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Germany's forgotten victims Luke Harding / Guardian  More than half a century on, order cheap vantin the allied bombing of Germany's cities during the second world war remains a controversial topic. Recently, order cheap vantin Britain's ambassador to Germany, order cheap vantin Sir Peter Torry, order cheap vantin travelled to the city of Kassel to mark the 60th anniversary of its destruction by British warplanes. Order cheap vantin Around 10, order cheap vantin000 people died on the night of October 22 1943, order cheap vantin when an immense firestorm swept the city. Order cheap vantin "In the peaceful Europe which we live in today, order cheap vantin it is hard for those who did not experience the second world war to understand the bitter emotions to which it gave rise, order cheap vantin" the ambassador said. Order cheap vantin 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. Order cheap vantin However, order cheap vantin 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. Order cheap vantin Last week, order cheap vantin one of Germany's most controversial historians, order cheap vantin Jörg Friedrich, order cheap vantin published a new photo book about the issue. Order cheap vantin Called Brandstätten, order cheap vantin or Fire Sites, order cheap vantin it contains some of the most grisly images from the war ever to be published. Order cheap vantin None of them have been seen before. The victims are not Jewish, order cheap vantin but German. Order cheap vantin The charred, order cheap vantin mutilated bodies of women, order cheap vantin children and babies are all civilians who perished during the allies' bombing campaign against Germany's cities. Order cheap vantin In his book, order cheap vantin Friedrich argues that the RAF's relentless campaign against Germany during the final months of the war served no military purpose. Order cheap vantin Instead, order cheap vantin he says that Winston Churchill's decision to drop more bombs on a shattered Germany between January and May 1945, order cheap vantin most of them on small German towns of little strategic value, order cheap vantin was a war crime. Order cheap vantin "The bombing left an entire generation traumatised. Order cheap vantin But it was never discussed. Order cheap vantin There are Germans whose first recollections are of being hidden by their mothers. Order cheap vantin They remember cellars and burning human remains, order cheap vantin" Friedrich told the Guardian in an interview in Berlin last week. Order cheap vantin "It is only now that they are coming to terms with what happened." Around 600, order cheap vantin000 German civilians died during the allies' wartime raids on Germany, order cheap vantin including 76, order cheap vantin000 German children, order cheap vantin Friedrich says. Order cheap vantin In July 1943, order cheap vantin during a single night in Hamburg, order cheap vantin 45, order cheap vantin000 people perished in a vast firestorm. Order cheap vantin "The Second World War is traditionally portrayed as a struggle between good and evil. Order cheap vantin Bombers were the weapons of the winners. Order cheap vantin But what actually happened on the ground wasn't very heroic, order cheap vantin" Friedrich said last week. Order cheap vantin (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. Order cheap vantin They offer a grim insight into what happened on the ground, order cheap vantin revealing that many of the civilians who died in allied raids were asphyxiated in their cellars. Order cheap vantin In Dresden, order cheap vantin SS workers from a nearby concentration camp were called in to dispose of large heaps of bodies. Order cheap vantin The photos include the petrified corpse of mother and child collected in a bathtub, order cheap vantin and the bleached skeleton of a baby killed during an air raid on Leipzig. Order cheap vantin There are also pictures of dead animals - an elephant and a giraffe - killed by a British air raid on Berlin zoo. Order cheap vantin Friedrich, order cheap vantin who is now 59, order cheap vantin grew up in Essen, order cheap vantin in the Ruhr, order cheap vantin a part of Germany's industrial heartland that comprehensively pulverised during the war years. Order cheap vantin An allied bomb flattened the house next door. Order cheap vantin "I asked my mother what happened to the neighbours. Order cheap vantin She said she didn't know. Order cheap vantin She said everybody looked after themselves, order cheap vantin" he recalled. Order cheap vantin During the sixties, order cheap vantin Friedrich moved to Berlin, order cheap vantin took part in the '68 movement, order cheap vantin and became a Trotskyite radical. Order cheap vantin Like many young Germans, order cheap vantin he interrogated his parents about their past, order cheap vantin concluding that his father, order cheap vantin a teacher, order cheap vantin had no Nazi leanings. Order cheap vantin Later, order cheap vantin he became a writer and broadcaster, order cheap vantin before turning to history. Order cheap vantin In the 80s, order cheap vantin 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, order cheap vantin before turning his attention to the allied bombing of Germany. Order cheap vantin This last project made him notorious. Order cheap vantin Der Brand was serialised by Germany's mass-selling Bild tabloid, order cheap vantin and left-wing students tried to storm his book signings, order cheap vantin accusing him of revisionism for using the word "crematoria" to describe cellars incinerated by allied bombs. Order cheap vantin Friedrich admits he is a revisionist, order cheap vantin but says he is not interested in making moral judgements, order cheap vantin merely in what happened. Order cheap vantin He is reluctant, order cheap vantin though, order cheap vantin to discuss what alternatives Churchill had. Order cheap vantin "If you destroy a landscape of 160 cities, order cheap vantin most of medieval origin, order cheap vantin you do something to the cultural identity of a people. Order cheap vantin All I do is describe it, order cheap vantin" he said. Order cheap vantin (cut) Earlier this year, order cheap vantin he attempted to get hold of pictures of British victims of German bombing from the public record office in Kew, order cheap vantin but was told that they could not be published because of censorship rules. Order cheap vantin As a result, order cheap vantin Brandstätten concentrates almost exclusively on German victims. Order cheap vantin Der Brand has so far sold 185, order cheap vantin000 copies, order cheap vantin and been translated into six languages, order cheap vantin but has failed to find a British publisher. Order cheap vantin "One British editor told me my book would 'estrange' readers, order cheap vantin" Friedrich said. Order cheap vantin Colombia university will bring out an English edition next year. Order cheap vantin Friedrich has supporters inside Germany, order cheap vantin including the country's former chancellor, order cheap vantin Helmut Kohl, order cheap vantin whose home town, order cheap vantin Ludwigshafen, order cheap vantin was bombed by British planes during his boyhood, order cheap vantin and whose late wife was bombed at Leipzig. Order cheap vantin He has offered editorial advice, order cheap vantin and has praised the historian's work. Order cheap vantin Friedrich is not the first writer to tackle the tricky issue of German bombing victims. Order cheap vantin But Fire Sites is part of a new trend in Germany where, order cheap vantin after more than half a century of collective silence, order cheap vantin and the death of most survivors from the war generation, order cheap vantin what happened to Germans during the Nazi era is being openly discussed. Order cheap vantin "Germans in their seventies and eighties have not forgotten. Order cheap vantin Their memories are still vivid. Order cheap vantin People stand up in my public lectures and describe what befell their families, order cheap vantin" Friedrich said. Order cheap vantin "They have tears in their eyes and they can't breathe. Order cheap vantin "The main fact is that the British bombing of German cities wasn't very heroic. Order cheap vantin This was no heroic victory." http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/oct/22/worldd...