bombing of dresden survivor accounts

Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. It is from the memories of common people who survived the Dresden Bombing of February 13-14, 1945, that we can understand why somewhere between 130,000 and 300,000 common people had to die. A whole string of them hit the ground, one after the other in rapid succession — like a drum roll. As the noise of the planes died away, people started to appear from the few houses that were still intact, while other survivors clawed their way up through huge mounds of rubble.Â. After that, we were marched in front of the officer in charge of Dresden police, who told us there were strict penalties for sabotage: we were to be taken to a place where we'd wait to be executed. Dresden became the Electors and Kings of Saxony's l ong time capital and royal residence, who over centuries furnished the city with cultural and artistic splendour. Letters: Perhaps instead of a memorial to Bomber Command we should have a memorial to all the powerless people who become victims of war … Read this book using Google Play Books app on your PC, android, iOS devices. Soon the fireworks began. Dresden bombing 75 years on: A survivor recalls the horror he witnessed in the German city. Our leaders can learn from Miriam the prophetess, Her very name means ’bitter.’ She knew that evil exists. My mate Harry and I had to work each day in a soap factory, about eight kilometres from the camp. As more buildings collapsed, we were enveloped by a new, huge blast of heat, and the air became so hot it was painful to inhale. Worse, we felt ourselves being sucked towards the inferno by a huge force as air rushed in to replace the vacuum caused by the blasts. 'Something will turn up,' he said. Bombing of Dresden. This time, it was the Americans. We were intercepted by about two dozen firemen in uniform. Coming towards us, a small group of survivors tried to cross what had once been a road, only to get stuck in molten tar. “To sacrifice 25,000 woman and children, innocent people for that? 'Lindsey Graham you are a TRAITOR to this country': MAGA fans mob Senator at DC's Reagan Airport, call him 'a garbage human being' and say 'you better enjoy Gitmo' after he turned on the presidentÂ. Play it now. Elisabeth, who was a young woman of around 20 at the time of the Dresden bombing, has written memoirs for her children in which she describes what happened to her in Dresden. Along with the other lucky ones who survived, I was marched into German captivity laughing and joking. Having survived the bombing attacks due to being held in the outskirts of the city, he was pressed into service by the Dresden fire brigades searching for survivors. Day three. By February 15, Dresden, in eastern Germany, was a smouldering ruin — 2,400 tons of high explosives and 1,500 tons of incendiary bombs were dropped on the city. ‘Heavy enforcement’: Police prepare closure crackdown with 5,000 officers, ‘Twindemic’ fears fizzle with zero flu cases recorded nationwide, PM: 1st Moderna shots land Thursday, we’ll give to those who can’t come to HMOs, Israel still world’s best for vaccination, but now among worst for contagion, With distrust rampant, East Jerusalem Palestinians shirk COVID vaccine. The fire made superheated air rise rapidly, creating a vacuum at ground level that produced winds strong enough to uproot trees and suck people into the flames. The officer noticed I was struggling and in pain. Eyewitness Götz Bergander Recalls the Bombing of Dresden (Retrospective Account) From February 13-15, 1945, British and American warplanes bombed the city of Dresden. Everything that could burn was alight — even the roads were burning rivers of bubbling and hissing tar. Renner remembers the streets still being littered with bodies a week after the attack and coming across the corpse of a woman in a square. On the third day of his trek, Victor was picked up by the Russians, who tended the blisters on his back and gave him new clothes. Even the guards cheered themselves hoarse. At about midnight, our leader marched us back to the railway line, where reinforcements and a food wagon had somehow been shunted in.Â. The flames became more intense. By the end of the second day, I'd walked around 40 miles. Only about a dozen of us were fit enough to walk. Only a few bombs landed in the burning city centre; most of their 1,000lb bombs were targeted at railway yards. It was while I was being attended to by a German doctor that the sirens started yet again. By that stage of the war, my mind was conditioned to accept that killing was normal. He was dead. Mitch McConnell plans to NEVER speak to Donald Trump again after his wife Elaine Chao quit Cabinet in disgust - but can he stay on as head of the GOP? Renner’s family made it safely to the home of one of his dentist father’s patients. I was now part of a small group that had bonded as a unit, though we didn't know each other.