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For themes of conflict, present in any country, see Studying War.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dresden: Survivor Lessons of Loss. Vonnegut, Klemperer


The firebombing of Dresden was stated as necessary for the Allied war effort, strategic.  But Germany was about to surrender anyway, there was little manufacturing there, and the real purpose seems to be the punishment of Germany, by virtually leveling this culturally rich area.  Demoralize a defeated people further.  See http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/firebombing-of-dresden.  Was the bombing also to impress Russia of the mighty Allies' power?  To tilt negotiations? See http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/bombing_of_dresden.htm

An additional consideration, not measurable in the same way as numbers of factories destroyed, is the annihilation of people, their talents, what they might have been.

In Dresden, we do have some measure of otherwise-losses that survived,

1.  Here, provided in an unlikely way.  An American, Kurt Vonnegut, was there as a prisoner, captured at the Battle of the Bulge.  With other soldiers, he was working at the time of the bombing in an underground meat locker, making vitamins.  See http://www.biography.com/people/kurt-vonnegut-9520329

He died on April 13, 2007.  Vonnegut poem Worship. a The NYT published earlier in 2005, but not well known. Vonnegut's poem, Worship.  Find it at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/13/opinion/13vonnegut.html?_r=1.  His religion:  disorganized, an unholy disorder. 

Sect name: "Our Lady of Perpetual  Astonishment."  Read it all.  I'll join!  I'll join!

2.  Victor Klemperer, professor of Romance Languages at the Dresden Technical University: I Will Bear Witness. A Diary of the Nazi Years 1933-1941, translated by Martin Chalmers.  See http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-iwillbearwitness/.  A review in the New York Times Book Review is challenged on some points, see http://www.nytimes.com/1998/12/20/books/l-i-will-bear-witness-375551.html?ref=victorklemperer.  What remains is the overview, the daily affronts, the progress that a crusading dictatorship makes in small ways accelerating, humiliating, the unbelievable becoming real.  Klemperer wanted a better post for his scholarship, more ranking than at a technical school.  But he got life, even through decisions made on flawed (short-sighted, inadequate judgement as to changing circumstances) grounds to stay, forego dependencies, his loyalty to his homeland.

The divestment of property, dignity, pension, yet his marriage to a non-Jew saved him from deportation west, to the camps.

He died, in Dresden, in 1960.

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