From the History of Western War Crimes: The Dresden Massacre (February 1945)

Yves here. This post describes the responsibility for the firebombing of Dresden and the failure to treat it as a war crime. Not surprisingly, victors in war and colonizers tend to overlook such legal niceties. Dr. Sotirovic also mentions the US nuclear bombings in Japan, but not the firebombing campaign against 17 Japanese cities, with the attack on Tokyo by some estimates killing more than Hiroshima.

To give a clearer picture of what a firebombing does, we turn to a review of To Destroy a City: Strategic Bombing and Its Human Consequences in World War II by Hermann Knell, which in turn cites an account by W.G. Sebald:

On the night of July 27, 1943, 728 Allied bombers arrived over the German city of Hamburg at one o’clock in the morning. Ten thousand tons of high explosives and incendiary bombs were dropped on several districts of the city. The late W.G. Sebald explained what followed in his recently published book, On the Natural History of Destruction (2003):

Within a few minutes, huge fires were burning all over the target area, which covered some twenty square kilometers, and they merged so rapidly that only a quarter of an hour after the first bombs had dropped the whole airspace was a sea of flames as far as the eye could see. Another five minutes later, at one twenty a.m., a firestorm of an intensity that no one had ever before thought possible arose. The fire, now rising two thousand meters into the sky, snatched oxygen to itself so violently that the air currents reached hurricane force…. The fire burned like this for three hours. At its height, the storm lifted gables and roofs from buildings, flung rafters and entire advertising billboards through the air, tore trees from the ground, and drove human beings before it like living torches. Behind collapsing facades, the flames shot up as high as houses, rolled like a tidal wave through the streets at a speed of over a hundred and fifty kilometers an hour, spun across open squares in strange rhythms like rolling cylinders of fire. The water in some canals was ablaze. The glass in the tramcar windows melted; stocks of sugar boiled in the bakery cellars. Those who fled from their air-raid shelters sank, with grotesque contortions, in the thick bubbles thrown up by the melting asphalt…. Horribly disfigured corpses lay everywhere. Bluish little phosphorous flames still flickered around them; others had been roasted brown or purple and reduced to a third of their normal size…. Other victims had been so badly charred and reduced to ashes by the heat, which had risen to a thousand degrees or more, that the remains of families consisting of several people could be carried away in a single laundry basket.

That night in this one raid alone, more than 45,000 men, women, and children were killed in Hamburg. Half the houses in the city were destroyed, and more than a million Germans had to flee into the surrounding countryside.

Deliberate aerial bombing of civilian populations was first put into practice by the UK:

The first significant aerial bombardments of targets were conducted during the First World War when the Germans used zeppelins to attack British military facilities in England and succeeded only in killing civilians. Planes were then used by both sides to hit targets behind enemy lines.

But it was in the years after World War I ended that a theory of the strategic use of civilian bombing was developed. It was first formulated by an Italian, Giulio Douhet, who argued that in war “the bomber force must ruthlessly attack the enemy hinterland.” It must be directed “against enemy population morale” and “the bombing effort must be massive.” Its purpose, Douhet argued, was to break civilian support for the war and minimize the cost of war because “aerial bombs are cheap.”

But the major voice in the period between the two world wars for the use of civilian bombing to destroy the will of the enemy was Hugh Montague Trenchard, chief of staff of the RAF. And it was the British who utilized and began to perfect civilian bombing techniques in the years after the First World War. In 1919-1920, they bombed Kabul, Afghanistan, and rebellious tribal groups along the border areas of India. And in the 1920s, the British intentionally bombed rebel villages in Somalia and Yemen and undertook an extended bombardment campaign against civilian populations in rebel areas in British-controlled Iraq for several years.

Now to the main event.

By Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic, Ex-University Professor, Research Fellow at Centre for Geostrategic Studies of, Belgrade, Serbia;

The Three Men of Slashing

It was in May/September 1945 when WWII ended – the bloodiest and most horrible war ever fought in human history. The war that caused the creation of the UNO in 1945 to protect the world from similar events in the future – a pan-global political-security organization that first issued a legal act was a Charter of the UN which inspired the 1948 Geneva Convention’s definition of genocide.

The Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials were organized as “The Last Battles” for justice as the first ever global trials for war criminals and mass murderers including the top-hierarchy statesmen and politicians. However, 78 years after WWII the crucial moral question still needs a satisfactory answer: Are all the WWII war criminals faced justice at the Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials? Or at least those who did not escape from public life after the war. Here we will present only one of those cases from WWII which has to be characterized as the genocide followed by the personalities directly responsible for it: The 1945 Dresden Massacre.

The 1945 Dresden Raid was surely one of the most destructive air raids during WWII but in world history of massive military destruction and war crimes against humanity too.[1] The main and most destructive air raid was during the night of February 13th−14th, by the British Bomber Command when 805 bomber military crafts attacked the city of Dresden which up to that time was protected from similar attacks primarily for two reasons:

  1. The city was of extreme pan-European cultural and historical importance as one of the most beautiful “open-air museum” places in Europe and probably the city with the most beautiful Baroque architectural inheritance in the world.[2]
  2. The lack of the city’s geostrategic, economic, and military importance.

The main air-born raid was followed by three more similar raids in daylight but now by the U.S. 8th Air Force. The Allied (in fact, the U.K.−U.S.) Supreme Commander-In-Chief the U.S. five-star General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890−1969)[3] was anxious to link the Allied forces with the very advancing Soviet Red Army in South Germany. For that reason, Dresden suddenly became to be taken into consideration as a point of high strategic importance as a communication center, at least in the eyes of Eisenhower.

However, at that time Dresden was known as a city that was overcrowded by up to 500,000 German refugees from the east. For the U.K.−U.S. Supreme Command Headquarters, it was clear that any massive air bombing of the city would cost many human lives and cause a human catastrophe. That was not primarily only on Eisenhower’s conscience to decide to launch massive air-born attacks on Dresden or not as we have not to forget that Eisenhower was only a military commander (a strateg in the Greek) but not a politician.

Unquestionably, the Dresden question in January−February 1945 was of a political and human nature not only of military one. Therefore, together with a Supreme Commander-In-Chief of the Allied Forces a direct moral and human responsibility for the 1945 Dresden Massacre was on the British PM Winston Churchill (1874−1965) and the U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882−1945) too.

These three men, however, finally agreed that the inevitably very high casualties in Dresden might in the end, nevertheless, help to shorten the war, which from a technical point of view was true. During one night and one day of the raids, there were over 30,000 buildings destroyed, and the numbers of those who were killed in the bombing and the ensuing firestorm are still in dispute among historians as the estimations go up to 140,000. Here it has to be noticed that if this highest estimation number is going to be true it means that during the 1945 Dresden Massacre were killed more people than in the Hiroshima case from August 1945 (around 100,000 or one-third out of the total Hiroshima’s pre-bombing population).

The “Bomber Harris” and the “Atomic Harry”

One person with direct responsibility for transforming Dresden into an open-air crematorium, as the city was bombed by forbidden flammable bombs for massive destruction (Saddam Hussein was attacked in 2003 by the NATO’s alliance under the alleged and finally false accusation of possessing exactly such weapons – WMD) is the “Bomber Harris” – a commander of the British Royal Air-Forces during the Dresden Raid. The “Bomber Harris” was, in fact, Arthur Travers Harris (1892−1984), a Head of the British Bomber Command in 1942−1945. He was born in Cheltenham, and joined the British Royal Flying Corps in 1915, before fighting as a solder in South-West Africa. He became a Commander of the Fifth Group from 1939 till 1942 when he became the Head of this Group (Bomber Command). The point is that it was exactly Arthur Travers Harris who stubbornly required and defended the massive area bombing of Germany under the idea that such practice would bring the destruction of Germany (including civil settlements) that would finally force Germany to surrender without involving the Allied forces into the full-scale overland military invasion.

The crucial point is that this “Bomber Harry’s” strategy received full support from the British PM Winston Churchill who, therefore, became a politician who blessed and legitimized massive aerial massacres in the legal form of genocide as it was described in the post-WWII Charter of the UNO and other international documents on protection of human rights (for instance, the 1949 Geneva Conventions).

Nevertheless, there was the “Bomber Harry”, Dwight Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill who transformed the bombing of selected targets such as transport systems, industrial areas, or oil refineries into the massive aerial destruction of the whole urban settlements with transforming them into the open-air crematoriums like it was done for the first time in history with Dresden – a city with a rare historical heritage (today the pre-war Dresden would be on the UNESCO list of protected places of the world’s heritage) but flattened during one night and one day.[4]

This successful practice became very soon followed by the Allied forces in the cases of other German cities,[5]like Würtzburg – a tightly packed medieval housing city that exploded in a firestorm in March 1945 in one night with 90% of destroyed city space which had no strategic importance.[6] However, a strategic bombing of the urban settlements in WWII reached its peak through the destruction of  Hiroshima and Nagasaki under the order by the U.S. President (Democrat) Harry Truman – the “Atomic Harry” (1884−1972) who authorized the dropping of the atomic bombs over these two Japanese cities in order to end the war against Japan without further loss of the U.S. military troops, insisting on the unconditional surrender of Japan.[7]

“The Last Battle for Justice” and the “Butchers of Dresden”

Surely, one of the most obvious results of WWII was “its unparalleled destructiveness. It was most visible in the devastated cities of Germany and Japan, where mass aerial bombing, one of the major innovations of the Second World War, proved much more costly to life and buildings than had been the bombing of Spanish cities in the Spanish civil war”.[8] For that and other reasons, we believe that many Allied militaries and civil top decision-making personalities from WWII had to face justice at the Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials together with Hitler, Eichmann, Pavelić, and many others.

