Registered: Mar 2004
Local time: 11:46 AM
Location: The Historic City of Portsmouth, England
A controversial German historian is at the centre of a row over his latest book which includes gruesome photos of German civilians killed by allied bombing during the second world war.
J?rg Friedrich defended the decision to publish the photographs showing the incinerated bodies of German women and children, most of them killed by British bombs. His book, Fire Sites, published at Frankfurt Book Fair, argues that the RAF's relentless bombing campaign against German cities in the last months of the war served no military purpose. He claims that Winston Churchill's decision to bomb a shattered Germany between January and May 1945 was a war crime.
"The bombing left an entire generation traumatised. But it was never discussed," he told the Guardian.
Mr Friedrich, whose previous book Der Brand or The Fire prompted a storm of publicity and sold 186,000 copies, said that about 600,000 civilians died during the allied bombing of German cities, including 72,000 children. Some 45,000 people died on one night during the immense firestorms that engulfed Hamburg in July 1943. But the German victims were over shadowed by the far greater evil of the Holocaust.
Many Germans regarded the British destruction of their cities as retribution for Nazi crimes, Mr Friedrich said. "The second world war is traditionally portrayed as a struggle between good and evil. But it wasn't as simple as that," he said. The photos in Fire Sites are grim and reveal that many victims were asphyxiated in their cellars. In Dresden, SS workers from a nearby concentration camp were called in to dispose of heaps of bodies.
Policemen, architects and air protection officers took the photos. Most had lain in the archives of German towns for more than half a century, before Friedrich found them. He said yesterday he had approached the National Archives in Kew, west London, for photos of British victims of German bombing but was told they could not be released. His book concedes that Germany started the air war in late 1940, when 14,000 British civilians died in German raids.
He acknowledged that he was a revisionist but said he was describing what happened. "During my public lectures Germans now in their 70s and 80s have stood up. They have described, with tears in their eyes, what happened to their families."
Reportedly this book however only focuses on the British bombing of German cities. It has angered many who believe that Friedrich has deliberately tried to attack that British Bombing of the time while ignoring the US involvement, the German Bombing of many town and cities of Britain and the happening of the world at the time in general.
It is laughable to say that Britain alone was responsible for the bombing of German cities and it is also laughable to claim that Germany did not expect a British bombing retaliation as Britain had said from the beginning of the war that they would resort to Bombing as the War progressed.
In short what occured between 1938 and 1945 was war. In war there are casualties both military personal and civilians. You cannot accuse a military action that was used to shorten the length of the war as being a war crime, especially if you country was bombing and killing civilians less than one year earlier.
The bombing of German cities is not overlooked by historians but is considered to be essiential to the ending of the war. To claim that this was a diliberate attack on the German people with no other perpose is ridicules.