A once thriving city of 600,000, Dresden was reduced

to ashes by U.S. and British bombing on February 13

and 14, 1945.



Izvestia, Russia

Truman and 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?"


By Dmitriy Orlov*


Translated By Yekaterina Blinova


July 31, 2009


Russia - Izvestia - Original Article (Russian)

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:


"Everything 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?



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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 Churchill was forced to admit that the bombings of German cities had been, "mere acts of terror and wanton destruction."


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, Truman?



[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].



The 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



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US August 10, 6:39pm]



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