New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 13, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas
Page 4A — Herald-Zeitung — Sunday, February 13, 2011FORUM
Serving Nfw Braunfeh ami CmnalCmtnty time 1852
New Braunfels Zeitung was founded 1852,
New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890 The two papers merged m 1957 and printed m both German and English until 1958
Editor and Publisher Managing Editor Circulation Director Business Manager
Doug Toney Autumn Phillips Jeff Fowler Rosie Willingham
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Destruction of Dresden: Man’s worst massacre
There are thousands of movies, books and memorials dedicated to the victims of Nazi Germany, yet, the enormous amount of war crimes committed by the WWII victors upon innocent German people during and after WWII are unofficially made taboo subjects by the mainstream media. My little letter only scratches the surface of truth.
Dresden in 1945 was a beautiful city of 650,000 people. On Feb. 13 of that year, the city was bulging with about 750,000 refugees camped in parks, and on the sidewalks and streets, having fled from the path of the invading Soviet Army. Everyone felt safe there, for Dresden was not a military target; it was a hospital city, boasting 25 major medical facilities. The city didn't manufacture war material, and so was left undefended.
At 10:15 p.m., 800 British bombers, escorts and diversionary aircraft converged over Dresden, dropping incendiary bombs that set the city afire from one end to the other. Once the skies cleared of enemy planes, tiiose who survived in shelters emerged into the streets to help the injured and remove the dead. Emergency service units rushed into the broken city from the surrounding area to help.
The British then tricked the Germans into thinking the raid was over for the night, and dispatched a second wave of bombers in a double blow strategy” to return and trap the emergency workers in the burning streets.
1 hat second raid killed thousands caught in the open, and also had the effect of producing the British planned firestorm, causing temperatures in the old city to reach an unbelievable 3000 degrees Fahrenheit.
RICHARD A. ODORFER
I his crime against humanity resulted in victims being sucked into a wall of flames by a wind so powerful railroad cars were overturned. Rescuers discovered cellars several feet deep with melted human flesh and bones.
However, the most heartbreaking of all horrors during a firestorm in a populated city is when thousands of children lost from their parents in the panic, in attempting to flee the fires got their feet stuck in the melting tar and asphalt. "They grasped their tortured limbs, for their tiny burning legs were no longer able to stand ... then they crashed to the ground until death released them from their physical misery."
T he massacre continued into the next morning when a third attack by 400 American planes dropped bombs on an already destroyed city, and fighter planes flying low strafed medical personnel and their patients lying on blankets along the Elbe River.
But that wasn't all. A total of 1,172 planes bombed Dresden three more times: onJFeb 15, 1945, March 3, 1945 and April 17, 1945. A
Figures range between 250,000 to 400,000 people killed in Dresden. It was mans worst massacre.
The ominous 13th of February should be designated as a day of mourning and remembrance.
— Richard A. Odorfer is a 26-year resident of New Braunfels. He attended Long Island A&T for two years, spent six year in the Army National Guard and 30years in law enforcement.
He wrote a book titled, “The Soul of Germany" in 1995 (sold out).
Don’t forget context for bombing of Dresden
Doug Toney is editor and publisher of the Herald-Zeitung.
In Richard Odorfer s guest column published above, he writes that the Allied bombing of Dresden, Germany and the killing of “400,000 people” 66 years ago today ... “was man’s worse massacre.”
What Mr. Odorfer’s describes is indeed hideous. Except for those who survived, none of us probably can come close to understanding the horrors that occurred that night.
But Mr. Odorfer’s assertion should be considered in a broader context.
Let’s roll back the clock from Feb. 13, 1945 to September 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. And consider the eight-month-long air bombardment of England, including the deliberate targeting of civilian populations during 1940 and 1941.
This prolonged terror of bombardments of England resulted in more than 18,000 men, 16,000 women and more than 5,000 children being killed, according to British historians.
An estimated 15,000 of these deaths occurred during a 57-day consecutive bombardment of civilian population centers.
I he point: It was the Germans who bombed civilian targets first, not the British or the Americans.
A month after Ghanceilor Adolf Hitler ordered the unprovoked invasion of Poland (bombing both military targets and civilian population centers), Hitler also began "Aktion T 4,” a program initiated to eliminate babies, children and eventually adults in Germany who were deformed, mentally or emotionally ill or those otherwise deemed "life unworthy of life."
While the German Luftwaffe bombed and killed civilians in England, Hitlers underlings reportedly established six “killing centers. I he categories of people “unworthy of life” expanded during this program to non-Germans living in Germany, including Africans, Jews and gypsies.
Historical accounts tell of a German Catholic bishop, Clemens Von Galen in Münster, who learned of the killing program. In August 1941, he preached openly against this secret operation. Three weeks after the sermon and the publicity it caused, the program was “officially” ended.
However, according to historians, the lessons learned about how to efficiently kill on a massive scale soon resurfaced with the “Final Solution," Hitler’s effort to systematically eliminate the Jewish race from Europe. The United State Holocaust Memorial Museum said two-thirds of all Jews living in Europe were killed, or about 6 million, during World War II.
A check of various sources provided these death statistics for World War II:
• What was then the USSR: 26,600,000 died, which includes an estimated 2.6 million Soviet POWs while in German captivity.
• Poland: 3,500,000 killed by Germans and during German occupation.
• Romania: 460,000 killed by Germans and during German occupation.
• 130,000 to 500,000 gypsies killed by Germans.
• 10,000 homosexuals killed by the Germans.