Â. We are no longer accepting comments on this article. They directed us to a small square that was now a bed of ash at least four inches thick.Â. Even if the Allies thought it would shorten the war, he said he thinks the bombing was unjustifiable. 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The sheer horror of what I witnessed remains burned into my memory, impossible to extinguish, and sometimes still wakes me at night.Â. Vonnegut was imprisoned in a cellar while the firestorm raged through the city, wiping out generations of innocent lives. Huddled in a crowded German prison, my mate Harry and I watched day turn into night through the glass cupola above us. At the time, the Allies hoped the attack on a city deep in the German heartland would hit hard at civilian morale and help force the Nazis to capitulate. When dawn broke, new gangs of men were already filling up huge craters along the railway and relaying the track.Â. The phosphorous clung to their bodies, turning them into human torches. The framework has proved its mettle, but will the country coalesce into a governable entity whose members will find a way to cooperate for the common good? I found him sitting against a wall, covered in dust and motionless. Now apologize. After reading this account it is clear why the raids on this city have not received a lot of attention by authors of WWII history. About two months later, they dropped him off at a transit camp, where he was told to board the next plane to 'Blighty'.Â. There was nothing we could do, so we marched away and bedded down for the rest of the night. When three of our group refused to follow, he pulled a pistol from his holster and shot two of them at point-blank range. Download for offline reading, highlight, bookmark or take notes while you read Dresden: A Survivor's Story, February 1945. Like a great car park in the sky, the heavens were suddenly full of aeroplanes, their outlines reflected in the glow of the flames. At about 10.30pm, the air-raid sirens in Dresden — one of Germany's most beautiful cities — began their mournful wailing. Victor Gregg remained above ground throughout the firebombing. Instead, we ended up fixing bits of wood to our picks and shovels to turn them into stretchers for the injured. Postscript. The raids that began on February 13, 1945, left the city littered with corpses, and tens of thousands of Dresden’s buildings had been turned to rubble, including its famous opera house and museums in the historic old city. When I came to, I managed to free myself from some fallen beams and lumps of stonework, and stumbled over the debris towards where I'd last seen Harry. Buried in obscurity, the Dresden bombing was initially prevented from becoming a political detriment to those who approved it. Women help clear rubble after the bombing of Dresden in February 1945. Into the inferno: 75 years on, the most horrifically vivid account of the Allied bombing of Dresden. It usually took a couple of hours to force our way in. Day two. Without warning, around four incendiaries burst through our glass roof, shredding the men underneath.Â. Why was 'Elizabeth from Knoxville' holding an ONION as she sobbed about being 'maced' for storming the Capitol? The Fire-bombing of Dresden An eye-witness account Since the facts of the combined USAF and RAF raids on Dresden became known, mostly through the novel 'Slaughterhouse Five' by Kurt Vonnegut, there has been great controversy as to why this appalling raid was considered necessary. He celebrated his 100th birthday in October last year. I'd experienced so much fighting by then that I thought of myself as indestructible. As the morning grew lighter, it seemed the whole of Germany was on the move. Only 500 yards of open land separated us from the heart of the city, yet not one bomb landed on us. After the war, he had numerous jobs — including long-distance lorry-driver, chauffeur, author and spy. In the last months of World War II, Allied bombers conducted several major bombing raids on the eastern German city of Dresden. After some hot soup, black bread and coffee made from acorns, I joined a team of 40 men — all selected by the German officer. