This week in the War, 12–18 February 1945: The destruction of Dresden

Notice outside the reconstruction site of the Frauenkirche in Dresden [Public domain; author: Sir James]

This week in the war, between 13 February and 15 February 1945, bombs from RAF Bomber Command and the USAAF rained down on the ancient city of Dresden in eastern Germany—–a result, in part, of an agreement between the ‘Big Three’ reached at the Yalta conference.

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).


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