Emulgel

Germany's forgotten victims Luke Harding / Guardian  More than half a century on, emulgel the allied bombing of Germany's cities during the second world war remains a controversial topic. Recently, emulgel Britain's ambassador to Germany, emulgel Sir Peter Torry, emulgel travelled to the city of Kassel to mark the 60th anniversary of its destruction by British warplanes. Emulgel Around 10, emulgel000 people died on the night of October 22 1943, emulgel when an immense firestorm swept the city. Emulgel "In the peaceful Europe which we live in today, emulgel it is hard for those who did not experience the second world war to understand the bitter emotions to which it gave rise, emulgel" the ambassador said. Emulgel 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. Emulgel However, emulgel 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. Emulgel Last week, emulgel one of Germany's most controversial historians, emulgel Jörg Friedrich, emulgel published a new photo book about the issue. Emulgel Called Brandstätten, emulgel or Fire Sites, emulgel it contains some of the most grisly images from the war ever to be published. Emulgel None of them have been seen before. The victims are not Jewish, emulgel but German. Emulgel The charred, emulgel mutilated bodies of women, emulgel children and babies are all civilians who perished during the allies' bombing campaign against Germany's cities. Emulgel In his book, emulgel Friedrich argues that the RAF's relentless campaign against Germany during the final months of the war served no military purpose. Emulgel Instead, emulgel he says that Winston Churchill's decision to drop more bombs on a shattered Germany between January and May 1945, emulgel most of them on small German towns of little strategic value, emulgel was a war crime. Emulgel "The bombing left an entire generation traumatised. Emulgel But it was never discussed. Emulgel There are Germans whose first recollections are of being hidden by their mothers. Emulgel They remember cellars and burning human remains, emulgel" Friedrich told the Guardian in an interview in Berlin last week. Emulgel "It is only now that they are coming to terms with what happened." Around 600, emulgel000 German civilians died during the allies' wartime raids on Germany, emulgel including 76, emulgel000 German children, emulgel Friedrich says. Emulgel In July 1943, emulgel during a single night in Hamburg, emulgel 45, emulgel000 people perished in a vast firestorm. Emulgel "The Second World War is traditionally portrayed as a struggle between good and evil. Emulgel Bombers were the weapons of the winners. Emulgel But what actually happened on the ground wasn't very heroic, emulgel" Friedrich said last week. Emulgel (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. Emulgel They offer a grim insight into what happened on the ground, emulgel revealing that many of the civilians who died in allied raids were asphyxiated in their cellars. Emulgel In Dresden, emulgel SS workers from a nearby concentration camp were called in to dispose of large heaps of bodies. Emulgel The photos include the petrified corpse of mother and child collected in a bathtub, emulgel and the bleached skeleton of a baby killed during an air raid on Leipzig. Emulgel There are also pictures of dead animals - an elephant and a giraffe - killed by a British air raid on Berlin zoo. Emulgel Friedrich, emulgel who is now 59, emulgel grew up in Essen, emulgel in the Ruhr, emulgel a part of Germany's industrial heartland that comprehensively pulverised during the war years. Emulgel An allied bomb flattened the house next door. Emulgel "I asked my mother what happened to the neighbours. Emulgel She said she didn't know. Emulgel She said everybody looked after themselves, emulgel" he recalled. Emulgel During the sixties, emulgel Friedrich moved to Berlin, emulgel took part in the '68 movement, emulgel and became a Trotskyite radical. Emulgel Like many young Germans, emulgel he interrogated his parents about their past, emulgel concluding that his father, emulgel a teacher, emulgel had no Nazi leanings. Emulgel Later, emulgel he became a writer and broadcaster, emulgel before turning to history. Emulgel In the 80s, emulgel 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, emulgel before turning his attention to the allied bombing of Germany. Emulgel This last project made him notorious. Emulgel Der Brand was serialised by Germany's mass-selling Bild tabloid, emulgel and left-wing students tried to storm his book signings, emulgel accusing him of revisionism for using the word "crematoria" to describe cellars incinerated by allied bombs. Emulgel Friedrich admits he is a revisionist, emulgel but says he is not interested in making moral judgements, emulgel merely in what happened. Emulgel He is reluctant, emulgel though, emulgel to discuss what alternatives Churchill had. Emulgel "If you destroy a landscape of 160 cities, emulgel most of medieval origin, emulgel you do something to the cultural identity of a people. Emulgel All I do is describe it, emulgel" he said. Emulgel (cut) Earlier this year, emulgel he attempted to get hold of pictures of British victims of German bombing from the public record office in Kew, emulgel but was told that they could not be published because of censorship rules. Emulgel As a result, emulgel Brandstätten concentrates almost exclusively on German victims. Emulgel Der Brand has so far sold 185, emulgel000 copies, emulgel and been translated into six languages, emulgel but has failed to find a British publisher. Emulgel "One British editor told me my book would 'estrange' readers, emulgel" Friedrich said. Emulgel Colombia university will bring out an English edition next year. Emulgel Friedrich has supporters inside Germany, emulgel including the country's former chancellor, emulgel Helmut Kohl, emulgel whose home town, emulgel Ludwigshafen, emulgel was bombed by British planes during his boyhood, emulgel and whose late wife was bombed at Leipzig. Emulgel He has offered editorial advice, emulgel and has praised the historian's work. Emulgel Friedrich is not the first writer to tackle the tricky issue of German bombing victims. Emulgel But Fire Sites is part of a new trend in Germany where, emulgel after more than half a century of collective silence, emulgel and the death of most survivors from the war generation, emulgel what happened to Germans during the Nazi era is being openly discussed. Emulgel "Germans in their seventies and eighties have not forgotten. Emulgel Their memories are still vivid. Emulgel People stand up in my public lectures and describe what befell their families, emulgel" Friedrich said. Emulgel "They have tears in their eyes and they can't breathe. Emulgel "The main fact is that the British bombing of German cities wasn't very heroic. Emulgel This was no heroic victory." http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/oct/22/worldd...