German Historians and the Bombing of German Cities

German Historians and the Bombing of German Cities

The Contested Air War

Today, strategic aerial bombardments of urban areas that harm civilians, at times intentionally, are becoming increasingly common in global conflicts. This book reveals the history of these tactics as employed by nations that initiated aerial bombardments of civilians after World War I and during World War II. As one of the major symbols of German suffering, the Allied bombing left a strong imprint on German society. Bas von Benda-Beckmann explores how German historical accounts reflected debates on postwar identity and looks at whether the history of the air war forms a counternarrative against the idea of German collective guilt. Provocative and unflinching, this study offers a valuable contribution to German historiography.
  • Cover
  • Table of Contents
  • Preface
  • Introduction
    • German historians and the Allied bombings
  • 1. Putting the Allies on trial
    • The early Federal Republic, 1945-1970
    • 1.1 The Allied bombings in the early Federal Republic
    • 1.2 West German historiography and the air war in the 1950s and 1960s
    • 1.3 Nazi propaganda and foreign texts
    • 1.4 The Allied bombing and German guilt
  • 2. Dresden and the Cold War
    • East-West Debates on the bombing of Dresden, 1945-1970
    • 2.1 East German historical accounts of the attack on Dresden
    • 2.2 East-West debates on Dresden
    • 2.3 A shared Dresden myth?
  • 3. A past becomes history
    • The professionalizing of the air war historiography of the Federal Republic
    • 3.1 Dresden im Luftkrieg: Götz Bergander
    • 3.2 Horst Boog and the professionalizing of West German military history
  • 4. The ‘Imperialist Air War’
    • East German historiography and the work of Olaf Groehler, 1965-1995
    • 4.1 Part of the system: Olaf Groehler
    • 4.2 Debates with the West
  • 5. Breaking taboos
    • Jörg Friedrich and the ‘rediscovery’ of the Allied bombings
    • 5.1 Jörg Friedrich’s Der Brand
    • 5.2 Der Brand and the new public interest in the Allied bombings
    • 5.3 Der Brand and recent German historiography
  • Conclusion
    • The contested Air War
  • Abbreviations
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Photos
    • Figure 1 Rolf Hochhuth and David Irving in Der Stern office, during their first meeting, 25 January 1965
    • Figure 2 Propaganda pamphlet, 1943
    • Figure 3 Joseph Goebbels inspects destroyed residential area, Cologne 1940
    • Figure 4 Pieta in the Hofkirche in Dresden made by Friedrich Press in 1973
    • Figure 5 Olaf Groehler, 1935-1995
    • Figure 6 Helmut Kohl laying a wreath at the Frauenkirche in Dresden, 19 December 1989



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