However, it is an old truth that the winners are writing history and re-writing historiography. Therefore, instead, to see Dwight Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), Harry Truman, or Arthur Travers Harris at the Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials’ courtrooms as indicted on such charges as crimes against humanity and genocide as were the German Nazi defendants, who included the NSDAP’s officials and high-ranking military officers along with the German industrialists, lawmen, and doctors, we are even 73 years after the WWII reading and learning politically whitewashed and embellished biographies of those war criminals who destroyed Dresden, Hiroshima or Nagasaki as national heroes, freedom fighters and democracy protectors.[9] For instance, in any official biography of Winston Churchill is not written that he is responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the German civilians in 1945 but we know that the British PM clearly promised the Poles to get after the war ethnically cleansed territory from the Germans.[10]

If the Nüremberg Trial, 1945−1949 was “The Last Battle” for justice,[11] then it was incomplete. Moreover, two of the most ardent killers of Dresden – Churchill, and Eisenhower were granted after the war the second premiership and double-term presidentship, respectively, in their countries.[12]

© Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2024

Personal disclaimer: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.


[1] On this issue, see more in [L. B. Kennett, A History of Strategic Bombing: From the First Hot-AirBaloons to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Scribner, 1982].

[2] On Dresden’s history and architecture, see [W. Hädecke, Dresden: Eine Geschichte von Glanz, Katastrophe und Aufbruch, Carl Hanser Verlag, München−Vien, 2006; J. Vetter (ed.), Beautiful Dresden, Ljubljana: MKT Print, 2007].

[3] He was born in Denison, Texas but grew up in Kansas and graduated from the Military Academy in West Point in 1915. During the Great War he commanded a tank-training unit and had numerous assignments between two word wars. In 1942 General George Marshall selected him to be commander of U.S. troops in Europe. As a lieutenant-general D. Eisenhower went on to command Operation Torch in November 1942, the Allied landing in North Africa. In December 1943 he was appointed Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces. It ment that as such he became responsible for the planning and execution of the D-Day landings (summer 1944) and following military campaigns in West Europe against the Nazi-German troops.

[4] On the case of firebombing of Dresden, see more in [P. Addison, J. A. Crang (eds.), Firestorm. The Bombing of Dresden, 1945, Ivan R. Dee, 2006; M. D. Bruhl, Firestorm: Allied Airpower and the Destruction of Dresden, New York: Random House, 2006; D. Irving, Apocalypse 1945: The Destruction of Dresden, Focal Point Publications, 2007; F. Taylor, Dresden. Tuesday, February 13, 1945, HarpenCollins e-books, 2009; Charler River Editors, The Firebombing of Dresden: The History and Legacy of the Allies’ Most Controversial Attack on Germany, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014].

[5] On this issue, see more in [J. Friedrich, The Bombing of Germany 1940−1945, New York: Columbia University Press, 2006; R. S. Hansen, Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942−1945, New York: Penguin Group/New American Library, 2009].

[6] On Würtzburg’s case, see [H. Knell, To Destroy a City: Strategic Bombing and its Human Consequences in World War II, Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press/Pireus Books Group, 2003].

[7] On this issue, see more in [C. C. Crane, Bombs, Cities, & Civilians: American Airpower Strategy in World War II, Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1993; A. C. Grayling, Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan, New York: Walker & Company, 2007].

[8] J. M. Roberts, The New Penguin History of the World, Fourth Edition, London: Allien Lane an imprint of the Penguin Press, 2002, p. 965.

[9] See, for instance [R. Dallek, Harry S. Truman, New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2008; J. E. Smith, FDR, New York: Random House, 2008; S. E. Ambrose, The Supreme Commander: The War Years of Dwight D. Eisenhover, New York: Anchor Books A Division of Random House, Inc., 2012; A. D. Donald, Citizen Soldier: A Life of Harry S. Truman, New York: Basic Books, 2012; W. Manchester, P. Reid, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940−1965, New York: Penguin Random House Company, 2013; B. Johnson, The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History, London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 2014; B. Harper, Roosevelt, New York City, Inc., 2014; P. Johnson, Eisenhower: A Life, New York: Viking/Penguin Group, 2014].

[10] T. Snyder, Kruvinos Žemės. Europa tarp Hitlerio ir Stalino, Vilnius: Tyto alba, 2011, p. 348 (original title: T. Snyder, Bloodlands. Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, New York: Basic Books, 2010).

[11] D. Irving, Nuremberg: The Last Battle, World War II Books, 1996.

[12] Dwight Eisenhower after WWII was in November 1952 elected U.S. 34th President (1953−1961) as Republican with Richard Nixon as Vice-President. In July 1953 he fulfilled his promise to seek an end to the Korean War by signing an armistice. He was the first Republican President since 1933. In 1957 he used federal troops to quell segregationist violence at Little Rock, Arkansas.


Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill wrote his six-volume The Second World War (1948−1954), for which he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 (in fact, very much whitewashed his own role as the British leader in WWII). Nevertheless, he returned as the British PM in 1951, by now with falling health. He devoted most of his energy to keep extraordinary relationship with the U.S.A. He received from the U.S.A. honorary U.S. citizenship. However, despite his political-patriotic rhetoric of the British glory, he, in fact, led the U.K. during the British demise as a world great power. Like Eisenhower, Churchill was never accused for any committed war crimes against humanity (either in Europe or British colonies).

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  1. The Rev Kev

    I came across a few stories about the Dresden raid over the years so will repeat them though there is no link to them. First I read that Stalin was mockingly giving Churchill a hard time at Yalta (4 February 1945 – 11 February 1945) by saying how soft he was on the Germans and this really got on Churchill’s nerves. The second is that the purpose of the Dresden raid was a demonstration for the Russians as they would be taking that city soon. That the Allies wanted to show the Russians that they could be just as ruthless as them and that this was to be kept in mind when the war was over. And that was the real reason why a firestorm was unleashed on the people of Dresden and it’s famous buildings. If you choose to believe those two stories is up to you.

    Which brings me to the subject of “Bomber” Harris or “Butcher” Harris as many in the RAF called him. After the war he tried to punt the blame of Dresden to his superiors saying ‘I know that the destruction of so large and splendid a city at this late stage of the war was considered unnecessary even by a good many people who admit that our earlier attacks were as fully justified as any other operation of war. Here I will only say that the attack on Dresden was at the time considered a military necessity by much more important people than myself.’ I don’t believe him and I will add that I have heard it third-hand that he was at a pilot’s briefing once and told them not to worry about bombing their primary targets of some factory but to go after the worker’s cottages and kill them instead. Nowadays we would call the wives and children of the workers ‘collateral damage.’

    Certainly the people of Dresden never forgot and they protested loudly when they raised a statue of him back in ’92. The statue was unveiled by the Queen Mother who was surprised to hear jeers and a shout that ‘Harris was a war criminal.’ This is one statue which deserves to be taken down as he was without a doubt a war criminal-

    1. The Rev Kev

      Forgot to mention that “Bomber” Harris was also a pioneer in dropping chemical bombs when the British sought to put down a rebellion in Iraq. He said ‘The Arab and Kurd now know what real bombing means in casualties and damage. Within forty-five minutes a full-size village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured.’ He had full support from then Secretary for War and Air Winston Churchill as Churchill wrote Harris ‘I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favor of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes’

    2. Polar Socialist

      Not defending Harris in any way or form, but I believe Max hasting presented already in the late 70’s in his Bomber Command correspondence between Churchill, Portal (RAF chief of Staff), Bottomsley (RAF Deputy Chief of Staff) and Harris that both Portal and Harris indeed wanted to concentrate the bombing on the German factories, but Churchill needed something to show to Stalin in Yalta.

      So it was the Air Ministry that dusted off some old plans to hit German cities (Soviets asked for Berlin and Leipzig as main transport hubs to East Front), and the Chiefs of Staff accepted the revised old plan, so Portal told Bottomsley to tell Harris to hit Dresden.

      And for some reason Dresden was well know city among the elite of the Anglosphere, and while UK tried to suppress the news of the bombing it did break out in USA and became immediately a controversial topic in the public discourse – destroying a cultured city just for the fun of it was clearly something the Good Guys simply did not do.

      1. Fried

        I don’t know about Dresden, but Harris kept saying (or he said it once and that got quoted all over the place in the Bomber Command literature, I don’t remember), that Albert Speer said if 6 more cities were going to be destroyed like Hamburg, that would be the end of the Third Reich, so that’s what he wanted to to.

  2. Albe Vado

    It’s interesting how Ctrl + F searching for ‘rail’, or ‘marshaling yard’, or ‘infrastructure’ leads to nothing. Context is completely stripped from this piece. Apparently Allied leadership was spending vast amounts of money and war materiel endeavoring to just kill civilians for, uh, reasons.

    I’m sorry, but I find that there was in fact a vast qualitative difference between civilian slaughter conducted by the Axis and the Allies. Especially when the context only existed in the first place because of Axis belligerence.

