A visit to Dresden provides proof positive that Germans, staggering under a monumental weight of white guilt, lead the way in the suicide of the west.
On a recent visit to Germany I was quickly disabused of my notion that atonement for the sins of the fathers would be perhaps subject to some kind of statute of limitations. Surely, generations after the cataclysm of the Second World War, Germans would be entitled to feel at least some diminution of the guilt attached to their country’s supposed single-handed initiation of a world war (no, make that total blame for two world wars) and the alleged attempted genocide of a charmingly innocent racial/religious group.
But no, this peculiar brand of evil appears to have leached into the very DNA of the Germans. It is as though babies born in Germany of White mothers arrive with indelibly blood-stained hands. Like children born into religions, they are born into guilt. Ironically, the efforts of Hitler and the entire apparatus of the Third Reich in tirelessly identifying who were Germans and who were not has made it ridiculously easy to determine who to pin the everlasting blame on — those who are unable to identify as anyone other than a German. Non-German citizens of Germany need not be concerned.
What has led me to so unshakable a conviction? In a word, Dresden — more specifically, the murder of Dresden over two apocalyptic days in February 1945. This is a subject which has fascinated and appalled me since long ago reading The Destruction of Dresden by David Irving. It is this book from which most of the facts and figures relating to the atrocity given here come, as well as from Thomas Goodrich’s Hellstorm: The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944–1947. One cannot read these two books without being forced to conclude that the holocaust that consumed Dresden was a war crime reaching a level of evil on a par with those committed against Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Tokyo. But guilt in these atrocities has never been expressed, let alone admitted, nor will ever be admitted. Platitudes and rationalizations are offered instead.
Minutes after arriving, a garrulous receptionist informs me of a not-to-be-missed tourist attraction. It’s an exhibition purported to be a memorial to the city’s destruction over seventy years ago. My interest is immediately piqued. I naively presume, if one couldn’t possibly hope that guilt is actually eradicated, at least a finger — even the tiniest pinky — of blame, may be pointing in the right direction.
I hire a bicycle and pedal out to where the receptionist has directed me. The exhibition, truly on a giant scale, is housed within perfectly suited accommodation. It is a converted gas storage unit, located unsurprisingly on Gasanstaltstrasse. If the type of hulking water reservoirs that sit astride hilltops can be imagined, this provides a good facsimile of the housing of the Panometer. It is thirty meters high. On entering the gloom and resounding funereal music of the exhibition, one is struck by the cathedral-like inner space. In the center is a winding steel staircase leading to three platforms spaced evenly apart. Each platform naturally provides a different perspective of what makes the exhibition so phenomenal — a gigantic, seamless 360-degree photographic montage of Dresden not long after the attack. One becomes effectively wrapped around in a scene of total devastation. This in fact would have been the perspective of the photographer snapping the originals from what obviously must have been an exceedingly precarious vantage point. He evidently rotated while photographing to achieve the circular panorama that leads one into the illusion of being at his side while he worked. Adding to this eerie, surreality is the alternately dimming and brightening lighting as well as flashes of light and synchronized musical percussion to approximate exploding bombs. This is a uniquely moving experience.
However, I was expecting more: some kind of homage — or at least even a mention — of the multitude who met such horrible deaths. But no, not even a mention even of the absurdly low official estimate of 25,000.
But that’s not to say there were no victims. As I explored further, I found them — small photographic portraits with accompanying accounts of tormented lives. Of course! Like everything else about the war, especially in Germany, it was all about the Jews. The sad faces frozen by photography were all Jewish faces — the “true” victims of the Dresden atrocity. That they weren’t there at the time is a fact not allowed to spoil a good story. They had been removed prior to the attack and who knows how many may have popped up again in Israel in the following years, quite unlike the Dresdeners whose numbers would have overflowed a major sports stadium. They would not be popping up again anywhere. But ‘Oh vey, how we’ve suffered!’.
The unremitting tale of woe remarkably avoids any mention of the tens of thousands of Germans incinerated, atomized, crushed like bugs or simply driven insane on the 13th and 14th of February 1945 when the war was all but lost and largely only continuing because of the demand for unconditional surrender. This had been adroitly exploited by Goebbels to convey the not unfounded impression that Germany would be erased either way. The infamous Morganthau Plan, the implementation of which would have resulted in millions of German deaths and Kaufman’s book Germany Must Perish advocating genocide through sterilization did nothing to allay those fears. So, better to die on your feet.
