New research in Germany has concluded that about 25,000 people were killed in the Allied bombing of Dresden in February 1945. Quite enough, but a good deal lower than the previous estimate of around 40,000, while some far-right groups claimed the true total was half a million.
The Dresden Historians' Commission spent five years examining city archives, cemetery and court records, and official registries. But feelings in the city still run high, and within an hour of the report’s publication, 150 protestors had marched on the town hall.
Before February 13, 1945, Dresden had barely been targeted, but on that night more than 750 British bombers attacked its railway marshalling yards, to try to disrupt plans to strengthen German forces on the Eastern Front. World War Two bombing raids, though, were never particularly accurate, and this one also started a ferocious firestorm in the city centre.
The following day, 450 USAF aircraft renewed the attack. Some fires burned for a week afterwards, but rail services were put out of action for only three days. (see also my blog of Feb 13, 2009)