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Indeed. In fact, one wonders how the bombing, of say, Dresden can be evaluated in light of the Allies' apparent strategy to leave Germany's industry and manufacturing capacity alone. Not all of it, but much of it. Whereas other countries experienced complete devastation.
by Upstate NY on Wed May 11th, 2011 at 06:38:13 PM EST
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Eh ? Much of the early bombing campaign during WWII was all about wrecking the productive capacity of german industry. If Harris could have found all of it, he'd have bombed all of it. But it was only by the end of the war that the RAF could reliably find a city at night, let alone bomb a factory.

However, following the first Allied "successes" on the Ruhr, the nazis were extremely effective in scattering their industry across the country, which meant that less of it could be effectively targeted by era's technology. So, the bombing focus changed to area bombing (aka collective punishment) on the basis that cities were economically productive for the reich even if they weren't industrial or munitions centres. In this they were conforming to Sherman's doctrine of destroying the economic basis of the enemy's ability to wage war.

However by the time of Dresden, much of what remained Germany's western productive capacity was already in Allied hands. There wasn't much left to bomb and Dresden was on the list. There were also the claims that a german army was due to use the railway connections through the town to attack approaching Russian armies.

Whatever the reasons, Dresden was destroyed for reasons that barely made sense at the time and look worse as time passes. Was it a crime ? Possibly/probably; but that is war. The doctrine of armies is always the same; until your enemy surrenders you attack and attack. Any suggestions of pulling your blow would only encourage their resistance. The lawyers on the winning side decide at the time who can be blamed on the losing side, while historians have the luxury of hindsight to determine and revise "verifiable" truths.

My parents lived through the war and I'd consider them both typical in their attitudes of feeling that Dresden was regrettable but after 5 years of war and a continent in ruins they wanted the nazis destroyed. Utterly. Bomb every last building until Hitler surrendered. and, as somebody who did not live through it, I cannot answer that lived-experience.

My Dad served in the RAF. My mother was evacuated to S Wales, but returned to the East end during the latter part of the The Blitz. Her family was relocated on several occasions after their home was destroyed. She had a V1 fly over her head at 50' (15m) and a V2 exploded within 300' (90m) of her. On VE (Victory in Europe day) she says that her overwhelming feeling was that she was going to live. Up until then she had literally taken every day, every hour as stolen. Now she had a future that wouldn't be marked by sirens and bombs and missiles and sudden death raining from the sky. And anything that had been done by the Allies to bring her to that moment was perfectly fine with her. Then and forever more.

And nobody, nobody who has not lived through such things has the right to argue with her. Now or forever.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 12th, 2011 at 06:58:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was only making the point that Germany had a lot of industrial capacity immediately after the war. In fact, the aid it was given helped ramp up manufacturing fairly quickly. Other countries languished, as their aid was in the form of military needs.
by Upstate NY on Thu May 12th, 2011 at 09:07:54 AM EST
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Well, the victorious Allies did cart off a lot of what remained. The Mechanical Engineering Lab at Oklahoma State in 1961 was substantially furnished with "liberated" German equipment.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 12th, 2011 at 10:27:36 AM EST
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I think that both germany and Japan benefitted in the post-war period from not being allowed to divert productive capacity into restoring their arms industries.

It gave them incredible advantages compared to the  european allies who may have won the war, but lost the peace due to excessive efforts restoring the war machines they now only needed for the vainglory of their politicians.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 12th, 2011 at 10:33:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the Allies' apparent strategy to leave Germany's industry and manufacturing capacity alone.

I'd be interested in a reference- I was unaware of such a strategy. If you can substantiate this, it might open some doors for me that I've long wondered about.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri May 13th, 2011 at 03:31:34 AM EST
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