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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david//irving-dresden-casualties-01

_The Times_ of London, July 7, 1966, p. 13.  Letter to the Editor.


From Mr. David Irving

Sir, -- Your newspaper has an enviable reputation for accuracy, and
your readiness to correct the smallest errors from one day to the
next is an inspiration to your readers;  but how can a historian
correct a mistake, when once he finds himself to have been wrong?  I
ask the indulgence of your columns.

The bombing of Dresden in 1945 has in recent years been adduced by
some people as evidence that conventional bombing can be more
devastating than nuclear attacks, and others have sought to draw
false lessons from this.  My own share of the blame for this is
large:  in my 1963 book _The Destruction of Dresden_ I stated that
estimates of the casualties in that city varied between 35,000 and
over 200,000.

The higher figures did not seem absurd when the circumstances were
taken into account.  I had tried for three years to bring to light
German documents relating to the damage, but the east German
authorities were unable to assist me.  Two years ago I procured from
a private east German source what purported to be extracts from the
Police President's report, quoting the final death-roll as "a quarter
of a million";  the other statistics it contained were accurate, but
it is now obvious that the death-roll statistic was falsified,
probably in 1945.

The east German authorities (who had originally declined to provide
me with the documents) have now supplied to me a copy of the 11-page
"final report" written by the area police chief about one month after
the Dresden raids, and there is no doubt as to this document's
authenticity.  In short, the report shows that the Dresden casualties
were on much the same scale as in the heaviest Hamburg raids in 1943.
The document's author, the _Hoehere SS- und Polizeifuehrer Elbe_,
was responsible for civil defence measures in Dresden, it should be

His figures are very much lower than those I quoted.  The crucial
passage reads: "Casualties:  by 10th March, 1945, 18,375 dead, 2,212
seriously injured, and 13,918 slightly injured had been registered,
with 350,000 homeless and permanently evacuated."  The total
death-roll, "primarily women and children," was expected to reach
25,000;  fewer than a hundred of the dead were servicemen.  Of the
dead recovered by then, 6,865 had been cremated in one of the city
squares.  A total of 35,000 people were listed as "missing".

The general authenticity of the report is established beyond doubt,
because within a very few days of receiving the first, a second
wartime German report was supplied to me, this time from a western
source.  It repeats _exactly_ the figures listed in the above report,
upon which it was evidently based.

The second report, a Berlin police summary of "Air Raids on Reich
Territory", dated March 22, 1945, was found, quite by chance,
misfiled among the 25,000 Reich Finance Ministry files currently
being explored at the west German Federal Archives.  It was forwarded
to me by one of their archivists, Doctor Boberach.

I have no interest in promoting or perpetuating false legends, and I
feel it is important that in this respect the record should be set

I remain, Sir, your obedient servant,


25 Elgin Mansions, W.9.

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