Former British POW Describes the Horror of the Dresden Fire-Bombing

Seventy years ago, an estimated 25,000 people were killed in the fire-bombing of the German city of Dresden, one of the most controversial acts carried out by Western allied forces during WWII.

In the above 10 minute report, the BBC spoke with several eyewitnesses, but predominately with a former British POW, Victor Gregg, who was greatly affected by what he saw on Feb. 13, 1945.

As a soldier, Gregg had seen a lot of deaths before the bombing, but what he witnessed at Dresden shook him to his very core.

“It dehumanizes everything, anything you have experienced before. I had been through six years of war,” recollected the 95-year-old in this extraordinary interview.

“I’ve lost all but three of the 28 blokes who I joined up with in 1937,” he said.

“But nothing prepared me for seeing woman and children alight and flying through the air. Nothing prepared me for that,” he said before describing what else he saw, which included seeing people catch on fire and then explode.

Over 90 percent of Dresden’s city center was destroyed by the Allied bombing in mid-February, 1945. (Image: Wikipedia)

Over 90 percent of Dresden’s city center was destroyed by the Allied bombing in mid-February, 1945. (Image: Wikipedia)

Over a 3-day period, British and U.S. bombers dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city.

“After Dresden, I was a nutcase. It took me 40 years to get over it. And I don’t think I even laughed for 40 years,” he said.

For 40 years, Gregg also did not talk about what happened.

London-born Gregg never blamed the airmen who dropped the bombs. He said higher-ups were responsible for the destruction of the historic city.

“What annoys me is this was all done in our name. It really whacked me, it really did, that I belonged to a nation that was responsible for what was going on in that city that night,” he said.

Prior to being a witness to the bombing of Dresden, Gregg served with the British light brigade in the Middle East and Italy. After some time, back in the U.K., he then joined the paratroopers. Gregg returned to the fighting and was captured in Arnhem by the Germans during Operation Market Garden in Sept. 1944.

According to the BBC, Gregg was then forced to work as a POW in a town near Dresden. He was caught sabotaging a factory and was sent for execution in the city on the very day that the air raid began.

Dresden, 1945, view from the city hall (Rathaus) over the destroyed city. (Image: Wikipedia)

Dresden, 1945, view from the city hall (Rathaus) over the destroyed city. (Image: Wikipedia)

 

 

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