The US destroyed Dresden, Germany, and the civilian population

Dresden in March, 1945

In the final winter of World War II, the eastern German city of Dresden was reduced to rubble, killing tens of thousands and sparking a bitter debate over whether the attack was justified…

Population of the city was largely anyone’s guess as refugees flooded into the city shortly prior to the bombing as Soviet troops advanced to the city’s east, however common estimates put the population at the time of bombings at greater than 650,000.

I won’t waste anyone’s time quoting those who ordered the bombing. I’ve outlived all my friends and relatives who fought in that war…or were victims of the Nazis. None agreed that what we did was justified.

35,000 Germans rally in Dresden against ethnic, religious, hatred

Anti-bigotry rally in Berlin

A rally against racism and xenophobia on Saturday drew tens of thousands of people in the eastern German city of Dresden, which has become the center of anti-immigration protests organized by a new grassroots movement called PEGIDA.

“We won’t permit that hate will divide us”, Dresden’s mayor Helma Orosz said in front of the 18th-century Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady).

Around 35,000 people attended the rally that was jointly organized by the state government of Saxony and the city of Dresden…

The movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA) is holding weekly rallies in Dresden with a record number of 18,000 people attending last Monday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned the anti-Muslim demonstrations, urging Germans to turn their backs on the movement and calling their organizers racists full of hatred.

The Paris attack has fueled fears that it could boost anti-immigration movements around Europe and inflame a culture war about the place of religion and ethnic identity in society.

Speaking after a party meeting of her Christian Democrats (CDU) in Hamburg earlier on Saturday, Merkel stressed the need for intercultural dialogue and warned against prejudice.

Good to see this. If there is a nation in the world capable of taking the lead in opposing rightwing populism, opportunist ethnic hatred. it is Germany. They know the potential results almost as well as the nationalities murdered by German fascists in the mid-20th Century.

Anti-Nazi demonstrators block right-wing thugs at Dresden bombing anniversary

Anti-Nazi demonstrators in Germany prevented far-right groups from marking the 67th-anniversary of the RAF bombing of Dresden by forming a human chain in the city centre. An estimated 13,000 people from across Germany’s political spectrum took part in the stance against the far right despite freezing conditions.

The anniversary of the Dresden raid has been a high point in Germany’s neo-Nazi calendar with thousands rallying in the eastern German city each year despite passionate, and at times violent, opposition from critics, who accused the far right of exploiting the bombing for political purposes.

An estimated 25,000 people died in the raid that started when RAF bombers struck on the night of February 13, 1945 and finished with an attack by US aircraft on February 15.

The colossal loss of life and tremendous destruction wrought by the bombing of a city famed for its culture and architecture has been portrayed by the German far right as an Allied war crime and an example of Germany’s apparent victimhood.

Some 1,600 neo-Nazis travelled to Dresden to mark the raid this year but were met at the station by a police presence of over 5,000, and some 2,000 counter-demonstrators who banged drums and shouted “Nazis out”.

The far right started a torch-light procession but were soon told by police they would have to abandon it because the human chain had blocked their route…

I’m happy that it remained peaceful,” said Markus Ulbig, interior minister for state of Saxony. “Democrats have come together to show that Nazis are not welcome in the city.” After the far-right threat had passed, people lit candles in memory of the victims of the raid and attended a memorial service. At 21:45, the time RAF bombers first appeared over Dresden, church bells rang out across the city.

“Our city stands together for courage, respect and tolerance,” said the Dirk Hilbert, Dresden’s acting mayor, in an address to the anti-Nazi demonstrators.

I find it very hard to express my hatred of war and those who glorify it. I am blinded by tears of anger and pain – I cannot hold back my rage.

I lived through that war – fortunate enough to be this side of the pond in an American city that never suffered bombing or incendiary raids. Many of my relatives – on both sides – in a couple of countries weren’t so likely. Many of my close kin were killed or terribly wounded on the battlefields.

My closest friend just died a few years ago – spent 16 months in VA hospital recovering from his wounds from the Battle of the Bulge and at the liberation of Buchenwald. Because he was our home state’s most decorated soldier, he was asked to run for Governor in 1948. He said that wouldn’t be a problem at all. As long as they made the first plank in the platform an absolute ban on profits made from war.

They changed their mind, withdrew the offer.

Kurt Vonnegut library offers banned book to Missouri students

Up to 150 students at a Missouri high school that ordered “Slaughterhouse-Five” pulled from its library shelves can get a free copy of the novel, courtesy of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library…

The offer for students at Republic High School comes on the heels of the Republic School Board’s decision to remove Vonnegut’s novel and Sarah Ockler’s “Twenty Boy Summer” from the curriculum and the school library shelves.

“All of these students will be eligible to vote and some may be protecting our country through military service in the next year or two,” Julia Whitehead, the executive director of the Vonnegut library in Indianapolis, said in a statement.

“It is shocking and unfortunate that those young adults and citizens would not be considered mature enough to handle the important topics raised by Kurt Vonnegut, a decorated war veteran. Everyone can learn something from his book.”

Slaughterhouse-Five, considered Vonnegut’s most influential and popular work, is a satirical novel centered around the bombing of the German city of Dresden during World War Two.

The Republic School District took the move at its April 18 meeting following a complaint lodged by local resident Wesley Scroggins in the spring of 2010.

In his complaint, the Missouri State University associate business professor called on district officials to stop using textbooks and other materials “that create false conceptions of American history and government or that teach principles contrary to Biblical morality and truth.”

The school district members immediately rolled over and stuck all four hooves in the air in response to this heavenly command. Any matted fleece will be combed at shearing time to guarantee Christian purity.

Meanwhile, the real world progressed in its journey beyond the gates of ignorance and obedience – and Republic High School.

Supreme Court turns away 9/11 ashes burial case

Relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks have lost a bid to get the Supreme Court to rule on whether New York City must provide a proper burial for material taken from the World Trade Center site, because it could contain the ashes of victims.

The justices declined on Monday to hear an appeal of a lower court’s ruling in a suit brought by relatives of some of the people killed when the twin towers collapsed. Lower courts dismissed the suit against the city, saying it acted responsibly in moving materials from the site in Lower Manhattan to a landfill on Staten Island and then sifting through the material for human remains.

The plaintiffs wanted the ashes buried in a cemetery after they were sifted again. None of the remains of roughly 1,100 of the people who were killed in the attacks have been found.

I realize the cumulative loss is enormous. Americans should also look around at the world and the miserable history of our species killing large numbers of each other.

The people of London, the people of Dresden, the myriad victims of the Holocaust, so many others never felt compelled to demand the ashes from tragedy and fire should be specially interred – including all the rites of the several religions of those who died.

I am not surprised that Americans feel themselves more special than all those others. Still doesn’t justify the demand.