In line with the assertion that the Jews had been the true victims of Dresden, comes the astonishing opinion that ‘the destruction of the cultural metropolis of Dresden had long since begun with the assumption of power of the National Socialists.’ It is an accepted fact that history is written by the winners, but it beggars belief that the losers could be acquiescing so enthusiastically.
The methodology of the attack on Dresden had been honed to perfection by Arthur “Bomber” Harris, Commander-in-Chief of RAF Bomber Command, who’d been charged by Churchill with the total destruction of German cities and its concomitant maximum death toll. It was a given that this could be achieved by targeting densely populated working-class areas. The bonus here was the concomitant disruption of war production because of dead or homeless workers. Inexhaustibly energetic, he’d gone about his task with the dedication and efficiency of an evil genius. For example, he had typically amoral scientists working out formulas showing deaths to be caused per ton of explosive. Before Dresden, the destruction of Hamburg in 1944 was a triumph that needed to be studied. More people were killed in one night than the number of deaths caused during the entire London blitz. An evidently intended and even foreseen consequence of the Hamburg attack was the firestorm. This was a hurricane of flame engendered by a myriad of incendiaries causing winds violent enough to roll locomotives. They rushed into the vacuum left by a volcanic up-draft of super-heated air. The city was effectively converted into a blast furnace. This must have come to the perpetrators as the type of surprise one might experience on discovering an extra present under a Christmas tree. All the while, the fiction was being maintained that the infernal destruction of Germany was merely the surgical elimination of military/strategic targets.
Through more than four years of the most savage war ever fought, Dresden had led something of a charmed life. Barely damaged by the violence swirling about them, Dresdeners had slipped into a comfortable sense of false security. After all, apart from an east-west rail-line along which soldiers were transported, the city was devoid of military value. In their naïveté, the inhabitants also reasoned that a kind of tacit agreement had been established whereby if the cultural equivalent of Oxford was left alone, the architectural treasure-house of the Dresden Altstadt, the old city, that had earned the city the reputation of being the ‘Florence of the North’, would be spared. It was after all a cultural heirloom, not just to Germany, but to the civilized world. It was inconceivable that it would be specifically targeted, and by racial kinsmen. But that is exactly what it was.
Since it was considered a safe haven, it was packed with those fleeing the primitive barbarity of the Red Army. The Dresden population of 650,000 had become swollen by another 400,000 refugees, wounded soldiers and POWs.
How could they possibly have suspected they were about to become pawns in a game played with the devil? They would be destroyed not because of a military rationale that may have shortened the war by even an hour, but simply for political reasons. Because of Stalin’s quite accurate assertion that the Soviet Union was bearing the brunt of the European war and his complaint that his allies weren’t doing enough to help (notwithstanding the torrential flow of arms and equipment from the US), it was decided that some of the wind needed to be taken out of his sails. What better, more impressive way to do it than to remove an entire city from his path. (Somewhat ironically however, when knowledge of the atrocity had incensed people world-wide, Stalin was adamant that he’d never asked for this. Likewise, Churchill was beginning to try to distance himself from the obscenity, leaving Harris out to dry, as the saying goes.)
As efficiently and as scientifically as ever, Bomber Harris, in conjunction with US Army Air Force, prepared for his latest assignment. The attack would comprise a triple blow, the first two at night, and closely spaced — the better to catch rescuers and fire brigades out in the open with the second — and a daylight attack the following day by US Flying Fortresses capable of carrying even greater bombloads than the British Lancasters. It would be a stroll in the park.
Luftwaffe pilots were fighting desperately elsewhere, or they were kept on an airfield nearby because destroyed communications meant permission for take-off could not be obtained from Flight HQ. And with the feared 88 mm flak cannon removed elsewhere because it was considered unneeded at Dresden, the city was as defenseless as a man without limbs. The three swarms of attackers would comprise a staggering numbers of bombers, a strategy that had become the norm. The amount of explosives dropped on Dresden would total almost 35 thousand tons. Bombs as various as clubs in a golf-bag would be used, including the two- and four-ton ‘blockbusters’, so named because they could take out entire city blocks, time-bombs to catch the unwary after the bombers had turned homewards, and deep-burrowing bombs to find those hard to reach spots where victims would have been trembling uncontrollably underground. Of primary importance though were the thousands of incendiaries that would be used to deliberately replicate the firestorm of Hamburg. The phosphorous of the incendiaries, had a way of sticking to people, turning them into human torches.
