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Germany's forgotten victims Luke Harding / Guardian  More than half a century on, order dermavitol the allied bombing of Germany's cities during the second world war remains a controversial topic. Recently, order dermavitol Britain's ambassador to Germany, order dermavitol Sir Peter Torry, order dermavitol travelled to the city of Kassel to mark the 60th anniversary of its destruction by British warplanes. Order dermavitol Around 10, order dermavitol000 people died on the night of October 22 1943, order dermavitol when an immense firestorm swept the city. Order dermavitol "In the peaceful Europe which we live in today, order dermavitol it is hard for those who did not experience the second world war to understand the bitter emotions to which it gave rise, order dermavitol" the ambassador said. Order dermavitol 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 dermavitol However, order dermavitol 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 dermavitol Last week, order dermavitol one of Germany's most controversial historians, order dermavitol Jörg Friedrich, order dermavitol published a new photo book about the issue. Order dermavitol Called Brandstätten, order dermavitol or Fire Sites, order dermavitol it contains some of the most grisly images from the war ever to be published. Order dermavitol None of them have been seen before. The victims are not Jewish, order dermavitol but German. Order dermavitol The charred, order dermavitol mutilated bodies of women, order dermavitol children and babies are all civilians who perished during the allies' bombing campaign against Germany's cities. Order dermavitol In his book, order dermavitol Friedrich argues that the RAF's relentless campaign against Germany during the final months of the war served no military purpose. Order dermavitol Instead, order dermavitol he says that Winston Churchill's decision to drop more bombs on a shattered Germany between January and May 1945, order dermavitol most of them on small German towns of little strategic value, order dermavitol was a war crime. Order dermavitol "The bombing left an entire generation traumatised. Order dermavitol But it was never discussed. Order dermavitol There are Germans whose first recollections are of being hidden by their mothers. Order dermavitol They remember cellars and burning human remains, order dermavitol" Friedrich told the Guardian in an interview in Berlin last week. Order dermavitol "It is only now that they are coming to terms with what happened." Around 600, order dermavitol000 German civilians died during the allies' wartime raids on Germany, order dermavitol including 76, order dermavitol000 German children, order dermavitol Friedrich says. Order dermavitol In July 1943, order dermavitol during a single night in Hamburg, order dermavitol 45, order dermavitol000 people perished in a vast firestorm. Order dermavitol "The Second World War is traditionally portrayed as a struggle between good and evil. Order dermavitol Bombers were the weapons of the winners. Order dermavitol But what actually happened on the ground wasn't very heroic, order dermavitol" Friedrich said last week. Order dermavitol (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 dermavitol They offer a grim insight into what happened on the ground, order dermavitol revealing that many of the civilians who died in allied raids were asphyxiated in their cellars. Order dermavitol In Dresden, order dermavitol SS workers from a nearby concentration camp were called in to dispose of large heaps of bodies. Order dermavitol The photos include the petrified corpse of mother and child collected in a bathtub, order dermavitol and the bleached skeleton of a baby killed during an air raid on Leipzig. Order dermavitol There are also pictures of dead animals - an elephant and a giraffe - killed by a British air raid on Berlin zoo. Order dermavitol Friedrich, order dermavitol who is now 59, order dermavitol grew up in Essen, order dermavitol in the Ruhr, order dermavitol a part of Germany's industrial heartland that comprehensively pulverised during the war years. Order dermavitol An allied bomb flattened the house next door. Order dermavitol "I asked my mother what happened to the neighbours. Order dermavitol She said she didn't know. Order dermavitol She said everybody looked after themselves, order dermavitol" he recalled. Order dermavitol During the sixties, order dermavitol Friedrich moved to Berlin, order dermavitol took part in the '68 movement, order dermavitol and became a Trotskyite radical. Order dermavitol Like many young Germans, order dermavitol he interrogated his parents about their past, order dermavitol concluding that his father, order dermavitol a teacher, order dermavitol had no Nazi leanings. Order dermavitol Later, order dermavitol he became a writer and broadcaster, order dermavitol before turning to history. Order dermavitol In the 80s, order dermavitol 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 dermavitol before turning his attention to the allied bombing of Germany. Order dermavitol This last project made him notorious. Order dermavitol Der Brand was serialised by Germany's mass-selling Bild tabloid, order dermavitol and left-wing students tried to storm his book signings, order dermavitol accusing him of revisionism for using the word "crematoria" to describe cellars incinerated by allied bombs. Order dermavitol Friedrich admits he is a revisionist, order dermavitol but says he is not interested in making moral judgements, order dermavitol merely in what happened. Order dermavitol He is reluctant, order dermavitol though, order dermavitol to discuss what alternatives Churchill had. Order dermavitol "If you destroy a landscape of 160 cities, order dermavitol most of medieval origin, order dermavitol you do something to the cultural identity of a people. Order dermavitol All I do is describe it, order dermavitol" he said. Order dermavitol (cut) Earlier this year, order dermavitol he attempted to get hold of pictures of British victims of German bombing from the public record office in Kew, order dermavitol but was told that they could not be published because of censorship rules. Order dermavitol As a result, order dermavitol Brandstätten concentrates almost exclusively on German victims. Order dermavitol Der Brand has so far sold 185, order dermavitol000 copies, order dermavitol and been translated into six languages, order dermavitol but has failed to find a British publisher. Order dermavitol "One British editor told me my book would 'estrange' readers, order dermavitol" Friedrich said. Order dermavitol Colombia university will bring out an English edition next year. Order dermavitol Friedrich has supporters inside Germany, order dermavitol including the country's former chancellor, order dermavitol Helmut Kohl, order dermavitol whose home town, order dermavitol Ludwigshafen, order dermavitol was bombed by British planes during his boyhood, order dermavitol and whose late wife was bombed at Leipzig. Order dermavitol He has offered editorial advice, order dermavitol and has praised the historian's work. Order dermavitol Friedrich is not the first writer to tackle the tricky issue of German bombing victims. Order dermavitol But Fire Sites is part of a new trend in Germany where, order dermavitol after more than half a century of collective silence, order dermavitol and the death of most survivors from the war generation, order dermavitol what happened to Germans during the Nazi era is being openly discussed. Order dermavitol "Germans in their seventies and eighties have not forgotten. Order dermavitol Their memories are still vivid. Order dermavitol People stand up in my public lectures and describe what befell their families, order dermavitol" Friedrich said. Order dermavitol "They have tears in their eyes and they can't breathe. Order dermavitol "The main fact is that the British bombing of German cities wasn't very heroic. Order dermavitol This was no heroic victory." http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/oct/22/worldd...