cent (26).

It is dishonest to isolate Dresden, or even Bomber Command’s whole campaign, as somehow separate from the rest of the Second World War. War doesn’t work that way: it is an all-encompassing affair. Frying German women and children by the thousand was an integral part of the Allies’ war effort. As Middlebrook accurately summed it up:

‘Area Bombing was a three-year period of deceit practiced upon the British public and on world opinion… the main impression was usually given that industry was the main target and that any bombing of workers’ housing areas was an unavoidable necessity… The deceit lay in the concealment of the fact that the areas being most heavily bombed were nearly always either city centres or densely populated residential areas, which rarely contained any industry.’ (27)

By focusing on the horrors of Dresden, too many critics in practice whitewash the rest of the Allies’ actions in the war – not just the use of the atomic bomb, but also, for example, Churchill’s manoeuvres in the Indian sub-continent, which cost millions their lives, or the betrayal of Partisans in southern Europe, or the fake ‘de-Nazification’ of Germany after 1945.

For the Allies, bombing Dresden was anything but ‘senseless’

Critics complain that Dresden took place too late on in the Second World War for it to make any difference to its outcome. But this is a very weak argument. For apologists of Harris, a hundred reasons can be advanced for doing what he did. Those who defend the Allies’ bombs remind critics that the Soviet Union had needed Allied help on Germany’s eastern front (28). And, just as apologists for Hiroshima and Nagasaki cynically argued that the massive casualties there prevented bigger casualties by shortening the war, so Harris contended that strategic bombing was a means to an earlier peace: to rule it out over Germany would be to rule it out over Japan (29).

The official British history of the air war over Germany did suggest that, in the later stages of the war, bombs might more sensibly have been directed at Germany’s oil industry rather than German civilians (30). But stalwart imperialists make the riposte that such ‘verities’ might not have been obvious to the War Cabinet at the time of Dresden, when the Allies had yet to cross the Rhine, and when they were troubled by bloody losses in the Battle of the Bulge, as well as by U-boats in British waters and German V-rockets in British skies (31).

Critics also suggest that the bombing campaign had a negligible effect on German industry and German morale; that Dresden’s high target status, as a key transport hub in eastern Germany, did not prevent trains running from it within days of the bombing. But in war, every little advantage counts, regardless of the price paid for gaining it. It is not necessary to agree either with the Allies’ war, or with what happened in Dresden, to concur with the British historian Richard Overy that ‘there has always seemed something fundamentally implausible about the contention of bombing’s critics that dropping almost 2.5million tons of bombs on a tautly-stretched industrial system and war-weary urban populations would not seriously weaken them’ (32).

As far as the Allies were concerned, unleashing a series of infernos on the German population was costly, but far from senseless. As Harris put it, ‘to be certain of destroying anything, it was necessary to destroy everything’ (33).

Critics miss this. They err, too, in their view that the only logic to Dresden lay in the inescapable momentum of the Harris war machine, or in Harris’s manic commitment to showing the effectiveness of air power.

Just as some explain the First World War by the relentless build-up of trains and train timetables around the Western Front, or by the obdurate commitment of desiccated generals to unsound military doctrines, so people explain Dresden in a similar matter. Sebald, who was at least alive to what strategic bombing did for the morale of the British, nevertheless sees the drive to Dresden as something akin to the capitalist manufacturer’s desire to rid himself of excess inventories. He writes that once Harris’s matériel was produced, ‘simply letting the aircraft and their valuable freight stand idle on the airfields of eastern England ran counter to any healthy economic instinct’(34).

Eliminating other explanations, the German historian Gotz Bergander, a Dresden survivor, has taken a similar line. In an interview, he told Max Hastings that the only thing that could account for Dresden was that the Allied policy of bombing had ‘developed a dynamic of its own’. Hastings concurred, putting the accent on Harris’s fanatical belief in bombing as a martial tactic. Hastings argued that, for Harris, ‘the demolition of itemised cities was essential to the fulfilment of his vision for the triumph of air power’ (35).

There is something to all this, but not a lot. Mobilisation does have some of its own imperatives, and the visions of Harris, as effective commander-in-chief of bombing, did hold great sway. But these are all contributory factors to a coolly calculated strategy that had plenty of sense to it – for the Allies.

