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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Eoghan Harris: The moral dilemma posed by Dresden

Published 12/02/2012 | 05:00

TOMORROW, the citizens of Dresden remember a dreadful day. On the fine spring evening of February 13, 1945, 700 Royal Air Force bombers began to destroy their city, one of the most beautiful in Europe, in a raid that would last two days.

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The bombing crews -- they suffered 50 per cent casualties during the war -- were acting on the orders of Air Marshal Arthur Harris. He was carrying out the wishes of Winston Churchill, who later let him down by airbrushing the brave men of Bomber Command out of his victory speech.

We can learn lessons from Dresden. The obvious ones concern the pity of war. But stating the obvious does not deal with other moral obligations posed by the deliberate bombing of Dresden. Having wrung our hands about the horror, we are still left with hard questions.

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