• 1,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses killed by Germans.
• 1,000 to 2,000 Roman Catholic clergy killed by Germans.
• Germany’s own death toll: 5,300,000.
• Estimated number of POWs who died while being held by Germany: 5,300,000.
• Estimated number of Axis Power POW deaths while being held by the Soviets: 580,000.
• Estimated United States military and civilian deaths: More than 400,000.
Death statistics for World War II, admittedly, vary greatly.
Two historians, Dr. R.L Rummel and Werner Gruhl, provide greatly different numbers for World War II deaths in Asia and the Pacific that occurred as a result of Japanese war crimes.
Rummel estimates the number of civilian deaths caused by Japanese war crimes at 5,224,000.
Gruhl puts the number of deaths caused by Japanese war crimes at a staggering 20,000,000.
In the end, apparently no one can document without dispute, a final figure for the number of military personnel and civilians killed during World War II.
But the bombing of Dresden, which came in the last months of the war, probably had a lot to do with the failure by Hitler and the German military to recognize defeat.
I he bombing came soon after the Allies had repulsed an incredibly desperate and bloody counter-offensive by the Germans called the Battle of the Bulge. The war was lost, yet the Germans launched this offensive that killed thousands of GIs and other Allied soldiers. A sustained and prolonged war would continue to kill thousands of young American and British soldiers, and would have costs the lives of thousands more who were being systematically murdered in German-operated death camps. For many, according to some military historians, the Battle of the Bulge and the continued fighting caused some Allied leaders to believe that it would take the annihilation of Germany to end the war in Europe.
This attempt at a historical context for the bombing of Dresden is not offered as an excuse or justification. Each of us is responsible for our own opinion on the matter.
Germany started the war; the allied countries ended it. Millions upon millions of military personnel and civilians lost their lives. Dresden was just part of the tragedy.
If the war had not happened, then the bombing of Dresden would have never occurred.
George Will's e-mail address is
The Republican’s defense dilemma
fall, affable Buck McKeon sits, gavel in hand, at the turbulent intersection of two conflicting Republican tendencies.
the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee embodies the party’s support for a “strong” defense, which is sometimes measured simply by the size of the Pentagon’s budget.
But the 35 Republicans on his 62-member committee include 13 first-term legislators, some of whom embody the tea party’s zeal for cutting government spending.
The United States spends almost as much on military capabilities as the rest of the world spends, and at least six times more than the second-biggest spending nation (China).
But McKeon says, “A defense budget in decline portends an America in decline." And: “I’ve been around a long time and I’ve seen us cut defense investments over the years after wars.... But I’ve never before seen us make cuts during a war. Cuts to defense investment in the midst of two wars is unacceptable.” Asked, however, about the immediate future of the defense budget, he says, after a long pause: “It’s probably going to be smaller."
One war, in Iraq, will, the president promises, end this year with the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
I he other, in Afghanistan, probably will not become more expensive because the number of troops there probably will not be increased. Furthermore, since fiscal 2001, what is called the military’s “baseline budget” has increased 80 percent to $534 billion.
That number is, however, much less than what is actually being spent, and not just because it doesn’t include much of the spending on the two wars.
The Obama administration wants to cut $78 billion over five years, in addition to cuts already planned.
McKeon and others are resisting, starting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates' decision to halt work on a $14.4 billion Marine program for a new Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, a 39-ton landing craft and tank that can deliver 17 Marines in an amphibious assault.
Although the Marines’ last opposed landing was in 1950 in Korea at Inchon, some legislators think ending the EFV program strikes at the Marines’ core mission. McKeon wonders: What if the next “denied space” the Marines must enter is along the Strait of Hormuz?
The Inchon landing craft, which traveled only six miles per hour, had to leave from ships close to shore — too close for today’s shores perhaps bristling with anti-ship missiles. The EFV travels 20 knots from 25 miles offshore — and sprints 45 mph on shore.
The average age of America’s amphibious assault vehicles is 38 years, more than that of strategic bombers (34 years) but less than that of tanker aircraft (46 years).
Gates favors finding a more affordable ship-to-shore vehicle. Lt. Gen. George Flynn, the Marines’ deputy commandant for combat development and integration, says the EFV program “was unaffordable.’’ Was. Past tense.
Such statements are in the subjunctive mood until Congress speaks.
But some congressional voices are impatiently insisting that no one can say how much is being spent on defense, or how.
After listening to recent Defense Department testimony, Randy Forbes, a six-term Virginia Republican on McKeon’s committee, was exasperated.
He said that for four years the department, whose $708 billion budget — his number — is the size of the world’s 22nd-largest economy (the Netherlands), has not complied with the law requiring auditable financial statements. And he charged that “none” of the budget is "even in a position to be audited.”
He said that the department is not “qualified” to talk about efficiencies if it “does not know where our defense dollars are going” and that it cannot comply with the law if it “does not even have mechanisms in place to perform the audits.”
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Olda., writing to Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, said “the Pentagon is one of the few agencies in the federal government that cannot produce auditable financial statements in accordance with the law.” So “I will continue to push for a budget freeze of all base budget non-military personnel accounts at the Defense Department until it complies with the law regarding auditable financial statements."
To govern is to choose, always on the basis of imperfect information.
If, however, Forbes’ and Coburn’s strong language is apposite, Congress cannot make adequately informed choices about the uniquely important matters that come to McKeon’s committee.
This fact will fuel the fires of controversy that will rage within the ranks of Republicans as they come to terms with the fact that current defense spending cannot be defended until it is understood.