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Why don't American news channels talk about this? Americans bombers actually dropped many of the bombs, together with the British.
It's been 75 years since one of the worst events of World War II — the bombing of Dresden. In February 1945, American and British air forces razed the city to the ground. Explosions and fires destroyed at least half of the buildings and claimed tens of thousands of lives. The necessity of the bombing is still a matter of controversy among historians.
See a report by the chief of our European bureau, Mikhail Antonov, on what the Germans think about it.
You can get the best view of Dresden from the right bank of the Elbe: the Semperoper, the Dresden Frauenkirche, the Royal Palace, the Dresden Cathedral, the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, Brühl's Terrace, and a nine-story building at Steinstrasse. This colorful neighborhood of baroque and panel buildings is a reminder of what happened to the city in three days, from February 13th to 15th, 1945.
At that time, Nora Lang lived in downtown Dresden. When the bombing began, the whole family went down into the basement.
Nora Lang: "After the first attack, our house was on fire. It was deafening. I was terrified. It seemed to me that the war was about to end, and tanks would enter the city and crush us. I thought it was the end of the world, but it was just the second wave of bombings."
Only fragments of the Dresden Cathedral remained from the old district that day. Everything else was a pile of brick and burning ceilings. There was also a strong wind that threw people into the fire
Nora Lang: "When we went outside after the second attack, a firestorm was raging here. Millions of sparks flew into our faces. I went blind for a moment. When I come to see my ophthalmologist, they ask me if I worked as a welder. It's a miracle that we didn’t burn."
1,100 British and American bombers dropped 7,500 tons of incendiary and high-explosive bombs onto the city. Berlin and Hamburg were bombed much more intensely, but the laws of physics determined the monstrous scale of the Dresden catastrophe. It was cold but, due to fires, in the city center, it was hotter than in summer. Hot air rose, the pressure dropped, and cold air rushed inward to the base of the fire. It was like a blast. Dresden turned into a blast furnace. Perhaps this effect was taken into account when planning the attack but the bomber pilots weren't warned about this.
Jörg Friedrich, historian: "The bomber pilots were pitched from side to side because of the fire raging on the ground. They asked themselves the question of what was happening down below if they were banging their heads against the walls of the cockpit. They knew it was like hell in the city."
The Allies lost about 100 pilots, 20 aircraft, to anti-aircraft fire. The current estimate of the number of victims is 25,000 people, most of them civilians. Historians still can't understand why. Besides cigarettes, Dresden didn't produce anything for the military. The USA and Britain say that they bombed a transport hub.
But Germany believes there were no military goals, only political ones. With a powerful storm to the western bank of the Oder, the Red Army had saved the allies from defeat in the Ardennes. They wanted to impress Stalin. Or maybe it was even simpler — they trained new crews for the future, and they didn't want the Russians to get a whole and beautiful city. It's just vandalism.
Therefore, every year, the anniversary of the bombing of Dresden becomes an occasion not only for mourning but also for political manifestations of German national patriots, who make it out of the question that this wasn't the first act of air terror. The first one, Guernica, in Spain, was the work of the Luftwaffe, and after that: London, Coventry, Kiev, Minsk, and Leningrad.
Angelika Benke, pastor of the Lutheran church of the Virgin: "The war came from German land. Those in power then launched the war. The country's leadership mobilized the population and had an ideological influence on its citizens to create an atmosphere of universal hatred. Most of the population agreed with this and strove for total war. There are guilty ones, but there are victims as well."
Pastor Benke serves in the Lutheran Church of the Virgin, which was destroyed in 1945 and restored after the unification of Germany. Pocks of smoked bricks, preserved by frugal Germans, remind of the past. The son of an English pilot presented a new cross to the tower. The old one, mangled by fire, is inside. This valuable relic is an illustration of the Old Testament prophecy that the one who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind.
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