Sunday, 16 September 2012

Troubling questions

If the Nazi murder of six million Jews and millions of other people in death camps was an act of monstrous, wicked depravity, so that the Nazi regime will  forever be condemned and abhorred, by all decent people, as nothing but a gang of murderers; then what ought to be our moral reaction to the British and American killing in aerial bombing campaigns of about four hundred thousand German civilians and about five hundred thousand Japanese civilians, and to the regimes that ordered them? Is this it, or part of it?

From the Bomber Command Memorial website:
Only those who have lived through similar times could understand or pass judgement.
Is the first claim in that sentence true? If so, does the second claim follow? What would be your reaction to the same comment, made by a German about the Eastern Front?

Air Marshal Harris, quoted in the Wikipedia article:
the aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive...should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilized life throughout Germany.... the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories.
Also from the article, about the bombings of Japan:
Leaflets were dropped over cities before they were bombed, warning the people and urging them to escape the city. Though many, even within the Air Force, viewed this as a form of psychological warfare, a significant element in the decision to produce and drop them was the desire to assuage American anxieties about the extent of the destruction created by this new war tactic. Warning leaflets were also dropped on cities not in fact targeted, to create uncertainty and absenteeism. [My italics]
Questions troubling me, as they have troubled many others before.