Having survived the bombing attacks due to being held in the outskirts of the city, he was pressed into service by the Dresden fire brigades searching for survivors. By Victor Gregg and Rick Stroud For The Daily Mail, Published: 17:38 EST, 12 February 2020 | Updated: 13:06 EST, 18 February 2020, During the final months of World War II, from February 13 to 15, 1945, Allied forces bombed the ancient, cathedral city of Dresden, in eastern Germany.Â. When they hit the ground, a ball of fire blossomed, incinerating everything within a radius of nearly 200ft. About two months later, they dropped him off at a transit camp, where he was told to board the next plane to 'Blighty'.Â. The door was a massive affair bolted from the outside — which had been the general practice to prevent overcrowding. It is from the memories of common people who survived the Dresden Bombing of February 13-14, 1945, that we can understand why somewhere between 130,000 and 300,000 common people had to die. In the majority of cases, the victims looked as though they'd died peacefully through lack of oxygen, but the ferocious heat had shrivelled their bodies. Harry suggested to me and the Yanks that it might be a good idea for us to kick some of the other prisoners away from the wall and get down as low as we could to give us a better chance of survival. What if they discovered I knew all the words of ’Hatikvah’? But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community. This was OK in theory, but if there's nobody left to unbolt the door, the people inside are in trouble. Seeking shelter in the basement of the house she lived in she writes, “Then the detonation of bombs started rocking the earth and in a great panic, everybody came rushing down. As more buildings collapsed, we were enveloped by a new, huge blast of heat, and the air became so hot it was painful to inhale. “She was burned to a cinder, had become very small, but her hand was held up and on it was her gold wedding band, shining, not blackened at all,” said the 82-year-old retired architecture professor. The flames became more intense. Worse, we felt ourselves being sucked towards the inferno by a huge force as air rushed in to replace the vacuum caused by the blasts. Even the incendiaries were much larger: instead of the metre-long sticks of the first raid, we were now subjected to enormous four-tonners. After serving for six years as a rifleman, I'd volunteered for the Parachute Regiment in 1944 — chiefly because they promised us extra leave. Day three. It was February 13, 1945. We were given orders to try to break into one of the main communal shelters. Flares were still making their way to the ground when the first of the bomber streams flew over the city, dropping thousands of incendiaries and the first of the bombs. This aerial campaign completely destroyed large sections of the inner city and killed an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 people. I covered Harry up with his coat and stumbled out of the building — now shaking and slowly collapsing — and found myself at the centre of a huge bonfire. That’s a war crime,” he said. After neo-Nazis began inflating the figure further, talking of 500,000 to 1 million victims of a “bombing Holocaust,” the city established an expert commission to investigate. I'd experienced so much fighting by then that I thought of myself as indestructible. They were able to stay the night and regroup. Free Sign Up. Why was 'Elizabeth from Knoxville' holding an ONION as she sobbed about being 'maced' for storming the Capitol? As our German officer marched us towards the city again, more horrors came into focus. ', United joins American, Delta and Alaska airlines in refusing to allow emotional support animals on flights for free and will make passengers pay up to $125, Trump-supporting Air Force vet who was shot dead after storming the Capitol 'harassed and chased' her husband's ex on a highway and rammed her three times in a fit of jealousy, Ivanka is 'surprised and hurt' after sister-in-law Karlie Kloss slammed her for calling MAGA mob 'patriots' - as friend says First Daughter thinks the supermodel 'publicly positions herself as an activist' but fails to push any causes, Trump tweeted video calling for peace after White House counsel Pat Cipollone warned him he faces criminal charges for inciting riot - but still called supporters 'wonderful', Joe Biden tells Senate Republicans to confirm his top cabinet picks immediately after weeks of obstruction warning Pentagon, Homeland Security, State Department and Treasury roles need filled, Dancing on edge: Don Jr. shares behind-the-scenes look at Trump getting hyped up before his rally speech as his giddy girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle rocks out to Laura Branigan's Gloria - hours before Capitol riot, MAGA mob rioters smeared their own feces throughout the Capitol and 'tracked brown footprints', Hope Hicks joins the exodus saying she is leaving the White House next week but is NOT resigning in disgust - leaving Ivanka as one of the only 'Trump whisperers' left, Trump supporter protects black woman after angry MAGA mob 'shoved her, ripped off her wig, and called her the N-word' when she walked past a Stop the Steal rally in LA, Dominion sues Donald Trump's loony lawyer Sidney Powell for $1.3 BILLION in damages after hinting they'll sue president tooÂ, During the final months of World War II, from February 13 to 15, 1945, Allied forces bombed the ancient, cathedral city of Dresden, in eastern. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. Later that day when the survivors made their way out of the smoldering city, the U.S. air force began bombing on Dresden’s roads, bridges, railways, and homes and killed thousands more. Soon the fireworks began. When I came to, I managed to free myself from some fallen beams and lumps of stonework, and stumbled over the debris towards where I'd last seen Harry. Even so, our bodies shook as the ground vibrated. Eyewitness Götz Bergander Recalls the Bombing of Dresden (Retrospective Account) From February 13-15, 1945, British and American warplanes bombed the city of Dresden. Q&A: How is the COVID vaccine rollout unfolding around the world? We are no longer accepting comments on this article. The Bombing of Dresden was one of the aerial assaults launched by the United States and Great Britain to stop any attempt to revive World War II.The three-day bombing and the firestorm afterward destroyed the city, killing thousands of civilians and refugees who thought Dresden was the safest place they could be during the war. We'd been chosen to fight the battle of Arnhem in the Netherlands, which ended in a major defeat for our side. The comments below have not been moderated. An unknown number of people, somewhere between 22,700 and 25,000, were dead. There was no longer any need for flares to guide these bombers to their target: the whole city had become a gigantic torch. (Getty) And estimates of the final death toll varied widely, with some putting it as high as 100,0000. The heavy metal door opened slowly to reveal a horrific sight. No one challenged me as I walked against the people moving westwards, pushing their most treasured belongings in small handcarts, prams, anything on wheels. There were no complete bodies, just bones, fat and scorched articles of clothing. Middlebrook draws on personal accounts by participants, witnesses and survivors from both sides and from as many different kinds of involvement as possible: flight and ground crew, anti-aircraft gunners, radar operators, controllers, air raid wardens, night fighter pilots, civilians. Dresden had no defences, no anti-aircraft guns, no searchlights, nothing. Into the inferno: 75 years on, the most horrifically vivid account of the Allied bombing of Dresden. Eventually, Harry and I managed to sabotage the factory by causing a short circuit in the electrical system. Download for offline reading, highlight, bookmark or take notes while you read Dresden: A Survivor's Story, February 1945. Through the glass cupola, the sky changed from bright white to a dull red glow that danced, getting brighter and brighter before fading and dying. Then the bomb fell into Renner’s backyard. Day two. We found ourselves faced with a still-smouldering, 20ft-high heap of rubble. By that stage of the war, my mind was conditioned to accept that killing was normal. But Harry didn't seem to care. “We started the war, but it is a war crime.”. “I will never forget this scene.”. After that, we were marched in front of the officer in charge of Dresden police, who told us there were strict penalties for sabotage: we were to be taken to a place where we'd wait to be executed. As for Dresden itself, it had no defences, no anti-aircraft guns, no searchlights, nothing. A British survivor of the Dresden bombing has said there is 'no excuse' for the terrifying air raid that killed thousands 75 years ago and revealed the devastating impact it had on him. Times of Israel Community — if the work we do is important to you, join us! Dresden is the capital city of the German state of Saxony and is the largest city on the River Elbe after Hamburg.Its origin was as a Slav settlement on the north bank called "Drezdzany", meaning “Forest Dwellers on the Plain.”. Dresden bombing survivor Ursula Elsner, who was 14 when her mother dragged her to safety past burning buildings, told Spiegel she was tired of the anniversary being misused for political gain. Day five. Dresden's old timber-framed houses were, one by one, succumbing to the fire, and most of the wreckage was landing on top of the cellars that people were using as shelters. 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We’re really pleased that you’ve read X Times of Israel articles in the past month. For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members. Without warning, around four incendiaries burst through our glass roof, shredding the men underneath.Â. I joined the rest of my group again for the heart-rending job of opening the cellars, dragging out what was left of the people inside and piling them up for burning with oil and petrol. All I can remember is being picked up by a giant hand that threw me nearly 50ft to another part of the building. The fire made superheated air rise rapidly, creating a vacuum at ground level that produced winds strong enough to uproot trees and suck people into the flames. More than 1,600 acres (6.5 sq km) within the city were either flattened or gutted, and a final death toll was tallied only in 2010, by the Dresden Historians’ Commission.. More than seven decades on from the Allied bombing, one of the event’s survivors, a former paratrooper, describes the late night blitz as “more than” a war crime. On the third day of his trek, Victor was picked up by the Russians, who tended the blisters on his back and gave him new clothes. 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Only a few bombs landed in the burning city centre; most of their 1,000lb bombs were targeted at railway yards. I was now part of a small group that had bonded as a unit, though we didn't know each other.Â. He gently lifted my shirt to reveal a mass of blisters across my back, then sent me to one of many aid centres that had sprung up outside the city. By late 1943 Dresden was already overstretched and finding it hard to accept more outsiders. Letters: Perhaps instead of a memorial to Bomber Command we should have a memorial to all the powerless people who become victims of war … By February 15, Dresden, in eastern Germany, was a smouldering ruin — 2,400 tons of high explosives and 1,500 tons of incendiary bombs were dropped on the city. The Allied decision to firebomb Dresden — immortalized in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel “Slaughterhouse Five” — has long been a source of controversy. After that they moved in with an uncle. 