Firestorm: Allied Airpower and the Destruction of Dresden by Marshall De Bruhl

By Marshall De Bruhl

On February thirteen and 14, 1945, 3 successive waves of British and U.S. airplane rained down millions of hundreds excessive explosive and incendiary bombs at the mostly undefended German urban of Dresden. evening and day, Dresden was once engulfed in an unlimited sea of flame, a firestorm that generated 1,500-degree temperatures and hurricane-force winds. hundreds of thousands suffocated in underground shelters the place that they had fled to flee the inferno above. The fierce winds pulled millions extra into the guts of the firestorm, the place they have been incinerated. by the point the fires burned themselves out, many days later, an outstanding city–known as “the Florence at the Elbe”–lay in ruins, and tens of hundreds of thousands, just about all of them civilians, lay dead.

In Firestorm, Marshall De Bruhl re-creates the drama and horror of the Dresden bombing and provides the main cogent appraisal but of the strategies, guns, method, and intent for the arguable assault. utilizing new learn and modern stories, in addition to eyewitness tales of the devastation, De Bruhl without delay addresses many long-unresolved questions on the subject of the bombing: Why did the strike happen whilst the Allies’ victory used to be doubtless so impending? was once determining a urban jam-packed with German refugees a punitive selection, meant to humiliate a state? What, if any, strategic significance did Dresden have? How a lot did the need to ship a “message”–to Imperial Japan or the advancing Soviet armies–factor into the choice to firebomb the city?

Beyond De Bruhl’s research of the ethical implications and old ramifications of the assault, he examines how Nazi and Allied philosophies of airpower advanced ahead of Dresden, quite the shift towards “morale bombing” and the focusing on of inhabitants facilities as a strategic target. He additionally profiles the architects and leading movers of strategic bombing and aerial war, between them aviation pioneer Billy Mitchell, RAF air marshal Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris, and the yankee commander, common Carl Spaatz.

The passage of time has performed not anything to quell the debate stirred up through the Dresden raid. It has spawned a plethora of books, documentaries, articles, and works of fiction. Firestorm dispels the myths, refutes the arguments, and gives a dispassionate and clear-eyed examine the choices made and the activities taken through the bombing crusade opposed to the towns of the 3rd Reich–a crusade whose such a lot devastating final result used to be the Dresden raid. it truly is an goal paintings of background that dares to think about the calculus of battle.

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Extra resources for Firestorm: Allied Airpower and the Destruction of Dresden

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The blackened ruins of the royal palace, the opera house, the theater, the Albertinum museum, the great cathedral, or Hofkirche, along with dozens of other ruined buildings lay behind chain link and board fences, where they awaited a promised restoration—which, in some cases, would not be done for decades. Indeed, the restoration still continues, most recently with the reconstruction of the symbol of Dresden, the Frauenkirche. The ruins of the Church of Our Lady—a vast pile of rubble in the Neumarkt—served for fifty years as a war memorial and the center of the annual commemoration of the bombing.

The Altmarkt and the Neumarkt, the ancient city squares, were now surrounded by roofless, gutted buildings and littered with the burned, twisted, melted-down hulks of cars, trucks, and streetcars. The Brühl Terrace—the so-called balcony of Europe, that great esplanade overlooking the river Elbe—had been turned into jagged bits of masonry and broken statuary. The adjoining avenues and boulevards were obliterated. Only charred stumps marked the location of century-old plane and linden trees. The narrow streets of the Altstadt, the Old City, had simply disappeared.

I was on my own pilgrimage, just a few days after thousands of veterans and world leaders had come to this site for the fortieth-anniversary celebrations of the Allied invasion. I was just a boy in a small town in North Carolina when the Allies landed here to free Europe from the Nazis, but I vividly remember how my family gathered around the radio in our living room and listened to the live broadcasts from the landing sites. My thoughts that morning in June 1984 were of the cousins and uncles who had been with the invasion force.

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