Shortly after Dresden, a few British clerics and obscure Labour MPs issued feeble protests. Thereafter, it suited the postwar Attlee government to distance itself from Churchill. By criticising what it took to be his ‘excesses’, Labour could reinforce the mistaken perception that the Second World War was a just war, whose sole aim was the defence of democracy against fascism.

By representing the strategic bombing campaign as questionable, Labour could confirm postwar British society in the view that the rest of the tactics deployed were therefore just, too. This, the most important and lasting domestic political legacy of the war, is the one that critics completely ignore. They are part of the problem of the Second World War, and will not aid any clarification of its nature.

It also suited Joseph Stalin to go on about Dresden. After Churchill flew to Moscow on 12 August 1942, Stalin told him to pursue a second front by bombing not just factories, but homes too (36). But once, at war’s end, Stalin had control of East Germany, he liked to make propaganda about the rapaciousness of his wartime partner.

Ironically, Jörg Friedrich sees Dresden as a diversion from an interest Britain in fact shared with Germany – that of ridding the world of Stalin. For their part, right-wing apologists for Dresden can agree that Britain declared war not just against Germany, but also against the Soviet Union. The upshot is that today, people remain baffled as to what the Second World War was really all about, or should have been about. Instead of clarity on the most important event of the twentieth century, confusion reigns.

An apology would help nobody

An analysis of the context in which the Dresden bombing took place shows how simplistic most explanations of it are. The Second World War was not a straightforward moral battle of Good v Evil, in which Dresden formed a necessary part. Nor was Dresden an abomination that took place outside of British military policy at the time. And it should certainly not be read, as it tends to be today, as a tale of universal, unchanging human depravity – a depravity symbolised by one man’s actions but one for which we all continue to remain culpable.

Dresden needs to be understood, not apologised for. It demands a careful historical perspective about a unique set of circumstances, not an emotional spasm of wailing about the intrinsic aggression of all humankind.

Today’s demand for an apology for Dresden serves to confirm the prejudice, almost as much among Britons as among Germans, that war and victimhood are inevitable, inexcusable, yet out of our control. Saying sorry for Dresden would be to apologise for a particular kind of victim, but would immediately invite pleas that other kinds be recognised: Allied aircrews, British families subjected to the Blitz, and indeed anyone who lived through the war at all. It is hard to imagine any more passive and unhelpful approach to the upheavals of history.

Vonnegut wrote that there would always be wars, and that they would only be as easy to stop as glaciers. Of course it is not easy to stop wars: but the precondition for doing so is to understand them, by examining the circumstances that give rise to particular ones. The fatalistic perception is that nothing can be done, that we are all bound to be both perpetrators and victims by the very fact of being alive. This will not help anyone have the strength or presence of mind to resist the wars of the future. It is a supine doctrine of despair.

In Dresden there were real victims, but specific and deliberate causes lay behind that terrible state of affairs. Dresden was not a sign of the general Fall of Man, any more than it was simply an aberration brought about by Harris. An apology for Dresden would trivialise that catastrophic night and cover over its origins. It would be the final insult to the memories of those who were incinerated there.

James Woudhuysen is professor of forecasting and innovation at De Montfort University, Leicester. He is coauthor of Why is Construction so Backward?, Wiley-Academy, 2004 (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA))

(1) ‘Bomber’ Harris: His Life and Times, Henry Probert, Greenhill Books, 2003, p322

(2) ‘Bomber’ Harris: His Life and Times, Henry Probert, Greenhill Books, 2003, p418

(3) Speech given by the Queen at the state banquet held in the Zeughaus, Berlin, during her state visit to Germany, 2 November 2004

(4) ‘Germany can change its future, but not its past’, The Times, 2 November 2004, p15

(5) ‘World War II: why was this war different?’, Michael Walzer, in Philosophy and Public Affairs, vol 1, no 1, Fall 1971, p19

(6) ‘Bush likens Blair’s stance to that of Churchill’, Edward Alden, Financial Times, 5 February 2004

(7) Eminent Churchillians, Andrew Roberts, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1994

(8) A recent exposé of the British aristocracy’s sympathy for Nazism is Making Friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry and the Roots of Appeasement, Ian Kershaw, Allen Lane, 2004. Speculation that there was a genuine and official British welcome ready for Rudolf Hess has also grown in recent years.

