Sifting Dresden's Ashes
Sixty years after the Allies’ bombing of Dresden enveloped the city in flames, controversy persists over whether the attack was militarily justified or morally indefensible. But another question, no less crucial, is seldom asked: Did wartime conditions allow military leaders to look away as they violated their own principles?
In early 1945, the German city of Dresden lay directly in the path of a great swell of refugees fleeing the advance of the Red Army along the eastern front. German authorities, their resources strained to the breaking point in World War II’s final months, struggled to keep this river of wretched humanity moving so that it would not impair the mobility of the Wehrmacht. But before the city’s 100,000 refugees could be moved, Dresden was attacked by waves of British and American heavy bombers over the course of nearly two days, igniting a firestorm that swept the heart of the city.
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Tami Davis Biddle holds the George C. Marshall Chair of Military Studies at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and is the author of Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914–1945 (2002). The views expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily represent official positions of the Army, the Army War College, or the Department of Defense.more from this author >>