Dresden 1945

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Belle
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Dresden 1945

Post by Belle » Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:51 pm

I've been watching this historic footage today of the aftermath of the bombing of Dresden; the images are horrific. Hitler really didn't care about his own people at all!! Anyway, it reminded me of Klaus Tennstedt who was in the 'fire department' at 17 years of age and who had to retrieve bodies in this devastated city. This experience would have haunted the man until his death: what a magnificent baroque city it was until its destruction!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnV_T2q9CkQ

jbuck919
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:08 pm

Belle wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:51 pm
I've been watching this historic footage today of the aftermath of the bombing of Dresden; the images are horrific. Hitler really didn't care about his own people at all!! Anyway, it reminded me of Klaus Tennstedt who was in the 'fire department' at 17 years of age and who had to retrieve bodies in this devastated city. This experience would have haunted the man until his death: what a magnificent baroque city it was until its destruction!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnV_T2q9CkQ
I'm afraid that I'm going to sound non-PC about this, as I am about Hiroshima. A couple of recent posts referred to our revered member Ralph Stein, who pointed me in the direction of the book simply called Dresden. WW II was as total mobilization a war as there has ever been, or we hope ever will be. It was clear which side had to be defeated ASAP and at all costs. All of Germany was turned over to the effort. Dresden was a completely militarized city with every factory and every facility devoted to the continuation of the war. It had to be obliterated in order to avoid the greater evil of prolonging the conflict. Every major city in Germany was brought to rubble; Dresden and Hamburg because of the fire bombings are just the most dramatic examples. I doubt that anybody wants to destroy beauty plus countless thousands of lives, but there was no remorse in this case. They brought it on themselves.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Belle
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by Belle » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:31 am

I understand all that, but it is heartbreaking nevertheless to watch after 73 years - particularly looking at the 'before 1945' and 'after 1945' images.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjMeFUHIx_M

As I said, Hitler didn't care about his own people and embedded his military in a baroque city not caring at all about its hundreds of years of history or of its very inhabitants. My husband and I were both extremely moved watching this. These savage dictators (and we have them today) never care at all about anybody, least of all their own people. How many factories do you suppose there could have been in the middle of the city itself in those baroque buildings? And we tend to forget the German people lived under a totalitarian regime -once Hitler came to power - controlled by a vicious SS and death was the price of resistance or refusal. And after the war the story of East Germany and its Soviet control is another dreadful episode.

Can you provide more details about that book on Dresden please? I wouldn't mind reading it.

jserraglio
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by jserraglio » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:27 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:08 pm
Dresden was a completely militarized city ... It had to be obliterated in order to avoid the greater evil of prolonging the conflict ... I doubt that anybody wants to destroy beauty plus countless thousands of lives, but there was no remorse in this case. They brought it on themselves
Guess they had it coming then, right?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lYVggyHRkY

Belle
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by Belle » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:17 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCmWoqIbA04

And, of course, Warsaw suffered the same fate as Dresden from Hitler - only to be occupied later by the Russians.

This has all occurred in my husband's lifetime.

jserraglio
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by jserraglio » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:41 am

The OT nailed it: "If men quarrel, and one strike a woman with child, and she miscarry indeed, but live herself: he shall be answerable for so much damage as the woman's husband shall require, and as arbiters shall award. But if her death ensue thereupon, he shall render life for life. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."

Well, maybe the laws apply only to some folks.
Joseph Heller wrote: 'Listen!' Yossarian cried, almost in joy. He pricked up his ears and watched
the blood drain from Aarfy's face as sirens mourned far away, police sirens,
and then ascended almost instantaneously to a howling, strident, onrushing
cacophony of overwhelming sound that seemed to crash into the room around
them from every side.

'Aarfy, they're coming for you,' he said in a flood of compassion, shouting to be
heard above the noise. 'They're coming to arrest you. Aarfy, don't you
understand? You can't take the life of another human being and get away
with it, even if she is just a poor servant girl. Don't you see? Can't you understand?'

'Oh, no,' Aarfy insisted with a lame laugh and a weak smile.

'They're not coming to arrest me. Not good old Aarfy.'

