Was Dresden a mistake?

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Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by German Born » Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:23 pm

I was watching a ww2 doco (courtesy of SBS Australia) re the bombing of Dresden.I would like to point out that I mean no disrespect to the victims of this Holocaust and my sympathy goes out to those who perished.I believe that I heard the narrator suggest that the bombing was indeed a mistake.Maybe someone can clarify this.From what I can gather is that Dresden was mainly residential.
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Re: Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by phylo_roadking » Sun Oct 23, 2011 7:31 am

This is a subject that gets discussed at leat once a year on military history forums :wink: Any city is mostly residential - it's what those residents do for a living that the problem; in 1944, the German Army High Command's Weapons Office listed 127 medium-to-large factories and workshops that were supplying the army with materiel. From Wiki -
The US Air Force Historical Division wrote a report in response to the international concern about the bombing, which was classified until December 1978. This said that there were 110 factories and 50,000 workers in the city supporting the German war effort at the time of the raid. According to the report, there were aircraft components factories; a poison gas factory (Chemische Fabrik Goye and Company); an anti-aircraft and field gun factory (Lehman); an optical goods factory (Zeiss Ikon AG); as well as factories producing electrical and X-ray apparatus (Koch & Sterzel AG); gears and differentials (Saxoniswerke); and electric gauges (Gebrüder Bassler). It also said there were barracks, hutted camps, and a munitions storage depot.

The USAF report also states that two of Dresden's traffic routes were of military importance: north-south from Germany to Czechoslovakia, and east-west along the central European uplands. The city was at the junction of the Berlin-Prague-Vienna railway line, as well as the Munich-Breslau, and Hamburg-Leipzig. Colonel Harold E. Cook, a US POW held in the Friedrichstadt marshaling yard the night before the attacks, later said that "I saw with my own eyes that Dresden was an armed camp: thousands of German troops, tanks and artillery and miles of freight cars loaded with supplies supporting and transporting German logistics towards the east to meet the Russians."
Although it's often forgotten now, the USAAF bombed Dresden in daylight a few hours after the RAF at night.
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Re: Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by lwd » Mon Oct 24, 2011 6:16 am

Dresden had also been bombed a couple of times previoius to the one that caused the fire storm, had it not?

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Re: Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by phylo_roadking » Mon Oct 24, 2011 7:21 am

Nope; according to Ross,"Strategic Bombing by the United States in World War II: The Myths and the Facts" Dresden was - according to the RAF at the time, "the largest remaining unbombed built-up area in Germany".
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Re: Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by lwd » Tue Oct 25, 2011 6:13 am

Well it is wiki so hardly definitive but at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of ... rld_War_II
it states:
The Eighth Air Force had already bombed the railway yards near the centre of the city twice in daytime raids: once on 7 October 1944 with 70 tons of high-explosive bombs killing more than 400,[38] then again with 133 bombers on 16 January 1945, dropping 279 tons of high-explosives and 41 tons of incendiaries.[3]
The referrences 3 and 38 refer to:
3. a b c d e f g h i j k l m Angell (1953)
38. ^ Hahn, Alfred and Neef, Ernst. Dresden. Werte unserer Heimat. Bd. 42. Berlin 1985.

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Re: Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by mellenthin » Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:19 am

It was certainly a mistake,even more so at the end of the war.Area bombing to terrorise the enemy population had already proven a failure. Precision bombing of targets that affected the enemy war effort were the only ones that worked. There was certainly no enthusiasm among the military leadership for this raid.

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Re: Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by mellenthin » Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:22 am

phylo_roadking wrote:This is a subject that gets discussed at leat once a year on military history forums :wink: Any city is mostly residential - it's what those residents do for a living that the problem; in 1944, the German Army High Command's Weapons Office listed 127 medium-to-large factories and workshops that were supplying the army with materiel. From Wiki -
The US Air Force Historical Division wrote a report in response to the international concern about the bombing, which was classified until December 1978. This said that there were 110 factories and 50,000 workers in the city supporting the German war effort at the time of the raid. According to the report, there were aircraft components factories; a poison gas factory (Chemische Fabrik Goye and Company); an anti-aircraft and field gun factory (Lehman); an optical goods factory (Zeiss Ikon AG); as well as factories producing electrical and X-ray apparatus (Koch & Sterzel AG); gears and differentials (Saxoniswerke); and electric gauges (Gebrüder Bassler). It also said there were barracks, hutted camps, and a munitions storage depot.

