[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own]
Victor Gregg’sÂ Dresden: A Survivor’s StoryÂ is a short work describing the author’s experience as Â POW who got caught in Dresden inÂ February, 1945 when the Allies bombed the city in what would become known as the Firebombing of Dresden. Â The attack essentiallyÂ destroyedÂ the city center and killed an estimated 25,000Â German’s. Â Wikipedia has a pretty good article on the attacksÂ that also discusses the controversy surrounding them that has grown up since the war. Â ToÂ sum up the controversy, general anti-war people claim they were a crime and so do Neo-Nazi’s. Â Both claim that Dresden was not a legitimate military target or that if it was the bombing did not hitÂ them.
Back to the book. Â Dresden: A Survivor’s Story, is the story of what one man saw and did just before, during, and just after the bombing. Â Printed the book would only amount to roughly 40 pages. Â It is an engaging tale and the author writes with a witty sarcasm that keeps the narrative flowing. Â The events he relates surrounding the DresdenÂ bombingÂ seem fantastical but are probably accurateÂ representationsÂ of what actuallyÂ happened. Â There is no doubt that the bombing of Dresden and it’s aftereffect were horrific. Â Mr. Gregg’s narrative reflects this. Â The only part of the book I take exception to is the afterword which I felt was a poorly written attempted rationale for why the FirebombingÂ of Dresden was a war-crime. Â I leave it to the individual reader to research it onÂ theirÂ own and make the decision of whether a war-crime (A term I object to) occurred or not.
Editorializing: Personally, I find the whole talk of war crimes to be farcical. Â It would be comical if so many people did not take the notion soÂ seriously. Â The term and the associated crimes against humanity, genocide, etc. Have been soÂ misusedÂ that they no longer have meaning. Â The traditional Laws of War stood the Western World in good stead for centuries and nothing that was done in WWII seems to me to haveÂ mitigatedÂ against their use. Â What has happened in the last hundred years is a Quixotic attempt to civilize war, an activity that is inherently uncivilized. Â The right of the victors would have sufficed perfectly to put the perpetrators of theÂ holocaustÂ against a wall but for some reason, the West felt the need for legalized vengeance. Â Their invention of these crimes has subsequently turned around and bit them ever since. Â There was no need to justify the destruction of Dresden, it was anÂ enemyÂ city and thus subject to attack. Â The severity of said attack was and is irrelevant. Â There is no such concept of proportionality in warfare, nor should their be. Â WarfareÂ is doing what you think you need to do to compel your enemy to submit; no more and no less.
Overall this is a well written work of personal reflection. Â I recommend it for people that wouldÂ likeÂ a description of what it was like to be inÂ DresdenÂ during and immediately after the bombing. Â There is no great amount of detail here but it gives a good general description of what living through such an event was like.