Mythbusting: the truth about Dresden, Winston Churchill and the German-British War

On this day in 1945, the bombing of Dresden began. Scholars who speak for the Federal Republic of Germany state that, on that fateful day in 1945, more than 12.000 buildings in Dresden were decimated. The temperature in the dwellings quickly rose to 1.600 degrees Celsius, instantly incinerating the people inside.

But the scholars who currently speak on behalf of the Federal Republic now claim that, while Dresden had 600.000 inhabitants and the population of the city had swelled to twice its size to accomodate refugees, only 35.000 persons perished in the bombing. The mainstream position is problematic for several reasons.

First, an area of 28 square kilometers was affected in the bombing. The Dresden police report dated March 22, 1945 indicates the extent of the damage: 31 stores, 32 large hotels, 6 theatres, 647 places of business and 72 schools. Assuming only 35.000 died across this area would mean that less than 1.5 persons perished for every thousand square meters in a crowded city center.

Second, the 35.000 figure only represents the victims who could be fully identified, and it goes without saying that the men, women and children who became a heap of ashes could not be identified.

In 1995, Erhard Mundra, a member of the "Bautzen committee” (an association in former East Germany), reported to the newspaper Die Welt:

"According to the former general staff officer of the military district of Dresden and retired lieutenant colonel of the Bundeswehr, D. Matthes, 35.000 victims were fully and another 50.000 partly identified, whereas further 168.000 could not be identified at all.” (Die Welt, 12.2. 1995, page 8).

On paper: the aftermath
The committee's findings closely mirror the position of the police report of 22 March, 1945, which held that around 250.000 had died and only thirty percent could be identified. Former West German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer reiterated these views. In 1955, Adenauer declared:
"On 13 February 1945, the attack on the city of Dresden, which was overcrowded with refugees, claimed about 250.000 victims.” (Deutschland Heute, edited by the press and information service of the federal government, Wiesbaden 1955, page 154)

In 1992, the city of Dresden gave the following answer to a citizen who had inquired about the death toll:

"According to reliable information from the Dresden police, 202.040 dead, most of them women and children, were found until 20 March. Only about 30% of them could be identified. If we take into account those who are missing, a figure of 250.000 to 300.000 victims seems realistic.” (letter by Hitzscherlich, Sign: 0016/Mi, date: 31 - 7 - 1992).

In the 1990s, the press was also speaking about the event in terms that are seldom heard today. For instance, an article in the newspaper Die Zeit stated that Dresden "became a crematoria":

"When the city became a crematoria [...], Professor Dietmar Hosser from the Institute for Construction Material, Massive Construction and Fire Prevention deems it highly probable that the temperatures above ground reached up to 1600 degrees Celsius.” (Die Welt, 3 March 1995)

Needless to say, in spite of the consistency of the quoted figures and the evidence against the newly-adopted 35.000 figure, in February 2005, a commission of "serious historians" further reduced the alleged number of victims, claiming that only 24.000 had been killed during the bombing of Dresden.

Criticism arose as recently as 2017 because of the theory that "Dresden was not an innocent city". But what is an "innocent city"? At the time of the attack, Dresden had no anti-aircraft guns or military defenses; in fact, the only major air-raid shelter in Dresden was the central train station. The city was considered a safe haven just beyond the reach of British and American bombers from the West, which explained in part the large number of people taking shelter there. Just as importantly, Dresden was cluttered with homeless civilians arriving from the east as the Soviet Red Army closed in. The British and American leaders were aware of Dresden's state of affairs. They also were aware that the city had no military significance. The memo given to the British pilots before they were sent to bomb Dresden stated:
"Dresden, the seventh largest city in Germany and not much smaller than Manchester is also the largest unbombed builtup area the enemy has got. In the midst of winter with refugees pouring westward and troops to be rested, roofs are at a premium, not only to give shelter to workers, refugees, and troops alike, but to house the administrative services displaced from other areas [...]" (quoted by Stewart Halsey Ross, Strategic Bombing by the United States in World War II: The Myths and the Facts, 2003, page 180)

Winston Churchill, the leader of the United Kingdom (UK) commissioned the attack, which led to almost 700.000 incendiary bombs being dropped on Dresden – in other words, more than one bomb for every two people crowded into the city. As the bombs fell and the firestorm in Dresden began, women who were giving birth to children in the delivery rooms of burning hospitals jumped out the windows; within minutes, these mothers and their children, who were still hanging at the umbilical cords, were reduced to ashes too. In one account written in 1987, survivor Margaret Freyer described the horror.