The USAF report also states that two of Dresden's traffic routes were of military importance: north-south from Germany to Czechoslovakia, and east-west along the central European uplands. The city was at the junction of the Berlin-Prague-Vienna railway line, as well as the Munich-Breslau, and Hamburg-Leipzig. Colonel Harold E. Cook, a US POW held in the Friedrichstadt marshaling yard the night before the attacks, later said that "I saw with my own eyes that Dresden was an armed camp: thousands of German troops, tanks and artillery and miles of freight cars loaded with supplies supporting and transporting German logistics towards the east to meet the Russians."
Although it's often forgotten now, the USAAF bombed Dresden in daylight a few hours after the RAF at night.
The attack was intended as a terror attack,not a precision one against targets of economical or military importance.

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Re: Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by haen2 » Fri Nov 04, 2011 11:41 am

Somewhere I read a quote from Churchill: "Hit them when they are asleep, they won't know what hit them". Sorry i have no scourge for it, but i DID read it .
Another thing often forgotten is: the 50,000 'workers" in the war- related-industry, were mainly foreigners who had been volunteered (sic) to work there. I did lose some relatives from Holland in there.
In my opinion it was not only a "mistake", but actually a war crime.
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Re: Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by Hans » Fri Nov 04, 2011 4:06 pm

My wounded civilian uncle [animal trainer - Zirkus Busch] on the way to hospital in an ambulance after being wounded in the first wave of bombing. Never did find him, nor the ambulance for that matter. Never found his wife either. Military targets???? Never mind, you gotta have heroes and real men dropping bombs on innocents is the stuff heroes are made of. Beats fighting. Nothing much has changed.

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Re: Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by phylo_roadking » Sat Nov 05, 2011 10:26 am

The attack was intended as a terror attack,not a precision one against targets of economical or military importance
In WWII, events had proved that precision bombing at night was next to impossible. Shall we rehash ALL the night precision bombing up to late '41 vs. are bombing debate again, the Butt Report, etc.?

The list of targets of military and economic importance in Dresden speaks for itself - AS does that fact that there was not (and STILL not) any legal restriction in the Laws and Customs of War on the use of terror as a tactic during WWII....
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Re: Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by mellenthin » Sat Nov 05, 2011 1:09 pm

phylo_roadking wrote:
The attack was intended as a terror attack,not a precision one against targets of economical or military importance
In WWII, events had proved that precision bombing at night was next to impossible. Shall we rehash ALL the night precision bombing up to late '41 vs. are bombing debate again, the Butt Report, etc.?

The list of targets of military and economic importance in Dresden speaks for itself - AS does that fact that there was not (and STILL not) any legal restriction in the Laws and Customs of War on the use of terror as a tactic during WWII....
Attacks during the night were terror attacks and did not really work. The attack against Dresden was therefore a p
ure terror attack and not really of much military use which explains the lack of enthusiasm for it.There are a lot of people who consider pure terror attacks a warcrime.

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Re: Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by haen2 » Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:09 pm

haen2 wrote:Somewhere I read a quote from Churchill: "Hit them when they are asleep, they won't know what hit them". Sorry i have no scourge for it, but i DID read it .
Another thing often forgotten is: the 50,000 'workers" in the war- related-industry, were mainly foreigners who had been volunteered (sic) to work there. I did lose some relatives from Holland in there.
In my opinion it was not only a "mistake", but actually a war crime.
HN
Sorry about the typo. that should have read "source", not scourge. (that's what you get when you are lazy and use an automatic spellchecker.)
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Re: Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by phylo_roadking » Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:48 pm

Attacks during the night were terror attacks and did not really work.
Speer and Goebbels don't seem to have agreed with you.