(9) ‘Images to explode the myths of war’, Brian Reade, Daily Mirror, 24 March 2003

(10) Roger Boyes, ‘Should the Queen say sorry to Germany for bombings?’, The Times, 29 October 2004, p48

(11) See Bomber Command: Death by Moonlight

(12) On top of Canadian complaints, an Australian documentary, Wings of the Storm, also questioned the wartime record of Bomber Command

(13) The Battle of Hamburg: the Firestorm Raid, Martin Middlebrook, Penguin, 1984

(14) An Intimate History of Killing, Joanna Bourke, Granta Books, 1999

(15) Operation Millennium: ‘Bomber’ Harris’s raid on Cologne, May 1942, Eric Taylor, Spellmount Publishers, 2004, p178

(16) Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 1944-45, Max Hastings, Macmillan, 2004

(17) Bomber Crew, James Taylor and Martin Davidson, Hodder and Stoughton, 2004

(18) Forgotten Voices of the Great War: A New History of World War I in the Words of the Men and Women Who Were There, Max Arthur, Ebury Press, 2003; Forgotten Voices of the Second World War: A New History of World War II in the Words of the Men and Women Who Were There , Max Arthur, Ebury Press, 2004

(19) Witness to War: Diaries of the Second World War in Europe and the Middle East, Richard J Aldrich, Doubleday, 2004; Bomber Crew: Taking On the Third Reich, John Sweetman, Little Brown, 2004

(20) UK edition: Cape, 1970

(21) On the Natural History of Destruction, WG Sebald, Penguin, 2004, p20

(22) See Der Brand: Deutschland im Bombenkrieg 1940-1945, Jörg Friedrich, Propyläen, 2002, and in Bild, 1 November 2004

(23) ‘A time to forgive’, Simon Jenkins, The Times, 27 May 1998

(24) Quoted in Why the Allies Won, Richard Overy, WW Norton, 1996, p103

(25) Science and Government, CP Snow, Oxford University Press, 1961, p48

(26) The effects of strategic bombing on the German war economy, John Kenneth Galbraith, Paul Baran, Edward Denison, Nicolas Kaldor, et al, United States Strategic Bombing Survey Overall Effects Division, 31 October 1945, p2. For recent discussions on the impact of the bombing, see Total and Marginal returns to strategic bombing: Germany, 1939-1945 (.pdf 83.6 KB), Jurgen Brauer, Augusta State University; The strategic bombing of German cities during World War II and its impact on city growth (.pdf 476 KB), Steven Brakman, Harry Garretsen and Marc Schramm, Journal of Economic Geography

(27) The Battle of Hamburg: The Firestorm Raid, Martin Middlebrook, Penguin, 1984, p344-345

(28) Writing to Harris on 27 January 1945, Norman Bottomley, second-in-command to Charles Portal, said that his boss felt that ‘we should use available effort on one big attack on Berlin and related attacks on Dresden, Leipzig, Chemnitz or any other cities where a severe blitz will not only cause confusion in the evacuation [of German refugees] from the East but will also hamper the movement of [German] troops from the West.’ Quoted in Dresden: Tuesday 13 February 1945, Frederick Taylor, Bloomsbury, 2005, p212-213

(29) ‘Bomber’ Harris: His Life and Times, Henry Probert, Greenhill Books, 2003, p322

(30) See The Strategic Air Offensive Against Germany, 1939-1945, Charles Webster and Noble Frankland, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1961

(31) ‘Fire from the sky’, The Times, 13 February 1995, p19

(32) Why the Allies Won, Richard Overy, WW Norton, 1996, p133

(33) Quoted in The Bomber War: Arthur Harris and the Allied Air Offensive Against Nazi Germany, Robin Neillands, John Murray, 2004, p396

(34) On the natural history of destruction, WG Sebald, Penguin, 2004, p18

(35) See Armageddon: the battle for Germany 1944-45, Max Hastings, Macmillan, 2004, p386-387

(36) Why the Allies Won, Richard Overy, WW Norton, 1996, p102

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