25,000 died in Dres­den bomb­ing, his­to­ri­ans say

Vancouver Sun - - World - BY BO­JAN PANCEVSKI

VI­ENNA — The Al­lied bomb­ing of Dres­den in the Sec­ond World War re­sulted in far fewer deaths than pre­vi­ously thought, ac­cord­ing to new re­search by a Ger­man gov­ern­ment com­mis­sion.

Some his­to­ri­ans have claimed that the Al­lies killed up to 500,000 civil­ians in the raids be­tween Feb. 13 and Feb. 15, 1945.

But a com­mis­sion of 13 prom­i­nent Ger­man his­to­ri­ans has con­cluded that the fig­ure was ex­ag­ger­ated or de­rived from du­bi­ous sources. They be­lieve that no more than 25,000 peo­ple died, de­bunk­ing the claims of many re­vi­sion­ist his­to­ri­ans who sought to com­pare the bomb­ing to the Holo­caust.

The com­mis­sion, headed by Rolf-Di­eter Muller, one the coun­try’s most prom­i­nent mil­i­tary his­to­ri­ans, stud­ied all the avail­able ev­i­dence about the event — much of which was ex­am­ined for the first time.

Muller said that the fi­nal re­port of the com­mis­sion, to be pub- lished next year, aimed to end the “lu­di­crous spec­u­la­tion” about the Dres­den ca­su­al­ties, which were used for pro­pa­ganda by the Nazis.

“In the course of its re­search the com­mis­sion has so far iden­ti­fied around 18,000 vic­tims of the air raids in Dres­den,” Muller said. “The com­mis­sion es­ti­mates that a max­i­mum of 25,000 peo­ple lost their lives in the Fe­bru­ary at­tacks.”

Unof­fi­cially, the com­mis­sion mem­bers in­di­cated that they did not ex­pect the fi­nal fig­ure to ex­ceed 20,000.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter the bomb­ing, the war­time au­thor­i­ties of Dres­den es­ti­mated the num­ber of ca­su­al­ties to be up to 25,000, but Nazi pro­pa­ganda chiefs cir­cu­lated much higher fig­ures.

The com­mis­sion find­ings showed that the tem­per­a­tures cre­ated by the in­cen­di­ary bombs were not suf­fi­cient to make a hu­man body com­pletely dis­ap­pear — a claim used at the time to jus­tify the in­flated ca­su­alty fig­ures.

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