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Dresden : Tuesday, 13 February 1945 / Frederick Taylor.

By: Taylor, Fred, 1947-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London : Bloomsbury, 2004Description: xvi, 518 pages, [16] pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 0747570787.Subject(s): World War, 1939-1945 -- Aerial operations, British | Dresden (Germany) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945DDC classification: Review: "At 9.51 p.m. on Tuesday 13 February 1945, Dresden's air-raid sirens sounded as they had done many times in the previous five years. For Desdeners, such warnings were almost always false alarms, but this one was different. Ten minutes later the first marker flares were dropped by Mosquitos of 627 squadron. No searchlights probed the skies above the unprotected target city; the guns had mostly been moved East to counter the Russian advance. By the next morning, 796 RAF Lancasters and 311 USAAF Flying Fortresses had dropped more than 4,500 tons of high explosives and incendiary devices. At least 25,000 inhabitants (possibly many more) had perished in the terrifying firestorm, and thirteen square miles of the city's historic centre, including incalculable quantities of treasure and works of art, lay in ruins. It was Ash Wednesday 1945." "This book is the first serious reappraisal for more than twenty years of an event that lives in the popular memory with Guernica and Hiroshima as a by-word for the horror of twentieth-century air warfare. Frederick Taylor has drawn on archives and primary sources only accessible since the fall of the East German regime, together with British and American records, and has also talked to Allied aircrew (now mostly in their eighties) and the city's survivors, whether Jews working as slave labourers in the munitions and radar factories, members of the German armed services, refugees fleeing the Russian advance from the East, or ordinary citizens of Dresden. In doing so he has created the most complete portrait ever attempted of the city, its people, and those involved in its fate."--BOOK JACKET.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

A major work of history - one of the most destructive acts of war ever undertaken, examined from all viewpoints

Includes bibliography (p.488-496) and index.

Includes index and bibliographical references.

"At 9.51 p.m. on Tuesday 13 February 1945, Dresden's air-raid sirens sounded as they had done many times in the previous five years. For Desdeners, such warnings were almost always false alarms, but this one was different. Ten minutes later the first marker flares were dropped by Mosquitos of 627 squadron. No searchlights probed the skies above the unprotected target city; the guns had mostly been moved East to counter the Russian advance. By the next morning, 796 RAF Lancasters and 311 USAAF Flying Fortresses had dropped more than 4,500 tons of high explosives and incendiary devices. At least 25,000 inhabitants (possibly many more) had perished in the terrifying firestorm, and thirteen square miles of the city's historic centre, including incalculable quantities of treasure and works of art, lay in ruins. It was Ash Wednesday 1945." "This book is the first serious reappraisal for more than twenty years of an event that lives in the popular memory with Guernica and Hiroshima as a by-word for the horror of twentieth-century air warfare. Frederick Taylor has drawn on archives and primary sources only accessible since the fall of the East German regime, together with British and American records, and has also talked to Allied aircrew (now mostly in their eighties) and the city's survivors, whether Jews working as slave labourers in the munitions and radar factories, members of the German armed services, refugees fleeing the Russian advance from the East, or ordinary citizens of Dresden. In doing so he has created the most complete portrait ever attempted of the city, its people, and those involved in its fate."--BOOK JACKET.

11

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

Dresden Tuesday, February 13, 1945 Chapter One Blood and Treasure "The English were treasured. I think it was only after the raid that there was a hatred of the English in Dresden, not before." Pastor Karl-Ludwig Hoch, Lutheran man of God, architectural historian, and community leader, is in his early seventies now. A profoundly spiritual man, he is saved from otherworldliness by a wry, almost cynical sense of humor. His patrician features are folded in a sad smile as he describes his fellow citizens' lost love affair with England. "People just knew that the British and the Americans loved Dresden so much ... St. John's was the English church on the Wiener Platz, and the American church was All Saints." In the garden of the Hoch family's suburban waterside villa is a stone monument, from which it is possible to look downriver and view the skyline of Dresden two or three miles distant. It was built by some long-ago Francophile to commemorate the afternoon when Napoleon, on headlong retreat from Moscow and considering where to make a stand, was led to that same height, at that same spot, so that he too could examine Dresden from a distance. The year was 1813. Saxony was one of the few allies Napoleon had left. The French emperor was thinking of having a battle on its territory. In the event, he liked the idea so much, he had several. The Saxons, as the pastor often points out, have never been especially clever in their choice of friends. In 1945 Pastor Hoch's family were spared the total destruction visited upon the inner city. Isolated stray bombs scarred their leafy neighborhood, but the Hochs and their lodgers and neighbors just took refuge in the shelter in the garden until the raid was over. Then -- when the roar of aircraft engines had faded -- they emerged, to be presented with a grandstand view of their native city, two miles or so distant, being devoured by flame. A woman who lived up the hill, a fervent Nazi, spotted them out on their balcony and called out, "So, Frau Hoch! Was Goebbels right or not? Are the English criminals or not?" Josef Goebbels. In many ways, the legend of the destruction of Dresden was the dark, agile Nazi propaganda minister's last and grimmest creation. For Goebbels the city's near-annihilation was both a genuinely felt horror and a cynical opportunity. Most Germans had realized at the time of the fall of Stalingrad that talk of victory was hollow. By the winter of 1944-45, even Nazi fanatics realized that to all practical intents the war was lost. Ever resourceful, Goebbels now made a characteristically bold and cunning decision: Instead of putting a positive gloss on the German position, he would hammer home the horrors in store if the Third Reich was defeated. The Bolshevik hordes pressing from the east, raping and looting as they advanced into the neat, untouched towns of East Prussia and Silesia; the treacherous, hypocritical Anglo-Americans with their pitiless bomber fleets and their cosmopolitan (read Jewish) contempt for Germany's unique cultural heritage. These were the threats to German -- and European -- civilization. The only answer was to nobly resist these enemies, totally and to the end -- and wait for the miracle that might come any day from the new wonder weapons that Germany's scientists and engineers would soon bring to devastating application, or from the growing cracks in the impossible, artificial alliance between communism and capitalism. Meanwhile, the worse the crimes that could be laid at the door of the Reich's enemies, the more powerful the spell this twilight masterpiece of Goebbels's black art would cast. Failing the élan of everlasting victory, Germany must summon up the courage of temporary despair. Therefore no attempts were made to minimize the atrocities being committed by the advancing Russians. On the contrary, unsparing accounts of the horrors that German forces had discovered during brief reoccupations of East Prussian towns during the ebb and flow of battle were broadcast and rebroadcast on the radio. Refugees still in shock were interviewed, and horrifying atrocity articles appeared in the thin newssheets that had now replaced the Reich's once-voluminous press. The newsreels showed devastation and ruin -- and the brave determination of those still eager to resist the enemy. It was a grim route to final victory, Endsieg , but (so the propaganda implied) that route remained open despite all the setbacks. So, in the early days of 1945, Dresden waited; but for most of the city's people, the arrival they feared was not that of Allied air forces, but of the Soviet Red Army. A hundred and more miles to the east, the capital of the neighboring province of Silesia, Breslau, had been all but encircled by the Russians. From the air base at Klotzsche just north of Dresden the Luftwaffe was running an airborne supply shuttle to the beleaguered Silesian metropolis. The eastern defenses of the Reich were threatening to crack, and after Breslau the next major German city in their path was Dresden. Camera in hand, on February 13, 1945, Karl-Ludwig Hoch met his brother, and together they took a number 11 tram to Postplatz, in the heart of the Altstadt, the old town. Their plan was to snap photographs of the proud city of Dresden to remember it by. This was because their mother had said that, as an aristocratic family, they might soon have to flee the Communist advance, and so might never see Dresden again. The weather was wintry-mild under slight cloud. The brothers wandered through familiar streets and alleys, passing landmarks they had seen most days of their lives. They returned to their suburban home late that same afternoon, as the twilight crept over the valley of the Elbe, not knowing that they had just seen Dresden for the last time in its historic form ... Dresden Tuesday, February 13, 1945 . Copyright © by Frederick Taylor. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Dresden: Tuesday, February 13 1945 by Frederick Taylor All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

