Talk:Bombing of Dresden in World War II

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Former good article nomineeBombing of Dresden in World War II was a Warfare good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
April 4, 2007Good article nomineeNot listed

Further complaint[edit]

Even the chapter about Kurt Vonnegut novel is incorrect. It states that Vonnegut accounted more than 135000 victims, but in the novel the figure reported multiple times is more than 200000 in some points it is 235000. I assume it has been downplayed because Vonnegut is an eyewitness of the event, the whole article seems striving to understate the scale of what happened. — Preceding unsigned comment added by WornOutCog (talkcontribs) 17:49, 26 September 2017 (UTC)

There is a broad consensus that the death-toll is nowhere near that figure. GABgab 22:07, 26 September 2017 (UTC)
Being an eyewitness is perhaps the worst possible position to be in to determine the scope and scale of a catastrophic event. One can be a good reporter of what happened to oneself, and what one saw and heard and was told, but afterwards the eyewitness has to do the same kind of research anyone else has to do to get the bigger picture. What's worse is that the eyewitness's experiences can actually blind them to other aspects of the event, which can be worse or better than what they went through, and the emotional impact of the catastrophe can coulor the memory of the event in a way that potentially distorts it.
Vonnegut's book is a landmark, and his experiences should not be downplayed – nor should the continuing controversy about the military value (or lack of it) of bombing Dresden, or the pity of the (probable) unnecessary destruction of a architecturally notable city – but Vonnegut is not an expert on anything except what he perceived to have happened, and he should not be considered to be a reliable source for anything else. Certainly whatever sources he drew on while writing Slaughterhouse-Five in the mid-to-late 50s are unlikely to be as accurate as current information is after almost 50 years of additional research and the opening of formerly closed archives. Beyond My Ken (talk) 00:41, 27 September 2017 (UTC)
The broad consensus is about the events, invoking the broad consensus as a reason to change a number explicitly stated in a book is unjustified. The figure might be put in context, but attributing to him a different number is a fake and unfortunately it appears a fake made on purpose. wornOutCog (talk) 11:50, 27 September 2017 (ECT)
Just to clarify, my response was to the last sentence: I assume it has been downplayed because Vonnegut is an eyewitness of the event, the whole article seems striving to understate the scale of what happened. GABgab 18:47, 27 September 2017 (UTC)
@user:wornOutCog: It is widely know that when Vonnegut wrote his novel SH5 (fist published 1969?) that he based the facts around the bombing that he did not personally witness on David Irving's account:
He is not a fault for being mislead by David Irving many people in the 1960s and 1970s (indeed some up to today) have been so mislead. For example this article cites Norman Longmate (1983), for some facts, but not the numbers, as his numbers came from Irving, because when he wrote his book about RAF bombing during WWII general, he relied on historians who had published detailed works about particular raids and used and cited cited some of Irving's "facts". If a similar general history is written today, it would rely on more modern specialised books like Tylor's.
If you have a copy of Kurt Vonnegut novel then please add the number he uses and add a full citation to the novel including with the edition, year of publication and the page number. That will tie in nicely with the book I have bullet pointed above (Conversations ...) as that states he relied on Irving, but does not mention a number. -- PBS (talk) 12:18, 4 October 2017 (UTC)
Did Vonnegut update the novel? Beyond My Ken (talk) 20:48, 4 October 2017 (UTC)
For much of the post-war period considerably larger casualty numbers than are now accepted were put out by the government in the-then East Germany and as the Cold War was then on-going they were considered in the West to have been inflated for anti-Western propaganda purposes. Vonnegut, and others, may have used these figures.
Vonnegut is entitled to his opinion, but his country wasn't bombed by Germany.
BTW, at the time of the bombing of Dresden the Allies had no way of knowing that the European war was going to end in May 1945. Intelligence had informed them of all sorts of 'secret weapons' in development in Germany, and the Allies could not know whether these weapons might turn-the-tide of the war in Germany's favour. They could also not know until after the war that Germany was nowhere near creating an atomic bomb. The Allies did what they did to finish the war as quickly as possible, with an Allied victory. On the Allied side of the fence these German 'secret weapons' were not known about by the average person or foreign diplomat, they were only known about in the highest levels of Allied government. Thus although the average man in the street or soldier,etc,. may have thought the war almost over, those in high places had understandable and justifiable doubts.
It's one thing judging people (the Allies) by what is now known after 1945, and quite another judging them by what it was possible for them to know at the time.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:09, 15 November 2017 (UTC)