    1. aj

      War crimes are war crimes no matter the reason. Morality and pragmatism are often at odds. No amount of what-about-ism is going to change that.

    2. samm

      So us specifically targeting and indiscriminately slaughtering their civilians was OK because there were rail yards near by, while theirs was of a “lesser quality.” I got it, the key is to never question our crystal purity or the shine of our gleaming white hats, my country right or wrong, the sun never sets on the British Empire, etc, etc.

      1. clarky90

        The accused requires a “good lawyer” from Harvard Law school (any Ivy League will do) to argue the case for the defence.

        The court finding; …..Innocent, …. case dismissed…. The accused can now go free…. to continue, liberally, Releasing The Whirlwind …….

      2. Albe Vado

        No, I’m disputing that there was deliberate and indiscriminate targeting of civilians at Dresden, and instead that there was a lot of collateral damage from the use of crude area of effect weapons because high altitude precision bombing effectively didn’t exist.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Jonathan Glover, who did extensive archival research for his book Humanity, disagrees. He said the firebombing was recognized as a weapon of terror. My copy of his book Humanity is in storage but I checked reviews and various comments are consistent with my recollection.

  3. JBird4049

    The prewar Italian, French, and British advocates of bombing cities not only provided the theory behind, but also figured out the methods for doing so. However, the mass use of poison gas in combination with the explosives and incendiaries, which was in those writings as well, was never done. IIRC, the casualty numbers predicted by doing so are overwhelming although the goal in using poison gas was not to kill the civilians, but all the emergency personnel such as firefighters, medical staff, and police going to the bombed areas.

    I do have to mention that the Americans held off on massive bombing of civilians as they figured that destroyed the factories and other infrastructure like railroads would do it. Unfortunately, the technology wasn’t good enough to do that. Despite pushback from within the Air Force, they switched to cities as well and did it better than anyone else.

    It was a rational insanity with each country improving their methods during the war, Japan, Germany, the British, and the United States. A horrible fact is that these mass bombings did not break the will of a population, but made them more determined. Spain, China, Britain, Germany, and Japan all saw increasingly levels of destruction and death. The only “positive” result was some restriction in production, but nowhere near as one might think. If a country wants to manufacture something, it finds a way.

    Truly, some people just enjoy devising new and better ways to slaughter their fellow humans, which is what they doing, not actually winning a war.

    1. Albe Vado

      Dresden was host to a major rail yard, which was a principle target. This isn’t either/or; key military use infrastructure was usually not conveniently standing alone in a field somewhere where it could be safely bombed with little risk of hitting civilians.

      During the interwar years a huge amount of resources were devoted to attempting to develop viable precision bombing. The Norden bombsight program would eventually cost more than the nuclear bomb program, and the entire category of dive bomber was another attempt to improve accuracy. But the Norden was an abject failure. Accurate strategic bombing simply couldn’t be done. Bombing raids were of such a large scale precisely because the technology was so crude that the only way to bomb targets (at least from high enough up that AA wouldn’t utterly shred the bombers) was to employ inherently inaccurate area bombing. The focus shifted from precision, which couldn’t be made to work, to ‘spread as much destruction as possible and in the process we might hit what we’re actually aiming for’.

      1. JE McKellar

        The Norden bombsight worked, but only at low to medium altitudes. The problem is that advances in radar and proximity fuses made heavy AA guns much more effective than interwar planner anticipated, forcing the bombers to fly higher to avoid the flak.

        1. Albe Vado

          Did it work? Wasn’t one of the goals to enable such precision that ships could be bombed from far above their defensive range? It failed to achieve that.

            1. Albe Vado

              I find it a bit strange that he used to think it was a huge success. My knowledge of the Norden sight has always been that it was a complete failure. That that’s actually the most interesting thing about it, how much it didn’t deliver. I wonder if this is a generational thing, that older people were subjected to propaganda about it.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    One thing I was only fairly recently aware of on this topic (mostly after reading A.C Graylings book ‘Among the Dead Cities’) is just how much open and vigorous public discussion there was on the ethics of aerial bombing before and during the war – the arguments went far beyond military and political circles. So nobody in any position of authority would have been unaware of the moral issues at stake.

    After WWI it was pretty clear just how devastating it could be – while the Zeppelin raids were just pinpricks, they killed a lot of civilians (mostly because so many people came out to look at the airships rather than sensibly taking cover). The colonial nations made regular use of aircraft, although arguably it was Guernica that was the first true victim of focused bombing on a civilian population. Ironically, neither the Germans nor Japanese (nor Soviets) invested much in strategic bombers, unlike the US and Britain, although this was probably more to do with practical limitations than any moral framework. The London Blitz was carried out by aircraft designed as tactical bombers, adopted for a different purpose. Without condoning Dresden, its hard not to see justifiable British anger at the horrors of the Blitz as a major component of hardening peoples attitudes.

    To a certain degree, I think the original decisions went far back before Harris or Eisenhower ordered bombing – once you invest a significant percentage of your budget in strategic bombers, they are going to be used. I think the bombing of Japan was at least as much an expression of frustration at the slowness and horrors of the island hopping campaign as anything else. There seems to have been a general awareness that it wasn’t likely to change the war, it was a case of ‘we have these very expensive planes, lets use them’. It should be said that the huge death toll of the original Tokyo firebombing was at least as much the responsibility of the Japanese authorities as anyone else – they had plenty of notice of the bombing (several earlier missions failed to find the target), and they had made to effort to put in place civilian protections. The death rate in subsequent raids was much lower. That said, having bombed every viable strategic target to dust, the USAF attacked several Japanese ‘Dresdens’ – small towns and cities with no industry or strategic value whatever, just because they were flammable. These bombings particularly hit the elderly and very young who had been evacuated to ‘safe’ locations.

    Of course, it wasn’t just strategic bombing that hit civilians – all sides carried out massive artillery attacks on cities, including ‘friendly’ cities (in France in particular) with massive civilian casualties. The mining of Japanese harbours by the USAF caused mass starvation. And of course the Japanese in particular massacred millions in China and SE Asia, not to mention the other genocides we all know of.

    I don’t really know where to go with this – even ‘justified’ wars in time almost always seem to descend into some form of barbarity. It is the decision to go to war, not the specific actions during the war that is the deepest evil.

    1. Polar Socialist

      One could say that what starts usually as Kabinettskriege quickly devolves to Volkskriege and eventually ends up as Totalen Krieg as time goes by.

      It seems that the only way to avoid this progression is to either not Kriege at all, or at least achieve Frieden at as soon as possible in the arch.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, it seems the inevitable slippage, even with the ‘good guys’. As a general rule I think those wars we consider to be relatively ‘clean’ were that way due to a combination of tactical and strategic considerations.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Yes, in the Jonathan Glover book I wish I had access to right now, he (using archival material) shows the creeping rationalizations after the Blitz for bombings that were sure to kill lots of civilians.

    2. Albe Vado

      War is inherently barbaric. If we aren’t going to take a blanket approach of just condemning every soldier and general ever (which I actually think is a very respectable and consistent position to take, by the way), then it means we’re going to adopt some standard or other of saying some wartime actions are justified and others aren’t.

      Context and intent matters a lot. Were Allied, particularly American, bombing efforts intended to just massacre a bunch of civilians? The evidence doesn’t really support that narrative. The mission orders for these raids were invariably ‘release your bombs in an attempt to hit this railyard/factory/ammo dump’. Now we can peddle in third hand supposed accounts that the verbal mission orders were ‘try to burn as many krauts as possible’, but at that point you’re into hearsay, and just believing whatever you want and not following solid evidence.

      Incidentally, I also think talking about the European raids undermines any notion that the bombing of Japan was driven by vindictive racism. Because we killed plenty of white Europeans speaking an English-adjacent language with mass bombing. German cities just had more stone and burned less easily.

    3. digi_owl

      Supposedly the blitz happened because some British bombers accidentally hit a German city during one of their night missions, leading to Hitler ordering Goering to target London as a retaliation. This then gave RAF time to recuperate after having its bases hammered for months in preparation for operation Sea Lion.

    4. Carolinian

      To a hammer everything looks like a nail. The above intro is making the important point that singling out Dresden or Hiroshima lets the other slaughter off the hook in the public’s imagination. So General Sherman did get it right that “war is hell” and not the romantic jousting of Walter Scott knights as imagined by the Southern secessionist planters.

      The warmakers are doing the same thing now (same as the secesh) in constructing various good guy/bad guy scenarios to justify what’s happening in Ukraine or Gaza. And now we have drones and bombing from on high or with glide bombs so you don’t even have to risk your pilots while delivering death. You do run the risk however of your opponents employing the same tactics against you and now drones are cheap.

      The fact that all this is happening again despite the horrors of WW2 shows that military aggression is a psychological matter, not strategic. But once it starts survival instincts kick in and inhibitions are lost.

      So if our civilization is lurching between reason and unreason then the real takeaway is not to elect people like Biden and Netanyahu to become the war starters.

      1. hk

        I always thought Sherman’s view on horrors of war are very fascinating: Sherman said, on another occasion, I think, not just that war is hell, but it should be hell: “I would make this war as severe as possible, and show no symptoms of tiring till the South begs for mercy. Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster.”

