Architecturally baroque and famous for its china, the city had been spared the air raids that had ravaged so many German cities further to the west.
By the time the Dresden attack was over, between 20,000 and 30,000 of the city’s citizens lay dead. (Wartime and early postwar estimates put the death toll vastly higher.) To this day, there is still considerable debate as to whether or not the bombing could be justified on military grounds. For an in-depth discussion, see Frederick Taylor’s Dresden (HarperCollins, 2004).