Monday, October 31, 2005

"Are We Beasts?" - RIP Dresden 1945

"Are we beasts?" Churchill cried out when he first saw photographs of the devastation caused by the bombing of civilian targets in 1943.

His question is especially pertinent in light of the bombing of Dresden, late in the war, apparently at the urging of the Russians, an act from which Bomber Command subsequently sought to distance itself.

Even in those less squeamish times, the toll of 60,000 dead - mostly women and children, many of them refugees - caused widespread revulsion, even (or perhaps especially) amongst those who ordered it.

The answer to Churchill's question appears to be, "Yes, 'we' are beasts (indeed, our capacity for large-scale, indiscriminate murder puts us in another context altogether from the merely beastly) - but we probably had to be in order to win the war."

The restoration and rededication of Dresden's Frauenkirche yesterday, more than 60 years after its destruction, marks an opportunity to mourn those thousands of innocents who died in the ruins of Europe during the 1939 war.

Telegraph Opinion Necessary or not, Dresden remains a topic of anguish

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