HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

March 3, 2008
Wisdom from Polonius

The Bombing of Dresden


Air Marshal Arthur Harris

I know that the destruction of so large and splendid a city at this late stage of the war was considered unnecessary even by a good many people who admit that our earlier attacks were as fully justified as any other operation of war. Here I will only say that the attack on Dresden was at the time considered a military necessity by much more important people than myself…


Alexander McKee - author of Dresden 1945: the Devil's Tinderbox

On the enormous scale of a large city, the roaring rush of heated air upwards developed the characteristics and power of a tornado, strong enough to pick up people and such them into the flames.


Margaret Freyer - survivor of the firestorm

To my left I suddenly see a woman. I can see her to this day and shall never forget it. She carries a bundle in her arms. It is a baby. She runs, she falls, and the child flies in an arc into the fire.


Otto Sailer-Jackson - keeper at the Dresden Zoo

The elephants gave spine-chilling screams. The baby cow elephant was lying in the narrow barrier-moat on her back, her legs up in the sky. She had suffered severe stomach injuries and could not move. A 90 cwt. cow elephant had been flung clear across the barrier moat and the fence by some terrific blast wave, and stood there trembling. I had no choice but to leave these animals to their fate.


Deputy Air Marshal Robert Saunby

That the bombing of Dresden was a great tragedy none can deny. It is not so much this or the other means of making war that is immoral or inhumane. What is immoral is war itself.


Unnamed Member of a RAF Bombing Crew

It struck me at the time, the thought of the women and children down there. We seemed to fly for hours over a sheet of fire - a terrific red glow with thin haze over it. I found myself making comments to the crew: "Oh God, those poor people." It was completely uncalled for. You can't justify it.


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