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Irving with Sir Arthur Harris

IN 1962 David Irving interviewed Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur Harris, for his researches into the strategic bombing offensive and the air raids on Dresden

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Ernst Marais writes from Edleen, South Africa, Sunday, July 21, 2002



How accurate is a Penguin?


GERHARD Rohringer and William Blair point out some inaccuracies in The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Third Reich.

I recently read an excellent book by Max Hastings "Bomber Command" (ISBN 0 330 39204 2) on the bombing offensive. There is a moving chapter about the destruction of Darmstadt. He acknowledges David Irving's contributions, praises his generosity as a historian.

Like Irving, his research was meticulous, such as sourcing material from the AIR files in the Public Record Office; Operational Record Books; numerous interviews, also with Bomber Harris. The chapter "The Balance Sheet" makes interesting reading. He writes:

The obliteration of Germany's cities in the spring of 1945, when all strategic justification had vanished, is a lasting blot on the Allied conduct of the war and on the judgement of senior Allied airmen.

Quoting the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden, 593,000 German civilians died and 3.37 million dwellings were destroyed.

He writes: "The cost was very high. 55,573 aircrew, almost all officers and NBCOs, among the finest and most highly trained material in the British Empire, were killed."

The irony is that the bomber offensive did not break Germany as was Bomber Harris's intention.

Ernst Marais


  Penguin's Atlas of the Third Reich (ed: Richard Overy) is full of howlers, says Gerhard Rohringer | William Blair suggests the errors follow a conformist pattern | Both readers spot still more howlers in the Atlas | Max Hastings gave the true data for air raid deaths in Germany

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