Nor does the toll of destruction upon German war industries in Hamburg during the night campaign there.
The attack against Dresden was therefore a pure terror attack and not really of much military use which explains the lack of enthusiasm for it.
Really? Lack of enthusiasm by who?
There are a lot of people who consider pure terror attacks a warcrime.
Unfortunately, as discussed ad nauseam SO many times - it's not. Personal opinion doesn't actually rack up against legal fact.
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Re: Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by mellenthin » Sun Nov 06, 2011 4:45 am

Making arrogant statements about the legality of indiscriminate bombing does not change the fact that the opinion concerning its illegality,even during ww2, exists. Not my opinion but it does exist. Contrary to the judges at Nurenberg I do not believe that the principles in the conventions of The Hague were legally binding but indiscrimate bombing of a city was certainly contrary to the sprit of them. Those that came up with the argument that anti aircraft defenses make a city a defended city are not credible as you would put up AAA to protect yourself from air attacks. That taking this precaution against the thing that is not allowed being done anyway would suddenly make the 'illegal 'act you want to protect yourself against ,legal is strange to say the least. :shock: Typically the type of argument invented to justify the thing you want to do in spite of legalities.
Denying the existing disagreements on the allied side during ww2 about what and how to bomb is not very smart either.
Area bombing was not the method that really worked best. The german war effort was mostl hurt by precision bombing against oil targets and the transport system.
Add to that the situation of Germany in 1945 and the bombing of Dresden as it was executed becomes completely useless.

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Re: Was Dresden a mistake?

Post by phylo_roadking » Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:15 am

Making arrogant statements about the legality of indiscriminate bombing does not change the fact that the opinion concerning its illegality,even during ww2, exists. Not my opinion but it does exist.
Spot the important word emboldened there.

And it is far from arrogant to point out when the basic premise behind that opinion is 100% wrong; you cannot have a "crime" unless there is a stated crime there to commit.
Contrary to the judges at Nurenberg I do not believe that the principles in the conventions of The Hague were legally binding but indiscrimate bombing of a city was certainly contrary to the sprit of them.
You cannot take people to a court of any kind on a charge unless the actual crimes they're charged with exist, laid down in some form, and generally acepted by all parties. The high contracting powers to the Hague Conventions fluffed their chance to do something about area bombing - in fact aerial boming of any type - in the mid -1930s when the Draft Convention On Aerial Bombing fell flat on its face.

Of course the Hague Conventions are binding - it's the only written laws of war we had....and in many aspects STILL have.

And remember - charges at the IMT were brought on the basis the "laws and customs of war" - I.E. there was "wiggle room" - but the simple fact is that ever since the Italians bombed Libyan tribesmen from dirigibles in 1911, the Germans bombed Greek civilians in Salonika in WWI, the Condor Legion bombed urban targets in the SCW....area bombing, and the bombing of targets embedded in civilian areas, has most definitely been a "custom" of war. We've been doing it for a hundred years now, that certainly makes it customary; the general legal view is it only takes 30 years for something to become "customary".
Those that came up with the argument that anti aircraft defenses make a city a defended city are not credible as you would put up AAA to protect yourself from air attacks. That taking this precaution against the thing that is not allowed being done anyway would suddenly make the 'illegal 'act you want to protect yourself against ,legal is strange to say the least. Typically the type of argument invented to justify the thing you want to do in spite of legalities.
It's an argument that arose because some parties came up with the idea that certain existing provisions within the HRLW prevented air attacks on urban areas; unfortuantely for them this was not the case anyway...

The "bombardment" clauses of the Hague Rules on LAND Warfare (again, spot the important word there...) refer to artillery bombardment; at the time that the Hague Conventions were drafted and signed up to, aerial bombardment did not exist.
Denying the existing disagreements on the allied side during ww2 about what and how to bomb is not very smart either.
Once again - arguments between who and on what aspects?
Area bombing was not the method that really worked best. The german war effort was mostl hurt by precision bombing against oil targets and the transport system
Really? Again, look at the destruction wrought on the industry in and around Hamburg; or the heart of the German munitions industry around Berlin.

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