More than two and a half thousand tons of bombs were dropped on the city by the Royal Air Force. And then the Americans struck the ruins. They have such an expression – "to bomb in the Stone Age." And Dresden, which for its beauty was also called Florence on the Elbe, actually ceased to exist.
In the panorama, the destruction is captured with documentary accuracy. Dresden is a city of Nazi Germany. Of course, one cannot forget about this. Nevertheless, then it was a city with almost no war industry, filled with refugees.
“I saw fire spread across the roofs. In a few minutes, everything burned out in monstrous hell, ”recalls documentary filmmaker Ernst Hirsch.
Then he was nine. Miraculously survived. He managed to run out of the house with his parents before he was destroyed. Ernst Hirsch is Dresden's most famous documentary filmmaker. For years he has been collecting information about that bombing.
“Dresden has already been assigned to the Soviet zone of occupation. It was the only large city not destroyed in this zone. I believe that this beautiful city simply did not want to give to the Russians. Why didn’t they bomb industrial facilities? Why didn’t the barracks be bombed? Why only civilians? In a few minutes, in just 30 minutes, 25,000 people were killed, ”says Ernst Hirsch.
The blow is often explained by the need to destroy a large railway junction, important for the transfer of troops. But from the station, as Hirsch assures, in two days trains were sent, and the historical center was like lunar soil.
“Only 40 people died in our basement,” says Ursula Elsner.
In 1945, Frau Elsner turned 14. She lived in a house near Frauenkirche. The very center. She remembers how she and her mother made their way through a fiery tornado in the old city, people were demolished right into the flame.
“It was a struggle for life. This storm of fire was constantly trying to capture someone. One woman was taken to a burning house, but we could not help her with anything. If we did not hold on, then the same fate would befall us. The woman just burned out, ”she recalls.
The debate over whether to consider the bombing of Dresden a war crime has been going on in the UK for decades. Sir Arthur Harris, aka “Bomber Harris”, commander of British strategic aviation, answered the question about Dresden back in the 70s, he would have bombed him again, recalled the experience of the Boer War with his scorched earth strategy.
“Burn farms, destroy crops, slaughter cattle, kill all horses. Make life unbearable. The air force is often accused of waging war against civilians. All major wars have always been wars against the civilian population, ”he said.
The British, of course, did not forget the barbaric bombing of Coventry and London. They are on the account of the Luftwaffe. So, yes, what happened with Dresden could be seen as revenge. But in the memos for the pilots were the words "show the Russians what the Royal Air Force is capable of." Toxic asset.
Churchill did not mention the destruction of Dresden in his memoirs at all, and there are curious documents in the CIA archives. During the Cold War, the Americans wanted to blame the entire USSR. This supposedly the Soviets asked to bomb Dresden. It was instructed to find documents. They rummaged through everything: "In response to your memorandum of December 4, 1951, this bureau was unable to find any documentary evidence of the Russian request to bomb Dresden."
Victor Gregg, a British soldier who was captured and was in Dresden during the bombing, repeatedly repeated: it was an evil for which Britain never apologized. Moreover, it was evil because there was simply no military sense in the bombing.
“I think nothing of what was done with these German cities put an end to the war. It was the Russians who put this point. By taking Berlin, ”he said.