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Literature Review of the Bombing of Dresden

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Literature Review of the Bombing of Dresden

It often occurs that moral questions regarding the use of force are the toughest for practitioners and leaders of warfare to face. Military leaders recognize the need for restraint, as many innocent people's lives are at stake in times of war. Morality plays an important role in providing a vision for how we ought to fight our wars, and also leads to stinging critiques of our performance on the battlefield, while forcing us to confront episodes of history, such as the bombing of Dresden, that one might prefer to leave in the past. Research is plentiful on this topic and many opinions are presented, though a majority of research seems to side with the idea that the event was unjustified and unnecessary.

Firestorm is an edited volume by Paul Addison and Jeremy A. Crang based on a meeting held at the University at Edinburgh in May 2003 "to discuss the causes, the conduct, and the consequences of the bombing" (ix) of Dresden in February 1945. Addison and Crang bring forth the controversy of the bombing of Dresden. Some thought that it was a militarily significant target, a center of administration and communication as well as industry, and some thought that the raid produced no military advantage for the Allies. Firestorm consists of a cast of distinguished scholars, including Sebastian Cox, Donald Bloxham, Tami Davis Biddle, Nicola Lambourne, Sonke Neitzel, Richard Overy, Alan Russell, and Hew Strachan to review the origins, conduct, and consequences of the raids and present different opinions on the event.

Donald Bloxham, asserts that the bombing of Dresden was indeed a war crime. "Had an independent war crimes tribunal with full international jurisdiction been established in 1945, there would have been a strong prima facie case for it to consider the bombing [of Dresden] as a war crime" (180). In doing so, Bloxham discusses the balance between the ideal military advantage gained from area bombing on the one hand and the resulting civilian deaths and destruction of property on the other. He draws a clear distinction between war crimes and crimes against humanity. Dresden and other fire bombings were war crimes because they were major breaches of international agreements on the laws of war.. From a strictly military point of view, nothing could justify the additional massacre which took place when Germany was already defeated. Nothing, if it wasn't the immediate announcement of the coming end of the blood bath and the obvious desire of the victorious fraction of the bourgeoisie to destroy everything which still could be destroyed.

While many opinions were brought together in Firestorm, there is plenty of other research on the topic regarding the morality of the bombing of Dresden. Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945 by Fred Taylor presents the counterargument that Dresden was a militarily significant target. He argues

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