By February 15, however, it was a smouldering ruin — 2,400 tons of high explosives and 1,500 tons of incendiary bombs were dropped on the city. We could also hear the agonised screams of victims as they were roasted alive. By Victor Gregg and Rick Stroud For The Daily Mail, Published: 17:38 EST, 12 February 2020 | Updated: 13:06 EST, 18 February 2020, During the final months of World War II, from February 13 to 15, 1945, Allied forces bombed the ancient, cathedral city of Dresden, in eastern Germany.Â. Dresden's old timber-framed houses were, one by one, succumbing to the fire, and most of the wreckage was landing on top of the cellars that people were using as shelters. It usually took a couple of hours to force our way in. I was now part of a small group that had bonded as a unit, though we didn't know each other.Â. The author Kurt Vonnegut was a prisoner of war in Dresden during the allied bombing raids and was later forced to dig out bodies from the ruined city. Dresden had been spared the destruction suffered by other cities like Berlin and Hamburg, and Renner clung to the hope that the Saxon capital would stay off the target list with the war so clearly near its end. The Fire-bombing of Dresden An eye-witness account Since the facts of the combined USAF and RAF raids on Dresden became known, mostly through the novel 'Slaughterhouse Five' by Kurt Vonnegut, there has been great controversy as to why this appalling raid was considered necessary. The framework has proved its mettle, but will the country coalesce into a governable entity whose members will find a way to cooperate for the common good? We were all in shock, with some screaming from the pain of their injuries. Dresden: A Survivor's Story, February 1945 - Ebook written by Victor Gregg. My first reaction was: 'Good, can't wait to get back to my own mob.'. Harry suggested to me and the Yanks that it might be a good idea for us to kick some of the other prisoners away from the wall and get down as low as we could to give us a better chance of survival. When they hit the ground, a ball of fire blossomed, incinerating everything within a radius of nearly 200ft. Sadly, this was a one-off event. We were given orders to try to break into one of the main communal shelters. What if they discovered I knew all the words of ’Hatikvah’? He gently lifted my shirt to reveal a mass of blisters across my back, then sent me to one of many aid centres that had sprung up outside the city. It was while I was being attended to by a German doctor that the sirens started yet again. After the war, he had numerous jobs — including long-distance lorry-driver, chauffeur, author and spy. The heat was ferocious. After that, we were marched in front of the officer in charge of Dresden police, who told us there were strict penalties for sabotage: we were to be taken to a place where we'd wait to be executed. So now we have a request. Renner’s family made it safely to the home of one of his dentist father’s patients. We'd been chosen to fight the battle of Arnhem in the Netherlands, which ended in a major defeat for our side. All I can remember is being picked up by a giant hand that threw me nearly 50ft to another part of the building. Eyewitness Götz Bergander Recalls the Bombing of Dresden (Retrospective Account) From February 13-15, 1945, British and American warplanes bombed the city of Dresden. Only 500 yards of open land separated us from the heart of the city, yet not one bomb landed on us. So I had no presentiments of death when I was hurled from a plane that September, along with a few thousand other men. British rifleman Victor Gregg (pictured) was one of hundreds of men being held as a PoW in the city by the Germans. Without warning, around four incendiaries burst through our glass roof, shredding the men underneath.Â. Their leader, a German officer, immediately selected those of us he judged most fit and tried to march us back towards the city. I covered Harry up with his coat and stumbled out of the building — now shaking and slowly collapsing — and found myself at the centre of a huge bonfire. No one challenged me as I walked against the people moving westwards, pushing their most treasured belongings in small handcarts, prams, anything on wheels. The phosphorous clung to their bodies, turning them into human torches. In the last months of World War II, Allied bombers conducted several major bombing raids on the eastern German city of Dresden. Our leaders can learn from Miriam the prophetess, Her very name means ’bitter.’ She knew that evil exists. The bombing was controversial because Dresden's contribution to the war effort was minimal compared with other German cities — though it was a key transport junction and used by German forces to defend the country against Soviet forces approaching from the east. 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Dresden's old timber-framed houses were, one by one, succumbing to the fire, and most of the wreckage was landing on top of the cellars that people were using as shelters. Speaking at a memorial event in the rebuilt center of the city Friday, German President Joachim Gauck assured dignitaries from Britain and other former Allied nations: “You should know that we bear no lasting grudge.”. A British survivor of the Dresden bombing has said there is 'no excuse' for the terrifying air raid that killed thousands 75 years ago and revealed the devastating impact it had on him. We stumbled along the remains of a wide avenue, surrounded by fires and mountains of red-hot wreckage. This time, it was the Americans. Instead, we ended up fixing bits of wood to our picks and shovels to turn them into stretchers for the injured. Did my colleagues at the Pentagon think I was a security risk because this man raised that specter of dual loyalty? Times of Israel Community — if the work we do is important to you, join us! Women help clear rubble after the bombing of Dresden in February 1945. Syria's tiny victims: These harrowing images of children hit... Father-of-three, 32, who battered a man with a WRENCH claims... Farm Heroes Saga, the #4 Game on iTunes. Like a great car park in the sky, the heavens were suddenly full of aeroplanes, their outlines reflected in the glow of the flames. As the noise of the planes died away, people started to appear from the few houses that were still intact, while other survivors clawed their way up through huge mounds of rubble, Once in, it was impossible to climb back up the smooth-faced concrete sides, and men and women were trapped in water that slowly rose to boiling point. