Jacket text to
the 1995 edition of David Irving: Apocalypse 1945: the
Destruction of Dresden
of 2005 Focal Point edition
AT 10.10 P.M. ON THE NIGHT of February
13-14, 1945 the R.A.F. Master Bomber broadcast the
cryptic order: 'Controller to Plate-Rack Force: Come in
and bomb glow of red T.I.s as planned.'
The ill-famed attack on Dresden had begun.
The target city was among Germany's largest, but it
alone had developed no single major war industry. The
German authorities had made it a centre for the
evacuation of wounded servicemen, and by February 1945
most schools, restaurants, and public buildings had been
converted into military hospitals. In selecting Dresden
for this purpose, the German government probably hoped
that this, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe,
often compared with Florence for its graceful Baroque
architectural style, would be spared the attentions of
the allied bombers. By 1945, the legend was deeply
entrenched in the population's mind that Dresden was a
city that would never be bombed.
It was not to be.
In the summer of 1944, the Allies had shelved as
inopportune a plan to cripple German civilian morale by
delivering one 'shattering blow' as R.A.F. staff officers
termed it on one selected German city.
But in February 1945, with the Soviet armies making
striking advances in their invasion of Silesia and East
Prussia, and when the war's political and military
directors were meeting at Yalta, Mr Winston
Churchill was urgently in need of some display both
of his offensive strength and of his willingness to
assist the Russians in their drive westwards. The
'shattering blow' plan was brought out and
Dresden, the 'virgin target' just seven miles behind
the eastern Front, became the victim of Mr Churchill's
desire for a spectacular blow.
By a combination of delays and poor weather, the raid,
the climax of the strategic air offensive against
Germany, and the most crushing air-raid of the war, was
not delivered until the day that Mr Churchill was
departing from Yalta.
In this work, a considerably revised and updated
edition of his famous book THE
DESTRUCTION OF DRESDEN, the author shows how the
Dresden raid drew on each of the earlier fire-storm raids
on Germany, those on Hamburg, Kassel, Darmstadt and
Brunswick, and then combined the vital elements of
The city was undefended -- it had no guns, and even
the German night-fighter force was grounded by Bomber
Command's brilliant tactics of deception and trickery. It
had no proper air-raid shelters. On the night of the
attack, Dresden was housing hundreds of thousands of
refugees from Silesia, East Prussia, and from western
Germany in addition to its own population of 630,000.
Between fifty and a hundred thousand people were
killed that night.
Yet until the author's first book on it appeared in
1963 the raid on Dresden scarcely figured in any official
indices of the war. Politically and strategically, the
raid was the fore-runner of the U.S. Air Force's atomic
blows on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; but the Dresden
death-toll was probably larger than either.
Why was there this official silence about the Dresden
Certainly little discredit reflected on the officers
and men of the bomber forces; equally the two commanders,
Sir Arthur Harris and General Carl Spaatz,
were not acting out of hand. The directives and orders
confronting them were painfully clear.
The British Prime Minister, however, was stung by
public reaction throughout the world to news of the new
St Valentine's Day massacre to pen an angry minute to the
Chief of Staff warning that "the destruction of Dresden
remains a serious query against the conduct of allied
bombing". It is from this remarkably forgetful minute
that the subtitle of this documentary account is taken.
For the first time the full story, omitting nothing, of
the historical background to this cruel blow and of its
unexpected political consequences, is told.
First three, and now thirty years' research in England
and Germany, and the active cooperation of the military
authorities in London Washington and Moscow, produce a
detailed account of this tragedy.
The man who was directed by the city's Gauleiter to
establish a Corpse Division in Dresden's Central Bureau
of Missing Persons, with the grim task of establishing a
final death toll for the raids, placed his private diary
and records at the disposal of the author; similarly the
two R.A.F. Master Bombers described the part they had to
The book is illustrated with photographs taken by
Walter Hahn under penalty of death in the wrecked
city; Hahn was in fact arrested by the S.S. for being in
prohibited areas, as behind police cordons the final and
most hideous scenes of this terrible affair were played