All at once he looked sick. He sank down on a chair in a trembling stupor, his stumpy,
lax hands quaking in his lap. Cars skidded to a stop outside. Spotlights hit the
windows immediately. Car doors slammed and police whistles screeched. Voices rose
harshly. Aarfy was green. He kept shaking his head mechanically with a queer, numb
smile and repeating in a weak, hollow monotone that they were not coming for him,
not for good old Aarfy, no sirree, striving to convince himself that this was so even
as heavy footsteps raced up the stairs and pounded across the landing, even as fists
beat on the door four times with a deafening, inexorable force. Then the door to the
apartment flew open, and two large, tough, brawny M.P.s with icy eyes and firm,
sinewy, unsmiling jaws entered quickly, strode across the room,and arrested Yossarian.

They arrested Yossarian for being in Rome without a pass.

They apologized to Aarfy for intruding and led Yossarian away between them,
gripping him under each arm with fingers as hard as steel manacles. They said nothing
at all to him on the way down.

lennygoran
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by lennygoran » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:03 am

Belle wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:51 pm
I've been watching this historic footage today of the aftermath of the bombing of Dresden; the images are horrific.
Belle we were in Dresden maybe 4 years ago-a remarkable recovery-it was on a trip that included Berlin and Prague. Regards, Len

Image

Image

Image

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jbuck919
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:42 pm

jserraglio wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:41 am
The OT nailed it: "If men quarrel, and one strike a woman with child, and she miscarry indeed, but live herself: he shall be answerable for so much damage as the woman's husband shall require, and as arbiters shall award. But if her death ensue thereupon, he shall render life for life. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."

Well, maybe the laws apply only to some folks.
Joseph Heller wrote: 'Listen!' Yossarian cried, almost in joy. He pricked up his ears and watched
the blood drain from Aarfy's face as sirens mourned far away, police sirens,
and then ascended almost instantaneously to a howling, strident, onrushing
cacophony of overwhelming sound that seemed to crash into the room around
them from every side.

'Aarfy, they're coming for you,' he said in a flood of compassion, shouting to be
heard above the noise. 'They're coming to arrest you. Aarfy, don't you
understand? You can't take the life of another human being and get away
with it, even if she is just a poor servant girl. Don't you see? Can't you understand?'

'Oh, no,' Aarfy insisted with a lame laugh and a weak smile.

'They're not coming to arrest me. Not good old Aarfy.'

All at once he looked sick. He sank down on a chair in a trembling stupor, his stumpy,
lax hands quaking in his lap. Cars skidded to a stop outside. Spotlights hit the
windows immediately. Car doors slammed and police whistles screeched. Voices rose
harshly. Aarfy was green. He kept shaking his head mechanically with a queer, numb
smile and repeating in a weak, hollow monotone that they were not coming for him,
not for good old Aarfy, no sirree, striving to convince himself that this was so even
as heavy footsteps raced up the stairs and pounded across the landing, even as fists
beat on the door four times with a deafening, inexorable force. Then the door to the
apartment flew open, and two large, tough, brawny M.P.s with icy eyes and firm,
sinewy, unsmiling jaws entered quickly, strode across the room,and arrested Yossarian.

They arrested Yossarian for being in Rome without a pass.

They apologized to Aarfy for intruding and led Yossarian away between them,
gripping him under each arm with fingers as hard as steel manacles. They said nothing
at all to him on the way down.
I know the passage, and have never liked that book (Catch 22). You don't make sarcastic fun of the world's greatest horror story because there were mess-ups even on the "friendly" side. More to the point perhaps is Kurt Vonnegut's experience in actually having survived the bombing of Dresden. He saw it from various angles, but he never said it was the wrong thing to do.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jserraglio
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by jserraglio » Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:04 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:42 pm
You don't make sarcastic fun of the world's greatest horror story because there were mess-ups even on the "friendly" side. More to the point perhaps is Kurt Vonnegut's experience in actually having survived the bombing of Dresden. He saw it from various angles, but he never said it was the wrong thing to do.
Mess-ups are one thing. Fuckups based on war profiteering that costs the lives of children crusaders is another matter entirely, and it rightly provoked WWII veteran Joseph Heller to Swiftian indignation: cf. Vonnegut's subtitle for SH-5, a book you say avoids a negative judgment on Dresden. Surely, Heller's service in the war earned him the right to express his outrage any way he liked.

