Report Says Death Toll from Dresden Raid was 25,000

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by buffnut453, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Found this article on the BBC's website citing a new assessment of the death toll during the bombing raid against Dresden:

    BBC News - Up to 25,000 died in Dresden's WWII bombing - report

    Dresden is one of those topics which generates heated discussion. We all have opinions about Dresden, and we'll all form our own views about the veracity or merit of this new figure. I predict, however, that this "official" quantification of the death toll will do nothing to depolarize the debate on this very awkward subject.
     
  2. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    this link is going around many web-sites today, they will never have an accurate detailed summary. 25,000 to me is a bit low but I am also taking into consideration the killed in neighboring villages and through the several days of Allied attacks. Dresden to Mei├čen was blasted pretty heavily along with Chemnitz and other smaller target cities/villages.

    the debate will never end
     
  3. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Non-issue to me. When the number of deaths is in the tens of thousands, does it really matter what the death toll was? 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 40,000, 100,000? Bombing civilian population centers was the way of WW II. The Axis started the practice, the Allies finished it.

    What's the over/under to justify a death toll? :rolleyes:

    Three rules.....

    1) War is immoral.

    2) People die.

    3) Can't change rules 1 2.

    TO
     
  4. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    #4 DerAdlerIstGelandet, Mar 18, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2010
    Lets just keep this topic civil. Getting out of hand will not be tolerated.
     
  5. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    In the range, but the low side.

    When you think of all the people who "just disappeared" in the mass migration from the German Eastern Provinces in front of the Red Army, the losses in Dresden are not overwhelming. The whole Eastern War was one big Massacre. 9 Million Soviet dead, roughly 5 million German dead. And that's only for the Soliders. Add in another 20 million civilians.

    Dresden pales in comparison.
     
  6. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    Interesting link, the number seems a little low, but I don't think they'll ever be a number that's 100% accurate. I won't get too far into the discussion, seeing the results of other discussion on the forum on this subject. Like Sherman said, "War is hell".
     
  7. mhuxt

    mhuxt Active Member

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  8. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    I always suspect that these kind of numbers are really just guesses. Just like there are 47M without health care insurance in the US and there are 12M or 21M illegals in the US. Especially when the number is a round number, you have to believe that, at best, it is an estimate. If it is an estimate then how far off is it?
     
  9. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Having read mhuxt's useful additional information, it seems the commission's goal was to set an upper limit for casualties rather than to document exactly how many were killed. Their processes and comparisons of documents, personal memories and archealogical explorations seem pretty rigorous to me.
     
  10. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Whatever the number is, the event is sad. Dresden, Cologne, Frankfurt, London, Moscow, Stalingrad, etc. All cities that were bombed and/or shelled without mercy to the innocent.
     
  11. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    That is the exact point of my post below.

    I don't think that the bombing of a particular city (in this case Dresden) in WW II, and the number of casualties caused, by either side, is any more or less controversial than the bombing of ANY other city.

    Not justifying anything here, it's just the way things were.

    TO
     
  12. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    If Harris, Spaatz Arnold or Le May had been on the losing side yhey would have been tried as war criminals. Le may admitted that very thought after the war. harris never admitted it, though he was probably the most guilty.

    Having said all that, the bombing offensives were necessary for victory, and victory in the west was not achieved until may 1945. Battles, however one sided, were legitimate up to that point. It was not a massacre in the legal sense, though in a real and moral sense it probably was. Population centres were deemed to be legitimate military targets by the allies, which along with the fact that the germans were still resisting gives all the legitmacy to the bombing raids that were necessary.

    If one wants to ponder the legalities of the strike, in a legal sense, if anyone was guilty for the massacre, it was the germans themselves. I am not arguing the morals or the rightness of the attack, merely its legal status. having waged what was deemed to be an illegal war, and having failed to meet the terms of the united nations for surrender, the UN was entitled to use just about any means necessary to bring the rogue nation to heel. ts a great pity that the UN has forgotten these basic tenets of its raisonn detre.....

    If any
     
  13. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Good point, I hadn't thought of that before

    I disagree. How is killing civilians in a non-military population center a military necessity? It makes less sense to me than Hitler's V weapons. Where the V weapons landed was random. Bombing cities was a planned mission.

    Morally or militarily, it was a massacre. Period. IMO, it was legal only in the eyes of the victorious military leaders. Parsifal, I know your not trying to justify the event and I completely respect your post and comments. I'm just adding my thoughts......
     
  14. Hop

    Hop Member

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    If the allies had lost the Nazis would have put a lot of people on trial with no legal basis. They'd have killed even more out of hand.

    Goering, Kesselring, Speer etc were not tried for bombing allied cities because there was no law or treaty that banned bombing.