"To my left I suddenly see a woman. I can see her to this day and shall never forget it. She carries a bundle in her arms. It is a baby. She runs, she falls, and the child flies in an arc into the fire. Suddenly, I saw people again, right in front of me. They scream and gesticulate with their hands, and then — to my utter horror and amazement — I see how one after the other they simply seem to let themselves drop to the ground. (Today I know that these unfortunate people were the victims of lack of oxygen). They fainted and then burnt to cinders.

Insane fear grips me and from then on I repeat one simple sentence to myself continuously: "I don't want to burn to death". I do not know how many people I fell over. I know only one thing: that I must not burn."

- Margaret Freyer, survivor (quoted by John Carry in "The Bombing of Dresden," in Eyewitness To History, 1987, pp. 608–11)

Thousands of people tried to reach water, but phosphorus continues to burn even in water. Animals from the zoo - elephants, lions and others - met a tragic death, burned alive while gasping for air. In another account, survivor Lothar Metzger shares his perspective:

"It is not possible to describe! Explosion after explosion. It was beyond belief, worse than the blackest nightmare. So many people were horribly burnt and injured. It became more and more difficult to breathe. It was dark and all of us tried to leave this cellar with inconceivable panic. Dead and dying people were trampled upon, luggage was left or snatched up out of our hands by rescuers. The basket with our twins covered with wet cloths was snatched up out of my mother's hands and we were pushed upstairs by the people behind us. We saw the burning street, the falling ruins and the terrible firestorm. My mother covered us with wet blankets and coats she found in a water tub.

We saw terrible things: cremated adults shrunk to the size of small children, pieces of arms and legs, dead people, whole families burnt to death, burning people ran to and fro, burnt coaches filled with civilian refugees, dead rescuers and soldiers, many were calling and looking for their children and families, and fire everywhere, everywhere fire, and all the time the hot wind of the firestorm threw people back into the burning houses they were trying to escape from. I cannot forget these terrible details. I can never forget them."
- Lothar Metzger, survivor (in "Timewitnesses", moderated by Tom Halloway, The Fire-bombing of Dresden: An Eyewitness Account, recorded May 1999 in Berlin)

In what way Dresden's civilians, including new-born children, and animals were not innocent, the Federal Republic has not explained. Nor has the Federal Republic addressed the following:

1. Myth: the Germans began the bombing war with the United Kingdom

In 2014, Russian unleashed its military into Ukraine to support the ethnic Russians there, which led to Russia's territorial acquisitions in the Ukraine. Sanctions against Russia followed.

By comparison, on 1 September 1939, the German state unleashed its military into Poland to support the ethnic Germans there, which led to Germany's territorial acquisitions in Poland. The UK and France declared war on Germany two days later, on 3 September 1939, and the UK began dropping bombs on German targets. The first attack was on the German fleet in the city of Wilhelmshaven. Eight German Kriegsmarine men were killed. The British also bombed German warships in Cuxhaven and Heligoland.

It was more than a month before the first German retailiation against the UK, on the 14th of October, which targetted Britain's High Seas fleet at Scapa Flow. The attack was carried out by a single German submarine. Two days later, the Germans engaged Britian's High Seas fleet at Scapa Flow from the air and also attacked British warships located at the UK's Royal Navy Dockyards at Firth of Forth. No further aerial assaults were carried out in or around the UK, however. In fact, on 25 January 1940, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (Supreme Command of the German Armed Forces) issued an order which specifically forbade air raids against the UK, including her ports. Hitler's OKW Direktive Nr. 2 and Luftwaffe Direktive Nr. 2 prohibited attacks upon enemy naval forces unless the enemy bombed Germany first, noting, "the guiding principle must be not to provoke the initiation of aerial warfare on the part of Germany."

Then came the Altmark incident, in which the UK illegally stormed a German tanker in neutral waters. Shortly thereafter, on 16 March, 1940, Germany launched a new, aerial attack on the British fleet at Scapa Flow. In response, the UK bombed a German airbase at Sylt on 31 March, striking a hospital. Fortunately for the Germans, nobody was killed.

