3 comments on “Dresden – 13 February 1945

  1. I probably shouldn’t judge (we shouldn’t anyway of course) because I’ve never been able to bring myself to read anything by Bomber Harris to get his side – the quotes I’ve seen from him make him sound a seriously damaged human being. In a way though, I’m a bit surprised he gets all the oprobrium rather than our own local – Viscount Portal of Hungerford – who was C-in-C Bomber Command from 1940 and Harris’ boss. According to wikipedia, Portal it was who escalated the bombing in WWII from military to civilian targets and directly triggered off the blitz: “[Portal]… gave the first order to bomb Berlin on August 25, 1940. The result was that Hermann Göring ordered the Luftwaffe to bomb London instead of British airfields”.

    Wikipedia also has him responsible for Dresden:

    “In March 1945 Churchill gave the final order to stop Portal’s strategy of area bombing, after the firestorm of Dresden a few weeks earlier.”

    I think a big factor may be that Harris was more vocal, enthusiastically aggressive and publicity seeking. Portal seems to have been a taciturn sort – in public at least.

    But how much do people; British, German, you, me, Franz or Klaus – whoever – born after the war was ended, bear responsibility for atrocities carried out before they were born? And can countries, rather than individual people, really be ‘guilty’ or commit ‘war crimes’ and apologise? It seems to me that two central, but rarely properly understood, Christian concepts, repentance and forgiveness, might be meaningful at a national as well as a personal level. Repentance not just in saying sorry and maybe making reparations, but in publicly ‘turning away’ from previous behaviour – in this case renouncing war. Forgiveness also – not just to make ‘them’ maybe feel better, but to enable ‘us’ to let go and not have real and imagined wrongs in the past affect our beliefs and behaviour today. (Discuss with reference to international football 🙂 )

    Finally, you mention Coventry (the cathedral there has a special place in my heart), do you know about the Cross of Nails? http://www.crossofnails.org/

    Thanks for the post,

    Pete

    • Pete, I only just saw your reply – apologies

      That’s for comments, my partner is German but even before I met him I felt ashamed over Dresden, more since I first visited it in the mid-1990’s, it was pointless and barbaric and today is held up as an example of defiance by the ultra right-wing in Germany.

      I think responsibility is held by the nation, not just Bomber Harris; Churchill allowed too many things to happen, the worst from a selfish point of view was the bombing of Coventry itself – due to having the Enigma codes the attack was known about as the ‘cross hairs’ of the Luftwaffe directional radio beams were detected; the reason he allowed the attack was so the Germans did not know that we knew; but looking back it is easy to judge

    • hi, just another thought; as Her Majesty showed in 2011 and her visit to Ireland we have to acknowledge our actions to begin the healing. From a biblical perspective the reason we confess our sin to an all seeing God is for us to recognise the pain, the hurt & harm that has been caused so we both can begin to heal.

      The Queen was shown some of most painful scars in the Irish psyche, and in an act of grace, acknowledged our part in them.

      From a political point of view we nationally hold responsibility (I might blog later how inhabitants of Auschwitz etc were shown the Concentration Camp to make them face the horror of their leaders actions) though personally we are innocent. It’s an interesting concept

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