And so it began. With sirens blaring and the city’s inhabitants descending into makeshift, cellar shelters that would prove to be eventual death traps, what had become known the length and breadth of Germany as ‘Christmas tree lights’ began falling from the sky. These were the magnesium marker flares dropped by a squadron of Pathfinder Lancasters. Then the hellish incendiaries began falling. With fires lighting up the city, it was then a simple matter to follow up with earth-quaking explosions. A short time later a bomber crew member reported what he estimated to be ‘forty square miles of fire’. Another wondered what it must have been like for “the poor sods below.”
Down below, the most fearful artistic imaginings of hell did not come close to what was actually happening. The lucky ones were being asphyxiated because of oxygen being consumed by fire or the buildup of carbon monoxide in basement shelters. The not so lucky caught out in the open were being picked up like rag dolls and flung into the flames by cyclonic winds or having clothes, then skin, then flesh burnt from them as they ran before dropping. Others became bogged in melted bitumen where their bodies would be later found face down and have to be pried away from the once again solidified blackness. Many women still clutching babies or infants would be found like this. The melting point of glass is around 1,600 degrees centigrade. Shattered window panes began to melt. Sandstone melted and ran like lava.
The main railway station had become a city within a city with refugees, wounded soldiers and POWs constantly arriving by train and being crowded also with people having nowhere else to go. Because of its large underground area forming a de facto shelter — no proper public air-raid shelters existed in the city — it acted as a magnet for the panic stricken as soon as the first bombs began falling. It proved however to be of little protection against the many direct hits that peppered it. The first to die of course were those still huddled in crowded train carriages, and then death tried more determinedly to find those so desperately trying to escape it. From this location alone, many thousands of bodies were recovered in the following days. As across the entire city, many more would never be found. However, the rail line running through the station, arguably a genuine military target, would be repaired, allowing trains to be running again within days.
As bombers of the second wave finally headed for home, fire reaching high into the atmosphere could still be seen 100 miles behind. The more sensitive of the bomber crewmen were beginning to feel shame that would stay with them the rest of their lives.
But for the Dresdeners who had escaped the inferno and were now shivering in the frigid cold, it wasn’t over yet. The new day brought a new attack. It was now time for the US force — of similar magnitude to the preceding British waves — to launch its daring daylight attack, daring that is, if those who could see it coming could have done anything about it. But they could only watch. The still roiling clouds of smoke did however a degree of difficulty. But no need to be too finicky about where the bombs landed; they would more than likely be only smashing rubble anyway. For mopping up, P51s streaked down low from the sky to strafe burnt and bleeding survivors huddled in the parks and on the banks of the Elbe with cannon and machine gun fire. One American pilot, possibly annoyed with a low score swept over what remained of the zoo. Most of the animals had been killed or had escaped but a lone giraffe remained wandering and dazed. A burst of machine gun fire from the Mustang riddled the giraffe and dropped it to the ground. Such was the heroism displayed on that day.
Irving gives the figure of 135,000 for the dead left lying in and under the smoking rubble of Dresden. To do this, he simply followed his modus operandi of researching primary sources. In this case, it was the record compiled by Hans Voigt, a teacher unemployed because Dresden schools had been recently converted into military hospitals. By order of the Vermissten-Nachweis-Zentrale (Central Bureau of Missing Persons) he was tasked with setting up and organizing an Arbteilung Tote (Dead Persons Department). This would ultimately be the most enormous enterprise of its kind in history. With typical Teutonic efficiency he assembled a crew of seventy. This was backed up by a further 300 from the VNZ. The system worked out was a kind of complex double entry ledger whereby bodies were head counted by one team and tagged by another, the two totals then being cross-checked.