        This echoes, with a twist, Robert E. Lee’s quote, “it is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.” The more horrible the war, the more people should think twice before embarking on it so cavalierly, and every war, no matter how “easy and safe” it is for some participants, brings ruin and death to many one way or another. The problem is that, IMHO, warmongering has been too “easy and safe” for much of the West, especially the United States, and furthermore, we have decided that we have the right to make “easy and safe” for us, no matter what happense elsewhere. So, perhaps naturally, humiliation and disaster are due us.

        Only when we see the mighty scourge of war upon us, will we pray that it should speedily pass away yet accept that the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous and that the wealth piled by unjust means and the drop of blood shed in thoughtless wars shall be repaid in full. (I’m drawing liberally from Lincoln’s Second Inaugural as best as I can remember off the top…) But unless we have seen the soucrge visited upon us not some other people, we will think ourselves divinely righteous and the suffering of others justified.

  5. Aurelien

    Well, let’s see. The author is a Lithuanian, who’s worked around Europe and has had grants from the usual PMC-adjacent foundations. He seems to be vaguely a specialist in Baklan history and society (including tourism) but not to have published anything on WW2. In spite of the attempt at a bibliography, he doesn’t include the obvious sources like Richard Overy’s magisterial The Bombing War, Jorg Friedrich’s Der Brand (“The Fire”)or indeed any of the massive literature on the evolution of strategic bombing policy. He also includes neo-con Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, as well as at least one self-published on-demand book from Amazon. Most importantly, he seems to have taken a lot from David Irving’s infamous book. Irving is an open admirer of Hitler, and wrote numerous controversial books for which he was several times taken to court. Most notably, he lost a high-profile libel case in London in 2000, where among other things he argued that no Jews had actually been killed at Auschwitz. The judgement was published by Penguin, and it’s an excellent read if you can get hold of it.

    Irving massively inflated the death-toll at Dresden, and in the first edition of his book, which I dimly remember from my childhood, claimed that up to 250,000 had died. He revised this figure progressively downwards through further editions, but still refused to accept the figures from reputable historians. The generally accepted figure today is 22,500-25,000 dead, on the basis of very thorough studies commissioned by the city of Dresden itself about twenty years ago. The document on which many of the higher estimates were based was shown to be a forgery, a point which even Irving accepted. With better information the figure for the total civilian dead in the bombing campaign has been revised steadily downwards, and the generally accepted figure today (see Overy’s book) is around 350,000. The difference is largely explained by the fact that large numbers of people fled the cities where they could, and returned after the bombing.

    Two other brief points. For there to be a crime there has to be a law. Strategic bombing was not a crime at the time: the 1923 Draft Air Rules were a kind of normative constraint without any force, and of course the invention of the crime of Genocide was still some years away. The Nazis, on the other hand, were tried for crimes that actually existed. Irving was part of an extreme right-wing attempt to abolish or at least minimise any difference between the West and the Nazis (the same thing happened for the Soviets of course), and make them appear to be morally equal. In speeches, Irving often equated strategic bombing with the Holocaust. In its origins, this was an idea of the extreme Right, but like many such it was taken up subsequently by parts of the Left, for reasons that escape me.

    Finally, the story of the evolution of strategic bombing in many countries has been exhaustively researched and well told. For the British, it was a way to bring a quick end to the war by targeting not just munitions factories but the workers as well, and with luck to provoke a popular uprising against the Nazis. The policy was continued because there was literally nothing else, and because it was necessary, in advance of the Normandy landings, to convince Stalin that the West was actually attacking Germany. Pretty much all the combatants used strategic bombing at one time or another. The Germans never developed heavy bombers (though my mother could have told you something about living through the London Blitz) because they had higher priorities for their limited resources.

    Strategic bombing is accepted to have been a failure even in the terms in which it was sold: a quick end to the war with minimal casualties, and there was a furious debate about its morality from the beginning. In due course, since it was the only strategic weapon the British had, it developed a momentum of its own, and was used beyond the point where it was practically or morally defensible.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Your opening remarks are ad hominem, a violation of site Polices, to the degree that they make you look bad, as if you have to snipe the author to make any case on the merits stick.

    2. schmoe

      “. . . to be a crime there has to be a law. Strategic bombing was not a crime at the time: the 1923 Draft Air Rules were a kind of normative constraint without any force, and of course the invention of the crime of Genocide was still some years away. The Nazis, on the other hand, were tried for crimes that actually existed”
      – Another fine distinction between shooting civilians close-up in Einsatzgruppen fashion v. firebombing a city full of women and children from 15,000 feet with nothing of any military value there. One is a crime and one is not, apparently. I assume you are aware that the Nazis felt that killing civilians wholesale was part of the war effort because famine loomed due to the Russians scorched-earth strategy and they needed to reserve food for workers and soldiers. Adam Tooze had a comment several years ago that historians ignore clear written evidence discussing this issue in Nazi archives (I do not have time to find a link).

      1. Aurelien

        My point was that at the time the use of air power in this way was well established and considered a legal (if not very ethical) means of war. To say that Dresden was a “war crime” is an intellectually dishonest anachronism, because what is really being said is that “Dresden was an episode which in my opinion should have been a war crime, because there should have been laws at the time that made it so. In other words, it’s the “I don’t like this there should be a law against it” attitude which we find on all parts of the political spectrum today. The argument that the bombing campaign, for all its dubious moral validity, is somehow to be compared with the systematic slaughter and starvation of millions of people by the Germans is precisely the one I am questioning.

        1. schmoe

          Thanks for the response. One more example, do you think that Britain’s WW I starvation blockade of Germany, and in particular its extension to March 1919, which, depending on the study you believe, could added a six-figure death toll, was a “war crime”? Or are you going to argue that since the Western Front’s fighting ended 11/11/18, the additional starvation was not a “war crime”? Is the distinction who is forcing the starvation?

          1. Aurelien

            I had that example in mind as well. Simply, it depends whether you take “war crime” to mean “something bad and excessive that happens in war,” or if you mean that named individuals are alleged to have violated articles of international humanitarian law to which their government is a signatory, and you think you can prove that to a criminal standard. The problem is that people confuse the two, and this leads to a lot of moral and legal confusion. It’s trivially true that things which are technically legal are not necessarily moral and vice versa, and it’s dangerous to assume the two always go together.
            In the case you mention, it was understood at the time that the blockade was directed against the civilian population and caused a great deal of death and suffering. This may not have been technically illegal, but in my view, anyway, it was morally indefensible, especially its continuation after the fighting had stopped.

        2. Socal Rhino

          I get your point, but it makes me think of recent US administrative comments I’ll paraphrase as: We bombed 85 targets in Yemen but we are not at war. I think that attitude may be at least in part a result of the expeditionary nature of US conflict; we have not (yet) been on the receiving end of aerial attacks, weather balloons aside.

          1. juno mas

            Well, 9/11 was an aerial attack–by mostly Saudi nationals pissed off about US military presence in the Middle East. Americans then got behind the contrived (by Colin Powell) complicity of–IRAQ?! And the US killed thousands there. Sometimes ‘war crimes’ are hidden behind rhetoric.

      2. Albe Vado

        Which city didn’t have any military value? Dresden? Because it actually did.

        I’ll add that so did Hiroshima and Nagasaki, though Nagasaki was considered of less value and was further down the priority list and was chosen as a backup target when the intended target couldn’t be located.

      1. Aurelien

        Well, lawyers call it nullum crime sine lege, and it literally means “no crime without a law.” It’s a basic protection in any civilised society since it means that you can only be accused of a crime that actually exists. Here’s a learned article about it.

        1. Hastalavictoria

          Yes,exactly what I meant! but I also think war criminal is a useful description to apply to some people however legally inappropriate.

    3. The Rev Kev

      ‘For there to be a crime there has to be a law.’

      Came across a scifi story recently where this human was showing an alien the Geneva Conventions. The alien questioned the presence of some of these banned “theoretical” weapons and practices listed but the human pointed out to him that they had all been done in the past and that is why they are in the Geneva Conventions. He said, ‘It’s not a war crime the first time. Everything in that document has been done at least once, that’s why it’s in the document.’ Yeah, had to think about that one.

    4. Carolinian

      I think your comment is missing the point as though there’s some sliding scale of horrible and therefore the British are less bad because it was “all they had.” Both World Wars were ultimately the product of nationalism and imperialistic attitudes and the British were up to their eyeballs in that. And even now we are suffering the hangover from Churchill’s beloved empire with the Middle East situation.

      I’ve just been reading a book about Hitler’s vengeance weapons, the V1 and V2, and the Nazis put a great deal of resources and effort into these on the justification–or so they said–to give back what they were getting. So it wasn’t just Von Braun who said “who knows where they come down.” After the war Churchill did indeed write the history that he predicted would justify everything that he did. We don’t have to say that Nazis were good to suggest it may be time for a bit of revisionism.

      1. Aurelien

        I don’t think I suggested anything about “less bad.” People have written whole books trying to allocate relative levels of moral blame for different actions by different actors during the War, but that’s not the issue here. It’s just a pragmatic fact that from 1940 the British had no other way of taking the fight to the Germans. Whether you think that what they did was moral or not is quite a different question.

        1. Carolinian

          I’m not a big believer in moral theories of history and am more of the “worse than a crime, a mistake” school.

          So as I said in my first comment above, let’s see war in general as horrible and an increasingly mindless mistake in a world that has environmental destruction and many other problems that are more pressing than “who’s the Alpha?”

