Bombing of Dresden in World War II
The bombing of Dresden was a UK/US aerial bombing attack on the city of Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony, that took place during the Second World War in the European Theatre. Germany would surrender three months later.In four raids between 13 and 15 February 1945, 722 heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and 527 of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city. The bombing and the resulting firestorm destroyed over 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of the city centre. An estimated 22,700 to 25,000 people were killed. Three more USAAF air raids followed, two occurring on 2 March and 17 April aimed at the city's railroad marshaling yard and one small raid on 17 April aimed at industrial areas.Immediate German propaganda claims following the attacks and post-war discussions on whether the attacks were justified has led to the bombing becoming one of the moral causes célèbres of the war. A 1953 United States Air Force report defended the operation as the justified bombing of a military and industrial target, which they claimed was a major rail transport and communication centre, housing 110 factories and 50,000 workers in support of the German war effort. Several researchers have asserted that not all of the communications infrastructure, such as the bridges, was targeted, nor were the extensive industrial areas outside the city centre. Critics of the bombing argue that Dresden was a cultural landmark of little or no military significance, and that the attacks were indiscriminate area bombing and not proportionate to the commensurate military gains.Large variations in the claimed death toll have fueled the controversy. In March 1945, the German government ordered its press to publish a falsified casualty figure of 200,000 for the Dresden raids, and death toll estimates as high as 500,000 have been given. The city authorities at the time estimated no more than 25,000 victims, a figure that subsequent investigations, including a 2010 study commissioned by the city council, support.