On 10 May 1940, Germany engaged the French forces. Across the English Channel, in Britain, Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. The next day, Churchill ordered a new aerial bombing offensive; he did not inform his own people of his intentions. And so, Kiel was attacked along with industrial and railway targets in Cologne (11 May), Mönchengladbach (11 May), Gelsenkirschen (14 May), Bremen (18 May) and Hamburg (18 May). The Hamburg raid resulted in 106 casualties and 34 deaths.  In the attack, the British had used the tactic of firebombing for the first time: 400 incendiary bombs, or fire bombs, were dropped as well as 80 regular, non-incendiary explosives. It was a tactic that would be repeated over and over again as the war progressed, and with increasingly larger payloads. By the end of May, Essen, Duisburg, Düsseldorf and Hanover had also been bombed by the British. In June, Cologne was attacked for the second time, and attacks on Dortmund, Mannheim, Frankfurt and Bochum followed.

2. Myth: Churchill's government wanted peace

On 22 June 1940, France and Germany signed an armistice and the fighting between the two countries came to an end. The French promised the UK that they would not turn over their High Seas fleet to the Germans. Likewise, Germany declared that it would make no such demands for France's navy. Nonetheless, on the 3rd of July, the British attacked the French fleet at Mers-el-Kébir, killing 1,297 French sailors and others, just to be certain that the ships would not end up in German hands. On 3 July, the British also bombed train facilities in the German city of Hamm; the night before, the UK had bombed German warships in Kiel. Clearly, the UK was ready to fight on.

Finally, on 10 July 1940, the Germans began their first UK-wide air offensive. Germany's leader, Adolf Hitler, had given Hermann Göring, the head of the German Luftwaffe (Air Force), very specific instructions regarding the conduct of the campaign. Göring had already penned these instructions in a 30 June memo:

"The war against England is to be restricted to destructive attacks against industry and air force targets which have weak defensive forces. ... The most thorough study of the target concerned, that is vital points of the target, is a pre-requisite for success. It is also stressed that every effort should be made to avoid unnecessary loss of life amongst the civilian population."

- Hermann Göring (quoted by Derek Wood and Derek Dempster in: The Narrow Margin: The Battle of Britain and the Rise of Air Power, 1990, page 117)

Hitler's No. 17 Directive, issued 1 August 1940, further established the rules for the conduct of war against the UK, and specifically forbade the Luftwaffe from conducting "terror raids"; Hitler made it clear that terror attacks could only be a means of reprisal, as ordered by him. In the meantime, Hitler delivered several speeches in the German Reichstag (German parliament) in which he challenged the British to arrange a peace. But the British never did.

On the 24th of August, fate took an odd course; two German bombers flying over the UK still had their ordinance from a mission and needed to drop it in order to reduce plane weight and have enough fuel to return home. When the bombs were released, they hit London (1,2,3), all directly against Hitler's orders. The air crew responsible for the damage insisted that the attack was an accident. Nevertheless, the next day, the British press launched a fierce anti-German propaganda campaign and a British attack on the German city of Berlin followed, striking a Siemen's plant. This drove Hitler into a fury. In a speech before the Reichstag, he declared:

"The other night, the English had bombed Berlin. So be it. But this is a game at which two can play. When the British Air Force drops 2000 or 3000 or 4000 kg of bombs, then we will drop 150 000, 180 000, 230 000, 300 000, 400 000 kg on a single night. When they declare they will attack our cities in great measure, we will eradicate their cities. The hour will come when one of us will break - and it will not be National Socialist Germany!"

- Adolf Hitler (in "Wir werden sie ausradieren" Spiegel Online)

Germany began a new bombing offensive on 7 September 1940. The goal was to destroy the UK's military complex and war-spirit so the British people would turn against Churchill. But the plan did not work. The production of war materials in the UK continued unabated and the public rallied behind Churchill, no doubt to avenge those who had been killed in the German raids.

One should note that it was not Germany's goal to kill or, as the British later said of their own bombing goals, "de-house" the population; historian and bomber warfare expert Horst Boog is clear on this point (Horst, Boog, Germany and the Second World War. Volume VII: The Strategic Air War in Europe and the War in the West and East Asia, 1943-1944/5, 2001, page 365). The UK's own Sir Basil Collier, General Harry H. Arnold and even "Bomber" Harris, the man who laughed about the fate of Dresden, agreed. In the words of Sir Basil Collier:

"Although the plan adopted by the Luftwaffe early September had mentioned attacks on the population of large cities, detailed records of the raids made during the autumn and the winter of 1940-41 does not suggest that indiscriminate bombing of the civilians was intended. The points of aim selected were largely factories and docks. Other objectives specifically allotted to bomber-crews included the City of London and the governmental quarter rounds Whitehall."

