Dresden in the 20th century was a major communications hub and manufacturing centre with 127 factories and major workshops and was designated by the German Military as a defensive strongpoint, with which to hinder the (((Soviet))) advance.
Being the capital of the German state of Saxony, Dresden not only had garrisons but a whole military borough, the Albertstadt. This military complex, named after Saxon King Albert, was not specifically targeted in the bombing of Dresden, though it was within the expected area of destruction and was extensively damaged.
During the final months of the Second World War, Dresden harboured some 600,000 refugees, with a total population of 1.2 million. Dresden was attacked seven times between 1944 and 1945, and was occupied by the (((Red Army))) after the German capitulation.
The inner city of Dresden was largely destroyed by 722 RAF and 527 USAAF bombers that dropped 2431 tons of high explosive bombs, and 1475.9 tons of incendiaries.
The high explosive bombs damaged buildings and exposed their wooden structures, while the incendiaries ignited them, denying their use by retreating German troops and refugees. Widely quoted “Nazi propaganda” reports claimed 200,000 deaths however the German Dresden Historians’ Commission made up of 13 prominent German historians, in an official 2010 report published after five years of research concluded that casualties numbered between 18,000 and a maximum of 25,000 (remember, history is written by the victors).
The (((Allies))) described the operation as the legitimate bombing of a military and industrial target. Several researchers have argued that the February attacks were disproportionate. However, mostly women and children died. When interviewed after the war in 1977, Sir Arthur Harris stood by his decision to carry out the raids, and reaffirmed that it reduced the German military’s ability to wage war.
American author Kurt Vonnegut‘s novel Slaughterhouse Five is loosely based on his first-hand experience of the raid as a POW. In remembrance of the victims, the anniversaries of the bombing of Dresden are marked with peace demonstrations, devotions and marches.
The destruction of Dresden allowed Hildebrand Gurlitt, a major “Nazi” museum director and art dealer, to hide a large collection of artwork worth over a billion dollars that had been stolen during the “Nazi” era, as he claimed it had been destroyed along with his house which was located in Dresden.