I am not linking to this horrific article to discuss the politics of the fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany, fifty-nine years years ago today. I am linking to it to illustrate that war is always the most terrible method nations can resort to in settling their differences. It doesn’t matter which side you are on; death and suffering don’t play favorites. As so many have repeated this past year: war is the ultimate failure of humanity.
Toward the end of World War II, as Allied planes rained death and destruction over Germany, the old Saxon city of Dresden lay like an island of tranquillity amid desolation. Famous as a cultural center and possessing no military value, Dresden had been spared the terror that descended from the skies over the rest of the country.
Dresden was a hospital city for wounded soldiers. Not one military unit, not one anti-aircraft battery was deployed in the city. Together with the 600,000 refugees from Breslau, Dresden was filled with nearly 1.2 million people…
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was in Dresden when it was bombed in 1945. Returning home to Indianapolis after the war, Vonnegut began writing short stories for magazines. Finally, in 1969, he tackled the subject of war, recounting his experiences as a POW in Dresden, forced to dig corpses from the rubble. The resulting novel was Slaughterhouse Five. “Yes, by your people, may I say,” he insists. “You guys burnt the place down, turned it into a single column of flame. More people died there in the firestorm, in that one big flame, than died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.