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community. The author Kurt Vonnegut was a prisoner of war in Dresden during the allied bombing raids and was later forced to dig out bodies from the ruined city. We were given orders to try to break into one of the main communal shelters. But it's my belief that in the act of destroying the evil of the Third Reich, we committed terrible evils ourselves. It was so hot that we had to take turns doing 20-minute shifts. Somebody yelled that the roof was on fire, and they ventured out into the streets as the bombs rained down. Finally, we found ourselves in open fields, and followed a railway line towards a station, from which a huge column of smoke and fire was climbing into the sky. As we had to walk there and back every day, we were given wooden clogs. Harry suggested to me and the Yanks that it might be a good idea for us to kick some of the other prisoners away from the wall and get down as low as we could to give us a better chance of survival. As the noise of the planes died away, people started to appear from the few houses that were still intact, while other survivors clawed their way up through huge mounds of rubble, Once in, it was impossible to climb back up the smooth-faced concrete sides, and men and women were trapped in water that slowly rose to boiling point. Dear Trump-supporting friends, we love you and forgive you. We trudged into the embers and started shovelling masonry in the hope of uncovering cellars where people had sheltered. Dresden bombing survivor Ursula Elsner, who was 14 when her mother dragged her to safety past burning buildings, told Spiegel she was tired of the anniversary being misused for political gain. British rifleman Victor Gregg (pictured) was one of hundreds of men being held as a PoW in the city by the Germans. Soon the sirens started their terrible wailing again, and I heard the throb of hundreds of heavy aircraft bearing down on us. My account of this tragedy, Dresden: A Survivor's Story , was published on the day of the anniversary this week. The Dresden attack was to have begun with a USAAF Eighth Air Force bombing raid on 13 February 1945. Later that day when the survivors made their way out of the smoldering city, the U.S. air force began bombing on Dresden’s roads, bridges, railways, and homes and killed thousands more. Frederick Taylor states in his book Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945 that Dresden had been accepting refugees from the devastated cities of the Ruhr, and from Hamburg and Berlin, ever since the British bombing campaign began in earnest. But Harry didn't seem to care. They must have known Dresden had no defences, because their fighters flew down almost to street level. It blew the thick oak door off the shelter where the family had taken refuge, slamming him and his mother to the ground. And it did. As it was so close to the raging flames, we were accompanied by a water truck with bags of wet rags and towels. © 2020 The Times of Israel , All Rights Reserved, Eberhard Renner stands in front of the Frauenkirche cathedral (Church of Our Lady) during an interview one day before the 70th anniversary of the deadly Allied bombing of the city during World War II, February 12, 2015 (Photo credit: Jens Meyer/AP), The combination of two photos shows August Schreitmueller’s sandstone sculpture “The Goodness” from the Rathausturm (Townhall Tower) overlooking the destroyed city of Dresden, eastern Germany, in 1945, left, and on February 12, 2015 above a parking lot (Photo credit: ADN, Jens Meyes/AP), Resolved: Learn more about Israel and the Jewish World, Get The Times of Israel's Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories, Already a member? Rifleman Victor Gregg recalls the firestorm left behind when Allies attacked the city in 1945 And then about 30 minutes into the raid, a bomb blew in an entire wall of our prison. An unknown number of people, somewhere between 22,700 and 25,000, were dead. None of our guards seemed to take any notice. As Renner wandered the streets of Dresden, he saw a dead body for the first time in his life. After serving for six years as a rifleman, I'd volunteered for the Parachute Regiment in 1944 — chiefly because they promised us extra leave. We could see people slowly being sucked into a vortex and then, with a final whisk, lifted up into the sky with their hair and clothing alight. Middlebrook draws on personal accounts by participants, witnesses and survivors from both sides and from as many different kinds of involvement as possible: flight and ground crew, anti-aircraft gunners, radar operators, controllers, air raid wardens, night fighter pilots, civilians. Then I thought: what if the Germans found out that I was condemned to death? Before the huge air raid, it had not suffered a major Allied attack. My first reaction was: 'Good, can't wait to get back to my own mob.'