: Dresden is in some ways catalyzed by Churchill who's nervous about how the war is going.
This is the eve of Yalta, he
wants to convince the Russians that the Americans and the British have made an important contribution to the war effort, and perhaps there's a part of him that wants to impress the Russians with Anglo-American power.
I think at this moment he says: 'what are you planning to do about these cities that are in the path of the fighting on the Eastern Front?' Well, Dresden, if you look on a map is directly west, and I think he was caught up in it at that moment and he was caught up in a variety of things that were going through his head on the eve of Yalta.
wanted to advance the war effort, get the thing over with and convince the Russians that we had been making contributions and that we were in fact a powerful military force on our own terms.
When the raid turns out the way it does I think he
sort of takes a second look and he
thinks, my God, this is one of the great cultural treasures of the western world.
: I think after sending the original memo [earlier in the war] that he
did back to Sinclair saying: what are you doing, and his
first response back is we're doing what we've been doing all along, we're attacking oil, communications targets and transport, Churchill's not happy with that answer.
And so it's the Prime Minister intervening and saying, no, I want a different answer, that gets you the bomber directive that takes you to places like Dresden and gets that array of raids that are pretty horrendous.
And then he
turns around and says, 'why did you do that?' Portal doesn't think it's fair, Harris
doesn't think it's fair and, in fact, they request that he
original minute and he
does submit a much toned down minute.
I think it is an attempt to push-back from Bomber Command, saying, wait a minute, we were doing one thing and you told us to do something else, and then you're coming back and telling us we shouldn't have done what you told us to do.
So I think they are very unhappy at that moment, but it's Churchill really coming out of this moment of fear and terror when he
thinks, my God, what if the war really starts to go south here?
This is the moment where he
can impress the Russians and he's
stepping back and thinking how it will look 20 years on, and how is it going to look by the end of this year.
: I think Dresden at some level gets the Allies to that point, at least in terms of the war in Europe.
: I think that's probably one way of putting it.
: At that level, no.
Professor Tami Biddle
image of Professor Tami Biddle