- Sir Basil Collier (in his war memoirs "The Defence of the United Kingdom," 1950, p. 57)

Air-warfare expert Sönke Neitzel concludes: "Indisputably during the first years of the war all heavy attacks of the German Luftwaffe against cities were planned as military blows and cannot be defined as terror raids.” (Darmstädter Echo, 25 – 9 – 2004, p. 4)

In May 1941, Germany abandoned its air war campaign involving the UK. But the war had already expanded; Italy had declared war on the UK back in June 1940 and, after being attacked by the British at Fort Capuzzo, Fort Maddelena and along the border of British Egypt and Italian North Africa, had taken the offensive in Egypt. The campaign was disasterous for the Italians, who were sent reeling as the UK began its own counter offensive. In desperation, Italy called upon the Germans to stop the British from overrunning all of northern Africa. In February 1941, German troops arrived under orders to engage in a strictly defensive campaign. But, by aiding the Italians in the desert sands, the conflict between the Germans and the British neverthless expanded and a new front was opened up.

On 10 May 1941, Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, flew to the UK to meet with Churchill's opponents in secrecy and negotiate a peace between Germany and the UK. Hess' peace terms were dictated on 9 June 1941 in an interview with Lord Simon, and later repeated to Ivone Kirkpatrick and Lord Beaverbrook. Although nothing became of the effort except Hess' lifelong imprisonment and murder by British intelligence, the terms are worth noting and were as follows:

  1. In order to prevent future wars between England and Germany, spheres of interest shall be defined. Germany's sphere of interest is [Continental] Europe; England's sphere of interest is her Empire.
  2. Return of German colonies.
  3. Indemnification of German nationals who had their residence before the war or during the war within the British Empire and who suffered damage in their persons or property through measures of a Government of the Empire or through any occurrence such as tumult, pillage etc. Indemnification on the same basis by Germany of British subjects.
  4. Armistice and peace to be concluded with Italy at the same time

Fact: foreign historians have said that the British and American governments should share the burden of guilt for the genocide of the Germans

In September 1988, military historians from five countries met at a conference in Freiburg, Germany. The event had been organized by the Institute for Military Research of the Bundeswehr. For a week, American, British, German, French and Italian specialist discussed various aspects of air warfare in the Second World War. After the conference, the daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine published a detailed and highly-interesting article. Under the headline "Bombing the Cities”, the author of the article, Professor Günter Gillessen, wrote:

"It is a remarkable fact that the Wehrmacht stuck to the traditional principles of moderate warfare until the very end, whereas the two Western democracies resorted to a revolutionary, radical and reckless type of air warfare."

"It cannot be disputed that the principles of international law forbade total carpeting bombing [...] The historians considered the indiscriminate bombing as an abomination, but refused to lay the whole guilt on Air Marshall Sir Arthur Harris or the Bomber Command. According to them, the entire staff of the RAF, but even more the political leaders, especially Churchill and Roosevelt, shared the burden of guilt.”

Fact: Churchill wanted to melt every German house in every city

Churchill once said the following:
"You must understand that this war is not against Hitler or National Socialism, but against the strength of the German people, which is to be smashed once and for all, regardless of whether it is in the hands of Hitler or a Jesuit priest."

- Winston Churchill (quoted by Emrys Hughes in Winston Churchill - His Career in War and Peace, page 145)

On 13 February 1990, forty-five years after the destruction of Dresden, British historian David Irving spoke at the Dresden Kulturpalast. In his speech, Irving claimed that Winston Churchill had said: "I don't want any suggestions how to destroy militarily important targets around Dresden. I want suggestions how we can roast the 600.000 refugees from Breslau in Dresden."

Churchill’s systematic war of extermination against the German people included plans for the destruction of every house in every German city.

"'If it has to be, we hope to be able to destroy nearly every house in every German city [...] In March 1945 Churchill began to doubt the wisdom of bombing German cities ‘simply for the sake of increasing the terror’, but the terror continued.” (Die Welt, 11 February 2005, p. 27)

The totality of the campaign was devastating.

"80% of all German cities with more than 100.000 inhabitants” were destroyed between 1942 and 1945. The air forces of the Allied war criminals dropped "40.000 tons of bombs in 1942, 120.000 tons in 1943, 650.000 tons in 1944 and another 500.000 tons in the four last months of the war in 1945." (Die Welt, 11 February 1995, page G1)

Fact: Germany's elite insult the victims!

Whereas Churchill actually felt some belated remorse for his war against the civilian population of Germany, the despicable German post-war elite awarded him the "Karlspreis of Aachen". In 1956, Churchill accepted the prize in the city Aachen, which was one of the countless cities his air-force had reduced to rubble. The attack on Aachen, which took place on 14 October 1940, had killed innocent human beings like Polish actress Diana Karenne. She was one of millions.

