The Dresden Firebombings were justified
This was a huge controversy after WWII as people weren't sure as to whether or not to prosecute those responsible for the Dresden Firebombings as war criminals, so I would like to debate this topic.
I think we would have a shared BOP.
R1 is acceptance
R3 rebuttals and conclusions
I look forward to an entertaining debate!
I thank my opponent for his comments. We have a shared BOP, I need to prove that the bombing was justified and helped the allied war effort, my opponent will need to argue that the bombing achieved little in strategic terms.
DRESDEN WAS A MAJOR MANUFACTURING CITY
Dresden was a manufacturer of weapons for the Nazi war effort. German Army High Command listed 127 medium-to-large factories in Dresden producing weapons for the Nazis with over 50,000 workers. The factories included a poison gas factory, anti-aircraft and field gun factory, an optical goods factory, gears, electric gauge, and x-ray technology factories.  Colonel Harold E. Cook, a POW held in Friedrichstadt and says that “I saw with my own eyes that Dresden was an armed camp: thousands of German troops, tanks and artillery and miles of freight cars loaded with supplies supporting and transporting German logistics towards the east to meet the Russians”. Dresden, being a military manufacturing city was a viable target for bombing.
DRESDEN WAS A MAJOR COMMUNICATIONS CITY
Dresden was a major communications centre, with messages being relayed through Dresden to the East front where the Germans were fighting the Russians. Because Dresden was relatively untouched before, railway and communication lines remained operational. Bombing Dresden would severely hamper the ability to relay messages to the East, allowing the Russians to punch a hole in the German line. 
DRESDEN WAS A MAJOR TRANSPORTATION CITY
Bridges, railway lines, and roads all remained in good condition as because of Dresden’s position, the Allies hadn’t bombed the city before the firebombing. The destruction of the bridges and railway lines prevented the Germans on the East front from retreating to the city and reinforcements arriving to the Eastern front.
So, we can see that Dresden was a major military city that was actively helping the Nazi war effort. Thus, we see that the bombing of Dresden was justified. Vote Pro.
My opponent claims that the firebombings of Dresden were justified because, in short, Dresden was a city that served greatly to support the Nazi party, whether it was through weaponry, communications, or transportation. I say the firebombings were horrific because it was an unnecessary blow to the Germans while they were already down. The Pro challenges me to argue that the bombings achieved a little, but I will go so far as to say they achieved nothing.
A Blind Leap of Faith
Pro starts his debate by describing the horrors of Dresden. How it was a weapon-producing nightmare. How it had a large stockpile of weapons and soldiers. How it would fuel World War II. Unfortunately, what he is quoting is mere speculation taken from reports that the United States wrote to justify the attacks. In fact, the SAME source  says that "the contribution [by Dresden] to the Nazi war effort may not have been as significant as the planners thought." When the US went to firebomb Dresden, they had no idea that they were about to annihilate a beautiful city with 135,000 people. The crime was later recognized to be so cruel, that "indiscriminate bombing on civilians" or firebombings were banned during the Geneva Convention.
From Art to Ashes
Even though Dresden may have contained weapons, what it was known to have, all across the world, was culture. Referred to as the "Florence of the Elbe," Dresden was a famous as an economically and culturally flourishing commercial area. Known for it's world-famous art museum, great schools and beautiful buildings, Dresden was a landmark of culture. The bombings of Dresden didn't just destroy a city, but a large piece of German history and culture.
Kicking While They're Down
The last reason I believe that the Dresden bombings were justified is pointed out in the Pro's second source. Germany was already going to surrender World War II when Dresden was bombed . Further crippling Germany was unnecessary and therefore unjustified. There was no reason to attack Dresden.
The bombing of Dresden was unjustified because Dresden was not confirmed to be a war city. Dresden was just a bustling center of art and culture when it was bombed. Since Germany was going to surrender, regardless of the firebombings, the firebombings of Dresden were not only strategically pointless, but rather completely unjustified.I hand it off to the Pro.