          This is Putin’s stated view–for which he is roundly condemned just as our media delivered history is obsessed with those World War interwar pacifists and appeasers as the 20th century villains rather than the conquerors and colonizers (on our side as well as the Axis).

      2. Albe Vado

        Are we really going to pretend WW2 wasn’t fundamentally started by Germany? Really? The British having an empire already, Churchill being a thug, etc, doesn’t change the fact it was a war of choice started by German expansionism.

        1. Carolinian

          WW2 was a result of WW1 which was definitely about imperial rivalries. You don’t have to take my word for it. Keynes and others warned that the Versailles terms would lead to another war. Plus no WW1 and Corporal Hitler would have remained whatever kind of painter he was.

          This is all standard stuff in any history book. Of course before WW1 Germany very much had an empire and aspired to have more. Then there’s France, the Netherlands etc.

          1. Albe Vado

            I’m well aware of the continuity of events stretching back to Versailles (you could even argue that it was in a way really just WW1.5). In the end WW2 was still a war of choice on Germany’s part. It didn’t have to invade France. It didn’t have to March east with dreams of genocide and making a giant colony with Slavic slave labor. It didn’t have to do a lot of things. It chose to do them.

        2. schmoe

          And an interesting footnote to “Germany started WW II” is the curiosity that England and France allied with Russia despite Stalinist Russia/USSR invading eastern Poland in the middle of September 1939, and instead of declaring war on Stalinist Russia, they sent them weapons. Likewise after Stalin invaded the Baltic states.
          I guess Western Poland deserved protection and Eastern Poland had it coming
          [this post is mildly tongue-in-cheek and I am aware of Hitler’s previous actions].

    5. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

      The author is Serbian living in Lithuania. For this and other internet articles he did not get a single cent of donations by any private person or institution. The author has a number of articles and some books on WWII especially concerning the Balkans. Why those two mentioned books by you are “infamous” is not clear especially written by the person who probably is not specialist in academic history writings.

      BTW, you are always very welcome to write about the issue much profound and academic text. Waiting to read it.

  6. zagonostra

    I listened to a podcast long ago that suggested Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughter House Five” was promoted by a certain U.S. gov’t agency to deflect from the West’s complicity in Dresden massacre. I have not been able to corroborate or find specific reference to Vonnegut, only general gov’t support to artist/writers in the Congress for Cultural Freedom

    1. Joe Well

      How on earth would Slaughter House 5 have *deflected* attention from “the West”‘s (I assume you mean the US and UK) complicity in the bombing? It was an indictment of the Allies. Utterly baffling comment. Also, this use of “West” is nonsensical since Germany, Austria, Italy and other Axis countries are in the West and the Soviet Union was not.

      1. zagonostra

        I heard this on a podcast years ago and I think it had to do with expatiating the guilt of US and UK (I have to stop using “West,” too much listening to The Duran) by using a Novel to bring light the event in a personalized form without having to get into the political/legal aspects of what was done. “Deflected” is probably the wrong word.

        I was hoping someone could connect the activity of the Congress for Cultural Freedom with Vonnegut and Dresden, but maybe there is no connection. I haven’t found an reference I can link to.

        1. Joe Well

          If you’re going to impugn the memory of a great writer who did more than any American to question the official narrative of WWII…you should do more than half-remember a podcast about a book you obviously have not only not read but haven’t even read a summary of.

          This is reflective of so much of the pseudo-reasoning online. Just defaming a famous person because they are famous so of course they’re part of one of one of the overarching conspiracies that govern every aspect of life. Just forget about facts or even any appearance of caring about facts. I read the NC comments section for a break from stuff like this.

          1. zagonostra

            Harsh. I’m a SciFi aficionado and have read almost all his work as well as his son’s, Mark. I did not impugn him, authors such as Franz Borkenau, Karl Jaspers, John Dewey, Ignazio Silone, Jacques Maritain, James Burnham, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Bertrand Russell, Ernst Reuter, Raymond Aron, A. J. Ayer, Benedetto Croce, Arthur Koestler, Richard Löwenthal, Melvin J. Lasky, Tennessee Williams, Irving Brown and Sidney Hook were funded by Congress for Cultural Freedom. I think Steinbeck was allegedly receiving some funds from CIA.

            “pseudo-reasoning online?, defaming”…touchy. I listen to a lot of podcast while exercising and walking, but always supplement with books. If you are scared to question the sanctimony of your favorite thinkers, that’s on you. Like Bertrand Russell, turns out he was a cad, and I used to respect him…admittedly it’s been 40 years since I’ve read S5, and I should re-read it.

      2. Fried

        Slaughterhouse 5 is also very little about Dresden. He keeps going on about how he wants or needs to write a book about Dresden, but in my opinion, the more important part of the story is the Children’s Crusade of the subtitle. It’s been a few years, but what’s stuck in my mind most was the young American soldier who fancies himself one of the three Musketeers and who then gets taken prisoner alongside the protagonist.

        1. Joe Well

          He makes it very clear that the whole novel was an attempt to grapple with the horror he had lived through and continued to live through vicariously because of US atrocities in Vietnam and elsewhere. Children’s Crusade = WWII. The firebombing of Dresden was a part of and emblematic of that war’s horror.

        2. hk

          I don’t know about that: Vonnegut was literally in the middle of the whole thing (I believe he literally worked at a slaughterhouse that was called “Slaughterhouse 5” while he was a POW in Dresden). After the bombing, he was recruited to help recover bodies and cremating them along with other POWs in the city. I don’t think anyone could have gone through these experience without being fundamentally traumatized–certainly, reshape their whole worldview. (I am certain that Vonnegut, by virtue of his experience, probably saw even more of the tragedy in Dresden than most people, including Germans).

          1. Fried

            I don’t disagree, my point was that for something that is supposed to shape people’s minds about what happened in Dresden, as per the quoted podcast theory, Dresden features actually very little in the book.

    2. gk

      Was knowledge about Dresden so widespread that anyone would have bothered about this? I remember (can’t find a reference, I’m afraid) an article about Vonnegut. After returning home, he tried to find out more about what he lived through, and nobody knew anything.

  7. Marshall

    Read the diaries of Victor Klemperer, a German Jew living in Dresden (his wife was an “Aryan”, which is how he survived to that point). (In English translation, the bombing of Dresden – which he calls simply “the Destruction of Dresden,” is in the volume “To The Bitter End: The Diaries of Victor Klemperer 1942-45.”) He survived the bombing (after his building was burnt out) standing in a park watching his city burn around him. Two relevant points:

    – Although appalled at what happened, he blames the destruction on the Nazis, for continuing their criminal war long after there was any hope of victory.

    – Ironically, the destruction of Dresden was the salvation of the few remaining Jews who survived both the Nazis and the bombing (deportation orders had gone to most of the remaining Jews that very day, February 13th, for deportation on the 15th, and by that point every one of them knew that deportation was literally a death sentence). Like Klemperer himself, they took the Stars of David off of their clothes and escaped as Aryan refugees in the chaos.

    1. Wukchumni

      I second the recommendation of Klemperer’s diaries, its an inside look at the fatherland by a critical thinker in real time, amazing.

      The SS HQ in Dresden had electric guillotines that dispatched thousands, and Zeiss made precise optical equipment for the war effort, so it wasn’t so innocent of a target, and it makes you wonder what it must have looked like before the war. probably something akin to Prague-which largely sat out the festivities of the 6 year plan.

      It’s easy to look back almost 80 years and pronounce judgment, but in the heat of the moment what was another wrecked German city in the scheme of things?

      1. JBird4049

        Whatever the background for the bombing of German and Japanese cities, it does not change the reality of bomb shelters turned into crematoria where whole families were baked alive, nor of firestorms that sucked people into them, of people combusting as they were running from the firestorm, of American bomber crews getting ill from the scent of pork emanating from their planes after the Tokyo raids.

        War is horror personified, it always gives justification to those looking to do evil, to do so, and the righteous of the cause, such as the Nazis, does not eliminate the evil. The decision was consciously made to create firestorms for the specific purpose of murdering as many civilians as possible. Stronger efforts could have been done to destroy targets such as factories, railroads, and other militarily useful items. If the innocent die by accident, and that was going to happen because of the limitations of the technology, that is war. But really, much of death and destruction was more for the infliction of horror on the population than anything else.

      2. junomas

        If you want to see Dresden before and after WWII just Google “Pictures of Dresden”. The architecture of Dresden was stunningly beautiful. The after photos show many bland buildings and plentiful parking lots.

    2. Joe Well

      Well worth reading but important to remember that all Germans were constrained in what they could say after the war, no less those who ended up in the Soviet Zone and later the GDR, perhaps much more so. I am curious, though, if the GDR ever felt free to criticize or allow criticism of the actions of the UK and the US during the war.

      This also reminds me of the Studio Ghibli film, Grave of the Fireflies. Even though the film was released in 1988, the Japanese protagonist only explicitly blames the Japanese leadership, not the US. On the other hand, the whole story of children and their parents being killed could be seen as an indictment of the US.

      1. gk

        This is irrelevant, since the diaries were not published until after unification. The only thing he did publish in the GDR was lingua tertii imperii, a study of the language of the third Reich, which was indeed somewhat censored by the communists. Specifically, they removed the chapter in which he tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to figure how Zionism differs from Nazism… (Question: did this discussion survive in the English translation of the diaries?)

