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Bombing of dresdon

Bombing of Dresdon

On February 13-14, 1945 the British Royal Air Force gave

the final clearance to commence what would later become known as

one of the greatest atrocities that has ever been commited

against a civilian population. That night the RAF launched 796

bombers and 9 Mosquitoes which carried 1,478 tons of explosives

in addition to 1,182 tons of incendiary bombs (Dear 311) which

turned the city of Dresden, Germany into a virtual inferno. This

attack included another strike by the US Air Force the following

morning. The attack on Dresden was never a legitimate act of war,

and its result was the terroristic mass murder of over 135,000


Bombing civilian targets in enemy territory became an open

issue on March 30, 1942 when the Prime Minister.s science

advisor, Professor F.A. Lindemann (who later was recognized as

Lord Cherwell) delivered to Winston Churchill a report which

contained a strong argument in favor of striking civilian

targets. .Cherwell.s report contained the final rationalization

for the program Bomber Command was undertaking., and it would

henceforth be paper-clipped to the plans of the bomber offensive.

(Hastings). In his report, Lindemann estimated that forty tons

of explosives detonated in heavily populated areas would destroy

the homes of 4,000-8,000 people. The report also stated that

there was a population of 22 million people in fifty-eight of the

major cities in Germany. Lindemann claimed that a nation of

refugees could be the result of strategic air attacks. It is

wildly believed among scholars that the information cont.ained in

this report was the basis of the attack on Dresden.

Lindemann¦s figures were correct, but his thinking was

immoral and inhumane. The people to whom his statistics referred

so objectively were innocent civilians, more than half of them

women and children. The assault upon them was nothing more that

out-right murder. Any benefit gained by destroying these

civilians. lives, families, and homes was countered ten-fold by

the moral reprehensibility of such a clearly criminal act.

The city of Dresden was a historic center of Europe, and

was known world wide for its splendid architecture. It was the

capital of Saxony, and located along the banks of the Elbe river.

Dresden had very little industrial activity, and it was a target

only once before in a small raid by the US Air Force in October

of 1944. It was a city that was also known for its production of

fine China, and its glorious museums (Dear 311). The city was not

at all suspected to be a target for attack because of the

population influx that had occurred in result of refugees running

from allied forces. Due to this situation, the Germans moved most

of their air defense stations to other cities that were more

likly targets. The city had become a hub for not only refugees,

but also for POW camps, and hospitals. Of the 19 hospitals in the

city, three were totally demolished, and the rest were partially

damaged. Many of these hospitals housed wounded allied soldiers.

(Barnes Review 10) The attack resulted in the incineration of

over 135,000 civilians. The motive behind the attack was to

destroy the city, and in effect weaken enemy morale both

militarily, and on the home front. The Allied forces did not take

into account the political harm that this tremendous loss of of

civilian lives would bring upon them.

In January, 1943, at the Roosevelt-Churchill Casablanca

Conference this directive read "Your primary aim will be the

progressive destruction and dislocation of the German Military,

industrial and economic system, and the undermining of the morale

of the German people to the point where their capacity for armed

resistance is fatally weakened..(Barnes Review). The method

comprised to strip the Germans of their morale was the

destruction of their cities. Several weeks after the fact,

rescue teams found bunkers where ¦the heat had been so intense

that nothing remained of their occupants: only a soft undulating

layer of grey ash was left in one bunker, from which the number

of victims could only be estimated as between ¦¦250 and 300¦

(Irving ???) This layer of ash the was the remains of hundreds of

people was the result of the firestorm that the incendiary bombs

created. The explosions required oxygen, and as a result it

created gust moving toward the center. These gusts became intense

fireballs, and scorched everything in the city. One eye witness

said ¦Howling gusts of hurricane force whipped flames in all

directions. Nothing seemed to be spared. I watched little trains

of flame race alone garden paths and ignite a tree of even stone

ornament. (tunley???)_ Very little survived the path of this

burning storm. Most of the city was destroyed, and the death toll

was enormous. Even Churchill himself went on record to admit that

this had not been a positive military procedure. He was quoted in

saying ¦we...see to it that our attacks do not do more harm to

ourselves in the long run the enemy¦s war effort.

(Parrish 164)_) Even though it was later admitted a mistake by

the allies, it is possible that they had valid military

intentions, but did not carefully weigh all of the cause and

effects the would result. The idea that lowering the morale of an

enemy nation was a key strategy, and was taken very seriously by

the commanders of the allied forces. There was a major train

station in the city of Dresden, and and even though it was one of

few sites not greatly damaged, the use of the city as a

transportation hub was terminated by the Germans. It is very true

that destroying homes results in refugees which cause problems

inside the country, but blowing the homes up and killing the

people was the only to acomplish this goal. The idea of lowering

morale probably should have been investigated a little more

thoroughly, but the allies did what they felt they had to do in

order to terminate Hitler¦s Reign.

The bombing of Dresden was not a legitimite act of

war, it was a horrible mass murder of a civilian community, but

it may have have aided the allied cause in some ways. Even though

the allies lots respect on their home front, and subjected

themselves to the criticism of the media, in some ways the result

helped the cause. It is only logical that this Holocaust in

Dresden lowered morale throughout Germany¦s civilians. Germany

had to have realized at this point how terrible the war had

become, and what its results could be. This is a terrible way to

get that point across, but the point was made quite successfully,

at the expence of 135,000 lives, mostly of women,children, and


The bombing of Dresden was a terrible mistake on the

part of the allied forces. They failed to properly predict the

consequences of their actions, and as a result destroyed a

beautiful city, and a large percentage of its inhabitants. Even

if the death numbers were not intended to be so high, negligence

is no excuse. The results of any aggression are responsibility of

the aggressor, and in this case the aggressors actions resulted

in mass murder.

Word Count: 1215

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