War crime - "far right" opinion?[edit]

"The bombing has been referred to by some in the German far-right as a war crime."

This sentence in the introduction, while perhaps true, gives off the impression that calling the bombing of Dresden a war crime is a "far-right" opinion. It might be characteristic of those in some circles of the German far-right to call it a war crime, for obvious reasons, but the prominence of this , as well as being the only sentence in the introduction where the phrase "war crime" is used, makes one think that the "non-far-right consensus", in Germany or elsewhere, is that it doesn't deserve the label.

"WO Irons is also depressed by the sloganising that surrounds Dresden. The far-Right’s claim that the raid was a “bombing Holocaust”, an Allied war crime on a par with the Final Solution, used to trouble him."

This is a quote from the article. The phrase "bombing Holocaust" and "Allied war crime on par with the Final Solution" are the obvious points of contention, not the phrase "war crime" in an of itself. Maskettaman (talk) 08:32, 3 February 2018 (UTC)

For now I have changed the line to "a war crime on par with the Holocaust", which I think more accurately conveys the attitude and rhetoric the article describes. Maskettaman (talk) 08:38, 3 February 2018 (UTC)
"Far right" terminology still exists in the article without context. German "far-right" may be totally different from options expressed by Allied forces at the time.

In addition, "far right" of that time is NOT the same as options expressed of "far right" at this time. The article still needs improvement. 2600:6C48:7006:200:D84D:5A80:173:901D (talk) 03:41, 13 February 2018 (UTC)

"The bombing has been referred to by some in the German far-right as a war crime." - these 'far-right' are the same sort of people who thought cold-bloodedly exterminating six-million of their fellow human beings was a good thing.
An impartial observer might be justified in thinking these sort of people's views are hardly worthy of inclusion, having previously by their actions just about disqualified themselves from ever again being classed as civilised members of the human race.
"Allied war crime on par with the Final Solution" - presumably that's the very same Final Solution that many on the 'far-right' deny ever having occurred.
It was exactly because of the same sort of 'far-right' nutters that the unfortunate bombing of the German cities such as Dresden had to occur in the first place.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:31, 16 February 2018 (UTC)

Incomplete references to Dresden Historians Commission claiming maximum 25,000 killed[edit]

The article addresses the Final Report[1] given by a Historians Commission in Dresden in 2010 (individual pages cited as ref. [16], [70] and [86] by article version 832318440) as the today one document which can be acknowledged to provide correct casualty numbers of the air attacks of Feb.13-15 1945. My Talk does no question this view in general. In Detail, however, the report's message of a total maximum of 25,000 people killed is not as unambiguous as the article teaches. Controversial disputes are beyond the scope of wiki articles, but regarding the prominent position of this source a revised article version should portray its existing inner uncertainties and address the associated conclusive options.
Remarkable original research results are given by the Final Report on pages 38-40 based on individual burial documents (which are classified in comparison with other data bases as most complete and reliable on p. 37). These listed burial data can be read and summarized quite differently:

(i) Reading as adopted by the present article: In four subsections on p.38-40 for four groups of burial locations the Final Report counts (A) up to about 21.000 killed victims with reference to two big cemeteries Heidefriedhof and Johannisfriedhof Dresden until April 30 (p.38), plus (B) on "Other Cemeteries Within the City Limit of Dresden" for "March and April 1945 ... almost equally many burials on the cemeteries in the city as, in the same frame of time, summarized for Heidefriedhof and Johannisfriedhof together", followed by a formulation of "more than 2.600 individual proofs" (in German: "Einzelnachweise"), plus for (C) "Cemeteries Around Dresden and Beyond" and (D) "Improvised Burials" another number of close to 1.000 burials. Summarizing gives slightly below or close to 25.000 as claimed by the Final Report's Summary on p.40/41 and cited by the article. -- By this way of reading we accept, however, the number of 2.600 casualties for (B) as "almost equal" to the share of burials in (A) that took place during March and April - in conflict with a much higher number on p.38 teaching that "On Heidefriedhof the ashes of 6.865 casualties cremated on Altmarkt arrived on March 5" - a position which is outside of any doubt since it is known as reliably documented for decades of years.
(ii) However, the above contradiction is dissolved if the reader, in analogy to other parts of this Final Report, understands the two statements above about "Other cemeteries ..." (called (B) here) as contributions to the Commissions efforts to distinguish upper and lower limits: With this view, the number of 2.600 "individual proofs" on p.39 for the (B) locations represents a lower minimum of the total of burials there, whereas the ashes of 6.865 victims that arrived on Heidefriedhof on March 5 (p.38) are understood as included in the commission's reference of about "almost equally many burials on the cemeteries in the city as, in the same frame of time, summarized for Heidefriedhof ..." in March and April (p.39). In total the subset (B) becomes, then, 6.865 instead of 2.600 and increases the final sum of documented burials by more than 4.000 to about 29.000 instead of 25.000. -- (in fact, with this reading the final total may increase to even more than 29.000 since other Commission's remarks on p.38/39 indicate that the real share of March/April burials in the two locations of group (A) among the total of 21.000 burials there was probably higher than 6.865; unfortunately, the Commission's Final Report does not distinguish which of the other 14.000 burials on Heidefriedhof and Johannisfriedhof documented until April 30 took place in February already and which in March and April)

Thus, details of the presentation of basic casualty data in the Final Report are equivocal, and a revised article should point it out. Such revision seems the more appropriate since M. Neutzner (editor of the Final Report) addressed some political pressure writing in a separate Report published on March 17, 2010[2] on p.22: "Since 1990 the administration of the city of Dresden" (which organized the Dresden Historians Commission) "was ... confronted with the request to correct the former number of 35,000 casualties ... An important argument had been that the official statistics were falsified by the GDR administration by political reasons which revision became, with the changed [political] conditions, possible now." (in German: "Seit 1990 sah sich die Dresdner Stadtverwaltung ... mit der Aufforderung konfrontiert, die bislang vertretene Zahl von 35.000 ... zu korrigieren. Ein wesentliches Argument dabei war, dass die behördliche Statistik von der DDR-Administration aus politischen Gründen verfälscht worden wäre, was nun unter veränderten Bedingungen aufgedeckt und revidiert werden könnte."). Again Neutzner remains vague with details and does not tell the reader, which of the groups who "confronted" the post-1990 administration (and, thus, the Commission) with opposite requests he addresses. In fact, Irving's self-correction of his thesis of 135.000 or more Dresden casualties was included in issues of Weidauer's Inferno Dresden long before 1990 (e.g. p.123/124 in[3]) and had removed reputable arguments for such high numbers. On the other hand, since 1990 the local discussion in Dresden was and is significantly influenced by groups criticizing the former GDR-Administration for "canonizing" (p. 18 in Final Report[1]) the number of 35.000 by "assailable testimony" ("nicht belegbaren Zeugenaussage" - [4]). For these groups, the presentation of casualty numbers significantly below 35.000 was and is an essential target. Thus, regardless of Neutzner's vague note in his separate Report from March 17 2010 it is clear that the Commission had to act under pressure by politically based requests, and a revised version of the article should take this background into account when prominently citing the Commission's Final Report.

