by Yule Heibel on February 13, 2005

Among the disturbing news of neo-nazis on the march in Dresden, this article (published the day before the Feb.13th anniversary) presents valuable historical background:

The myth of the “innocent art metropolis” that was unprepared and unfairly destroyed was started by the Nazis. They used the horrible images of charred bodies and smoldering ruins as propaganda to foment resistance against the Allies in the last weeks of the war. The Nazis portrayed the attack on Dresden as a singular and unnecessary act of brutal destructiveness.

And the myth carried on after the war in communist East Germany’s interpretation of the bombing. In a bizarre falsification of the United States’ role in the air raids, the GDR turned the yearly commemoration of the victims into a propaganda event against “Anglo-American imperialism.”

At the same time, West Germany shamefacedly chose to skip over the civilian population’s suffering and write off Dresden — and other destroyed cities — as a self-inflicted consequence of Germany’s war. [More…]

In other words, the bombing was an ideological tool in the final years of World War II, and continued to be one well into the Cold War. If the West German response after 1945 could be characterised as an inability to mourn (see Alexander and Margarete Mitscherlich’s groundbreaking 1967 book, The Inability to Mourn: Principles of Collective Behavior as well as this critique of it from a feminist film-makers’ perspective), the East German response was blatantly instrumentalising, as the placards of the neo-nazis (who were raised in the climate of Eastern post-unification unemployment) attest: “Allied bomb terror — then as now. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden and today Baghdad. No forgiveness, no forgetting.” Reading that, one can only conclude, “what a bunch of morons.”

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