Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Lies of Dresden

BabbaZee pointed to a web-site for further reading. I am going to concentrate upon one article the web-site author uses to buttress his racialist agenda, the bombing of Dresden by Allied airpower. To refute, my primary source will be from the US Air Force Historical Division with assist from the RAF.

First red-flag as to the weight that should be given to this article is the extensive quoting of British historian David Irving. Problem being Irving as a historian is something akin to damaged goods due to a conviction in Austria of denying the Holocaust, something about there being no gas chambers. In more current interviews Irving does admit to there being gas chambers, as this BBC article relates.

In fact, in a court of law, David Irving's recounting of the attack on Dresden, The Destruction of Dresden, has been shown to rest on suspect research along with showing his long history of Holocaust denial.

In the article on the night in question, Irving claims 2000 British bombers were involved on the night of the bombing of Dresden. According to the USAF, there were 772 RAF Bomber Command bombers involved that night. The RAF says 796 Avro Lancasters and nine deHaviland Mosquitos participated. Standard RAF procedures was to send in Mosquitos ahead of the first wave to act as pathfinders and to mark with incendiaries the intended target area. The RAF, early in the war, had to abandon Douhet's precepts of strategic airpower due to massive losses of bombers and they switched to the less precise but more survivable night bombing. The USAAF pressed on with Douhet's dogma for daylight high altitude bombing only at great cost and then being saved by the fortuitous arrival of P-51 Mustangs at the right time.

As to weight of the bombs and composition of the bombloads. Irving says the load was 75% incendiary: 3000 high explosive and 650,000 incendiary. Sounds like a lot of firebombs does it not? One has to remember, an RAF incendiary bomb could weigh 4lbs, 30lbs, or 250lbs. While the high explosive bombload was probably 1,000lb MC bombs. By the time of Dresden, an RAF bomber could be carrying up to 66% of its bombload as incendiary. On this Irving is essentially correct. USAF lists 1477.7 tonnes of high explosive and 1181.6 of incendiary for that night.

Now Irving miffs the follow-on daylight attack carried out by the USAAF 8th Air Force. Irving claims 450 bombers participated. In fact only 316 attacked while the RAF says there were 311 B-17s. Overstating by 33% is being a bit loose on facts, colour me not surprised. In comparison Berlin got plastered by 1089 bombers of the USAAF on 26 February 1945 and this was carried out to support the Soviet attack efforts also.

As for the reasons to strike Dresden. Kevin Alfred Storm argues that Dresden was merely a historic city known for a type of china and of no significance to the war effort. That countless refugees were huddled there seeking shelter from the Russian onslaught. Hence the city should have been spared. To refute this I turn to the USAF and its cited sources along with the RAF report which unfortunately is not meant as serious research and is hence lacking such citations; save for quoting Irving, Storm does not cite any sources. Tsk tsk, a major failing for one trying to write a historical account.

Both the USAF Air University and the RAF agree that the operation called Thunderclap was meant to disrupt the German ability to command its military forces[British night raid on the city center where communications centers were] and to hinder the ability of the Germans to rush reinforcements from one part of the rapidly shrinking Thousand Year Reich to another front via rail[8th Air Force strike on the railroad marhsalling yards the following day]. That these operations were done to assist the Soviets in their attacks on Germany. Here we see the blending of strategic objectives with tactical ones. Nodes of command and means of transport are vital sinews in any war machine, cut those and the machine breaks. The tactical comes in by assisting the Soviets, accomplishing those two strategic objectives makes it possible for the Soviet advance to go forward at less toll on the attackers. Hence ending the war that much quicker.

Both RAF and USAF sources state the Dresden bombings was at the behest of the Soviets via General Antonov at the ARGONAUT conference just two weeks before the bombing of Dresden.
So there were plenty of reasons to strike at the German city of Dresden in 1945. What no one expected was the resulting fire storm the imprecise incendiary bombing by Bomber Command started. The USAF report estimates that 25,000 were killed during the firebombing and a further 30,000 injured. The RAF report blurs things by saying there were between 40,000 and 50,000 casualties.

Lets get back to Storm and his quoting of David Irving on what happened after the 8th Air Force struck. It seems some P-51s broke off to pursue targets of opportunity. "one section of the Mustangs concentrated on the river banks, where masses of bombed-out people had gathered ... and machine-gunned or raked with cannon fire." Or so David Irving claims. But is it true? No. As Richard Evans shows in the aforementioned court case. Evans quotes the same passage as Storm, but it seems there is a variance. Irving just says there is machine gun fire while Storm quotes Irving as saying there is cannon fire. Uh oh, could be trouble there Storm; are you now putting words into the mouths of others to support your ideas? Trying to emulate Irving I take it? After all Irving put words into one eye witness to the Dresden bombings mouth while juxtaposing another's account to support his allegation that Mustangs strafed civilians.

I will not even comment on the hate-filled diatribe Storm spends his last major paragraph on. His article on the bombing of Dresden relies heavily on a legally discredited historian which shows the shallowness of his intellectual honesty and exposes the malignancy that beats in his chest.

As a postscript, it was Soviet forces that captured Dresden.


Anonymous said...

Good work, Anna

Next, Hiroshima. A great essay in American Heritage a few years ago debunking the revisionists. Pat

Anna said...

Thanks Pat, I am tempted to re-edit what I posted. Clean up some sloppy sentence structure. And I should show the casualty figures Irving and Storm claim happened at Dresden since I did list the USAF and RAF casualty estimates.

Check the LGF post on Remembering Our Veterans. One poster relates his tour of the B-29 Enola Gay at Dulles and the tour guide telling the story of this elderly Japanese gentleman who recounted he was supposed to be a suicide pilot, but because of the Enola Gay he lived to have a family with children and grandchildren.

depen31 said...

Hello Anna,
I was on the dresden raid my a/c. 9J-P 227 squadron 5 Group.
There were two waves some hours apart. My Group 5 Group carried ou the first raid. The second wave was carried out by 3 Group. Total RAF a/c. about 750. The aiming point for the target indicators being the marshalling yards.
It had initally been planned that the Us. had planned for the first raid during the day of th 12th. canx. due to weather conditions.
At pre flight briefing we were told that there were known to be large concentrations of military transitting through Dresden between the Eastern & Western Fronts. Hindsight experts are saying that we should not have bombed Dresden due to the war's near end, I wish that they had been there at the time because the US. 2nd. Army were under severe atack & losing ground. German resistance was very stiff & our armies had to face up to the crossing of the Rhine. It did not look too rosy at the time to those of us involved