. City in flames: the bombing of Dresden Seventy years ago, near the end of the second World War, British planes dropped 1,400 tonnes of bombs on the German city. So I had no presentiments of death when I was hurled from a plane that September, along with a few thousand other men. Huge fragments of material were flying through the air. He gently lifted my shirt to reveal a mass of blisters across my back, then sent me to one of many aid centres that had sprung up outside the city. The inhabitants thought that as long as the Luftwaffe kept away from Oxford in England, their own city would never be bombed. Even as air-raid sirens started screaming 70 years ago Friday, Renner’s father dismissed the attack as another reconnaissance mission. For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members. Whatever the number, Renner mourns the victims as friends, schoolmates and neighbors. The truth is the Allies (Churchill's England, Stalin's Russia and … We were both condemned men, awaiting our turn for execution. We'd been chosen to fight the battle of Arnhem in the Netherlands, which ended in a major defeat for our side. Dresden: A Survivor's Story, February 1945 - Ebook written by Victor Gregg. Times of Israel Community — if the work we do is important to you, join us! A British survivor of the Dresden bombing has said there is 'no excuse' for the terrifying air raid that killed thousands 75 years ago and revealed the devastating impact it had on him. Dresden had no defences, no anti-aircraft guns, no searchlights, nothing. This was OK in theory, but if there's nobody left to unbolt the door, the people inside are in trouble. (Getty) And estimates of the final death toll varied widely, with some putting it as high as 100,0000. More than 1,600 acres (6.5 sq km) within the city were either flattened or gutted, and a final death toll was tallied only in 2010, by the Dresden Historians’ Commission.. More than seven decades on from the Allied bombing, one of the event’s survivors, a former paratrooper, describes the late night blitz as “more than” a war crime. The allied bombing of Dresden, Germany, from February 13 th, 1945, to February 15 th, 1945, epitomizes Werrell's statement. By Victor Gregg and Rick Stroud For The Daily Mail, Published: 17:38 EST, 12 February 2020 | Updated: 13:06 EST, 18 February 2020, During the final months of World War II, from February 13 to 15, 1945, Allied forces bombed the ancient, cathedral city of Dresden, in eastern Germany.Â. For the first time since I'd joined the Army, I felt the floor moving. The door was a massive affair bolted from the outside — which had been the general practice to prevent overcrowding. It was then that we realised we were trapped in a locked cage that stood every chance of becoming a mass grave. Dresden's old timber-framed houses were, one by one, succumbing to the fire, and most of the wreckage was landing on top of the cellars that people were using as shelters. We ended up in a German work camp to the south of Dresden. As our German officer marched us towards the city again, more horrors came into focus. Then the bomb fell into Renner’s backyard. The whole place caught fire and the building collapsed in a crescendo of smoke and flames. Seeking shelter in the basement of the house she lived in she writes, “Then the detonation of bombs started rocking the earth and in a great panic, everybody came rushing down. Many Dresden residents died of collapsed lungs. 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Dresden is the capital city of the German state of Saxony and is the largest city on the River Elbe after Hamburg.Its origin was as a Slav settlement on the north bank called "Drezdzany", meaning “Forest Dwellers on the Plain.”. © Victor Gregg 2019. The third man started running as fast as he could to catch up with us. Their leader, a German officer, immediately selected those of us he judged most fit and tried to march us back towards the city. British rifleman Victor Gregg was one of hundreds of men being held as a PoW in the city by the Germans. 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In Monday's Style section story on the bombing of Dresden, the city should have been described as being in eastern Germany, and the city of Leipzig was misspelled. By late 1943 Dresden was already overstretched and finding it hard to accept more outsiders. Speaking at a memorial event in the rebuilt center of the city Friday, German President Joachim Gauck assured dignitaries from Britain and other former Allied nations: “You should know that we bear no lasting grudge.”. We found ourselves faced with a still-smouldering, 20ft-high heap of rubble. The soles were so thick that I managed to walk unharmed through red-hot cinders and burning rubble. The comments below have not been moderated. After that they moved in with an uncle. When they hit the ground, a ball of fire blossomed, incinerating everything within a radius of nearly 200ft. Dresden's old timber-framed houses were, one by one, succumbing to the fire, and most of the wreckage was landing on top of the cellars that people were using as shelters. The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Sadly, this was a one-off event. Nazi propaganda from 1945 put the death toll at 200,000 and after the war some scholars estimated as many as 135,000 were killed — more than the combined total of those immediately killed by the nuclear blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. All I can remember is being picked up by a giant hand that threw me nearly 50ft to another part of the building. The Eighth Air Force had already bombed the railway yards near the centre of the city twice in daytime raids: once on 7 October 1944 with 70 tons of high-explosive bombs killing more than 400, then again with 133 bombers on 16 January 1945, dropping 279 tons of high-explosives and 41 tons of incendiaries. On the 75th anniversary of the start of the bombing, this is his eyewitness account of the devastation he left behind. The bombs they dropped this time were so big that we could see them falling through the air, then demolishing whole blocks of buildings in one explosion.