Between 1940 and 1945, about fifteen million German civilians were killed by Allied bombs. The German weekly Der Spiegel stated in its 1/1995 issue: "about six million Germans were killed." Although this is a grotesque underestimate, at least Der Spiegel bothered to commemorate the event without apologizing for Churchill and the Allies. By contrast, on 12 February 1995, Ernst Cramer wrote in Die Welt (page 12): "When commemorating the victims, we should stop asking about guilt.” The politically-correct former German president, Roman Herzog, took things even further; speaking in Dresden on 13 February 1995, he said: "It is meaningless to discuss if the bombing war, the inhumanity of which nobody disputes, was legally justified or not. What are such discussions good for, considering that fifty years have elapsed?” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 14 February 1995, p. 1)

The elite of the German vassal state even revile the victims of the Allied city bombings. For example, they suggest that the bombing victims could have voted for Hitler and lived where inmates were being transported to Auschwitz. In 2005, on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the destruction of his city, the mayor of Dresden, Ingolf Rossberg, gave a speech in which he alluded to these facts; thus, he practically justified the murder of hundreds of thousands plus the annihilation of irreplaceable cultural treasures. Die Welt reported: "60 years after the devastating bombing, which claimed tens of thousands of victims, mayor Ingolf Rossberg warned against misunderstanding Dresden as an ‘innocent city’.” (Die Welt, 12 February 2005, Internet version). Thus spoke the mayor of a city which, in 1945, had received streams of people, animals and carriages from the east like a caring mother. The streets and squares of Dresden were filled with refugees, the meadows and parks had been transformed into huge camps. Hospitals were filled with women, children and wounded soldiers. When the fatal hour approached, about 1.130.000 people were in Dresden, and the city had nearly two times its pre-war population.

Let's review: quoting an expert of construction materials technology, Die Welt admits that the German cities were "transformed into crematoria" during World War Two. The total amounts of bombs dropped on the German cities has been confirmed by the Allied forces, and it was even reported in the left-wing, anti-revisionist magazine, Der Spiegel, that six million Germans were killed in the Allied air war, although the real figure is about 15 million. Nevertheless, every liar under the sun apparently has the right to affirm that the allied terror bombings claimed only a handful of victims and should be forgotten; one can even make excuses for the perpetrators who, in a single night, murdered several hundreds of thousands people and destroyed countless cultural treasures.

When it comes to the Auschwitz death toll (according to political scientist and journalist Fritjof Meyer, three and a half million Auschwitz victims were simply invented in order to denigrate the German people) the professionals never say: "It is meaningless to discuss this… What are such discussions good for, considering that so and so many years have elapsed?” Instead, all leading German politicians claim that Germany is guilty forever. Even unborn Germans are guilty!

Fact: Reports from 1995:

5. February 1995 Welt am Sonntag page 23:

"The destruction of Dresden was the result of blind rage and hate. Bomber Harris said: 'Dresden? A place of such a name no longer exists'."
(photo from Süddeutsche Zeitung)

3 March.1995 Die Welt page 8:

"In the center of the city, a densely populated area of 15 square kilometers, the firestorm did not spare a single house. The fire was brought about by 650.000 incendiary bombs and continued to rage for two days and two nights. In the center of the city, the asphalt was burning. On the following day, the hurricane was still so strong that a Turkish student felt its power even on a bridge over the river Elbe: "A gigantic hurricane caused by the fire raged over the Elbe. We had to creep over the bridge and cling to the railing in order to avoid being whirled away by the winds."

"At the Altmarkt-Square of Dresden, three meters below street level, they excavated cellars in which the original sandstone layer had become translucent discoloured from white-beige into red. Partly the stone had become 'glazed' [...] Berlin archaelogist Uwe Müller said: ‘From that we can see that the tempratures must have ranged between 1300 to 1400 degrees celsius and the area lacked oxygen [...] Above ground the tempratures must have been even much higher, as high as 1600 degrees celsius"

"To avoid a general panic among the German population, Goebbels mentioned a death toll of 40.000, although he had got a report from the vice-chief of the propaganda office in Dresden according to which the real figure was 350.000 to 400.000 […] Even after the war political considerations prevented an objective evaluation of the number of victims. Too high figures spoilt the idea of reconciliation [...] It would be very naïve to think that the Nazi propagandists were interested in exaggerating the death toll [...] As the allied bombing war had the declared purpose of breaking the morale of the civilian population, any propagandistic inflation of the real figures would only have increased this effect."