There were cities like Berlin that did not work right. The width of the streets, the firewalls, the abundance of greenery and canals opposed the fire-injections and responded wrong. But Dresden's narrow streets, decorative old town and wooden buildings fed the fires according to plan. The carefully selected triangle between the Ostragehege park and the main railway station functioned as a "fire-raiser". The old cities, bent with age, testimonies to the distant past, were best suited to such attacks. Freiburg, Heilbronn, Trier, Mainz, Nuremberg, Paderborn, Hildesheim, Halberstadt, Würzburg: this avenue of German history shared the lot of Dresden in these months. For the allied fire bomb strategists, the study of their material composition was a science in itself.
In Watford, England, as well as in Eglin Field, Florida, and Dugway Ground, Utah, dummy towns were built complete with German and Japanese materials and inventories. This sort of thing requires thoroughness. Only real Japanese floor matting can be used, only the right number of real German toys in the German house. More woollen coats are stored in Germany than in Japan, in solid cupboards of oak, pine and beech. How many books, which curtains, what type of cushions? The German roof beams provide the crowning touch. Then the practise can start.
According to the author of this article, all the bombing at the end of the war -- the firebombing and the nuclear bombs -- were to show Stalin and the rest of the world that there was indeed a will to drop such bombs.
I think the author reads too much and too little at the same time into these decisions -- nevertheless, the article is worth reading and contemplating.
I confess that I am a troubled to learn that I am close to Curtis LeMay whom the article quotes as saying:
You only needed to walk through one of our roasted targets and take a look at the ruins of the countless tiny houses. Some kind of drill press stuck out of every pile of rubble. The entire population was involved in building aeroplanes or war munition. Men, women and children. . . . There are no innocent civilians. Nowadays you fight a people, not armed forces.Although, as I indicated back in 2002, when I first wrote about this, my main problem is assuming that the civilians who were forced to become soldiers, sailors, and Marines when their country was attacked are expendible combatants while those who served the beligerant state in civilian costume are considered to be somehow protected or insulated from the conduct of their nation.
Anyway, those who are anti-bomb (is anyone really pro-bomb? I mean besides him) will find a sympathtic read at this article. For further reading, I recommend Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945 by Frederick Taylor.