KV was a funny guy, but he was actually more radical politically than Heller — based on a TV symposium where they appeared together. That radicalism works its way into SH-5 in more ironic ways than in C-22. Furthermore, SH-5 is is more influential b/c it's actually read, whereas C-22 is among the greatest of unread American novels. Case in point: the portrait of war-monger Harvard Prof Bertram Copeland Rumfoord in Slaughterhouse-Five is as openly sarcastic an attack as anything in Catch-22. For an even more vicious prophecy of where militarists aided & abetted by scientists (Vonnegut had majored in chemistry in college) will lead us, cf. Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle.

KV became a POW during the Battle of the Bulge, IIRC, so Vonnegut wouldn't have had a lot of combat experience compared to Heller who was an airman who flew many WWII combat bombing runs, just as in the novel. He had firsthand experience that was different from, but no less valid than what KV had, and nothing can be 'more to the point', as you put it, than firsthand experience, even though Heller could not say with Billy Pilgrim: I was there. Interestingly both novels espouse the same unsatisfactory solution to the madness visited upon us by WWII--run away, travel in time, escape, and in the end write a book to exorcise one's demons.

Catch-22 is one of the funniest books I ever read, a tour de force of the English language. I just taught it again last year to high-school juniors. But I did abridge it heavily as the book is too long in my view for novice readers. Many episodes of C-22 work well as drama. I scanned these key scenes and reformatted them, so we could enact them dramatically. The language of those dramatic scenes is wildly Wildean and the students revelled in it.

I love both books. They are a study in contrasts. So it goes . . .

Poet Robert Lowell, far greater poet than either Amy or James Russell, knew full well that bombing civilian populations was an act of barbarism, paid the price for his beliefs by spending some months in jail during the war and later wrote about it:

Memories of West Street and Lepke
by Robert Lowell

Only teaching on Tuesdays, book-worming
in pajamas fresh from the washer each morning,
I hog a whole house on Boston’s
“hardly passionate Marlborough Street,”
where even the man
scavenging filth in the back alley trash cans,
has two children, a beach wagon, a helpmate,
and is a “young Republican.”
I have a nine months’ daughter,
young enough to be my granddaughter.
Like the sun she rises in her flame-flamingo infants’ wear.

These are the tranquillized Fifties,
and I am forty. Ought I to regret my seedtime?
I was a fire-breathing Catholic C.O.,
and made my manic statement,
telling off the state and president, and then
sat waiting sentence in the bull pen
beside a Negro boy with curlicues
of marijuana in his hair.

Given a year,
I walked on the roof of the West Street Jail, a short
enclosure like my school soccer court,
and saw the Hudson River once a day
through sooty clothesline entanglements
and bleaching khaki tenements.
Strolling, I yammered metaphysics with Abramowitz,
a jaundice-yellow (“it’s really tan”)
and fly-weight pacifist,
so vegetarian,
he wore rope shoes and preferred fallen fruit.
He tried to convert Bioff and Brown,
the Hollywood pimps, to his diet.
Hairy, muscular, suburban,
wearing chocolate double-breasted suits,
they blew their tops and beat him black and blue.

I was so out of things, I’d never heard
of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“Are you a C.O.?” I asked a fellow jailbird.
“No,” he answered, “I’m a J.W.”
He taught me the “hospital tuck,”
and pointed out the T-shirted back
of Murder Incorporated’s Czar Lepke,
there piling towels on a rack,
or dawdling off to his little segregated cell full
of things forbidden the common man:
a portable radio, a dresser, two toy American
flags tied together with a ribbon of Easter palm.
Flabby, bald, lobotomized,
he drifted in a sheepish calm,
where no agonizing reappraisal
jarred his concentration on the electric chair—
hanging like an oasis in his air
of lost connections....

