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Germany's forgotten victims Luke Harding / Guardian  More than half a century on, discount differin the allied bombing of Germany's cities during the second world war remains a controversial topic. Recently, discount differin Britain's ambassador to Germany, discount differin Sir Peter Torry, discount differin travelled to the city of Kassel to mark the 60th anniversary of its destruction by British warplanes. Discount differin Around 10, discount differin000 people died on the night of October 22 1943, discount differin when an immense firestorm swept the city. Discount differin "In the peaceful Europe which we live in today, discount differin it is hard for those who did not experience the second world war to understand the bitter emotions to which it gave rise, discount differin" the ambassador said. Discount differin 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. Discount differin However, discount differin 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. Discount differin Last week, discount differin one of Germany's most controversial historians, discount differin Jörg Friedrich, discount differin published a new photo book about the issue. Discount differin Called Brandstätten, discount differin or Fire Sites, discount differin it contains some of the most grisly images from the war ever to be published. Discount differin None of them have been seen before. The victims are not Jewish, discount differin but German. Discount differin The charred, discount differin mutilated bodies of women, discount differin children and babies are all civilians who perished during the allies' bombing campaign against Germany's cities. Discount differin In his book, discount differin Friedrich argues that the RAF's relentless campaign against Germany during the final months of the war served no military purpose. Discount differin Instead, discount differin he says that Winston Churchill's decision to drop more bombs on a shattered Germany between January and May 1945, discount differin most of them on small German towns of little strategic value, discount differin was a war crime. Discount differin "The bombing left an entire generation traumatised. Discount differin But it was never discussed. Discount differin There are Germans whose first recollections are of being hidden by their mothers. Discount differin They remember cellars and burning human remains, discount differin" Friedrich told the Guardian in an interview in Berlin last week. Discount differin "It is only now that they are coming to terms with what happened." Around 600, discount differin000 German civilians died during the allies' wartime raids on Germany, discount differin including 76, discount differin000 German children, discount differin Friedrich says. Discount differin In July 1943, discount differin during a single night in Hamburg, discount differin 45, discount differin000 people perished in a vast firestorm. Discount differin "The Second World War is traditionally portrayed as a struggle between good and evil. Discount differin Bombers were the weapons of the winners. Discount differin But what actually happened on the ground wasn't very heroic, discount differin" Friedrich said last week. Discount differin (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. Discount differin They offer a grim insight into what happened on the ground, discount differin revealing that many of the civilians who died in allied raids were asphyxiated in their cellars. Discount differin In Dresden, discount differin SS workers from a nearby concentration camp were called in to dispose of large heaps of bodies. Discount differin The photos include the petrified corpse of mother and child collected in a bathtub, discount differin and the bleached skeleton of a baby killed during an air raid on Leipzig. Discount differin There are also pictures of dead animals - an elephant and a giraffe - killed by a British air raid on Berlin zoo. Discount differin Friedrich, discount differin who is now 59, discount differin grew up in Essen, discount differin in the Ruhr, discount differin a part of Germany's industrial heartland that comprehensively pulverised during the war years. Discount differin An allied bomb flattened the house next door. Discount differin "I asked my mother what happened to the neighbours. Discount differin She said she didn't know. Discount differin She said everybody looked after themselves, discount differin" he recalled. Discount differin During the sixties, discount differin Friedrich moved to Berlin, discount differin took part in the '68 movement, discount differin and became a Trotskyite radical. Discount differin Like many young Germans, discount differin he interrogated his parents about their past, discount differin concluding that his father, discount differin a teacher, discount differin had no Nazi leanings. Discount differin Later, discount differin he became a writer and broadcaster, discount differin before turning to history. Discount differin In the 80s, discount differin 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, discount differin before turning his attention to the allied bombing of Germany. Discount differin This last project made him notorious. Discount differin Der Brand was serialised by Germany's mass-selling Bild tabloid, discount differin and left-wing students tried to storm his book signings, discount differin accusing him of revisionism for using the word "crematoria" to describe cellars incinerated by allied bombs. Discount differin Friedrich admits he is a revisionist, discount differin but says he is not interested in making moral judgements, discount differin merely in what happened. Discount differin He is reluctant, discount differin though, discount differin to discuss what alternatives Churchill had. Discount differin "If you destroy a landscape of 160 cities, discount differin most of medieval origin, discount differin you do something to the cultural identity of a people. Discount differin All I do is describe it, discount differin" he said. Discount differin (cut) Earlier this year, discount differin he attempted to get hold of pictures of British victims of German bombing from the public record office in Kew, discount differin but was told that they could not be published because of censorship rules. Discount differin As a result, discount differin Brandstätten concentrates almost exclusively on German victims. Discount differin Der Brand has so far sold 185, discount differin000 copies, discount differin and been translated into six languages, discount differin but has failed to find a British publisher. Discount differin "One British editor told me my book would 'estrange' readers, discount differin" Friedrich said. Discount differin Colombia university will bring out an English edition next year. Discount differin Friedrich has supporters inside Germany, discount differin including the country's former chancellor, discount differin Helmut Kohl, discount differin whose home town, discount differin Ludwigshafen, discount differin was bombed by British planes during his boyhood, discount differin and whose late wife was bombed at Leipzig. Discount differin He has offered editorial advice, discount differin and has praised the historian's work. Discount differin Friedrich is not the first writer to tackle the tricky issue of German bombing victims. Discount differin But Fire Sites is part of a new trend in Germany where, discount differin after more than half a century of collective silence, discount differin and the death of most survivors from the war generation, discount differin what happened to Germans during the Nazi era is being openly discussed. Discount differin "Germans in their seventies and eighties have not forgotten. Discount differin Their memories are still vivid. Discount differin People stand up in my public lectures and describe what befell their families, discount differin" Friedrich said. Discount differin "They have tears in their eyes and they can't breathe. Discount differin "The main fact is that the British bombing of German cities wasn't very heroic. Discount differin This was no heroic victory."