International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Germany marks 70th anniversary of Dresden firebombing

Germany is remembering the events and victims of the firebombing in Dresden that took place February 13, 1945. 70 years ago today, during WWII, British and American Allied forces bombed the German city, leaving 25,000 dead and 12 square miles in ruins. Despite the high numbers of civilian casualties, no one from any of the Allied powers was ever accused of any crimes following the bombing and the war. Is this a classic example of victors justice? Surely the death of tens of thousands of civilians is a war crime. While German officers faced the consequences of their actions in the Nuremberg trial,  no action was ever taken against the victorious Allies for any atrocities they may have perpetrated during wartime.

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3 responses to “Germany marks 70th anniversary of Dresden firebombing

  1. anisalarochelle February 13, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    In victors justice, one may assume that the victorious side did little harm during the war, and the loosing side was responsible for most of the wrongdoing. After war times are over, the tribunals take so long to organize, countries are lucky to prosecute the people who participated in the worst atrocities. In the case of the Dresden firebombing that Peter posted above, the German survivors feel that they are disproportionately represented as no one has been prosecuted from the American and British side. In order to set a consistent and balanced judicial precedent, there should be a trial for at least the American and British high-ranking officials who instigated the firm bombings. In the meantime, one suggestion I would have is in the form of outreach for Germany to implement a national memorial day and provide reparations to victim’s families.

  2. mtidona February 15, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    The lack of punishment or accountability enforced on the British and American Allied forces for the brutal bombing of Dresden does appear to be a classic example of victor’s justice. However, I do not think the main point of the article was to emphasize this issue, as a widely accepted criticism of the Nuremberg trials is the controversy of victor’s justice. The german officials, or the “losers”, were put on trial for their crimes, but the Allied forces, or the “winners”, were not and faced no accountability for their crimes regardless of what crimes they committed. I think the main point of this article is to focus on the victims of the Dresden bombings, who are still suffering and affected by the devastation they endured in 1945. The events in Germany on Friday and the services at the Church of our Lady were meant to offer the survivors and victims of the bombings 70 years ago another opportunity to heal. The Archbishop of Canterbury suggests that healing such wounds requires a level of reconciliation and for “enemies to become friends…which ends with a shared understanding of the hurt we have caused each other.” It appears that the most important thing now is not to hold the Allied forces accountable and argue over victor’s justice, but instead to help all victims of the WWII warfare continue to heal.

  3. oconnorg February 15, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    The bombing of Dresden by the Allied forces was an act of violence disproportionate to its justification: Dresden played only a small role in arming the Nazi effort, it lacked any military defenses and was in fact a home to many war refugees, and its bombing did not in any way hasten the German surrender. The bombing was one of the most controversial but also one of the least known in the war, and the devastating impact led many to question the motives of the Allied forces in bombing a city such as Dresden so close to the impending German surrender. The utter decimation of the urban center of Dresden was no more than an exhibition of power and unbridled violence by Churchill and Roosevelt. Although the Allies unquestionably fought to advance the good of the world in World War II, the cruelty exhibited in Dresden in 1945 has been forgiven and forgotten by the world far too soon. The case of Dresden is an example of how political authorities advocate for justice and against impunity only when they are not the perpetrator.

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