"I would suggest you read Frederick Taylors's excellent book Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945 My view from many years of research. In early 1945 the war was far from over. The Allies were still camped outside the borders of Germany, V2 rockets were still falling. The Allies had just fought the battle of the Bulge where the supposedly defeated Germans suddenly punched a huge hole in the Allied lines, German Rocket and Jet aircraft were coming off the production lines and proceeding to rip the hell out of the allied air fleets. It was an operation undertaken due to many reasons. 1. A request from the Russians at the Yalta conference in February 1945. General Antonov ""We want the Dresden railway junction bombed"" Meeting between the Chiefs of staff as reported by an interpreter. Records kept at the Public Records office in Kew 2. It was a German base of operations against Marshall Koniev`s left flank as he advanced into Germany. (See above) Captured German High Command documents from Berlin in 1945 state that ""Dresden is to be fortified as a military strong point, to be held at all costs."" These statements are also backed up by decrypts from Ultra at Bletchley Park. 3. Munitions storage in the old Dresden Arsenal. 4. Troop reinforcement and transport centre shifting an average 28 troop trains through the marshaling yards every day. Intelligence from Russian and other sources stored in the Public Records office in Kew 5. Communications centre. Most of the telephone lines connecting High Command to the Eastern front went through Dresden. 6. Quote from The Dresden Chamber of Commerce 1944. ""The work rhythm of Dresden is determined by the needs of our army."" There were 127 factories in the Dresden Municipal area. The most famous of these was Zeiss the celebrated camera and optics maker. In 1945 it was turning out Bomb aiming apparatus and Time fuses. (If you think the Dresden China Works making those lovely shepherdesses are more famous, they are actually made in Meisen 12Km down the River and always have been.) A factory that previously made Typewriters and sewing machines was making Guns and ammunition The Waffle and Marzipan machine manufacturer was producing torpedoes for the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe. The arts and crafts workshops in the old town were using their woodworking skills to make the tail assemblies for V-1s. Other factories were turning out such non warlike goods as Searchlights, Aircraft components, Field Telephones and 2 way radios. ""Anyone who knows Dresden only as a cultural city would be very surprised to be made aware of the extensive and versatile activity that make Dresden ONE OF THE FOREMOST INDUSTRIAL LOCATIONS OF THE REICH. (My Capitals) Sir Arthur Harris? A Post war exponent of the bombing campaign? Nope both wrong. It comes from the Dresden City Council Yearbook of 1942. The men who carried out these acts did so in the desire to make a world in which their descendants and countrymen, of whom I am one, could live in freedom from persecution and with a freedom to ask questions and form their own opinions. To those of you who feel it necessary to label them war criminals may I ask if you think that you could have asked a similar question under Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan?"
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Dresden, the seventh largest city in Germany and not much smaller than Manchester, is also far the largest unbombed built-up the enemy has got. In the midst of winter with refugees pouring westwards and troops to be rested, roofs are at a premium. The intentions of the attack are to hit the enemy where he will feel it most, behind an already partially collapsed front, to prevent the use of the city in the way of further advance, and incidentally to show the Russians when they arrive what Bomber Command can do
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