    Nearly every V weapon fired was aimed at a city. Of the many thousands fired, the only ones I know of that weren't were the handful of V-2s fired at one of the Rhine crossings.

    The logic of bombing cities is that's where military equipment was produced.

    There were attempts to ban bombing of cities before the war. They failed. There was a ban on dropping bombs from balloons in one of the Hague treaties, signed before aircraft were available. That was instituted as a temporary ban and allowed to lapse within a few years.

    The laws of land and naval bombardment banned the attack of undefended towns. They allowed the bombardment of defended towns.

    The 1907 Hague treaty on bombardment by naval forces is probably the most relevant. That allowed naval ships to sail up to a town and shell it to destroy any military objectives like factories. It said commanders should seek to spare things like hospitals and churches, where possible.

    If it was acceptable to sail a ship up to an enemy coast and shell a city, what real difference was there in dropping bombs from a plane? Bombing certainly surpassed naval bombardment in scale, but the principles were the same.
     
  15. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    #15 buffnut453, Mar 19, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2010
    Thorlifter,

    The thing we need to bear in mind is that WWII was the closest mankind has ever come to Clausewitz's concept of Total War. Today, we wage war using a small percentage of the population (the military) to engage in defence of the nation and, as such, civillians are largely immune from exposure to conflict. Indeed, global information exposure thorugh the news, internet and other media has driven the political agenda associated with the waging of war, and the push to reduce "collateral" civilian casualties.

    The same cannot be said of WWII. The protagonists in WWII were utilizing the entire resources of the nation. Civilians were making munitions, producing food for front-line forces, transporting war materiel and military personnel etc. In this paradigm, waging war was against the entire resources of the nation means that civilians were a target, both from a traditional approach (eg dropping bombs) and from a psychological standpoint. The Dresden raids were justified by Allied commanders because the city was a logistics and transportation hub (again, not saying the decision was correct...just trying to place it in context).

    In closing, while I loathe and detest war, I have to disagree that war is itself immoral or always wrong. Sometimes, good men have to stand up to those who would subjugate others by force. Had we not, then the world today would be run by the empires of Nazi Germany and a Japan led by an Imperial Army dictatorship, and whatever remained of the USSR. The only democratic nation of substance would have been an entirely-surrounded USA. That's not to say that the Allies did everything right during the prosecution , far from it. Nor am I suggesting that I welcome, or indeed justify, inflicting casualties, either military or civilian. However, I don't think there are many around who would welcome dictatorship as the de facto form of government over most of the earth's surface.

    Regards,
    Mark
     
  16. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    I don't understand the big stink about the bombing of Dresden and the casualties that resulted when the fire bombing of Tokyo barely is mentioned.

    "The US Strategic Bombing Survey later estimated that nearly 88,000 people died in this one raid, 41,000 were injured, and over a million residents lost their homes. The Tokyo Fire Department estimated a higher toll: 97,000 killed and 125,000 wounded. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department established a figure of 124,711 casualties including both killed and wounded and 286,358 buildings and homes destroyed. Richard Rhodes, historian, put deaths at over 100,000, injuries at a million and homeless residents at a million."
     
  17. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Probably has more to do with Germany was in the middle of collapsing while Japan was still a relatively intact combantant at that point. After the sustained bomber offensive against Japan had burned out every population center with a number greater than 50K, the question of future bombing came up. But a combination of factors (Japan's industrial based based in cottage industries, continued viable if smaller targets, change of targeting,) brought the B29s over Japan all the way up to and past the use of the Atomic Bomb.
     
  18. Markus

    Markus Banned

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    In a way the number is old. In 46/47 the city council put the deaht toll at 23,500, the Nazis peddeled the number 235,000. Notice something? The current commission went though mountains of archive material. For example only a few hundred soldiers were killed, yes there were refugees in the city but the city was hardly crowded with them and in one street 300 were reported dead but 800 survived, the heat of burning house is naturally lowest in the cellar -where the air riad shelters were. Thus people can get killed but their bodies are not burned into nothing but ahes, thus their remains would have been found and added to the official death toll.

    And last but not least, in Hamburg 35,000 to 50,000 people were killed in attackes that lasted a week, so 25,000 for a two day attack sounds not excessive at all.
     
  19. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    and don't forget the nasty Pforzheim raid too many perished, this still angers those living in Bavaria. Interesting that this city is never talked about in books or civil discussion(s).

    Too many are still living in a daydream about Dresden and it will always be and including that week in 45, confused and mis-understood.
     
  20. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I went to Dresden last year. What I thought was pretty neat is the fact that this city now has a partnership with Coventry. The church bells toll in both cities at the same time in memory of the dead in both cities. Here is the original thread I had started with pictures:

    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/personal-gallery/dresden-16687.html
     
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