The controversial WWII bombing of Dresden.

Debate: The bombing of civilians.

One of the main arguments against area bombing and the Bombing of Dresden is that fact that, in the process of bombing entire cities, civilians are killed. Those who endorse area bombing and the bombing of Dresden argue to justify these deaths.

Air Marshal Arthur Harris argued that the bombings were justified along the lines of a "total war".

"In the years after the war, Harris stalwartly defended Bomber Command's actions stating that their operations conformed to the rules of the "total war" started by Germany." [4]

Total war is, essentially, a war with few to no limits or rules:

"Total war total warfare a war that is unrestricted in terms of the weapons used, the territory or combatants involved, or the objectives pursued, especially one in which the laws of war are disregarded." [5]

Hitler had indeed started a "total war", as I imagine that many of those killed in the holocaust were civilians and not combatants. Distinction between civilians and combatants had surely diminished during WWII. Harris's argument appears to be along the lines of "Hitler killed civilians, so why can't we?". Although, according to the above definition, total war constitutes a lack of rules, so how can there be "rules of total war". 

Those who oppose this viewpoint argue that the bombing of civilians constitutes a war crime, and is unjust. According to a Unanimous resolution of the League of Nations Assembly,
(September 30, 1938) they are right.

"1) The intentional bombing of civilian populations is illegal;

2) Objectives aimed at from the air must be legitimate military objectives and must be identifiable;

3) Any attack on legitimate military objectives must be carried out in such a way that civilian populations in the neighbourhood are not bombed through negligence;
" [6]

This shows that the bombing of civilians is Illegal, especially if it is intentional. As stated earlier, one of the objectives of Area bombing was to destroy housing to displace German industrial workers. Generally people live in their houses; which would lead to their deaths when their city was bombed. 

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Bodies waiting to be disposed

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                                                   - The bombing of civilians
                                                   - The destruction of a historic city
                                                   - Military significance of Dresden