One of the very last debates I had with Mr Wear occurred in September this year.
Mr Wear gave us his theories on the numbers of deaths at Dresden after the bombing raid there in February 1945. Those theories seem to serve as the basis for one of his first articles posted on Wearswar.
Rather than spend my time responding to the Wearswar article line by line, I am going to repost my Amazon response to Mr Wear’s theories.
The following quotations will come from the original Amazon debate.
Firstly. Mr Wear’s theories first appeared in the on line magazine “The Barnes Review”. In it, the magazine claims that Mr Wear has put in doubt the conclusions of the German Historical report on the effects of the Dresden bombing. I asked Mr Wear:
Did you actually read the official German report on the raid written by German historians? It is available on line.
My response: I was not aware that this report was available in English. Please tell me where I can read it online in English.
So Mr Wear has never actually read the report that the publishers of his article say he debunks. How on earth does that one work?
The report is actually available here:
However, a synopsis of the report in English can be found here:
At this point it is worth pointing out what the most recent German findings were and how they were arrived at:
“Over the course of intensive research in archives, the records of cemeteries both in and outside Dresden and the files of the register offices and local courts, almost 60,000 data records were acquired in an electronic database. In the majority of cases, several records referred to one and the same person. The data gathered related to both identified persons and unidentified remains. It was subsequently possible, on the basis of this data, to essentially reconstruct the processes of recovery, registration and burial after the bombing. The analysis of official records in the Dresden register offices first sought to determine the number of deaths recorded in connection with the air raids in February 1945. Parallel to this, all official declarations of death relating to persons killed in the Dresden air raids which had been recorded nationwide since 1945 were similarly analysed. As an outcome of these two analyses, the Commission was able to conclude that the air raids on Dresden between 13th and 15th February 1945 caused up to 25,000 deaths. This corroborates official figures issued by the responsible authorities in 1945 and 1946.”
As we can see, the German historians looked at a mass of primary sources and data. Their expert conclusion was that approx 25,000 people died in the raids. This number corresponds with figures issued by the German authorities in 1945 and 46.
So what does Mr Wear use for his theories? Well, he uses a variety of secondary sources. That in itself is not bad historical technique; all historians do the same. The problem for Mr Wear is that HE tries to use second hand sources AS EVIDENCE of a death toll of around 250,000. Why is that a problem for Mr Wear? Well here is my reply to his sources:
So let us now look at your sources:
1. The report prepared by the USAF Historical Division Research Studies Institute Air University
This report relies heavily on air photo evidence and as such can only comment on the destruction of property. It can pass no accurate comment on the numbers of dead.
2. Frederick Taylor
You quote him as saying that “out of a total of 220,000 dwellings in Dresden before the war, 90,000 lay in ruins”. Well, that means that most dwellings were not destroyed. Taylor does not agree with your assessment as to the number of deaths at Dresden.
3. Sönke Neitzel
Also comments on the amount of destruction. He also does not agree with your assessment as to the numbers of deaths. He arrives at a figure between 20,000 and 25,000.
4. Marshall De Bruhl
ALSO comments on the amount of destruction at Dresden. HE ALSO does not agree with your assessment as to the numbers of deaths. Indeed, he makes a point of pointing out the distorted increases around the numbers made by certain political groups, post war. His numbers ranger from 25,000 to 35,000.
5. The Directorate of Bombing Operations.
Made predictions about the possible losses inflicted by bomber command. They were wrong…and Max Hastings doesn’t agree with you either.
6. Sebastian Cox
Comments on the numbers of people who did not turn up for work, and not the numbers of dead. Still, at least you have proven that the bombing raid had a great military success if the German workforce was kept away from boosting German arms production. HE ALSO disagrees with your assessment of the numbers of dead stating that the numbers spouted regarding 200,000 and 400,000 deaths were greatly exaggerated. He states a maximum of 35,000 to 45,000 dead.
7. Richard Overy
States that around 25,000 people died in the bombing raid. The reason why the population of the city decreased by the end of February was because many actually left, either through fear of bombing or indeed a justified fear of the arrival of the Soviets.
Only David Irving and Alexander McKee seem to go for the higher figure, but both men seem to have a problem with the main primary source for the casualties of the raid, the TB47 report. This report written weeks after the raid gave a total of 20.204 deaths. The German propaganda ministry muddied the waters by adding an extra “0” to the figure.
My Conclusion to Mr Wear’s Amazon account was pretty damning:
You are guilty Mr Wear or cherry picking from a variety of historians who in the main do not actually agree with your assessments regarding the numbers of deaths at Dresden in February 1945. Quoting from people and failing to provide the context of their comments is historical dishonesty and would bring about the failure of any dissertation carried out by any student of modern (or any other type) history.
Mr Wear then goes on to make a comparison between the bombing raid of Dresden and that of Pforzheim, which received a higher percentage of deaths.
The question is: If more than 30% of the residents of Pforzheim died in one bombing attack, why would only approximately 2.5% of Dresdeners die in similar raids 10 days earlier?
Here is my reply to this rather unhelpful comparison:
So now to Pforzheim.
This was a town that suffered a far greater percentage death number than Dresden. The only similarity between the 2 bombing raids was the fact that there was little if any opposition over the bombing sites (although one of the last VCs of the war was awarded to RAF bomber pilot Edwin Swales D.F.C. during his mission over Pforzheim.) and that the bombing raid was considered a text book raid. That, Mr Wear, is the only similarity.
Pforzheim was more than 10 times smaller than Dresden with only 65,000 inhabitants. According to the Bomber Command War diaries, 796 bombers in 2 raids hit Dresden on the night of the 13th. If you want to play the numbers game Mr Wear, then for a comparable percentage number of deaths in Pforzheim you would need 10 times fewer aircraft: approx 80 bombers. As it was, the Pforzheim raid was carried out by 367! This accounts for the far greater destruction in relation to Dresden, and the far greater percentage number of deaths: 17,600 according to Fire officer Brunswig. Contrary to your belief, Mr Wear, a greater percentage of people would have been under the bombs and fewer would have escaped the consequences.
The bombing footprint was far larger over Pforzheim than it was over Dresden.
This was my last post before I was blocked from posting on Amazon UK.