Dresden by Fredrick Taylor - review by Simon Heffer

Simon Heffer

After The Firestorm



Bloomsbury 544pp £20 order from our bookshop

IN SEEKING TO relate to his readers the enormity of the destruction, both human and material, that was wrought on Dresden by the RAF on the night of 13 February 1945, Frederick Taylor strikes a typically honest note. Discussing the task of trying to clear up the debris and the corpses in the immediate aftermath, he writes that 'the scale and horror of the work to be done after the firestorm ... was, like the experiences of those who survived the destruction of central Dresden, almost impossible to describe with any hope of authenticity'. Of course Taylor is right, but the genius of his book - and I must say at once that it is an absolutely magnificent work both of scholarship and of narration - is that it gives us enough background, context, description, anecdote and information to help guide our imaginations towards forming a picture of just how horrific the raid and its aftermath must have been.

As Taylor points out, the enduring moral question about Dresden has all too often been answered by those who take their cue from the celebrated humanitarian Josef Goebbels. When that propagandist finally owned up to the fact that the centre of Dresden had been more or less obliterated by the

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