  8. KLG

    Then there is the finding that strategic bombing doesn’t really work, except as a good career move for the general officers in charge. I first read this in John Kenneth Galbraith’s autobiography in the 1970s. He was a member of the Strategic Bombing Survey. This did not stop the USAF from keeping on keepin’ on, though. And probably never will, right up to this very day. One probably wouldn’t call what is happening now “strategic” bombing in the WWII or Vietnam senses of the practice. But it does kill mostly noncombatants while destroying the built environment and leading to catastrophic famine and disease. And once again with American-made weapons of war.

    1. digi_owl

      Yep. The use of drones in Afghanistan has the same air about it as the RAF air policing of the region between the wars.

  9. Clark Landwehr

    First off, the bombing of Dresden was NOT a strategic attack. It was TACTICAL. By this time in the war, the Red Army was only about 50 miles away and pushing west. All the reinforcements going to the front were staged through the Dresden rail yards. All the people fleeing from the front were passing through Dresden. It was a choke point. The Dresden raids were conducted to assist the Russians. This consideration was the proximate trigger of the decision to send the planes. If you know how these targeting decisions were made. There were many factors. It was this need to assist the Soviets that pushed the decision over the top, in this case.
    Secondly, Dresden was an important part of the German war economy. They did not just make china and cuckoo clocks. The skilled Dresden workers did precision assembly work on fuses and optical components. Not heavy industry. The Zeiss-Ikon factory was in Dresden. Like other countries, Germany was using its civilian population as human shields. There were war factories hidden inside of civilian facilities. The largest china manufacturer in Dresden had a war workshop setup inside it that used slave labor. The Germans knew they would be bombed. The Zeiss (photos online) facility was hardened to resist bombing, and as I remember, it was built in the 30’s.
    Thirdly, the war was almost over. How relevant was a strategic bombing campaign in Feb 1945? And by this time the British knew from studying their own bombed cities (Coventry) what worked and what didn’t. Bombing factories? Not very effective. Even railroads were able to be restored relatively quickly. Targeting certain very basic urban infrastructure (water systems) had the most impact. In reality the bombing campaign in central Europe was not very effective. The targeting conditions (weather, ect.) were so bad. Sometimes the bombers got lucky as in Hamburg and Dresden in Feb ’45. But very many bombing raids were big expensive fizzles.
    On balance, the Dresden raids are not a good case study of human barbarity. They were a fluke where the level of destruction was so great because everything went just right. These events are really emblematic of the moral and material muddle that was WWII.

    1. zagonostra

      I’m not sure about your assertion that this was to “assist the Soviets.” Everything I’ve been reading makes clear that you have to go back to WWI and Mackinder’s “Heartland Theory,” the great pivot, to really understand WWII. If you get into the nitty gritty of what the Brits were doing, I don’t think they were interested in helping Russia/Soviets. Their intent from day one was to keep Germany and Russia perpetually at war with each other. I haven’t researched enough the particularities of Dresden yet, I am currently working my way through, “Conjuring Hitlier” by Guido Preparata, a “revisionist”/controversial book, but very well footnoted.

      1. digi_owl

        Fascism was, and perhaps is, to some extent preferable to communism/socialism among the monied of the world after WW1.

        Both UK and USA had a growing fascist element going into WW2.

      2. Albe Vado

        I don’t mean this as a personal attack, but do you understand the difference between strategic and tactical? You’re focusing of the forest when the comment you’re replying to is very explicitly about a specific tree, and how it was felled.

        1. Clark Landwehr

          I don’t understand this…The Dresden raids were not strategic in the sense that in Feb 1945 strategic plans were not in play. The war was over. Maybe tactical isn’t the right term. Maybe the word operational is more appropriate.

      3. Clark Landwehr

        Its actually well documented. The Allies had a target list. And Dresden was on the list already. So there were many factors that went into the which target to hit at any one time. But in the case of Dresden in Feb 1945, what the Allies were looking at the Soviet Upper Silesian operation. This consideration tipped the balance.
        The British not do it out of kindness, but the Allies made huge contributions the Soviet war effort. I would agree that the British were obsessed with geopolitical concerns and with retaining their Empire after the war, but that did not prevent them from helping the Red Army keep in the fight and shortening the war. The British were extremely casualty adverse after WWI and held back large numbers of men who could have gone to the front. Why not help the Soviets do the heavy lifting?

      4. hk

        I don’t know where I read it exactly, but I do remember reading about this–that the attack was, in theory, in response to Soviet request about assisting their advance and was intended to interdict rail network supplying the frontlines. I also remember the same account saying that the Soviets denied making such a precise request, and if anything, it was Soviet advance that eased the bombing because Germans sent most of the flak, the famous 88’s, defending the city to assist against fighting the Soviet ground forces so the bombing was largely unopposed. I have the hunch that Soviets, per their style, griped about Western allies not supporting their advance without any specifics and the excuse was concocted half-truthedly by Westerners probably after the fact.

        1. Clark Landwehr

          Placing Dresden, along with Leipzig and Chemnitz on the target list was not the result of any request by the Soviets. There wasn’t a request at the time of the decision.

  10. Omicron

    I visited Dresden in 1974, 29 years after WWII, while it was still governed by the DDR. The biggest ruin in the city — not recognizable as a bombed building — was the Frauenkirche, where huge arches had fallen in on each other creating a mass of destruction I would estimate at 200-300 feet high. Twenty-nine years later, people walking around that site talked with each other in whispers. One of the most horrifying sites I have ever seen. The Hauptbahnhof, or main railway station, was untouched, and, according to what I’ve read, trains continued to move through the area during the bombing. Yes, I believe it was a war crime, but (similarly to the Hiroshima/Nagasaki a-bombings and actions by the Japanese military) by then enough had come out about the Germans’ actions toward the Jews and civil populations in Eastern Europe to remove most inhibitions, it seems.

  11. Bill Malcolm

    Well said, Aurelien. I found the article a true amateur hour write-up, worthy of any seventh grade student approaching the subject for the very first time, using low grade websites as the basis for the ultra shallow treatment of the subject matter. It’s that poor, IMO.

    I have an extensive library of books on WW2 gathered since the 1960s, and the Allied bombing campaign is covered extensively in many of them. The reasons why, the inhumanity of it, and on and on. Including the precursor Spanish Civil War when Goering had a “go” bombing on behalf of Franco.. And no, I’m not going to go and sift through scores of volumes to post titles.

    Let’s just say that the author sorta kinda got it almost correct in broad generalizations, but underplayed the Hamburg raids, not mentioning the burning city was hit again the next day. And no, the river water did not catch fire — what nonsense. Water does not burn, but it does boil. Which it did here and there in shallower areas.

    When I “woke up” in 1950 at the age of three so as to be able to remember some things to this day, I found myself in a suburb of Hamburg, where my father was an RAF Squadron Leader medical officer at RAF Bookeburg. Stimulated my interest in WW2. As I grew older, it became rather obvious that Bomber Harris was not that well-respected in Britain. It also became common knowledge that aerial bombing of civilian populations does not work to break morale. Bombers in WW2 couldn’t hit the broad side of a barndoor, not even with the Norden bombsight. So, necessity being the mother of invention, Harris adopted area civilian bombing. And his boys still missed half the time, even with Pathfinder squadrons of Mosquito aircraft laying flares on the target.

    I shall forbear to go on much further. Never ever heard of Bomber “Harry” or the title of “Butcher”. Harry is a given Christian name, Harris is a surname, for goodness sake. These proffered terms are pure fantasy emanating from the author’s mind. Curtis LeMay was the man who led the US firebombing of Japanese cities by B29. And he was a nutbar psychopath of the first order and the commander of SAC for years. A thoroughly despicable man to rival Harris, as if he were in a game of catch up, lest Harris garner all the plaudits for history. America!

    All goes to show you that crappy writing and disingenuousness by gilding the lily unnecessarily and stupidly, is not solely a characteristic of today’s paid neocon propagandists. Other jokers from the nominal other side are at it as well. The subject matter is serious enough to warrant serious treatment, not half-horseshite low grade crap coming from a twit. And the subject matter has been covered literally scores of times both by real academics and by serious authors.

    For the regular schmoe, reading Len Deighton’s novel “Bomber” will give the flavour of the Allied terror bombing campaign against Germany in WW2. From the German civilian POV at its opening.

    What the hell this article’s fourth rate effort is supposed to accomplish is beyond me. Spread myths? Demonize neocons who are are already regarded as psychopaths by thinking people? It’s cartoon-like.

    My summer job boss in Canada in 1967 was a Dresden survivor, an eight year-old boy at the time of the raid. Somehow he made it to Canada and became an engineer here, was educated here, and so on. No accent. No nazi. He told me enough about white phosphorus to be instrumental in my decision to NEVER work in the weapons industry or join the military to follow orders without question from idiots. And I didn’t.

    1. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

      Dear Bill,

      You are very welcome to post an article for 10 (A+) grade student seminar work evaluation. I will enjoy to read it.

  12. Lefty Godot

    I thought the fire-bombing of Tokyo was the highest civilian casualty bombing raid (worse than the atomic bombings). Either Curtis LeMay or Carl Spaatz said afterwards that if the Allies had lost the war, they (those two generals) would surely have been prosecuted for war crimes.

