Dresden plus 70

I'd forgotten that today was the 70th anniversary of the Dresden firestorm, but luckily the producers of Up All Night on BBC Radio 5 Live remembered. I spoke to presenter Dotun Adebayo and fellow historian Raymond Sun this afternoon (just before 5am Greenwich Mean Time), and for the next 29 days you can listen to our conversation here (the recording is the whole programme, 4 hours long, so skip to about 3:47:15).

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7 thoughts on “Dresden plus 70

  1. I have to admit I had almost forgotten as well until I saw your tweet Brett. Then, low and behold, after I came out of a lecture I was holding at the museum, there was an email askign me to go to the BBC. However, it is interesting to see some of the backlash the BBC are receving for its coverage of the raid. At least the controversy lives on as it means we can continue to have a menaingful debate!

  2. Alan Allport

    Yes, I see the Daily Mail did its usual scrupulously fair-minded job on this - "Traitorous BBC Bastards Tramp All Over the Graves Of Our Bomber Boy Heroes."

    Brett, nice job. But the format of these call-ins is inherently ridiculous, isn't it? "OK, Dr. Holman. Dresden. For or against? Oh, and you've got 20 seconds."

  3. Erik Lund

    Those roofs had it coming.

    I'm actually a little surprised to see explicit calls in the press for an attack on Dresden during January of 1945 on the grounds that
    i) V2s suck;
    ii) It's their turn;
    iii) Woolton pie sucks.

    Okay, I made that last one up, but although it may be due to an inordinate focus on The Economist I am getting the impression that the mood in Britain was pretty sour in the winter of '45. Kicking some Germans while they were down had far more traction in public opinion than it ought.

  4. Post author


    I don't know if the continuing controversy enables a meaningful debate, but it does mean historians will always be in demand to take part!


    "OK, Dr. Holman. Dresden. For or against? Oh, and you've got 20 seconds."

    This is the only correct response to such a question.


    Interesting -- they singled out Dresden? Who was this, the Economist? One day I'd like to extend my article on the support for reprisals during the Blitz to later in the war; nice to know there's something there.

  5. Maybe meaningful was the wrong word. A lot of mythology has built up around Dresden, which perhaps means we can't have a meaningful debate. I think the presenters I talked to were quite intrigued as I explained the operational and strategic background to the raid.

  6. Erik Lund

    Brett: Dresden, Breslau, and a few other east-Elbian German cities, on the grounds that they hadn't been bombed yet, and therefore had it coming. The Economist, as was its late war habit, is responding to unnamed other people with "It's not a very good idea, but then on the other hand, [subordinate clause of eye-glazing length] maybe someone other than these unnamed people, somewhere, could somehow make it out to be. Like, for example, us, if we were to make the effort. But we wouldn't because it would be wrong. Though, on the other hand..."

    In fairness, I gather that the paper's editorial board was down to one or two people by this point in the war, so the only thing saving The Economist from complete inanity is the paper shortage.

  7. Post author


    Thanks for that; something to look into one day. Seems like the Economist has refined its style of argument somewhat; these days it's 'There's a dark cloud, but it has a silver lining'/'There's a silver cloud, but it has a dark lining' (or at least it was when I stopped reading it).

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