Dresden Essay, Research Paper
It is now the 50th anniversary of the terror bombing and burning of the non-military cultural center of Dresden, Germany.
Somewhere between 35,000 and 135,000 civilians were killed in the Feb. 13-14, 1945 attack.
The Bonn government is attempting to use the commemoration of the Dresden bombing to expand German imperialism’s diplomatic
and military reach. Working-class and progressive German groups are protesting this misuse of a great tragedy. They correctly point
out the responsibility of German capitalism and the Nazis’ own war crimes for the destruction of German cities during the war.
The crimes of Nazi Germany, however, should not prevent the U.S. working-class movement from re-examining the aims of U.S.
and British imperialism’s vicious bombing of Dresden’s civilians as World War II drew to a close.
Dresden was a center of cultural and architectural wonders, including the famous Zwinger Museum and Palace and the cathedral, the
Frauenkirche. There were no military objectives of any consequence in the city–its destruction could do nothing to weaken the Nazi
war machine. U.S. and British air warfare had left Dresden intact until that point.
By February 1945, refugees fleeing westward before the onrushing Red Army had doubled Dresden’s population. The Soviet
military forces were poised to seize the city from the Nazis. It was at that moment that the military and political strategists of Britain
and the United States decided to launch a terror bombing attack.
Winston Churchill was Britain’s prime minister then. He was also responsible for war strategy, especially regarding its political
aims. Churchill’s goal in Europe was not only to destroy the military machine of Britain’s imperialist rival–Germany–but to stop the
advance of the Soviet Union. With the latter in mind, he decided to bomb Dresden.
Churchill, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had just met at Yalta to discuss the division of
post-war Europe. Churchill’s goal in bombing Dresden was to impress the Soviets with the air power of the Western capitalist allies
and to make sure that the Red Army would seize a dead city.