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The Independent

London, Friday, February 13, 2004

 Altmarkt pyre

Victims were cremated on huge funeral pyres for days after the 1945 British raid. Journalist David "Ratface" Cesarani: Dresdeners had it coming to them.


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David Irving comments:

SO HERE we have David "Ratface" Cesarani -- who like the armed Israeli ambassador was a frequent gloating visitor in the public gallery during the Lipstadt Trial -- becoming the first of a new wave of conformist historians trying to justify the Churchill government's air raid on Dresden, which burned alive over one hundred thousand people, mostly civilians, in the space of two hours on February 13, 1945 fifty-nine years ago tonight. Cesarani's thesis: They had it coming to them.
   If anybody were to suggest the same of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis, he would now be hauled off to jail. But here we have Cesarani criticizing my book, written forty-five years ago, on the basis of a book written years after the event by a leftwing British author, who has made not a little use of my own 1960s records and research, while giving me scant credit.
   One detail should suffice to show who was correct: Cesarani scoffs at the "obscene" notion that the British government's aim was to teach the Russians a lesson on the strength of the RAF bomber hordes   In his seminal history of RAF Bomber Command, author Max Hastings used a document, a two volume British internal monograph, Review of the Work of Int I, which had eluded even my researches -- and this quoted verbatim the briefing notes sent by teleprinter to every squadron of RAF Bomber Command taking part that night.
   To quote my book Apocalypse 1945: the Destruction of Dresden: "Bomber Command head- quarters had issued by teleprinter identical briefing instructions to every bomber airfield. The wording, which has survived, makes odd reading now. The seven thousand British airmen were to be told that afternoon that they were about to attack Dresden, 'far the largest unbombed built-up area the enemy has got.' 'The intentions of the attack are to hit the enemy where he will feel it most,' the telex said; it then added words pregnant with other implications: 'And incidentally to show the Russians when they arrive what Bomber Command can do.'

The sporting phrase which occurs to me right now is, I think, Game, set and match.

INCIDENTALLY, Henry Stimson reveals in his diary that one useful purpose of the Hiroshima bombing would be to show the Russians the strength of this new weapon. Here is a passage from vol.iii of Churchill's War (as yet unpublished, of course):

"It was Stimson who formally suggested employing the Bomb. The body-count would be Japanese, but it was the effect on the Russians that counted on him and other statesmen now. As early as May 14, 1945, after talking over this 'hot potato' with General Marshall, he had dictated into his files an opinion that the way to deal with Russia now was to 'let our actions speak for words.' The Russians, he felt, would understand actions better than anything else. 'We (Americans) have got to regain the lead and perhaps do it in a pretty rough and realistic way.' This time, he had reminded Marshall, Washington held all the cards -- 'a royal straight flush,' was how he put it. 'We mustn't fool about the way we play it,' he had said. 'We have coming into action a weapon which will be unique.'

The order to drop the A-bomb


Dresden, 1945: a legitimate target

By David Cesarani
Southampton University, UK

CesaraniExcerpt from whole article

EVEN before the war was over, a legend grew up around the bombing of Dresden -- largely thanks to Goebbels and his Propaganda Ministry. Nazi propaganda described Dresden as a city of no military value, crammed with refugees from the East.

The "Florence on the Elbe" was allegedly obliterated in a senseless act of barbarism. Later accretions to the myth included the obscene suggestion that Dresden was targeted by the Western Allies as an object lesson for the Russians.

Taylor (below) exposes each one of these legends. Dresden was hardly "an innocent city". It was a Nazified city in which opponents of the regime and Czech nationalists had been incarcerated and executed en masse.

"Frederick Taylor"The Jewish population, which included the remarkable diarist Viktor Klemperer, had been reduced by deportations from 6,000 to a few hundred. [....]

During the 1950s, a succession of Communist officials supplemented their incomes by churning out stories of the raids that uncritically used casualty figures doctored by the SS. These tracts were explicitly intended to blacken the Western Allies' reputation, but this did not prevent the right-wing Nazi apologist David Irving from happily recycling the fantastic computations in his bestselling 1963 book, The Destruction of Dresden.

As if the fate of Dresdeners was not bad enough, their memory is still traduced for crude political reasons. In laying to rest the legends, Taylor's authoritative and moving account provides a truer, more fitting memorial.


Our dossier on the origins of anti-Semitism
Our dossier on Operation THUNDERCLAP 1944/1945
Marais on Air War Statistics and Max Hastings' history
 Items on Cesarani ("Little Caesar"):


David Cesarani: Britain was wary on refugees
David Irving: A Radical's Diary
Real History and Ian Kershaws Hitler: David Irvings diary on Kershaw
Ratface David Cesarani is interviewed in Die Zeit about the Lipstadt Trial Judgment
The battle may be over - but the war goes on: Neal Ascherson explains why a disgraced David Irving has surprising sympathy from serious historians
Jewish groups hail judges damning High Court verdict against right-wing author
New Statesman: Best efforts of a smear-monger
Documents on Deborah Lipstadt's application for an Injunction against David Irving Website, Jan 26, 1999
The Telegraph broke the story of the Nazi gas chambers to a disbelieving world on June 25, 1942, with the stark headline
Among the thousands of soldiers of Jewish parentage who served in Hitlers army during the Second World War were two generals, eight lieutenant generals, five major generals, and 23 colonels.
British barrister Jonathan Goldberg draws wan conclusions from the Lipstadt trial outcome
"If Irving won the case, it would give a license to all those who are Holocaust deniers," said Cesarani
The libel action brought by David Irving against Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt: Wrestling with the past New debates over old horrors: the Holocaust and the writing of history
Emory's Deborah Lipstadt and Irving will spend much of the next three months in a detailed battle for the soul of the Holocaust, a battle which British Jewish historian Prof. David Cesarani described as one most gripping
Feb 2oo1, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Real History and the Lipstadt Trial
David Irving writes letters about Dr Cesarani to The Jewish Chronicle, Jan 1997 | The Guardian, Feb 1997
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