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Germany's forgotten victims Luke Harding / Guardian  More than half a century on, buy purim in us the allied bombing of Germany's cities during the second world war remains a controversial topic. Recently, buy purim in us Britain's ambassador to Germany, buy purim in us Sir Peter Torry, buy purim in us travelled to the city of Kassel to mark the 60th anniversary of its destruction by British warplanes. Buy purim in us Around 10, buy purim in us000 people died on the night of October 22 1943, buy purim in us when an immense firestorm swept the city. Buy purim in us "In the peaceful Europe which we live in today, buy purim in us it is hard for those who did not experience the second world war to understand the bitter emotions to which it gave rise, buy purim in us" the ambassador said. Buy purim in us There is nothing new about senior British officials touring German cities that were destroyed by British bombs: the Queen and Prince Charles have visited Dresden and Hamburg in recent years. Buy purim in us However, buy purim in us Sir Peter's speech comes at a time when the role of the Royal Air Force during the second world war is being debated afresh. Buy purim in us Last week, buy purim in us one of Germany's most controversial historians, buy purim in us Jörg Friedrich, buy purim in us published a new photo book about the issue. Buy purim in us Called Brandstätten, buy purim in us or Fire Sites, buy purim in us it contains some of the most grisly images from the war ever to be published. Buy purim in us None of them have been seen before. The victims are not Jewish, buy purim in us but German. Buy purim in us The charred, buy purim in us mutilated bodies of women, buy purim in us children and babies are all civilians who perished during the allies' bombing campaign against Germany's cities. Buy purim in us In his book, buy purim in us Friedrich argues that the RAF's relentless campaign against Germany during the final months of the war served no military purpose. Buy purim in us Instead, buy purim in us he says that Winston Churchill's decision to drop more bombs on a shattered Germany between January and May 1945, buy purim in us most of them on small German towns of little strategic value, buy purim in us was a war crime. Buy purim in us "The bombing left an entire generation traumatised. Buy purim in us But it was never discussed. Buy purim in us There are Germans whose first recollections are of being hidden by their mothers. Buy purim in us They remember cellars and burning human remains, buy purim in us" Friedrich told the Guardian in an interview in Berlin last week. Buy purim in us "It is only now that they are coming to terms with what happened." Around 600, buy purim in us000 German civilians died during the allies' wartime raids on Germany, buy purim in us including 76, buy purim in us000 German children, buy purim in us Friedrich says. Buy purim in us In July 1943, buy purim in us during a single night in Hamburg, buy purim in us 45, buy purim in us000 people perished in a vast firestorm. Buy purim in us "The Second World War is traditionally portrayed as a struggle between good and evil. Buy purim in us Bombers were the weapons of the winners. Buy purim in us But what actually happened on the ground wasn't very heroic, buy purim in us" Friedrich said last week. Buy purim in us (cut) Most of the photos in Fire Sites had lain undiscovered in the archives of German towns for more than half a century before Friedrich found them. Buy purim in us They offer a grim insight into what happened on the ground, buy purim in us revealing that many of the civilians who died in allied raids were asphyxiated in their cellars. Buy purim in us In Dresden, buy purim in us SS workers from a nearby concentration camp were called in to dispose of large heaps of bodies. Buy purim in us The photos include the petrified corpse of mother and child collected in a bathtub, buy purim in us and the bleached skeleton of a baby killed during an air raid on Leipzig. Buy purim in us There are also pictures of dead animals - an elephant and a giraffe - killed by a British air raid on Berlin zoo. Buy purim in us Friedrich, buy purim in us who is now 59, buy purim in us grew up in Essen, buy purim in us in the Ruhr, buy purim in us a part of Germany's industrial heartland that comprehensively pulverised during the war years. Buy purim in us An allied bomb flattened the house next door. Buy purim in us "I asked my mother what happened to the neighbours. Buy purim in us She said she didn't know. Buy purim in us She said everybody looked after themselves, buy purim in us" he recalled. Buy purim in us During the sixties, buy purim in us Friedrich moved to Berlin, buy purim in us took part in the '68 movement, buy purim in us and became a Trotskyite radical. Buy purim in us Like many young Germans, buy purim in us he interrogated his parents about their past, buy purim in us concluding that his father, buy purim in us a teacher, buy purim in us had no Nazi leanings. Buy purim in us Later, buy purim in us he became a writer and broadcaster, buy purim in us before turning to history. Buy purim in us In the 80s, buy purim in us he wrote a book about the Holocaust ("I argued that the railway was its essential weapon") and the German army's war crimes on the eastern front, buy purim in us before turning his attention to the allied bombing of Germany. Buy purim in us This last project made him notorious. Buy purim in us Der Brand was serialised by Germany's mass-selling Bild tabloid, buy purim in us and left-wing students tried to storm his book signings, buy purim in us accusing him of revisionism for using the word "crematoria" to describe cellars incinerated by allied bombs. Buy purim in us Friedrich admits he is a revisionist, buy purim in us but says he is not interested in making moral judgements, buy purim in us merely in what happened. Buy purim in us He is reluctant, buy purim in us though, buy purim in us to discuss what alternatives Churchill had. Buy purim in us "If you destroy a landscape of 160 cities, buy purim in us most of medieval origin, buy purim in us you do something to the cultural identity of a people. Buy purim in us All I do is describe it, buy purim in us" he said. Buy purim in us (cut) Earlier this year, buy purim in us he attempted to get hold of pictures of British victims of German bombing from the public record office in Kew, buy purim in us but was told that they could not be published because of censorship rules. Buy purim in us As a result, buy purim in us Brandstätten concentrates almost exclusively on German victims. Buy purim in us Der Brand has so far sold 185, buy purim in us000 copies, buy purim in us and been translated into six languages, buy purim in us but has failed to find a British publisher. Buy purim in us "One British editor told me my book would 'estrange' readers, buy purim in us" Friedrich said. Buy purim in us Colombia university will bring out an English edition next year. Buy purim in us Friedrich has supporters inside Germany, buy purim in us including the country's former chancellor, buy purim in us Helmut Kohl, buy purim in us whose home town, buy purim in us Ludwigshafen, buy purim in us was bombed by British planes during his boyhood, buy purim in us and whose late wife was bombed at Leipzig. Buy purim in us He has offered editorial advice, buy purim in us and has praised the historian's work. Buy purim in us Friedrich is not the first writer to tackle the tricky issue of German bombing victims. Buy purim in us But Fire Sites is part of a new trend in Germany where, buy purim in us after more than half a century of collective silence, buy purim in us and the death of most survivors from the war generation, buy purim in us what happened to Germans during the Nazi era is being openly discussed. Buy purim in us "Germans in their seventies and eighties have not forgotten. Buy purim in us Their memories are still vivid. Buy purim in us People stand up in my public lectures and describe what befell their families, buy purim in us" Friedrich said. Buy purim in us "They have tears in their eyes and they can't breathe. Buy purim in us "The main fact is that the British bombing of German cities wasn't very heroic. Buy purim in us This was no heroic victory." http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/oct/22/worldd...