Lowell believed firebombing civilians in cities like Dresden was morally indefensible. He was right, and maybe 'telling off the state and president' needs to come back into style.
Last edited by jserraglio on Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:28 am, edited 3 times in total.

jbuck919
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:26 am

Literature is literature and history is history. Frankly, I don't give a damn about Robert Lowell's opinion. I would rely rather on the opinion I once heard from an unrepentant RAF officer, and I'm pretty sure I'm getting this exactly: "It didn't take a genius to see that if Nazism had triumphed, a dark age would have descended such as the world had never seen." Berlin was also smashed to smitherenes, it was just in slower motion and involved forces from both the east side and the west side, so to speak. And as for civilian casualties, perhaps you had better brush up on the collusion of the German civilian population at the time. Aside from children, there were few innocent bystanders. To this day the Germans are embarrassed about that and refuse to discuss the issue, a fact which I know from personal experience. Unlike the Japanese, they have never requested an apology for the way they were defeated. (In fact, they kept up their reparation obligations from WW I and may still be doing so.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jserraglio
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by jserraglio » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:30 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:26 am
Literature is literature and history is history. Frankly, I don't give a damn about Robert Lowell's opinion. I would rely rather on the opinion I once heard from an unrepentant RAF officer, and I'm pretty sure I'm getting this exactly: "It didn't take a genius to see that if Nazism had triumphed, a dark age would have descended such as the world had never seen." Berlin was also smashed to smithereens, it was just in slower motion and involved forces from both the east side and the west side, so to speak. And as for civilian casualties, perhaps you had better brush up on the collusion of the German civilian population at the time. Aside from children, there were few innocent bystanders. To this day the Germans are embarrassed about that and refuse to discuss the issue, a fact which I know from personal experience. Unlike the Japanese, they have never requested an apology for the way they were defeated. (In fact, they kept up their reparation obligations from WW I and may still be doing so.)
Whataboutery is a very effective rhetorical ploy. So is the use of a tautology about literature and history.

Maybe we could 'brush up on' a collateral matter: the "collusion" of thousands of American civilians who worked in defense plants during the War or the countless Americans who "colluded" in the war effort.

By the logic of the previous thread, American cities would have been legitimate targets for indiscriminate aerial bombardment, either because a good number of their inhabitants were somehow embedded in the war effort or because those who were 'innocent bystanders' were either indistinguishable from the rest or too few to be consequential.

History is history. With a lot of hot air and buffoonery thrown in for good measure. Paraphrasing the heroic RAF officer, it doesn't take a genius to envision the dark age such as the world has never seen that would descend when and if it ever becomes conscionable to use the barbarism of one's enemy to justify one's own barbarous conduct.

jbuck919
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:35 pm

Anyone who thinks that the situations are equivalent will also believe that Trump and Hillary Clinton were equivalent (as unfortunately many Americans do), or that the South should have been allowed to secede with impunity and keep slavery as an institution indefinitely. I'm sorry, but you are talking nonsense, and I think you are talking it because it pleases you to provoke me.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jserraglio
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by jserraglio » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:11 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Wed Jul 18, 2018 8:35 pm
Anyone who thinks that the situations are equivalent . . . you are talking nonsense, and I think you are talking it because it pleases you to provoke me.
The logic of your own position leads inexorably to the very equivalence you find so abhorrent.
Last edited by jserraglio on Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:44 am, edited 5 times in total.

John F
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by John F » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:40 am

I read "Catch 22" when I was in the Army, and I have no quarrel with it. Of course my Army experience wasn't like that, but at times it pretty was close - and anyway, the book is fiction, not history or sociology. It's also very funny, or that's how I found it.
John Francis

jserraglio
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by jserraglio » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:06 am

John F wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:40 am
I read "Catch 22" when I was in the Army, and I have no quarrel with it. Of course my Army experience wasn't like that, but at times it pretty was close - and anyway, the book is fiction, not history or sociology. It's also very funny, or that's how I found it.
Wickedly funny, and how many other writers have added to the English language?
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22 . . . .

Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to.

Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.
Last edited by jserraglio on Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:43 am, edited 3 times in total.

jserraglio
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Re: Dresden 1945

Post by jserraglio » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:32 am

In this talk Vonnegut claimed that the firebombing of Dresden by the RAF benefitted only one person on earth.

"I am that person," Vonnegut said. "I earned 5 dollars for every single one of the [135,000] people killed."

After making that ghoulish jest, Vonnegut delivers a blistering assault on the 'metaphors' that feed the vindictive mindset of people who spout nonsense about how bombing cities like Dresden is somehow justified.


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