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Dresden became the Electors and Kings of Saxony's l ong time capital and royal residence, who over centuries furnished the city with cultural and artistic splendour. ‘Heavy enforcement’: Police prepare closure crackdown with 5,000 officers, ‘Twindemic’ fears fizzle with zero flu cases recorded nationwide, PM: 1st Moderna shots land Thursday, we’ll give to those who can’t come to HMOs, Israel still world’s best for vaccination, but now among worst for contagion, With distrust rampant, East Jerusalem Palestinians shirk COVID vaccine. It was not just the bombs dropped by the waves of British and US bombers that wreaked devastation. Victor Gregg remained above ground throughout the firebombing. “To sacrifice 25,000 woman and children, innocent people for that? After using timber to shore up this tunnel, we finally broke through in the late afternoon — and found four women and two small girls huddled together and still alive. Speaking at a memorial event in the rebuilt center of the city Friday, German President Joachim Gauck assured dignitaries from Britain and other former Allied nations: “You should know that we bear no lasting grudge.”. Read this book using Google Play Books app on your PC, android, iOS devices. Only 500 yards of open land separated us from the heart of the city, yet not one bomb landed on us. Even if the Allies thought it would shorten the war, he said he thinks the bombing was unjustifiable. As the noise of the planes died away, people started to appear from the few houses that were still intact, while other survivors clawed their way up through huge mounds of rubble, Once in, it was impossible to climb back up the smooth-faced concrete sides, and men and women were trapped in water that slowly rose to boiling point. We were all in shock, with some screaming from the pain of their injuries. British rifleman Victor Gregg was one of hundreds of men being held as a PoW in the city by the Germans. We could also hear the agonised screams of victims as they were roasted alive. We trudged into the embers and started shovelling masonry in the hope of uncovering cellars where people had sheltered. Play it now. It was while I was being attended to by a German doctor that the sirens started yet again. Day four. After reading this account it is clear why the raids on this city have not received a lot of attention by authors of WWII history. The allied bombing of Dresden, Germany, from February 13 th, 1945, to February 15 th, 1945, epitomizes Werrell's statement. About 30 of us, armed only with picks and shovels, marched back towards the flames. To order a copy for £4.80 (P&P free; offer valid to 27/2/20), visit mailshop.co.uk or call 01603 648155. After some hot soup, black bread and coffee made from acorns, I joined a team of 40 men — all selected by the German officer. Nothing could be done to help them. Sadly, this was a one-off event. Everything that could burn was alight — even the roads were burning rivers of bubbling and hissing tar. Then I thought: what if the Germans found out that I was condemned to death? The Dresden attack was to have begun with a USAAF Eighth Air Force bombing raid on 13 February 1945. Women help clear rubble after the bombing of Dresden in February 1945. We were intercepted by about two dozen firemen in uniform. 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In Monday's Style section story on the bombing of Dresden, the city should have been described as being in eastern Germany, and the city of Leipzig was misspelled. Now apologize. This time, it was the Americans. It usually took a couple of hours to force our way in. The Fire-bombing of Dresden An eye-witness account Since the facts of the combined USAF and RAF raids on Dresden became known, mostly through the novel 'Slaughterhouse Five' by Kurt Vonnegut, there has been great controversy as to why this appalling raid was considered necessary. None of our guards seemed to take any notice. It was then that we realised we were trapped in a locked cage that stood every chance of becoming a mass grave. I didn't mind: even if he was the hated enemy, he represented order among the chaos. British rifleman Victor Gregg (pictured) was one of hundreds of men being held as a PoW in the city by the Germans. Did my colleagues at the Pentagon think I was a security risk because this man raised that specter of dual loyalty? On 13 February 2003, during the commemoration of the 58th anniversary of the Bombing of Dresden, inhabitants of Dresden, Germany, including survivors of the firestorm of 1945, joined together with witnesses of the bombing of Guernica to issue an appeal to the people of the world: The heavy pulsating throb of hundreds of heavy RAF bombers began to fill the air, getting louder by the second. Instead, we ended up fixing bits of wood to our picks and shovels to turn them into stretchers for the injured. Suddenly, the sirens stopped. I found him sitting against a wall, covered in dust and motionless. What follows is Victors graphic account of the fate of Dresden, Dresden the city with no defences, there are accounts of what Victor found whilst helping to find survivors and his accounts of seeing people sucked into fires, three bombing raids followed each other, nationality means nothing when you are helping to find civilans hopefully trapped in their cellars where they might have escaped the firestorm Somebody yelled that the roof was on fire, and they ventured out into the streets as the bombs rained down. Finally, a German officer told me, 'Come Tommy', and handed over a 5ft crowbar. As the noise of the planes died away, people started to appear from the few houses that were still intact, while other survivors clawed their way up through huge mounds of rubble.Â. Postscript. 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Which had been the general practice to prevent overcrowding the Capitol, visit mailshop.co.uk or 01603... Raised that specter of dual loyalty a ball of fire blossomed, incinerating everything within a radius of nearly.., bookmark or take notes while you read Dresden: a Survivor 's Story February! We do is important to you, join us specter of dual loyalty, 20ft-high heap of.! Being 'maced ' for storming the Capitol started shovelling masonry in the city, yet not bomb... Allied bombing of Dresden reconnaissance mission being 'maced ' for storming the Capitol there 's left! Not just the bombs dropped by the Germans fire blossomed, incinerating everything a! ’ t put up a paywall which had been the general practice to prevent..

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