The Destruction of Dresden

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This lecture by David Irving titled ‘The Destruction of Dresden” is based on his 1963 book of the same name, in which the author describes the February 1945 Allied bombing of Dresden in World War II. The book became an international best-seller during the 1960s debate about the morality of the World War II area bombing of the civilian population of Nazi Germany.
The book is based on a series of 37 articles about strategic bombing during World War II titled Wie Deutschlands Städte starben (How Germany’s Cities Died) which Irving wrote for the German journal Neue Illustrierte.

Kurt Vonnegut (who witnessed the bombing of Dresden from the basement of a slaughterhouse as a prisoner of war) used The Destruction of Dresden as a source for the 1969 novel Slaughterhouse Five where he wrote that he emerged from the slaughterhouse to discover that “135,000 Hansels and Gretels had been baked like gingerbread men”.

Freeman Dyson, a British (and later American) physicist who had worked as a young man with RAF Bomber Command from July 1943 to the end of the war, wrote in later years: “For many years I had intended to write a book on the bombing. Now I do not need to write it, because Vonnegut has written it much better than I could. He was in Dresden at the time and saw what happened. His book is not only good literature. It is also truthful. The only inaccuracy that I found in it is that it does not say that the night attack which produced the whole sale murder of civilians was a British affair. The Americans only came the following day to plow over the rubble. Vonnegut, being American, did not want to write his account in such a way that the whole thing could be blamed on the British. Apart from that, everything he says is true.” Dyson later goes on to say: “Since the beginning of the war I had been retreating step by step from one moral position to another, until at the end I had no moral position at all”

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