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. Q&A: How is the COVID vaccine rollout unfolding around the world? After neo-Nazis began inflating the figure further, talking of 500,000 to 1 million victims of a “bombing Holocaust,” the city established an expert commission to investigate. We ended up in a German work camp to the south of Dresden. That evening, I was told I'd be joining a batch of British PoWs, unless I wanted to continue the rescue work for another day. None of our guards seemed to take any notice. Free Sign Up. Buried in obscurity, the Dresden bombing was initially prevented from becoming a political detriment to those who approved it. When I came to, I managed to free myself from some fallen beams and lumps of stonework, and stumbled over the debris towards where I'd last seen Harry. The sheer horror of what I witnessed remains burned into my memory, impossible to extinguish, and sometimes still wakes me at night.Â. 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It was so hot that we had to take turns doing 20-minute shifts. Get The Times of Israel's Daily Edition by email and never miss our top stories Now apologize. Victor Gregg remained above ground throughout the firebombing. Day five. (Getty) And estimates of the final death toll varied widely, with some putting it as high as 100,0000. Investor beware: Israelis face unique risks in the UAE, The rules are rigged – what’s earned in the UAE is likely to stay in the UAE – and the more successful you are, the higher the risk, Rabbi Yehuda Henkin zt”l: Appreciating what we had, When a local rabbi expressed surprise that I called the great rabbi at will, I realized how lucky I’d been, as a yoetzet halacha, to take his accessibility for granted, The last 10 minutes: A wartime parable for our times, With vaccinations in full swing, there’s a temptation to let down our guard. There was no longer any need for flares to guide these bombers to their target: the whole city had become a gigantic torch. And it did. We are no longer accepting comments on this article. After that they moved in with an uncle. On the 75th anniversary of the start of the bombing, this is his eyewitness account of the devastation he left behind. Only about a dozen of us were fit enough to walk. This was OK in theory, but if there's nobody left to unbolt the door, the people inside are in trouble. The allied bombing of Dresden, Germany, from February 13 th, 1945, to February 15 th, 1945, epitomizes Werrell's statement. The raids that began on February 13, 1945, left the city littered with corpses, and tens of thousands of Dresden’s buildings had been turned to rubble, including its famous opera house and museums in the historic old city. Many of the men were unable to bear the sight of the corpses, some so brittle that any attempt to move them resulted in a cloud of ash. What follows is Victors graphic account of the fate of Dresden, Dresden the city with no defences, there are accounts of what Victor found whilst helping to find survivors and his accounts of seeing people sucked into fires, three bombing raids followed each other, nationality means nothing when you are helping to find civilans hopefully trapped in their cellars where they might have escaped the firestorm Later that day when the survivors made their way out of the smoldering city, the U.S. air force began bombing on Dresden’s roads, bridges, railways, and homes and killed thousands more. 'Something will turn up,' he said. By late 1943 Dresden was already overstretched and finding it hard to accept more outsiders. When dawn broke, new gangs of men were already filling up huge craters along the railway and relaying the track.Â. I'd experienced so much fighting by then that I thought of myself as indestructible. The city was now a mass of flame rising into the night. After reading this account it is clear why the raids on this city have not received a lot of attention by authors of WWII history. Play it now. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community. Dresden bombing survivor Ursula Elsner, who was 14 when her mother dragged her to safety past burning buildings, told Spiegel she was tired of the anniversary being misused for political gain. Even the incendiaries were much larger: instead of the metre-long sticks of the first raid, we were now subjected to enormous four-tonners. Why was 'Elizabeth from Knoxville' holding an ONION as she sobbed about being 'maced' for storming the Capitol? 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Finally, a German officer told me, 'Come Tommy', and handed over a 5ft crowbar. Huddled in a crowded German prison, my mate Harry and I watched day turn into night through the glass cupola above us. And she confronted Pharaoh anyway, in her hope for a better tomorrow, For it was, in days of yore, when the Israelites left Goshen and the battle was over, and still Raamses refused to accept that he just couldn’t compete (Shemot). For the first time since I'd joined the Army, I felt the floor moving. “We started the war, but it is a war crime.”. Flares were still making their way to the ground when the first of the bomber streams flew over the city, dropping thousands of incendiaries and the first of the bombs. Day four. The door was a massive affair bolted from the outside — which had been the general practice to prevent overcrowding. The heavy metal door opened slowly to reveal a horrific sight. Eventually, Harry and I managed to sabotage the factory by causing a short circuit in the electrical system. Into the inferno: 75 years on, the most horrifically vivid account of the Allied bombing of Dresden. Rifleman Victor Gregg recalls the firestorm left behind when Allies attacked the city in 1945 He was dead. It was then that we realised we were trapped in a locked cage that stood every chance of becoming a mass grave. ‘Heavy enforcement’: Police prepare closure crackdown with 5,000 officers, ‘Twindemic’ fears fizzle with zero flu cases recorded nationwide, PM: 1st Moderna shots land Thursday, we’ll give to those who can’t come to HMOs, Israel still world’s best for vaccination, but now among worst for contagion, With distrust rampant, East Jerusalem Palestinians shirk COVID vaccine. Then I thought: what if the Germans found out that I was condemned to death? Only a few bombs landed in the burning city centre; most of their 1,000lb bombs were targeted at railway yards. 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