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I have pondered the Friedrich book since shortly after its appearance. Walking through Dresden last week -- its massive Frauenkirche finally climbing toward restoration, but still a city of many empty spaces -- provided another stimulus for reflection. At the entrance to the restored Zwinger, the East German plaque still stands with its take on the history of the Second World War: "destruction of the inner city of Dresden," by Anglo-American air forces in February 1945, "liberation" of Dresden from the fascists by the armies of the Soviet Union in May 1945, and reconstruction of the baroque masterpiece by the German workers and peasant state. Let us separate the book from the problem or problems it raises. The excellent reviews submitted to this Forum by Joerg Arnold and Douglas Pfeifer appropriately address, I believe, the strengths and weaknesses of this work -- Pfeiffer's with more emphasis on the military and political issues, Arnold with greater emphasis on the moral and conceptual problems. Those critics are far more immersed in the literature on the air war than I am, and others have also indicated the deficiencies of the book as a scholarly source. (See for instance Hans Boogs's summary list of errors in his contribution to _Ein Volk von Opfern? Die neue Debatte um den Bombenkrieg 1940-45_, Berlin. Rowohlt, 2003) But I wonder whether we Anglo-American readers for whom the Second World War remains above all our most righteous military cause do not draw too much comfort from the flaws that are documented. (And so, too, may those German readers who fear the apologetics implicit in the work.) Friedrich's is an effort to describe the bombing war from the viewpoint of those bombed, which it does with unsparing description. Along with other recent works of and about literature (namely, Guenter Grass's _Im Krebsgang_, and W. G. Sebold's _Luftkrieg und Literatur_ (also reviewed in this forum; and see the important modification of the thesis by Volker Hage, _Zeugen der Zerstoerung: Die Literaten und der Luftkrieg_, Frankfurt, S. Fischer, 2003). It has broken through what was a virtual taboo about open discussion of the roughly half a milllion German civilian deaths in the Anglo-American bombardment of l940-45 as well as the physical destruction of cities and cultural treasures. As Pfeiffer rightly notes, there was in fact a large though often specialized literature on this theme. More than an outright taboo, there has been an inhibition against producing or citing material about German suffering as such. Yes, we have had surveys of the air war -- the ones written by the victors and the important scholarly work of the Freiburg military historians in vol. 7 of _Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg_ and Olaf Groehler's survey, _Bombenkrieg gegen Deutschland_, Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1990) from the German side. But Friedrich puts at the emotional center of his account incendiary bombing: death by burning in melting asphalt, by baking in cellars, by asphyxiation through carbon monoxide and deprivation of oxygen. There is no shortage of large explosive bombs and the effect of explosive shock on the human frame, he also gives due credit to guidance systems, and the marking of targets by flares, but the real technological protagonist remains the incendiary stick, dropped by thousands, burning through the roofs of Gothic and Renaissance landmarks as well as private housing. He describes the shrivelled or carbonized remnants of victims being brought in baskets for burial, the destruction of families, the efforts at civil defense and dispersal of children (which the population hated). He points out that as much destruction followed during the last year of the war as in all the years before: devastating raids not just on railroads or return visits to towns smashed repeatedly before, but on cities from Dresden to Wurzburg, and Potsdam, whose destruction seemed called for mainly by the fact that they had been previously spared. Although the book focuses primarily on British bombing, American readers will recall that our B-29s roamed virtually unopposed over Japanese cities from November 1944, delivering incendiary weapons with sometimes even greater human costs on wooden housing. Certainly we can indict the author for using the _termini technici_ of the Holocaust to evoke this fury from the air, but this hardly disposes of the issues raised. Commentators have raised the question why non-neo-Nazi Germans did not write this history so graphically before or why it has not been more openly discussed before. The answer offered by Hans Ulrich Wehler and others is that they were acutely aware that their regime bore the responsibility for the war and committed even larger scale killing, outright murder in which each and every death inflicted was intentional. Some Germans, I believe, were silent not merely because they couldn't process the deaths, but because they really did understand where the chain of murderous warfare began. "No oaths of revenge against the allied bombers. In a certain sense we felt a solidarity with them; they would destroy that system that we ourselves...had erected but which we did not have the strength to overthrow, " Peter Wapnewski writes in _Ein Volk von Opfern_ (122). Even Friedrich, who