The destruction of Dresden, Germany, by the British and American air forces just a few months before the end of World War II has long been a source of controversy. Most people probably know about it through Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). Was it an act of revenge, a demonstration of strategic bombing to intimidate Stalin, or a justified military action? Taylor, who previously translated The Goebbels Diaries, 1939-1941, has conducted archival research to make his point that the Saxon city was in fact a viable military target because of its industrial output and railway transportation routes. There was also the matter of supporting the Russian winter offensive that was relieving pressure on the Western Allies and the resulting psychological blow to war-weary German citizens. Taylor uses selected personal accounts to detail and flavor this interesting history. He refutes sensationalist stories of American fighter planes strafing civilians and tries to clarify the number of casualties-which is probably closer to 50,000 than 350,000. The only thing missing are maps of the city and the surrounding area. A strong and provocative work of World War II scholarship, this is suitable for all collections.-Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

The allied bombing of Dresden created a massive fire that swept the city center, killing thousands of people and destroying its medieval heart. Debate began almost immediately: Was the destruction of this seemingly civilian city necessary militarily, or was it, some asked, equivalent to a war crime? Not just another in an endless parade of books on Dresden, Taylor's account may go a long way toward putting such questions to rest. It opens with the start, by British bombers, of the nighttime attack, and immediately turns to the past, meandering through several centuries of Dresden history, from its founding in the Middle Ages to the 20th century and the rise of the Nazis. Taylor, translator of The Goebbels Diaries, also covers the history of aerial bombardment and its international laws; gives glimpses of life under the Nazi regime; details the Allied bombing campaign against Germany; and, most excitingly, puts forth new information concerning Dresden's part in the German war effort, which turns out to be much greater than postwar information generally portrays. Five chapters of 30 describe the actual bombing of the city by the British and American air forces, and they do so effectively, weaving first-person accounts of the aircrews with those of the terrified German soldiers and civilians. The aftermath of the raid is concisely dealt with, in the process correcting common perception about the numbers actually killed (approximately 25,000, not up to 250,000, as often cited), and he offers a review of the postwar debate on the morality of the bombing. An afterword describes the author's experience at a recent ceremony for the dead of Dresden, and further corrects some longstanding misinformation that includes the alleged strafing of civilians by American aircraft. Taylor has used a variety of German, as well as Allied, sources to write an account not previously accomplished to this extent in English. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Of all the cities destroyed in World War II, Dresden rivals Hiroshima as a symbol of the war's cruelty. The rationale for the bombing of Dresden has been clouded by distortion of what happened there and has been interpreted as a perfidious British and American war crime by the last gasps of Nazi propaganda; that interpretation was continued by the East German communist regime until its collapse in 1989. Newly opened archives, therefore, presented Taylor with an opportunity to research anew the obliteration of the Florence on the Elbe. Touching on assertions about the air attack that have made it controversial--that the city was of negligible military significance, or that its destruction was without purpose because the war was almost over--Taylor advances contrary evidence about the mounting of the attack and the cataclysmic firestorm it ignited. Cautious about drawing a particular moral conclusion, Taylor takes care to keep before readers details about the Nazi rule in Dresden, hinting at his own opinion in this professional, accessible review of the controversy over the city's fate. --Gilbert Taylor Copyright 2004 Booklist