The Firebombing of Dresden
The Firebombing of Dresden

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By Josh Stavehaug and Thuy Quevedo Thesis The Firebombing of Dresden was solely the result of the Allied forces wanting to lower German morale thus destroying the beautiful city and resulting in thousands of civilian deaths in the flames with little difference if city had never been leveled ID: 540503 Download Presentation

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Presentation on theme: "The Firebombing of Dresden"— Presentation transcript


The Firebombing of Dresden

By Josh Stavehaug and Thuy QuevedoSlide2


The Firebombing of Dresden was solely the result of the Allied forces wanting to lower German morale, thus destroying the beautiful city and resulting in thousands of civilian deaths in the flames; with little difference if city had never been leveled. Slide3

The Road to Dresden

Up to the Blitz, aerial bombing was focused on military and industrial targets.

The Germans embarked on a campaign of “propaganda bombing” that struck fear into the hearts of civilians by bombing their homes.

This was started by the Germans during an accidental bombing of civilian neighborhoods in London, killing 430 people. Slide4

The Road to Dresden (cont.)

The British began civilian bombing when they discovered their bombers to not be up to standard when it came to dropping bombs close to the target. Whole towns were targeted instead of buildings. The rationale was that everyone living close to German industrial centers contributed in some way. Thus the British effectively killed hundreds of civilians that may or may not have contributed to the war effort. Slide5

Dresden 1945

In February 1945, Dresden was estimated to have a population of 350,000

However, due to the German propaganda machine, countless refugees in fear of the Russians streamed in from the east and took up shelter, making the actual population much higher

POWs and forced labor inmates were also present at the bombing

Dresden was full of major German troop concentrations at the time, all waiting to be shipped to the Eastern Front

Dresden was, according to a 1945 RAF memo: “

by far the largest un-bombed build up the enemy has got.”Slide6

Close to Eastern Front

Within reach of USAAC and RAF bases by 1945Slide7

The Rationale for Dresden

Dresden was a very large center of military importance to the Germans.

It contained legitimate industrial targets.

But by far the most prevalent reason was to demoralize the Germans, partially under the British Operation THUNDERCLAP, which was an organized demoralization bombing attack on the capital, Berlin, and refugee centers.

It was also a subversive demonstration for the Soviets, who were anticipated to take control of Dresden afterwards.

USAAC 8th Air Force commander James Doolittle protested against the bombing.

“Dresden, the seventh largest city in Germany and not much smaller than Manchester, is also by far the largest unbombed built-up the enemy has got. In the midst of winter with refugees pouring westwards and troops to be rested, roofs are at a premium. The intentions of the attack are to hit the enemy where he will feel it most, behind an already partially collapsed front, to prevent the use of the city in the way of further advance, and incidentally to show the Russians when they arrive what Bomber Command can do.”

RAF January 1945Slide8

The Actual Firebombings

On February 13th, 1945 the north german city of Dresden was bombed heavily by the British Royal Air Force and the US Army Air Force, with 3,300 tons of bombs and other explosives. Dresden was turned into a firestorm.

The two separate opening British raids involved 244 bombers dropping 800 tons of bombs on the 13th of February, followed by 529 more bombers dropping 1,800 tons of bombs three hours later.

The 300 U.S. bombers dropping 700 tons of bombs the next day had terrible visibility due to the smoke and flames. On the 15th, conditions were even worseSlide9

The Aftermath of the Bombing

1,478 tons of high explosives and 1,182 tons of incendiary bombs (as much as 3,907 total, according to some sources) were dropped by 796 RAF bombers in the first attack

15 sq km demolished of Dresden—of which there were: 14,000 homes, 72 schools, 22 hospitals, 19 churches, 5 theaters, 50 banks, 31 dept stores, 31 hotels, 62 administrative buildings

About 1/3 ton of bombs for each building in the city center

Civilian casualties are cited at anywhere from 15,000 to 135,000, due to the fact we are not sure how many refugees were in the city and contradictory elements put forth by Soviet propaganda, Nazi propaganda and downplay by the British

The most accepted death toll is from 18,000 to 25,000 people Slide11



Timeline of the Bombings

January 1945: two other bombing raids were carried out on Dresden by the USAAC

February 13th, 1945: there was bad weather, so there were few USAAC bombers, and there were two bomb waves upon Dresden carried out by the RAF. The first wave would burn the buildings and expose the wooden frames, the second wave (three hours later), would burn everything.

February 14th, 1945: the USAAC were scheduled to bomb Dresden once again around midday with 771 tons of bombs

February 15th, 1945: USAAC dropped more bombs on Dresden and a different unit of USAAC was planning on bombing a different city, but it was cloudy and they reverted to their second plan of bombing the marshall yards of Dresden; they missed most of their target, and destroyed surrounding small towns. Slide14

Quiz on Dresden

What was the actual day when the firebombings occurred?

Why is the death toll hard to estimate?

How many hours apart were the 3 bombings of Dresden on the first day?

What was the main justification for bombing Dresden?

How many sq km of Dresden were utterly destroyed?

Who was not in favour of the bombings?

(You may not know this one) Did bombing Dresden lower german morale and make them surrender faster?Slide15

Fun Fact: Vladimir Putin was a KGB spy in the late 1980s stationed in Dresden!

Here he is with dogs. Slide16

The End

(for most of Dresden)Slide17

Works Cited

Richards, James.

The Blitz:Sorting the Myth from the Reality

. 7 February 2011. 23 March 2015 <



Siebert, Detlef.

British Bombing Strategy in World War Two

. 7 February 2011. 23 March 2015 <



Crane, Conrad C.

Dresden, Air Attack on

. 23 March 2015 <



"The Bombing of Dresden". HistoryLearningSite.co.uk. 2014. Web.

"The Firebombing of Dresden."


. Stanford University, Aug. 2003. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Frederick, Taylor. "Death Toll Debate: How Many Died in the Bombing of Dresden?" 2 October 2008.

Spiegel Online

. 23 March 2015 <