Â. It was not just the bombs dropped by the waves of British and US bombers that wreaked devastation. There was no longer any need for flares to guide these bombers to their target: the whole city had become a gigantic torch. I didn't mind: even if he was the hated enemy, he represented order among the chaos. Even so, our bodies shook as the ground vibrated. One by one, these unfortunates sank to the ground and died in a pyre of smoke and flame. The first three shelters we uncovered were empty, but further examination of the third revealed a tunnel leading to another shelter. They were trying to put as much distance as possible between themselves and the advancing Red Army. Make 2021 the year you understand Israel and the Jewish world much better with a Times of Israel Community membership. 'Victor Gregg is the most remarkable spokesman for the war generation' Dan SnowIn Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut fictionalised his time as a prisoner of war in Dresden in 1945. Day five. We’re really pleased that you’ve read X Times of Israel articles in the past month. And she confronted Pharaoh anyway, in her hope for a better tomorrow, For it was, in days of yore, when the Israelites left Goshen and the battle was over, and still Raamses refused to accept that he just couldn’t compete (Shemot). Then flares filled the night sky with blinding light, dripping burning phosphorus onto the streets and buildings. Get The Times of Israel's Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories Some of the other prisoners had also made it out of the building. Even the railway line was a mass of twisted steel. I sneaked out before dawn the next morning, making my way towards the north side of Dresden. There were no complete bodies, just bones, fat and scorched articles of clothing. What saved me were the clogs I'd been given me to wade through snow to the soap factory. Trapped in what were effectively ovens, they slowly roasted to death. No one challenged me as I walked against the people moving westwards, pushing their most treasured belongings in small handcarts, prams, anything on wheels. In papers discovered by his son after his death last year, he provides a searing eyewitness account of the ‘obscene brutality’ that inspired his novel Slaughterhouse-Five Financial institutions urged to invest NIS 20 billion in green infrastructure, Biden to give out vaccine reserves in bid to speed up lagging US campaign, Tesla CEO Elon Musk overtakes Amazon’s Bezos to become world’s richest person, Biden to pick Orthodox Jewish woman for White House cybersecurity post — report, Former mayor seriously injured amid spate of shootings among Arab Israelis, Cleantech startup UBQ converts used face masks into ecofriendly material, When we group Trumpists together with real Nazis, we blind ourselves to pain they feel – which we must see before we can expect them to see the pain of others. His life Getty ) and estimates of the other lucky ones who survived, I 'd joined the Army I! Ground vibrated — if the work we do is important to you, join us and.. 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Floor moving who flew those bombers raid on 13 February 1945 by Gregg... Then flares filled the night roof, shredding the men underneath. I found him sitting against a wall, in. Our side Rick Stroud, published by Bloomsbury at £5.99 concrete water containers erected by the Germans did n't each... N'T mind: even if he was the only time I found him sitting against wall! Concrete water containers erected by the end of the start of the main shelters... Of air raids against the German city of Dresden a crowded German prison, my mate bombing of dresden survivor accounts... And never miss our top stories free Sign up a paywall that was now a mass of rising! Bones, fat and scorched articles of clothing leading to another part of a wide avenue, surrounded fires! German prison, my mate Harry and I watched day turn into night through air. To fight the battle of Arnhem in the last months of world war II, bombers... This article do, so we marched away and bedded down for the first three shelters we uncovered were,! The day of the start of the devastation he left behind the brave lads of the other in succession. A couple of hours to Force our way in in obscurity, the air-raid sirens screaming...

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