    Aerial bombing anywhere remotely near a civilian population is an act of terrorism, because no matter how much they talk about “precision bombing” there are always civilian casualties. And the idea that bombing the civilian population will weaken their “will to fight” is an obscene bit of nonsense. What can we do now to make our demented President and his upper military echelon stop attacking Yemen and Syria, for instance? As Goehring said, the people have no effective power over their leaders in matters of war, no matter the type of government they live under. If anything, being bombed would make the victims more willing to see the perpetrators killed, as I’m sure has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan. Strategic bombing is terrorism.

    1. veritea

      Tokyo was also a major war-production center. The Japanese war-production effort involved thousands of small workshops within homes that would produce individual parts.

      A simple fact of war is that it is not possible to win a war where you care for the enemy’s civilian population more than the enemy’s leadership cares for their own civilian population. Either you will protect their civilians and provide the enemy with the means to win by simply increasing the danger and death of their own population to whatever degree is needed to stop you, or you match their level of care and kill civilians when they are placed in the way and protect them only when they are truly kept from the war effort.

      Distributing production among the civilian population was a choice by the Japanese leadership. They had a war doctrine that insisted on full civilian involvement in the war effort at every level (just how much more than even the Germans managed to achieve we discovered after the war).

      The emperor toured the devastation after the Tokyo bombing and was quoted by those who accompanied him as saying something to the effect that the civilians could certainly endure far worse for the sake of the country. It would take far more that the firebombing and death of 100,000 of his citizens inside of six hours for him to realize the war could not be won.

  13. Socal Rhino

    The important question isn’t whether the Dresden firebombing was a war crime as defined by international law in the 1940s. It is whether or not a certain government in west Asia is justified in citing such events in defense of events happening now.

  14. Mirko

    It should be noted that Dresden was saved because the nuclear weapons that were dropped on Japan were actually destined for Dresden. They knew that the city was full of refugees.

    First of all, my hometown “Dresden” is 60 km away from my current place of residence.

    The Ukrainian press published the following news item today, which makes people sit up and take notice:

    In the 20th century, it was assumed that 100,000 to 300,000 city residents died as a result of the bombing of Dresden (assuming the maximum number, this is almost a third of the city’s population). A much smaller figure is now quoted in Germany: 25,000.

    The documented number of residential buildings completely destroyed by bombing exceeds 78,000, including many apartment buildings.


    The exact number of residential buildings before the air raids in the Second World War cannot be precisely determined either in Wiki. or by AI. However, it is crucial to note that about 90% of the destruction affected the city center. The number of refugees varies between 100,000 and 200,000, and if this is extrapolated with the city’s population at the time (640,000 to 650,000), the result is a total of 740,000 to 850,000 people who stayed in the city until the American and British attacks.

    A mathematical extrapolation, based on an average of 3.12 people per residential building and the number of destroyed residential buildings of 78,000, results in 234,000 bombing victims and 100,000 deaths in purely mathematical terms – not 25,000, as has been repeated for years.

    The constantly repeated figure of 25,000 fatalities raises the question of how this figure was arrived at. In the midst of the chaos of war, it became known after a certain time that around 78,000 residential buildings had been destroyed. If you divide this figure by 3.12 – the average number of people per residential building – you actually get 25,000. It is impossible to say for sure whether this was deliberately passed on or whether it was due to a calculation error.

    1. Clark Landwehr

      See Frederick Taylor’s definitive account of the Dresden bombing, Appendix B for detailed explanation of the casualties and the derivation of the various numbers that have appeared in public. As I remember, the reliable figures for number killed are between 25,000 to maybe 40,000 tops.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Are you fucking crazy? The bombing was done at night. The into about Hamburg shows how the fires was so intense it MELTED ASPHALT along with bodies and created hurricane level winds.

        You have a bizarre emotional need to defend this war crime and are now way into Making Shit Up category. I am not approving further comments by you on this topic.

        1. Mirko

          There was a report on German television (MDR) that the temperatures during the firestorm in Dresden must have been well over 1000°C, because the standing stone (Frauenkirche) turned reddish. People burn almost completely at 800-900°C. You should know that Dresden is located in a kind of valley (Elbtal) and therefore fires can intensify, which leads to a higher temperature (chimney effect). Therefore, my personal assumption is that there must have been far more fatalities.

  15. spud

    “Firebombing is a bombing technique designed to damage a target, generally an urban area, through the use of fire, caused by incendiary devices, rather than from the blast effect of large bombs. In popular usage, any act in which an incendiary device is used to initiate a fire is often described as a “firebombing”.

    Although simple incendiary bombs have been used to destroy buildings since the start of gunpowder warfare, World War I saw the first use of strategic bombing from the air to damage the morale and economy of the enemy, such as the German Zeppelin air raids conducted on London. The Chinese wartime capital of Chongqing was firebombed by the Imperial Japanese starting in early 1939 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. London, Coventry, and many other British cities were firebombed during the Blitz by Nazi Germany. Most large German cities were extensively firebombed starting in 1942, and almost all large Japanese cities were firebombed during the last six months of World War II.

    This technique makes use of small incendiary bombs possibly delivered by a cluster bomb, such as the Molotov bread basket.[1] If a fire catches, it could spread, taking in adjacent buildings that would have been largely unaffected by a high explosive bomb. This is a more effective use of the payload that a bomber could carry. ”

    Firebombing in Braunschweig, Germany, 15 October 1944
    Charred remains of Japanese civilians after a bombing of Tokyo

    Early in World War II many British cities were firebombed. Two particularly notable raids were the Coventry Blitz on 14 November 1940, and the blitz on London on the night of 29 December/30 December 1940, which was the most destructive raid on London during the war with much of the destruction caused by fires started by incendiary bombs. During the Coventry Blitz the Germans pioneered several innovations which were to influence all future strategic bomber raids during the war.[2] These were: the use of pathfinder aircraft with electronic aids to navigate, to mark the targets before the main bomber raid; and the use of high explosive bombs and air-mines coupled with thousands of incendiary bombs intended to set the city ablaze. The first wave of follow-up bombers dropped high explosive bombs, the intent of which was to knock out the utilities (the water supply, electricity network and gas mains), and to crater the road — making it difficult for the fire engines to reach fires started by the successive waves of bombers. The follow-up waves dropped a combination of high explosive and incendiary bombs. There were two types of incendiary bombs: those made of magnesium and iron powders, and those made of petroleum. The high-explosive bombs and the larger air-mines were not only designed to hamper the Coventry fire brigade, they were also intended to damage roofs, making it easier for the incendiary bombs to fall into buildings and ignite them. As Sir Arthur Harris, commander of RAF Bomber Command, wrote after the war:

    In the early days of bombing our notion, like that of the Germans, was to spread an attack out over the whole night, thereby wearing down the morale of the civilian population. The result was, of course, that an efficient fire brigade could tackle a single load of incendiaries, put them out, and wait in comfort for the next to come along; they might also be able to take shelter when a few high explosives bombs were dropping. … But it was observed that when the Germans did get an effective concentration, … then our fire brigades had a hard time; if a rain of incendiaries is mixed with high explosives bombs there is a temptation for the fireman to keep his head down. The Germans, again and again, missed their chance, as they did during the London blitz that I watched from the roof of the Air Ministry, of setting our cities ablaze by a concentrated attack. Coventry was adequately concentrated in point of space, but all the same, there was little concentration in point of time, and nothing like the fire tornadoes of Hamburg or Dresden ever occurred in this country. But they did do us enough damage to teach us the principle of concentration, the principle of starting so many fires at the same time that no firefighting services, however efficiently and quickly they were reinforced by the fire brigades of other towns could get them under control.
    — Arthur Harris[3]”

    “The Nanjing Massacre[2] or the Rape of Nanjing (formerly romanized as Nanking[note 2]) was the mass murder of Chinese civilians in Nanjing, the capital of the Republic of China, immediately after the Battle of Nanking in the Second Sino-Japanese War, by the Imperial Japanese Army.[3][4][5][6] Beginning on December 13, 1937, the massacre lasted six weeks.[note 1] The perpetrators also committed other war crimes such as mass rape, looting, and arson. The massacre is considered to be one of the worst wartime atrocities.[7][8][9”

    Location Nanjing, China
    Date From December 13, 1937, for six weeks[note 1]
    Attack type
    Mass murder, wartime rape, looting, arson
    Deaths 200,000 (consensus), estimates range from 40,000 to over 300,000
    Victims 20,000 to 80,000 women raped, 30,000 to 40,000 POWs executed

    the japanese were not going to surrender, and we would have had to fought building by building till they were beaten.

    we see this in gaza and the ukraine.

    its not hard to see why dresden was firebombed, as well as japan.

    lots of crimes on both sides.

    1. Thucydides

      “the japanese were not going to surrender, and we would have had to fought building by building till they were beaten”

      Not really true. The japanese as well as the germans knew the war was lost long before it ended. It was the insistance on unconditional surrender that drew it out much longer.

      Whether insisting on unconditional surrender was the proper thing to do remains debatable. Some people attribute a main cause of WW2 to the fact that Germany was allowed conditions to surrender at the end of WW1, which I think is incorrect, but it is a widespread opinion.

