February 13 - 15, 1945

The remains of the Church Of Our Lady and a broken statue of Protestant reformer Martin Luther after the bombing.  DEUTSCHE FOTOTHEK/RICHARD PETER (AFP)

British Start Bombing Dresden, Resulting in Enormous Firestorm.

British bombers made two raids against railway yards in Dresden, Germany. A firestorm resulted that burnt  eleven square miles of the city. The city had been filled with people fleeing from the advancing Soviet forces. On the ground thousands of small fires merged into a powerful firestorm that created such powerful winds that it sucked oxygen, fuel, broken structures, and people into its flames. Two days later, the US Air Force joined in bombing the city, believing that more havoc would be created by hitting the city when firefighting equipment was in the streets. The 800-bomber raid dropped some 2,700 tons of explosives and incendiaries and decimated the German city. Dresden burnt for five more days. The identifiable dead number 39,773. The unidentifiable were 20,000 or more. In an effort to force a surrender, the Dresden bombing was intended to terrorize the civilian population locally and nationwide. It certainly had that effect.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill appeared to have misgivings after the results of the bombing were relayed to London. In March 1945, Churchill wrote, "It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed."

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