The bombing of Dresden in World War II

The Bombing of Dresden was a series of well choreographed attacks on the German City named Dresden. The attacks themselves happened in the dying months of the Second World War, and were marked by four clear raids in the three days between 13-15 February, 1945.

They were implemented by missions from the British Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force. In the period, close to 4,000 tons of explosives were dropped on the city. By the time the bombing was over, over 40 square kilometers of destruction had been caused across the city with thousands of civilians falling victim.

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How the bombing happened

The United States Army Air force had planned to start the raid on the night of 13 February 1945. However, on that night incidence of bad weather forced the force to abandon any planned missions, leaving the British Royal Air force to begin the raid.

Initial plans had stipulated that two back-to-back raids would be carried out within a span of three hours. However, that night, the plans changed and several attacks were carried out in order to throw the Nazi soldiers of the mark. 360 large bombers lodged attacks on a synthetic oil plant 98 kilometers away from Dresden, as smaller bombers dropped bombs in Magdeburg, Bonn and Nuremberg.

The first planes from the Royal Air force started the journey from 1,100 kilometers away and they were tasked with the role of identifying Dresden and releasing Magnesium flares to light up the areas that the areas that the bombers would release their loads on.

Next followed some double-engined marker planes which were to chart out the path that the attacks would follow. 1,000 pound target indicators were dropped in the areas around Dresden.

The markers released a red glow, which the bombers directed their aims at. The area around the Ostragehege stadium was crowded with timber buildings and it formed the primary target, owing to the combustibility of the material used in the constructions.

Later, 254 primary bombers followed carrying five hundred tons of highly-explosive bomb and 375 tons of fire bombs. The high explosives were mainly set out to cut out the water supply connections, destroy roofs, doors and windows, laying out an air-flow path to help fuel the fires caused by the fire-bombs.

Everything went as per plans with the bombers arriving in Dresden much to the shock of the military forces in Dresden. In a rush, sirens went out in the City but it was too late as the bombers dropped their cargo at the areas they had been intended.

Three hours later, a second attack was lodged and by this time hundreds of fires could be identified from over 500 kilometers away, in the air. The latter attacks saw over 1800 tons of explosives released in the area.

The next day 431 bombers from the United States Air force release 770 tons of explosives on Dresden. More attacks followed in neighboring cities, with 60 B-17 bombers dropping 154 tons of bombs on Prague. By midday, on the 15th, the attacks had been completed leaving Dresden in shambles.


The attacks on Dresden have been heavily criticized over the years because of their non-specific bearing, causing the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians. Most of the scholars focusing on the bombing believe that the attacks would not have received as much criticism as they did had they been focused on the military only.


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