Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 17-Feb-2009
Germans commemorate the Allied firebombing of Dresden in 1945

Web Log - February, 2009

Germans commemorate the Allied firebombing of Dresden in 1945

Thousands of left- and right-wing protestors clash in Dresden

As I explain frequently on this web site, Generational Dynamics doesn't use the strict legal definition of the word "genocide." In generational theory, "genocide" refers to any action that clearly gives little value to individual life. Generally this means that the society gives much higher political priority to scoring a victory in a battle than it gives to the goal of preserving individual lives, especially civilian lives.

For example, under the Generational Dynamics definition, the following would be considered genocidal actions by the United States in World War II:

Other examples of genocidal acts during World War II are the Holocaust (by the Germans) and the Bataan Death March (by the Japanese).

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these kinds of genocidal acts are what characterize a crisis war. Non-crisis wars do NOT have these genocidal acts, as can be seen, for example, of America's actions in the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, where internal political pressures force us to criminally prosecute soldiers who harm civilians.

I've said on occasions that no nation ever remembers the genocidal acts that they perpetrate against others, or ever forgets the genocidal acts that others perpetrate against them.

The Fire: Germany Under Bombardment, 1940-45
The Fire: Germany Under Bombardment, 1940-45

So it's not surprising that the Germans have not forgotten the firebombing of Dresden in February, 1945. In fact, this was the subject of one of the first articles that I posted on this web site, in February 2003.

The firebombing is one of the most controversial Allied military operations in World War II, with many historians criticizing it as unnecessarily brutal, when Germany was 12 weeks from capitulation. Some 1,300 British and U.S. bombers dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices in four raids, from February 13-15, destroying 13 square miles of the city and igniting a horrific firestorm that wiped out mostly residential downtown Dresden.

The Germans have commemorated the anniversary of the Dresden bombing every year since then. In fact, this is the 50th anniversary of a special friendship agreement between Dresden in Germany and Coventry in England -- two cities that were destroyed by enemy bombing.

In recent years, the commemorations have been hijacked by neo-Nazis who claim that the firebombing of Dresden was a worse atrocity than the Holocaust.

Of course this claim is refuted by the numbers. Millions of Jews died in German concentration camps, with 1.3 million Jews were murdered at Auschwitz alone. A recent study commissioned by the city of Dresden concluded that some 25,000 civilians were killed in the firebombing.

On Saturday, some 6,000 neo-Nazis, mostly dressed in black, gathered in Dresden and staged a "mourning march" in commemoration of the 64th anniversary of the 1945 firebombing. This was the one of the largest far-right demonstrations in decades.

A counterdemonstration drew more than 10,000 participants, who marched against rising neo-Nazism in eastern Germany. Some 4,000 police had been dispatched to Dresden, to keep the peace. However, violence occurred on Saturday evening when a group of neo-Nazis attacked two buses full of left-wing activists.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, we're seeing the signs of the coming re-fighting of many of the battles of World War II.

Many people are surprised when I tell them to expect a new European war, but those people do not remember that such wars have been occurring regularly since the days of the Roman Empire. In recent centuries, the major west European crisis wars have included the Thirty Years War, the War of the Spanish Succession, the Napoleonic Wars, the Franco-Prussian wars and World War II. These wars have occurred almost as regularly as clockwork, and the time is fast approaching for the next one.

Was the firebombing of Dresden really genocidal?

In an article in Der Spiegel called "The Logic Behind the Destruction of Dresden," British historian Frederick Taylor explains the military rationale behind the attack:

"Dresden was undoubtedly a particularly fine city, a tourist center well known to Germans and foreigners alike as a place where the arts flourished amidst architecturally distinguished surroundings. This gave rise to the myth that it was of no military or industrial importance. The high civilian death toll -- though current estimates of 25,000 are not as high as once thought -- also plays a role. ...

The Dresden attack was directly linked to the conduct of the war elsewhere -- in this case on the Eastern Front. In Feb. 1945, Dresden was a major transport and communication hub less than 120 miles from the advancing Russians. The aim of the bombing was quite deliberately to destroy the center of the city, thereby making the movement of German soldiers and civilians impossible. ...

There were other targets too. Berlin was also seen as essential to continuing German resistance and was heavily bombed on Feb. 3. Raids on Dresden and Chemnitz were delayed by bad weather. And ultimately, only the Dresden raid was successful -- horribly so as the 25,000 or more casualties bear witness. This was, in fact, a clear-cut case where maximum destruction was the central aim of the attack. There can be no question that the presence of many refugees was factored into the Allies' calculations. A Feb. 1, 1945 memorandum specifically noted the huge tide of refugees passing through the eastern German cities as a "plus point," chillingly adding that attacking these cities would "result in establishing a state of chaos in some or all of these areas."

This is what happens to every country, and people of every nationality and ethnicity, in every crisis war.

At the beginning of the war, there's actually a feeling of celebration and euphoria, as the anxious population believes that now all their problems will be solved with a quick victory. When the first military disaster occurs, the public becomes anxious and panicky. As time goes on, and the population becomes increasingly desperate, they begin to panic and worry about the survival of their nation and their way of life. At that point, the value of any human life -- theirs or their enemy's -- becomes insignificant in comparison to the uncompromising need to win at any cost.

That's certainly what happened in the case of the firebombing of Dresden. By that time, the Allies were desperate. There's no doubt, as Frederick Taylor says, that the attack had clear and important military objectives that would shorten the war, but the shock and awe factor of attacking a city crowded with refugees was considered a "plus point." In a non-crisis war, it would be considered so much a "minus point," that it would be out of the question.

This is what's in store as we approach the Clash of Civilizations world war. It will probably start out small, as a regional war, but as populations become increasingly desperate, the value of human life will reduce to zero, and hundreds of millions, or even billions of people will be killed.

People who think that this could never happened should remember that in millennia of history it's never failed to happen. Genocidal war is as much a part of the human DNA as sex is. The human race would not have survived, if it weren't for both sex and genocidal war. And this is about to be proven again.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Geopolitical topics thread of the Generational Dynamics forum.) (17-Feb-2009) Permanent Link
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