I thank my opponent for his statements. I would now like to point the numerous flaws in my opponents case.
“The contribution [by Dresden] to the Nazi war effort may not have been as significant as the planners thought.”
This may be true, yet it is undeniable that Dresden was manufacturing weapons for the Nazi’s. The RAF has confirmed that in February of 1945, 110 factories were known to have been producing weapons for the Nazi’s. As I stated in R2, the German’s confirmed that the number was higher. My opponent has provided no citation for the fact that what I am “quoting is mere speculation taken from reports that the United States wrote to justify the attacks.” Clearly, there WERE factories, thus making it a viable target. The source I have provided  shows a map of the railway systems in Germany. Dresden is circled in red. Dresden clearly was the crossroads for the railway system, with railway lines reaching all the way to the Eastern front. This addresses another of my opponent’s other arguments. By the end of the war, a total of 28 million military trains transporting supplies or men went through A SINGLE Dresden train station each day! 
The crime was later recognized to be so cruel, that “indiscriminate bombing on civilians” or fire bombings were banned during the Geneva Convention.
First of all, the citation my opponent provided had absolutely nothing to do with the Geneva Convention. Secondly, my opponent fails to realize that this was not the only firebombing in the war. Germany also used firebombs, launched years of firebombing on London during the Blitz, furthermore, Hitler had declared “Total War” , and essentially meaning anything goes. Allied firebombing was completely justified as a retaliatory strike AND because of Dresden’s military significance, which absolutely cannot be denied.
When the US bombed Dresden, they had no idea that they were about to annihilate a beautiful city with 135, 000 people.
According to my opponent’s logic, therefore the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also should be considered war crimes because they annihilated a beautiful city. This is completely incorrect!! According to my opponent’s own second source, the bombing of Dresden was “the beginning of the end for the Third Reich.” The bombing of Dresden was as effective in ending the war as the bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The bombings of Dresden didn’t just destroy a city, but a large piece of German history and culture.
It is true that Dresden was a cultured city. My opponent’s argument boils down to this: because of Dresden’s cultural significance to Germany, (even though it was producing weapons and therefore a viable target) it shouldn’t have been bombed because of its cultural and historical significance. This is a clear logical fallacy; does this mean that the bombing of Paris was a war crime? It is undeniable that Paris is one of the world centres of culture, and large parts of the city were destroyed by bombing. Does this mean the bombing of Wieluń was a war crime? The Germans destroyed 75% of the city. Wieluń was a cultural centre for Poland, was this a war crime?
“Germany was already going to surrender World War II”
This is also speculation. If Hitler could defeat the Russians on the Eastern front, there was a chance that he could have defeated the Allies on the Western front and secured a fair armistice. Had Dresden not be bombed, the railway lines through Dresden would have remained intact. Dresden’s railway lines would have allowed troops to be transported to the Eastern Front. As I have shown with regards to the railways, it is not that farfetched to assume that reinforcements would have arrived to the German’s on the Eastern front through Dresden.
There was no reason to attack Dresden.
My opponent admitted before “Even though Dresden may have contained weapons” and has made no refutation to the numerous sources that confirm 100+ weapons manufacturing factories, he still claims that there was no reason to attack Dresden. This is clearly a massive logical fallacy. As I have stated numerous times, if it is helping the war effort, it is a target.
Dresden was not confirmed to be a war city.
It was confirmed numerous times, even by the Germans themselves!
Dresden was not only strategically pointless
But rather completely unjustified.
As I have shown above, Dresden contained 100+ factories producing war weapons. Thus, it is a viable target. Dresden was at the centre of a massive intact railway system, this system allowing thousands upon thousands of German troops to maneuver across Europe. It was a communications centre, with telephone lines stretching across Germany. All of these added to the military significance of Dresden, unlike what my opponent would have you believe. Though Dresden may have been a city of culture, that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be bombed. Additionally, it is complete speculation that the German’s would have surrendered. Reinforcements could have easily been transported through Dresden’s railway lines to the Eastern Front, as I have shown above. For the reasons above, I urge voters to VOTE PRO.
