By Mason B.Webb It was February 1945, and the Bombing of Dresden had yet to commence. At this point in the war, the citizens of the capital of the German state of Saxony were beginning to think that they were living a charmed life. After all, they knew that every other major German city except theirs had been flattened by countless Allied air raids since 1940. And yet here they were, virtually untouched. (Dresden had, in fact, been first bombed by the U.S. Eighth Air Force on October 7, 1944, and again on January 16, 1945, but the damage and casualties were minimal.) Perhaps the Dresdeners felt lucky because the city on the Elbe River, 120 miles south of Berlin, was well known as a cultural treasure—the “Florence on the Elbe” and the “Jewel Box”—and was regarded as one the world’s most beautiful cities for its architecture and museums, with few industrial or military sites worth bombing. Among its treasures were the baroque Zwinger Palace, the State Opera House known as the Semper Oper, and the Frauenkirche, the latter built in the 1700s. Here too, the world-famous Dresden china and porcelain had been made for decades. There seemed no good reason for the status quo to change. But Dresden’s luck was about to run out. “I Can Assure You, Gentlemen, That We Tolerate no Scruples.” British Air Chief Marshall Arthur “Bomber” Harris, head of the RAF’s Bomber Command,


$2 / Month

Subscribe now for only $3.99 $2 a month!

Unlimited Website Access, Thousands of Searchable Articles, Warfare Newsletter, and more.

Back to the issue this appears in