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Bombing of dresden in world war ii

The meaning of «bombing of dresden in world war ii»

The bombing of Dresden was a British-American aerial bombing attack on the city of Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony, during World War II. In four raids between 13 and 15 February 1945, 722 heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and 527 of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city.[1] The bombing and the resulting firestorm destroyed more than 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of the city centre.[2] An estimated 22,700[3] to 25,000[4] people were killed.[a] Three more USAAF air raids followed, two occurring on 2 March aimed at the city's railway marshalling yard and one smaller raid on 17 April aimed at industrial areas.

Immediate German propaganda claims following the attacks and postwar discussions[6] of whether the attacks were justified have led to the bombing becoming one of the moral causes célèbres of the war.[7] A 1953 United States Air Force report defended the operation as the justified bombing of a strategic target, which they noted was a major rail transport and communication centre, housing 110 factories and 50,000 workers in support of the German war effort.[8] Several researchers claim that not all of the communications infrastructure, such as the bridges, were targeted, nor were the extensive industrial areas which were located outside the city centre.[9] Critics of the bombing have asserted that Dresden was a cultural landmark while downplaying its strategic significance, and claim that the attacks were indiscriminate area bombing and not proportionate to the military gains.[10][11][12] Some have claimed that the raid constituted a war crime.[13] Some, mostly in the German far-right, refer to the bombing as a mass murder, calling it "Dresden's Holocaust of bombs".[14][15]

In the decades since the war, large variations in the claimed death toll have fuelled the controversy, though the numbers themselves are no longer a major point of contention among historians. In March 1945, the German government ordered its press to publish a falsified casualty figure of 200,000 for the Dresden raids, and death tolls as high as 500,000 have been claimed.[16][17][18] The city authorities at the time estimated up to 25,000 victims, a figure that subsequent investigations supported, including a 2010 study commissioned by the city council.[19] One of the main authors responsible for inflated figures being disseminated in the West was Holocaust denier David Irving, who subsequently announced that he had discovered that the documentation he had worked from had been forged, and the real figures supported the 25,000 number.[20]

Early in 1945, the German offensive known as the Battle of the Bulge had been exhausted, as was the Luftwaffe's disastrous New Year's Day attack involving elements of 11 combat wings of its day fighter force. The Red Army had launched its Silesian Offensives into pre-war German territory. The German army was retreating on all fronts, but still resisting strongly. On 8 February 1945, the Red Army crossed the Oder River, with positions just 70 km (43 mi) from Berlin.[21] A special British Joint Intelligence Subcommittee report, German Strategy and Capacity to Resist, prepared for Winston Churchill's eyes only, predicted that Germany might collapse as early as mid-April if the Soviets overran its eastern defences. Alternatively, the report warned that the Germans might hold out until November if they could prevent the Soviets from taking Silesia. Hence any assistance to the Soviets on the Eastern Front could shorten the war.[22]

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