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on 13 April 2017
This short memoir is by a British soldier who, as a POW, was caught up in the (in)famous firebombing by Allied (mostly British) planes of the city of Dresden in February 1945. He describes the horrendous process of uncovering the burnt remains of women and children trapped in shelters and witnessing the hideous firestorms that sucked up those trying to flee. After a few days of helping to find a very small number of survivors, he escaped, going East towards the Russian lines rather than west, as he was under a Nazi sentence of death for sabotage. After a few weeks with the Russians until the end of the war in Europe, he was transported back west and to home.
The author has written several volumes of longer memoirs of his life before, during the after the war. His writing style is not polished, but is simple and direct. While not in any way a pacifist and not criticising the RAF pilots who carried out the bombing, he believes "that in the act of destroying the evil of the Third Reich we employed further and more terrible evils", though he acknowledges "that not everybody agrees with me". The bombing of Dresden is one of the most controversial incidents during the war, with many taking the view that the city was largely full of civilians and refugees by this late stage of the war, and not a justified military target, or at best only a minor one. The issue will always be hotly debated, but has unfortunately been misused by the likes of David Irving and Neo Nazis to posit an unjustified overall moral equivalence between the Allies and the Axis. This short memoir is not, however, a political or military examination of the issues, it is one man's human observations of his experiences.