The Bombing of Dresden by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and United States Army Air Force (USAAF) between 13 February and 15 February 1945, 12 weeks before the surrender of the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) of Nazi Germany, remains one of the most controversial Allied actions of the Second World War. The raids saw 1,300 heavy bombers drop over 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices in four raids, destroying 13 square miles (34 km2) of the city, the baroque capital of the German state of Saxony, and causing a firestorm that consumed the city center.
Dresden was a cultural landmark of little or no military significance, a “Florence on the Elbe,” as it was known, and the attacks were indiscriminate area bombing and not proportional for the commensurate military gains.
Winston Churchill had promised to spare Dresden as a safe-haven for German refugees. The city of 650,000 million had swelled to an estimated two million prior to the bombing. The attack was largely hidden from the American population for two and a half decades. It wasn’t until the 1969 movie “Slaughterhouse Five” about US POWs in Dresden shocked American audiences, who had never heard of the bombing before. The movie was based on a book by Kurt Vonnegut and cited the death toll at 135,000. Kurt Vonnegut was not only a famous novelist, but was an American POW that witnessed the bombing firsthand.
Tens of thousands of American, British, and Canadian POWs were being held in Dresden. As many as 4,000 died in the bombing.
A little known investigation by the US government declared that 50,000 had perished. However, a large list of major historians have consistently put the death toll at well over 100,000. Some German historians claim a quarter of a million killed. Most of the victims were homeless refugees fleeing from the Soviet Army.
After the bombing, Winston Churchill appeared ashamed of it and repeatedly tried to distance himself from the attack. An American investigation into why Dresden was bombed blamed the attack on the Soviet Union. Stating that the US was obligated to bomb Dresden at the request of the Soviets due to a pre-existing agreement.
The report is transparently disingenuous and a hypocritical double standard when it comes to the application of German law protecting the memory of those who died in atrocities.