The Aerial Bombing of Dresden
Between 13 February and 15 February 1945, British and American bombers laid the historical center of Dresden in the ashes. In four raids, the bombers dropped as much as 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices. A devastating firestorm followed, destroying almost 39 square kilometres of the city.
Since 1945, the bombing of Dresden is considered by many as a violation of international law and as a crime against humanity, even though positive rules of international humanitarian law were absent at the time. The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, were among the first formal statements of the laws of war and war crimes in the nascent body of international law. However these conventions, adressing the codes of wartime conduct on land and at sea, were adopted before the rise of air power. Despite repeated diplomatic attempts (→ The Hague Rules of Air Warefare 1922/1923) to update international humanitarian law to include aerial warfare, it was not done before the outbreak of World War II. The absence of positive international humanitarian law does not mean that the laws of war did not cover aerial warfare, but there was no general agreement of how to interpret those laws.
PPL Classification Scheme
Air Warfare : General Works
Crimes against International Law
Sea Warfare : Bombardments by Naval Forces
Warfare on Land : Sieges and Bombardments
World War II : General Works and Various Essays
World War II
PPL Books and Articles
GROSSCUP, B., Strategic Terror : the Politics and Ethics of Aerial Bombardment, New York : Zed Books, 2006, XIV, 226 p
LANGENBACHER, E., "The Allies in World War II : the Anglo-American Bombardment of German Cities”, in : Genocide, War Crimes and the West : History and Complicity, London [etc.] : Zed Books, 2004, pp. 116-133
STEWART, W.P., Background to the Decision to Bomb Dresden : February 13/14, 1945, Cambridge : Walter P. Stewart, 1994, 18 p
UEBERSCHÄR, G.R., “Dresden 1945 : Symbol für Luftkriegsverbrechen”, in : Kriegsverbrechen im 20. Jahrhundert, Darmstadt : Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2001, pp. 382-396