Before I hand it off to my opponent, I would remind him NOT TO POST NEW ARGUMENTS in the final round. He may post rebuttals, but no new arguments as I wouldn’t be able to refute them. If new arguments are posted, it would count as forfeiture for my opponent, so please don’t post new arguments! I thank my opponent for a thought stimulating and exciting debate!
The Leap of Faith
Pro claims that it was confirmed that Dresden was a war city, supplying ammunition and transportation for the German war effort. And although some may see Wikipedia as a reliable source, I have found countless links saying that little was every known about Dresden being a war city. A source from History.com even goes so far as to say "Dresden was neither a war production city nor a major industrial center." The speculation that led a fear-ridden attack on Germany's beautiful city accomplished little more than destroying German lives, economy, culture, and morale.
Two Wrongs do not Make a Right
Pro claims that because Nazi Germany used firebombings against the Allies that it was justified to use firebombings as a retaliatory attack. This, of course, is not true. If the Allies had started employing concentration camps, would that be justified solely because Nazi Germany had? Of course not. One cannot justify a crime by pointing fingers and saying other people did it first.
Introduction of Japan
Pro states the the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, like the firebombings of Dresden, were justified. This for several reasons is not true. Firstly, many, including the creators of the atomic bomb, have considered the dropping of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be war crimes. Albert Einstein himself claimed that it was completely unjustified . The act is widely seen as immorally wrong and one of most regrettable acts in American history.
In fact, one of the only reasons to justify the bombings of Japan was that there was no end in sight, but seeing as the firebombings of Dresden occurred after Japan had surrendered from the war, after Germany had already lost its desperate counteroffensive to the East (a factor that Pro overlooks when claiming that Hitler was still a threat on the Easter front), and after peacetime negotiations had already begun, the justification of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki do not even apply to this situation. Not to mention, the firebombings of Dresden was a greater attack on civilian lives, claiming 135,000 deaths, many of which were just refugees .
Florance in Flames
Pro agrees that a large city of great cultural and historical significance was destroyed. He then proposes that question "Does this mean the bombing of Wieluń was a war crime? The Germans destroyed 75% of the city. Wieluń was a cultural centre for Poland, was this a war crime?" The answer, simply, is "yes." The bombings of both cities have been treated as war crimes and similarly, both cities were cultural centers that were bombed in a terrifying, heartless fashion. And so should the bombings of Dresden.
Defending the Eastern Front
Pro includes a theory that states "If Hitler could defeat the Russians on the Eastern front, there was a chance that he could have defeated the Allies on the Western front and secured a fair armistice." He claims that Nazi Germany still had a chance and would still engage in war. However, he fails to recognize that Germany had already failed to successfully fend off the Eastern front with it's last counterattack. The Red Army had already crushed the Eastern Front and was less than 50 miles from Berlin at the time of the firebombings. In fact, the reason there were so many refugees in Dresden was because refugees had fled from Berlin, fearing the closing Allies . Therefore, there was indeed an end in sight. Japan had surrendered, the Allies were quickly closing in on Berlin, and Nazi Germany's resistance was low.
Dresden: The Victim of a Pointlessly Unjustified Attack
Dresden, a city that was only a part of the war by being a train station, was destroyed by flames that would engulf the lives of 135,000 innocent men, women and children, many of whom were refugees. Culture, art and history burned as German morale was already at an all-time low and a German surrender was imminent. It is for these reasons that the attacks on Dresden were unjustified. Many lives and much culture were taken for little to no reason at all. This is why I ask you, the reader, to vote Con. Thank you for this great debate, Pro!
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