once thriving city of 600,000, Dresden was reduced
ashes by U.S. and British bombing on February 13
Churchill No Better Than Stalin
"Who, today, 64 years later,
will bear responsibility for Dresden? The 'authoritarian regime' of Prime
Minister Churchill? And, by the way, who will answer for Hiroshima and
Nagasaki? The 'American military regime' and that great democrat, Truman?"
Everyone knows why on August
6, the bells toll in Japan. This day marks the anniversary of the American atomic
bombing of Hiroshima. According to conservative estimates, it killed nearly
150,000 people - civilians. But why do the bells toll in Germany every year -
on February 13, at exactly 10:10am?
In the victorious spring of '45,
British and American aircraft carried out not atomic - but more than tragic air
strikes on German cities. Their symbol was the tragedy of Dresden.
The bells toll for the Germans who perished in the attack.
The British Air Force radioman
who participated in the raid on the city recalls: "We
flew for hours over a sea of fire raging below - from above it looked like an
ominous red luminescence with a thin layer of haze above it." (By
the way, the city itself was bombed primarily by the British - the Americans
"worked" on the military sites and communications). According to analysts,
a firestorm ensued after the attack, within which the temperature reached 2,700
degrees Fahrenheit (1,500 Celsius).
This is the testimony of
Margaret Freyer, a Dresden resident who survived that night:
around me became a complete hell. I … see a woman … She carries a bundle in
her arms. It is a baby. She runs, she falls, and the child flies in an arc into
the fire. Suddenly, I saw [two] people again, right in front of me … They
fainted and then burned to cinders." Grete Palucca: "At night, when I
see these images, I begin to scream."
Every shred of
infrastructure was destroyed, most importantly the bridges over the Elbe. This
was the announced goal of the action - and it was achieved. But there were
other things, among them an art gallery; 11 churches and 60 chapels; 19
hospitals; 39 schools (all information provided by the Dresden police).
According to the U.S. Air Force, 78,000 residential buildings were destroyed,
around 28,000 were rendered unfit for habitation, and almost 65,000 received minor
damage and had to be renovated.
In 1939, Dresden had a
population of 642,000 people. At the time of the bombings there were approximately
200,000 refugees. David Irving, in his book The Destruction of Dresden, estimated the number of casualties at
135,000 people; Time magazine and the Columbia Encyclopedia
estimate 35,000-135,000; the Soviet Military Encyclopedia estimates 135,000;
and the BBC estimate is 130,000. In recent years, estimates of casualties have
become significantly lower in both Germany and Britain. But even 50,000 civilian
casualties - is that not too much for a single, localized military operation?
German military historian Joachim Fest noted rather
dryly that from a military point of view, the bombings were necessary. American
journalist Christopher Hitchens speculated that the British were simply testing
their urban air strike capability. Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass and former Times'
editor Simon Jenkins call the bombing of Dresden a war crime. And the president
of Genocide Watch, Gregory
Stanton, is convinced that the Dresden bombing was an act of genocide - on
par with the Holocaust and the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In a
telegram to General Ismay, even Churchillwas forced to admit that the
bombings of German cities had been, "mere acts of terror and wanton
The Organization of Security and
Cooperation in Europe [OSCE], as everyone knows, has "equated" the
crimes of Nazism and Stalinism [read news story
or watch video below]. But what kind of OSCE resolution would be needed to evaluate the
Dresden tragedy? What should it be compared to? And who now, after 64 years,
will bear responsibility for it? The "authoritarian regime of Prime
Minister Churchill?" And, by the way, who will answer for Hiroshima and
Nagasaki? The "American military regime" and that great democrat,
[Editor's Note: The OSCE
resolution, proposed by Lithuania and fellow ex-communist state Slovenia, said
20th-century Europe had faced "two major totalitarian regimes, the Nazi
and the Stalinist, which brought genocide, violations of human rights and
freedoms, war crimes and crimes against humanity."]
In Nuremberg, the facts
were thoroughly examined and the crimes of Nazism made public and condemned.
This assessment by the International Military Tribunal was supported by
the Allied powers and recognized by all. Recognized for over sixty years. And
now there is a call to revise it.
There are many things in the
Pandora's Box that has been so blithely opened by European activists - and with
this OSCE resolution. First of all, even the most cursory glance shows that
this resolution, of course, doesn't adequately reflect the "criminal
weight" of these two regimes. In this case, Stalin’s weight is about the
same as that of [Neville]
Chamberlain and [Édouard] Daladier,
who "appeased" Hitler in Munich with allied Czechoslovakia - and this
is not at all a Hitlerian kind of weight. Incidentally, let us note that unlike
the aforementioned British and French leaders, Stalin never shook hands with
Hitler or Mussolini. That was an era of symbols, and this was very important.
At the same time, the OSCE
resolution doesn't at all mean that each "sister" recieved "an
earring" - and that Europe, especially the Europe which in the past has
been called the "cordon
sanitaire," is safe from now on.
[Editor's Note: 'Sisters and earrings' is a Russian expression that
means everyone gets what they want, so is happy].
Posted by WORLDMEETS.US
logic is entirely different: if there is no [agreement on] Potsdam or Helsinki (and now,
even Nuremberg?), then everything is open. It is, for instance, OK to forget
which of Europe’s frontlines was the second. Or, it is OK not to remember which
of the three Allied powers was the first to achieve a great military victory
against the Wehrmacht. Or, it's OK to assume that a political leader (even a
dictator) who sat at the same table as Roosevelt and Churchill and with them
created the post-war system of international security, was a war criminal
[Stalin]. Or, it's OK to consider, let's say, Katyn a war crime and not, let's
say, Dresden. [reference to the Katyn Forest Massacre of about 22,000 Polish officers by the Soviets in 1943].
"What world order will take
the place of the Cold War?" was the question posed by Barack Obama during his visit to Moscow. Today there's no answer
to Obama’s global question. Perhaps the answer will be found during the
conference on the "Modern State and Global Security" which will bring
together leading world thinkers in Yaroslavl in September. It's clear that there are many ways
this world order could be built. And for it to be sustainable, a key
precondition is needed: constant dialogue about the preservation of collective
security. But that is not the tone which has been set by the OSCE in its
resolution on "Nazism and Stalinism." As the Russian saying goes, the
dead feel no shame. Only the living.
*Dmitriy Orlov is director
general of Russia's Agency of Political and Economic Communications