Dresden — Ulrike Marie Meinhof

Ulrike Marie Meinhof — 1965 — Konkret 3

Twenty years ago, on the 13th and 14th of February 1945, during the night between Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, the the greatest air raid of the Allied Bomber Command during World War Two was flown against a German City: The Air Raid on Dresden. The City was bombed three times within 14 hours. The first raid lasted from 22.13 to 22.21. When the English bombers flew away they left behind a sea of flames that was making the sky glow in a diameter that was over 80 kilometers wide. The second raid followed from 01.30 to 01.50. The leaving bomber crews could observe the fire of Dresden from a distance of 300 kilometers. The third raid was flown by an American Bomber Command on the following morning between 12.12 and 12.23.

More than 200.000 human beings perished in the flames of Dresden. The English author David Irving wrote in his book “The Destruction of Dresden”: For the first time in the history of warfare an air raid had destroyed a target with such devastation, that an amount of not wounded survivors that would have been sufficient to bury the dead could not be found”.

Dresden had 630.000 permanent residents. More than one million human beings were in the city when it was destroyed. It is estimated that it were between 1.2 and 1.4 million people. Refugees from Schlesia, Pommerania and Eastern Prussia, evacuated people from Berlin and the Rhineland, children-transports, prisoners of war and migrant workers. Dresden was a hub for recovering and wounded soldiers. Dresden did not have any military industry. Dresden was a not defended city without anti air guns or air defense systems. Dresden was throughout Germany considered to be a city that would not be bombed. Rumors circulated, such as: The British would spare Dresden if Oxford would not be attacked – or: the Allied would make Dresden into the Capitol of Germany after the war and that was the reason why they would not destroy it. There were other and more rumors, but first of all, no human being could imagine that a city, which established new field hospitals and hospitals on a daily basis, into which hundreds of thousands of fleeing, mainly women and children, flowed in a stream of human beings, would be bombed.

The sole militarily relevant target in Dresden was, if there was any at all, a larger goods and troop relay railway station. But in the three air raids, when the first bombs that were dropped were explosive bombs so the windows and roofs of the houses would be burstet, and roofs would be collapsed to render the apartments below more vulnerable for the subsequent fire bombs, when all that took place with highest precision, this railway station was hardly hit at all. When the dead were piled up in mountains of bodies above one another in the halls of the railway station, a few days later, the rails had already been repaired. – Dresden burned for seven days and eight nights.

One had not told the English soldiers who flew the air raids the truth. One had told them: Their command would attack the Supreme Command of the Army in Dresden. One had told them that Dresden was an important re-supply hub for the eastern front. One had told them, that the target was a Gestapo Headquarter in the center of the City, an important Munitions Factory, a large scale Poison Gas Factory. – Already in 1943 one could hear voices of protest against the bombing of the German civilian population in England. The Bishop of Chichester, the Arch-Bishop of Canterburry, the Church President of The Church of Scotland, raised their voices. They, as well as a Labor Party Member of Parliament were told, however, that is was not true, that there existed an order to destroy residential instead of industrial centers. The British Government under Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill successfully kept the actual, deliberate, planned character of British bomber raids against German cities secret until the end of the war in March 1945. Dresden was the climax of this policy. Dresden was turned into rubble and ash, two years after the the outcome of the war had been decided in Stalingrad. When Dresden was bombed, the Soviet troops stood already at the Oder and Neisse, and the Western Front was at the Rhein. The supreme commander of the Royal Air Force, Sir Arthur Harris, who had lead the assault on Dresden, went already one year later, on 13 February 1946 on board in Southampton, to leave the country that no longer was willing to honor his merits. While the population of Germany learned the truth about Auschwitz, the English population learned the truth about Dresden. The perpetrators were deprived of being honored as they had been promised by their governments. Here as well as there.

In Dresden the anti-Hitler war degenerated into the the very evil which one claimed to deplore and to fight. Into barbarism and in-humanity, for which there does not exist any justification.

Should there be a need to prove that there is no such thing as a just war – Dresden would prove it. Should there be a need to prove that the defense case invariably perverts into aggression – Dresden would prove it. Should there be a need to prove that the Peoples themselves are abused by their governments who wage wars, that they themselves become degraded into the pretext and victim of applied barbarism – Dresden would prove it. The fact that the clue-word Dresden was not mentioned at the coffin of Churchill raises the suspicion that Dresden still is being blamed on the people who themselves have been a victim of betrayal. It is the very same tact that is practiced by the Federal Government when it does not dispense for the statute of limitations for murders which were committed during the NS era. Those who do not denunciate the perpetrators however, denunciate the people.

EN: Christof Lehmann

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