The first major accomplishment was the identification of around 40,000 bodies via identifying documents and valuables. But that was where the total of identified bodies remained. From there on, the teams were often counting three feet long, charcoal human effigies. All the while the counters were interrupted by the bereaved wanting to take either identified bodies or bodies thought to be relatives in order save them from the mass graves. They were forbidden to do so. Time was not on the side of the counters. Working in a miasma of reeking death, the outbreak of disease was becoming an increasingly dangerous probability. When it became too great, burial was abandoned, and as soon as bodies were counted, they were stacked on grills of iron girders and set on fire in the streets. A scene in the film Slaughterhouse-Five, based on the book by Kurt Vonnegut who was one of the many POWs assisting in rescue operations, shows a POW being shot for picking up from the rubble a Dresden doll. Summary execution was in fact the fate of anyone even suspected of looting.
Where no actual bodies could be identified, such as when a cellar was opened and what had been the people cowering inside had become layers of fine ash, educated guessing and inductive reasoning was the only recourse. A similar problem attached to a scene described by Voigt and related by Irving: “The bottom steps were slippery. The cellar floor was covered by an eleven- or twelve-inch deep liquid mixture of blood, flesh, and bone; a small high explosive bomb had penetrated four floors of the building and exploded in the basement.” The number of bodies contributing to the nightmarish mixture was easily ascertainable, however; it was discovered that at every previous air raid alert, although not followed by an air raid, the cellar usually contained around 300 people.
Not a word of all this however is contained within the Panometer. I exit the building so distracted I hardly notice the chemtrails painted across a cloudless sky. Back at my hotel, I obtained a city map and began to take note of the suggestions of places of interest crowded in its fringes. Curiously, the Panometer isn’t included, but in a small section entitled “5 min of history” I notice this: “13th February 1945 — the Old Town was almost completely destroyed [almost?. The city had been cored like an apple with ten square miles totally destroyed] and thousands of people died [at least here is an acknowledgement that people actually died] … However, we should also not forget that many Dresdeners … participated willingly in the Nazi regime. [italics are mine].” I go over this part again to check that I haven’t misread it. But no, that’s what it says. So those tens of thousands of souls that were destroyed so terribly were simply getting what they deserved. They had been infected with National Socialism so it was only right that they were burnt out like a cancer. But these are the writer’s own people he’s speaking of — ancestors, who in many cultures are worthy of respect and reverence, even worship. How can they be disowned so simply, so brutally? On further reflection, the answer — one of desperate but futile psychological processing — crystallizes. If the bloodline can be severed, so can the blood guilt. If that doesn’t work, which it doesn’t, there’s a fallback, and that is a common German sentiment expressed as “we’re proud of not being proud.”
This lack of pride is truly astounding. While all over Germany little brass plaques set into foot-paths outside the homes once inhabited by Jews reminds Germans of their guilt (the most common word in the details of their fate being ‘emordet’ [murdered] and a lavish Holocaust museum stands accusingly in the center of their capital city), not one stone exists in memoriam of the millions of Germans who perished — and in the case of Dresden and every other city that was carpet-bombed, emordet — in the Second World War and for several years afterwards. (For the full horror, Goodrich’s Hellstorm is required reading.) Because of suppressed knowledge, it’s unlikely that the millions of German POWs, robbed of that status, and perishing in Eisenhower’s death camps are even mentioned. While the landscapes of the victors are dotted with war memorials you will find no such tribute to the vast number of German men, and in the end, boys, who fought with superhuman bravery and gave their lives for their people and nation. It doesn’t matter that, in the end, ragged and starving, they fought to the last bullet simply for each other and to protect their people fleeing an unimaginably bestial horde being urged on by Comrade Ehrenburg: “break the racial pride of these German women” and “kill, kill, kill!” There is however a war memorial in the Harz Mountains town of Bad Harzburg. It commemorates the soldiers who fought and died in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870–71. This is the last war about which Germans have a right to express pride.
The sad irony is that however much Germans try to dissociate themselves from their ancestors, it is all to no avail. Even the cartoon renditions of a blood-dripping Adolph Hitler with which the German left likes to amuse themselves will not save them. This is evidenced by the ongoing need to atone, most graphically illustrated by Frau Merkel’s launching of the refugee crisis and the deadly virus of Islam. To certain others, German guilt is far too valuable to ever let expire. Germans will forever remain “Hitler’s willing executioners.” The miracle is that, through some kind of mental alchemy, what should have been venomous, undying hatred because of what was done to them, has been turned into everlasting guilt.