Were Allies Justified to Bomb Dresden?
The Slaughter-House Five is a satirical novel written by Kurt Vonnegut. The novel highlights the experiences and journeys of Bill Pilgrim during World War II. According to the novel, Bill is a disoriented and ill-trained American soldier. Germans capture Pilgrim and put him and his fellow prisoners into a disused slaughterhouse, commonly referred to as slaughterhouse number 5. Dresden is bombed, and both Germans and the POWS hide in a cellar for safety. Billy is later kidnapped by individuals Tralfamadore who teach him unique theories, which he accepts. He later faces many tragedies before his death. Notably, many arguments concerning the justification behind the bombing of Dresden abound. It was justifiable bombing Dresden because it was a strong base for German operations: it offered effective transportation and reinforcement to German troops, and it was a strong communication center for German troops. On the other hand, Vonnegut considers this a high profile crime against humanity and therefore, not justified.
Dresden was a strong base for the Germans, and it was a justifiable bombing to weaken the German troop further.
Justifications for the Bombing of Dresden
First, it was justifiable to bomb Dresden because it served as a very strong base for German troops operations against Marshal Koniev's left flank as he approached Germany. It is vital to note that, "German troops perceived Dresden a strategic point that could assist them resist any form of attack from Allies" (Vonnegut 54). Dresden supported the resistance of German soldiers against attacks from Allies who were advancing into Germany at an alarming rate. In fact, Dresden served as a home for the captured Allies such as Pilgrim. Most captured Allies were locked up in Dresden hence hindering the efforts of Allies in the war. The utilization of Dresden as a prison for captured Allies justifies further, why it was vital to bring Dresden down through bombing. The bombing was justified because Allies were only trying to guarantee for their safety and ensure they emerge victorious in the war. The dream of every army is always to emerge victorious in any given war. This implies that the bombing of Dresden was justifiable as it showed the might of Allies when it came to wars. It showed they could respond to any form of resistance from the opposing army. Dresden was to be cleared to weaken German soldiers who were utilizing it effectively as a base to counter and capture Allies. It was vital for Allies to bomb the place for once and end the war as a victorious army. This is the essence of a war. There must be a winner and a loser. Therefore, Allies were justified to bomb Dresden to emerge victorious and at the same time interrupt the domination of German troops in this place. The bombing of Dresden was the only easiest way of answering the stubborn German soldiers who utilized the place to attack and capture Allies.
Second, the bombing of Dresden was justifiable because the place offered significant transport and reinforcement to German troops. It is worth noting that Dresden had well established railway lines that were used for the transportation of German soldiers during their war with Allies. This means that, through Dresden, they could move swiftly from one point to another hence counter the attack from Allies. More so, German troops received reinforcement in the form of arms and food support from Dresden. This implies that Dresden was a stronghold of the German forces, and there was urgency on the side of Allies to stop this. The only way to stop this reinforcement and transport support of German troops was by bombing Dresden and ensuring railway lines were destroyed completely. The destruction of Dresden was vital for security and success of Allies. Notably, Allies were justified to bomb the place because this is a significant war tactic. It is conventional knowledge that war can only be answered effectively by aggravating the situation on the other side. Allies were only trying to ensure German soldiers lacked transport and other reinforcement that were the immense strength to them during the war. They utilized these privileges to counter the approach of Allies into Germany. The bombing of Dresden was one of the shortest ways of ensuring the war was completed at the required time living German troops to suffer. The desire to destroy the transportation networks, and stop the reinforcement received by German troops was the key motivation behind the bombing, and it was justified largely. It was difficult to compromise with the enemy at the time, and Allies understood that the bombing of Dresden was an urgent matter that needed to be executed immediately. Therefore, it was justifiable to bomb the city as this helped stop the reinforcement and support transportation that German soldiers were receiving.
Last, it was justified for Allies to bomb Dresden and destroy all the strong and high level communication lines that were being used to link German troops. They could attack and capture some of the Alliance through their coordinated communication networks emanating from that place. It implied that German troops had an advantage over Allies during World War II and could have captured more of their enemies. More so, the effective communication lines in Dresden catalyzed increased resistance to the penetration of Allies into German as they were monitored easily. Communication among German troops ensured there was efficiency and a higher level of advantage on the side of the German troops (Vonnegut 123). Thus, Allies were justified in their bombing of Dresden hence ensuring communication lines were brought down hence negating the operations of German soldiers. It was vital for Alliance to exercise their cruel strategy, for taking full advantage of emerging victorious in World War II, and ensuring they take full charge of the war. Strategized attacks are vital for the victory of any army, and Allies were no exception to this. Therefore, it was necessary and justified for Allies to bomb Dresden and ensure they cut down the key communication lines utilized by German soldiers against them.
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Vonnegut's Counter Argument
However, Vonnegut argues that the bombing of Dresden was not justifiable. He terms the bombing of Dresden "horrific and unacceptable in the world" (Vonnegut 245). According to Vonnegut, "Allies committed the highest level of injustice against humanity" (Vonnegut 245). This can be ascertained from the high number of people that died during the bombing of Dresden. Vonnegut reiterates that at least 25,000 innocent residents of the city perished in the attacks. This is unacceptable, and it reflects the highest form of crimes against humanity by the bombers of Dresden. Vonnegut affirms that Allies were not justified to bomb the place because its innocent occupants had nothing to do with the war. The war was mainly between Allies and German troops and the local residents of the area had nothing to do with it. It was not reasonable to terminate the lives of people who were going about their normal activities by bombing their medieval city, which was mainly made up of wood. The Allies could have been more thoughtful and averted the loss of innocent lives in Dresden. According to Vonnegut, it was illogical for Allies to use such massive force and the cruelest form to terminate the innocent lives. Residents in Dresden did not have any form of arms and did not attack Allies in any way hence it was unjustified to bomb the city. More so, Vonnegut affirms the bombing of locality was the destruction of a place that was picking up in development significantly. It was illogical for Allies to destroy a town that was growing at the fastest rate ever. For instance, the immense destruction of railway lines and communication lines negated the development of the town. The key point that Vonnegut utilizes to condemn the bombing of Dresden is that it was illogical for Allies to terminate the lives of innocent people living in Dresden. This is horrific and highly unacceptable all over the globe.
In conclusion, the bombing of Dresden by Allies during World War II elicits immense debate. This is brought out clearly in Vonnegut's novel Slaughter-House Five. The bombing of Dresden was justifiable because the town served as a significant base for German troops. They attacked and captured some Allies before locking them up in the locality. More so, Allies were justified in their bombing of Dresden as this helped eliminate the threat of strong German soldiers. They did this by cutting off the effective transportation and communication lines existing in the place. This was a justifiable strategy of weakening their opponents and emerging victorious in the war. However, Vonnegut disputes the bombing of Dresden by asserting that it was the highest level of crimes against human, and it is unacceptable. He argues that no winning tactic in the war justifies the horrible loss of innocent lives.
Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughter-House Five. New York: RosettaBooks, 2010. Print.