is outraged, writes: "The destruction of the cities helped the cause of eliminating Himmler and his adherents, who had taken hostage these places, this history and this humanity, all Germany and all Europe." But it was also Germany, too, which had taken these hostages, "...whether through violence, approval, or anger, out of equanimity or impotence. A different Germany was nothing but hypothetical -- a would- or might-have-been." (_Der Brandt_, 217). But he goes on to say that it is also hypothetical to ask whether the fire might have been unnecessary. "Did Hildesheim have to be destroyed for its railroad station? Was this the reason, was there really _any reason_? Did those who set the fires intentionally and in anger want to win at any price, or was this the price that had to be paid for their victory? Certainly this was their effort. If this represents no tragedy as part of the allies' history, was their total success the same for the history of the Germans?" (_Der Brandt_, 218) We can safely compartmentalize the book as flawed, but we cannot seriously deal with the issues if we merely object to inflammatory language or lack of balance. Friedrich does understand that after the defeat in the West, there seemed no choice for the British but to strike at the enemy with whatever weapons were available. If the British were not to come to terms, what other offensive weapon did they have? Could any democratic statesman not have pursued this strategy? Still, was there not a point where it changed -- as Arthur Harris said it ought -- from a purposeful pursuit of targets, whether railroads or industry -- to moral bombing? Nor is this surprising. As Friedrich understands, the air war became one of _Vergeltung_ or retribution, carried out by the British far beyond the measure of destruction they had absorbed (just as American _Vergeltung_ against Japan vastly overshadowed the toll at Pearl Harbor that was so often cited). Retribution fed the air war as much as strategy. The weapons that Goebbels promised would change the balance were named outright as "Vergeltungs" or "V weapons," and Peter Wapnewski's recollection notwithstanding, many Germans impatiently awaited them. The contentious issue is not just military success. The American Strategic Bombing Surveys disputed the success of the strategy early on and emphasized how quickly the Germans could protect or repair their production facilities. Still, we no longer simply dismiss the bombing as ineffective. By the summer and autumn of l944, the war machine was largely broken. Air defenses were becoming ineffective, production began to fall sharply. Surely, argue its historian defenders, the tonnage rained from the air brought about that collapse. To which critics can respond that the Russian conquest of the Romanian oil fields was also a critical set back for the Germans. Furthermore, that while so-called precision bombing was not precise, the Allies did not have to embrace city bombing so indiscriminately. I personally think that the bombing can be credited with another success: the demonstrated hopelessness of the Nazi defense had something to do with the fact that after WW II three was no real revanchist movement, no defiant nationalism. But, again, defeat without immolation might also have achieved an equal postwar success. No, the issue remains the price of success, and that is always debated, and must be debated by historians as well as actors. Readers expect historians (legitimately I think) to take a surrogate responsibility for approval or disapproval of their protagonists' hard choices. To say that Friedrich is flawed by lack of balance or inflammatory language cannot get us off the hook. Ultimately those of us who would accept the air war say that under certain conditions it may be necessary to burn babies. Even if we are not explicitly targeting babies we all live with statistics enough to know that our historically mediated choice will kill those whom no theory of a society at war can plausibly claim have opted for war. As good liberals, we might plausibly argue that our statesmen and pilots could have killed fewer babies, or non-combatants, and probably that is where most of us are left after reading this book. Friedrich's book further reminds us of two lessons, one probably obvious, the other perhaps contentious. The obvious one is that the choice of where the narrative begins is fundamental for the moral parameters of a historical study. Beginning in 1940 must exclude many evaluations that beginning, say, in 1933 would have suggested. The less obvious lesson, I think, is that the historian cannot be content with a history of lived experience, no matter how important it may be to convey that experience. Television and cinema and the society's preoccupation with victims' testimony have suggested us that history is sterile without the evocation of experience, but history cannot be just the excavation of experience -- old pictures, sad songs, diary snatches, and the like. To rely on these is our version of a pathetic fallacy. It is appropriate to convey testimony, indeed, I think, often a duty. But doing justice to the witness is not the same as writing history. It may be the beginning or the end of historical reflection, but is a different sort of exercise. No history perhaps without memory, but no history that does not discipline memory.