Few minor issues refer to two Citations, in article version 832318440[5] numbered [3] and [4]:

[3] should be omitted in a future edited version of this wiki-page since it is a secondary (citing others) source without own original input.
[4] is a published book based on the Final Report of the Dresden Historians Commission 2010[1] without new own research results different from or additional to the data of the Final Report. The global availability of [4] and of this Final Report is, however, quite different with only the latter present on-line; probably this was the reason why [4] was not included into the Article's Bibliography (but could be shifted to it). For an edited version of the wiki-page it is, thus, recommended to substitute [4] throughout by the link to the Final Report (of course, with reference to the individual pages addressed).

== Citations ==

. ---DocumentReader (talk) 13:29, 29 March 2018 (UTC)

@DocumentReader, I do not fully understand the logic by which you come to the conclusion that the number may be about 30,0000. I think you may be double counting, but I can not tell from your description above. There are several other points:
  • the burials may also include people who died of reasons other than the bombings, or died later of injuries sustained in the bombings either of which alters the figures.
  • There are other independent secondary sources for the numbers, which were used in the article before the inclusion of the official report see the section Casualties from the version of 21 December 2011.
  • As mentioned in the Wikipedia article both back in 2011 and currently a calculation can also be done from the number reported missing which comes out at about 25,000. This correlates quite closely with the number of burials. If this were any country but Germany under a dictatorship that these numbers might be widely inaccurate, but I think it reasonable to assume that the figures are probably quite accurate as the chaos of the closing weeks of the war more than 2 months away.
I think before the numbers are questioned in the way you are suggesting, you would need to come up with a modern secondary source that questions the numbers in the way you have done in this section, before adding any questioning of the numbers currently displayed in the article. -- PBS (talk) 12:50, 16 August 2018 (UTC)

Michael Clodfelter's claim[edit]

"Military historian Michael Clodfelter observes [sic] that at the time the Dresden raids constituted the largest slaughter of civilians by military forces in one place at one time since the campaigns of Genghis Khan." This may be true if the immediately preceding numbers (from the same source) - 39,773 to 135,000 killed - are accepted, but 1. these numbers contradict all other reliable estimates cited in the article, and 2. even with them, the claim still sounds implausible in the context of WW2, and carries a whiff of the same far-right revisionism that refers to the bombing as the "Dresden Holocaust". Nanking (1937), Hamburg (1943), and Babiy Yar (1941) are just three examples of preceding events with higher casualties.

Restricted to the context of the eastern front, if the claim is not outright false it is at least highly misleading. Accepting the estimate of 7,400,000 Soviet civilians killed by direct military action in 37 months, between June '41 and July '44 (after which the Axis were mostly out of Soviet territory), casualties amount to a mean of 200,000 a month, or roughly 20,000 for each 3-day period (the same length of time as Michael's claim considers "at one time" in regards to Dresden), for over three years straight. Those numbers roughly double when starvation, disease, and overwork are considered in addition to guns and bombs. BlackNBlue (talk) 18:35, 6 June 2018 (UTC)

@BlackNBlue: 135,000 is not a credible number; I reverted recent changes with this edit. K.e.coffman (talk) 00:33, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
Using the low numbers for Dresden, the earlier bombing of Hamburg on 27 July 1943 was deadlier "in one place at one time". Rmhermen (talk) 17:44, 8 July 2018 (UTC)
" ... the largest slaughter of civilians" - he is wrong anyway, as the term 'slaughter' implies defenceless victims who are unable to escape, whereas none of the German cities were in any way undefended, nor were the Allies preventing the inhabitants from moving elsewhere.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) Revision as of 09:17, 4 August 2018 (UCT) (UTC)
Sack of Magdeburg in 1631 was on a similar scale to the bombing of Dresden. -- PBS (talk) 14:10, 15 August 2018 (UTC)