      But in my view countries in lost wars will cease fighting sooner if some conditions (and face saving) are offered on the negotiating table. What conditions exactly, well, thats what the negotiating table is for.

  16. Synoia

    By today’s standards it appears the UK Dam busters, 617 squdren, were war committing war crimes for breaching German dams and killing many Civilians.

    To us growing up in the shadow of WW 2, they were heroes.

    Mores change in circumstances and over time. Before passing judgement one must consider the circumstances, somehow.

  17. Synoia

    Deliberate aerial bombing of civilian populations was first put into practice by the UK:

    Oh!. I belie that was done after the London Blitz. Or are my dates wrong

    1. Albe Vado

      My position is that it’s fine to condemn. I’m not asking anyone to approve of attacking Dresden (or Tokyo, or anywhere else). But to be meaningful the condemnation has to be tempered by understanding of the context, and what was known (or believed) by the actors involved at the time. It also has to not be based on misunderstandings or even outright falsehoods.

      I just fundamentally do not agree with the premise that Allied strategic bombing (certainly for the Americans, less so for the British) was meant simply to vindictively slaughter a bunch of civilians. That doesn’t mean the planners couldn’t shrug and be cavalier about projected civilian deaths from mass bombing, but the targets were fundamentally military and infrastructure. They firebombed because firebombing is a very effective way of spreading a lot of damage and increasing the likelihood of getting at whatever the target was. If ‘sniping’ key infrastructure had been viable, it would have been done (and it would have been far cheaper than mass raids. The beancounters would have loved it). The hundreds of bombers escorted by hundreds of fighters, manned with thousands of crew; these were not carelessly considered or pettily motivated endeavors.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        You have no proof. Jonathan Glover in his book Hunanity did extensive archival research and determined that the Blitz indeed led Allies to deem it acceptable to bomb civilians.

        You further have not substantiated your claim that something as wantonly destructive as firebombing was necessary to render Dresden useless from a military standpoint. All you have done is handwave.

        Provide evidence or stop defending this practice.

  18. Not Qualified to Comment

    As is tellingly said, if you’re going to criticise someone first walk a mile in their shoes.

    When you’re fighting for your life would you willingly tie one hand behind your back?

    It’s easy to look back now and be appalled by Dresden, and Cologne by the way, but would you so readily have taken the high moral ground in 1943, especially if you’d experienced the London Blitz, or Coventry? After all you were only doing what had been done to you, but doing it better. Had you been a US Marine in 1945, or had a husband or son in the Marine Corps who had fought at Guadacanal or Iwo Jima, would you have said, “No, we shouldn’t try to end the war by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. My conscience demands that we fight bayonette to bayonette all the way to Tokyo.”?

    War is war. You can’t be nice about it. We can recognise these were all appalling things. We can say they shouldn’t be allowed to happen and try to fnd ways to avoid it, but what happened at Dresden was only worse in quantity than bombing a wedding party in Iraq so if the shoe fits, walk a mile in it.

  19. everydayjoe

    The mass rape of German women and young girls by Soviet troops is also an atrocity that rarely gets mentioned.
    From the bombing of Dresden and Japanese cities to current day Gaza one thing is evident: Once war breaks all rules are off and it becomes us vs them. We need a strong antiwar party in the US and a strong UN for civilisation to stand a chance.

    1. Kevin Walsh

      I don’t know what you mean. I see it mentioned in plenty of books by authors like Anthony Beevor who as far as I recall never mention sexual violence by Nazi soldiers on Soviet women and girls or, for that matter, sexual violence by British or American soldiers against German women and girls.

      I should add that this was a criminal offence for which Soviet soldiers were arrested by the NKVD, not a practise that was specifically ordered by Stalin or the Stavka.

  20. Victor Sciamarelli

    Eventually, the take-away from WW2, and for the first time in human history, is that the most egregious crimes would be punishable, namely: the crime of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression.
    The tragedy of bombing cities and killing civilians was that it accomplished little. Toward the end of the war FDR suggested and Secretary of War Stimson ordered the “US Strategic Bombing Survey” for which economist John Kenneth Galbraith was a director. According to Galbraith, “The best in American (and some British) economic and statistical talent was assembled for this large-scale investigation.”
    The bombing of factories, shipyards, and transportation was expected to impact the German economy. However, according to Galbraith, the Survey concluded, “In fact, the air attacks, in some instances, helped force the Germans to mobilize into war use hitherto unmobilized resources, a fact made evident in the increased production of arms that continued up until the closing months of the war.”
    Galbraith continued, “Even the attacks of the Royal Air Force on urban areas may have had a stimulating effect.” “It was the conclusion of the Bombing Survey, ‘the air raids of 1943-44 [on Germany], particularly the area attacks of the RAF, may have kept up the tension of natural danger, and created the requisite atmosphere for sacrifice.’”
    From Galbraith, “In fact, the modern rich economy has a high measure of resilience. A dismaying shortage in one area can be overcome by drawing supplies from elsewhere. The long-range strategic bombers did not win WW2; it is not clear that they even appreciably shortened the war in Europe.”
    Moreover, “American control of the air over Korea and Vietnam was complete, this did not win or demonstrably affect the course of the war in those countries. They were still fought and won—or lost—on the ground.”
    “The air attacks on Japan, especially the devastating and inordinately cruel city raids, were more severe than anything Germany suffered.” “Again, however, it was ground and naval warfare (together with the defeat of Germany) that brought Japans eventual surrender, not the economic loss of its military supplies through bombing raids.” “And the Strategic Bombing Survey concluded, more than incidentally, that the atomic bombs advanced the end of the war by only a matter of weeks.”
    Int’l Criminal Court pp. 23-26
    John Kenneth Galbraith, “A Journey Through Economic Time” pp. 127-134

  21. Alice X

    What I do know, that beyond the vast human tragedy, there were many irreplaceable music scores lost at the State Library, which was a cultural tragedy.

  22. 4paul

    Excellent spirited discussion!

    I will quibble on:

    1) no discussion of Dresden, aerial bombardment, etc, is complete without a discussion/mention of Hans Rumpf’s The Bombing of Germany.
    … a quick search turned up what appears to be a contemporaneous article (1963) in Commentary which hits the high points, on the for and against sides, and is a decent review. The book is still mentioned in some scholarly discussions.

    2) Curtis LeMay is mentioned in the comments, but not the article; he had moved to the Pacific Theater by February 1945 so was not a Principal in the Dresden bombing, but should be mentioned, since he was a Principal in the Tokyo Firebombings.

    3) the Wikipedia article is good, and contains most of the points referenced here (but NOT the Hans Rumpf book…)

    4) Synoia mentions the Dam Busters, which had been perfecting their technique (quite impressive, really) for destroying non-hydro dams, which was certainly vindictive (one of Hans Rumpf’s points, he surveys the sweep of Allied bombing, Dresden was a logical Next Step if you follow the progression of the “Air War”).

    5) Guernica has to be mentioned, once in a comment, footnoted in the article, as the “Spanish Civil War” was the dress rehearsal. An interesting discussion mentioned by PlutoniumKun is the US/UK investment in long-range Heavy bombers (uniquely able to saturation bomb / Fire bomb) as opposed to the German Stuka/Blitzkrieg tactical bombers, or Japan lacking raw materials and petrol to build Heavy bombers to waste thousands of bombs by dropping them indiscriminately on cities thousands of miles away.

    6) In any event, by February 1945 the outcome of the war was not in doubt, although the Battle of the Bulge had slowed the Allies advance; theories that US/UK actions were “putting on a show for Stalin” can’t be dismissed, as the “Communist Threat” had been used by FDR in the previous decade, and was high on the list of worries of the people in charge of the US government.

    Finally (thank you for reading!):

    The crucial point of the talk about Dresden is the Fire aspect (mentioned in Yves’ NC intro), not the targeting in the first place; … for the Tokyo bombings, the historical record is fairly clear that the Fire part of Firebombing was intended; for Dresden I haven’t done enough research, and the “historical record” does not appear conclusive (the Wikipedia page for Dresden is short in places, and wholeheartedly caps deaths at 25,000)

    Even with the appearance of Hans Rumpf’s book (1961), Slaughterhouse Five (1969), and Dr Strangelove (1964) (a documentary!), the beyond evil horrors of Vietnam were yet to come (Linebacker II / Cambodia / Laos), and all the Nuremburg discussions did not dissuade the Nixon/Kissinger et al from the Next Step; since there was no blame for Dresden or Tokyo Firebombings, Agent Orange and Linebacker II were no problem. As was mentioned in several comments, the first time it happens it’s not a crime. Unfortunately we have not generalized the War Crimes statutes. To this day, Henry Kissinger is listed as a Nobel Peace Prize Recipient.

    Perhaps that was where Dr. Sotirovic was going is his article, but didn’t get there, or I should quote Sting (Looking for his last name in the Dip):
    But you can reach the top of your profession
    If you become the leader of the land
    For murder is the sport of the elected
    And you don’t need to lift a finger of your hand
    – Murder By Numbers


  23. caucus99percenter

    Here in Saxony, some Greens, Left Party supporters, and assorted Antifa have been known to commemorate February 13 by marching under banners or signs that said “Bomber Harris, do it again” and “There were no innocent victims in Dresden.”

    So then the daft mainstream wonders why the Greens poll so poorly and the AfD polls so well in Saxony. Duh!

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