The controversial WWII bombing of Dresden.

Area bombing and the bombing of Dresden.

Durring World War Two, bomnbing campaigns were one of the more effective ways of striking the enemy directly and hence were commmonly employed by both the allied and axis powers. 
Airal bombing is useful for striking at specific targets behind enemy lines, such as weapon factorys or train yards; but this required bombs to be dropped with great accuracy. Durring the war, it was found that percision bombing was not working out all that well:

 "Britain's air force began to realise that its bombers were not able to find and hit specific war targets such as airfields or armament factories. An investigation revealed that just one in five aircraft was succeeding in dropping its bombs within five miles of its target." [1]

Discovery's like these led to the development of new methods of bombing.

"Under such circumstances, the bombing offensive could only be effective if it was directed at targets as big as cities.[1]

A new tactic was developed by the RAF, namely air marshal Arthur Harris (seen at right) and chief of air staff Charles Portal [2]. This new tactic, born of the inability to bomb key targets accurately, was known as Area Bombing. Area bombing involved the destruction of whole towns or cities, one of the justifications being that the large scale destruction would lower civilian morale and displace German industrial workers. 

"Approved by Churchill in 1942, the doctrine of area bombing called for raids against urban areas with the goal of destroying housing and displacing German industrial workers.

This method of attcking of civilians shows a distinct lack of distinction between combatants and non combatants; which follows the definition of "total war". Total was is a term used to describe warfare conditions where distinction between combatants and non combatants has been severely reduced, or even done away with. 

Also to the right, a newsreel showing the controversial bombing of Dresden.

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Sources used on this page:


Arthur Harris

"Dresden Bombed to Atoms" [3]

Home    Introduction      Debate                                           Consequences     Citations
                                                   - The bombing of civilians
                                                   - The destruction of a historic city
                                                   - Military significance of Dresden