World War II was the deadliest event in human history.  It varied from previousconflicts by the fact that civilians were singled out as military targets.  The morale of civilians is just as important as the soldiers.  The introduction of the bomber would change the way wars would be fought.  In the beginning of the war the idea of unselective bombing was accepted in the military by many countries.  After World War II historians were able to analyze the effects of the bombings.  Since then, many people were left to question if such attacks on civilians were acceptable morally and of its effectiveness.  In more recent years, the question of German civilians being victims of the bombing war has stirred even more controversy in the historical community.  To understand why historians are still debating the necessity of the Allied bombing campaign, one must understand the history of air power and strategic bombing leading up to the allied destruction of Germany.The bombing campaign of the Allies had been debated by historians since the end of the war.  Many books and movies about World War II are justified because it was the most important event of the 20th century, and one of the most major events in human history.  Many portions of the war were controversial, but the most highly debated remains the bombing campaigns. I chose to research the bombing of Germany because there are so many different opinions by historians.  It is safe to assume that without the bombing campaign, victory would have been extremely difficult.  Many historians believed that aerial bombing would effectively stop war production and destroy military targets.  Although thebombing of German cities damaged war production and slowed down the German war machine,it failed to bring the German economy to a halt. The fact that German production remained highuntil 1944 showed that it takes indiscriminate round the clock bombing of cities to slow theGerman economy down enough to begin to see results, even then, production never came tocomplete standstill. The bombing of German cities was highly ineffective in breaking German morale as well.This part backfired as Germans became more and more enraged and fought harder to repair theirfactories and industry in the face of Allied attacks. This was a lesson that should have beenlearned by the Allies, especially the British, during the Battle of Britain. The Germans remainedvery defiant until the bitter end because they knew they faced Allied occupation if they gave into the unconditional surrender that was demanded by the Allies. They knew that the Allies weretrying to break their will to fight which is what fueled their anger and their will to resist more,even as the attacks intensified.Although the strategic bombing doctrine did not live up to its prewar expectations, it wasstill a deciding factor in the Allied victory in Europe. The German army was forced to divertmuch needed planes, anti-aircraft guns, and soldiers to the air war over Europe. If the Allies hadnot conducted the bombing campaign, these resources could have been used on the Eastern Frontagainst the Soviet Union, which by 1942 the outcome was still in question. Because the Allieswere not ready to open up a second front on the ground in Europe in 1942, they were able toopen one up in the sky, which took some pressure off of the Soviet Union until the invasion ofNormandy in 1944.The morality of the bombing campaign is not as clear as the effectiveness. Theintentional bombing of civilians is obviously tragic. When civilians get caught in the cross fireof warfare, bullets and bombs do not distinguish between those willing participants or those whoopposed the regime. It is certainly most tragic when the casualties of the bombings were kids,who were impartial to the war and the politics of their government. However, what authors likeGrayling, Friedrich, Bess, and others neglect to write about, are the horrible atrocities committedby the Nazis. Twenty million Soviets, ten million Jews and other unwanted peoples, and70hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers were killed as a result of Nazi Germany and the war itstarted.Firestorms were inhumane acts of war, but strategic bombing was a new weapon of warand when a nation has a new weapon during wartime it uses it. There were no set rules to followfor strategic bombing, so the Allied commanders had to make the best decisions they could andhope the decisions they made were the right ones. If Nazi Germany had the means to conductaerial bombings on the same scale that the Allies did, it would not have hesitated to use thebombers to wage warfare on an unimaginable scale. World War II presented cruelty andbarbarity on a level never thought possible. If the United States and Britain did not use theweapons they had at their disposal, the war could have lasted longer or turned in the favor of theAxis. When confronted with evil, one must do whatever is necessary to defeat that evil andinsure that it never happens again.The question of Germans as victims is a touchy subject with no definitive answer. Afterreading The Fire it was difficult not to feel sympathy for the German civilians caught in themidst of war. As badly as I feel for the German people who withstood the bombings, I stillcannot consider them “victims” of the Allied bombing campaign or Soviet reprisals. Thesurvivors of concentration camps or atrocities on the Eastern front are victims because they weremurdered for being born Jewish or Slavic. The German civilians who were bombed orexperienced Soviet reprisals are casualties of war, not victims, because their fate was an outcomeof a war their nation started.The Allies did not go into the bombing campaign with the intention of systematicallydestroying the entire race of Germanic people. The goal established by the Allies was to destroythe Germans capability to wage war and by 1945 that goal was accomplished. While manyGermans died during bombings, that was an unfortunate but understood side effect of total war.The experience of the bombed was no doubt a terrifying experience. The mass rapes committedby the Soviet Union in Germany were an awful consequence of being conquered as well.However, Hitler and his high-ranking Nazis went into the war with the intention of murdering allthe Jews in Europe. Many German people basked in the glory of their early victoriesand it was only after the tides of war had turned against them that their attitudes began to change.In another sense, Germans are victims. They are victims of circumstance. The Britishand French forced the German government into signing the humiliating Treaty of Versaillesfollowing World War I. This led to a collapse of the German social, political, and economicstructure throughout the 1920s. With the country in turmoil, the Nazis came to power and begansolving the problems that plagued Germany for years. The people of Germany were vulnerableand the Nazis were able to make Germany great again. Out of sheer desperation, the people ofGermany blindly followed a government that had helped them out when nobody else would. Itwas this obedience that would ultimately lead to disastrous consequences for the people ofGermany.As the years pass on, the way we remember past events takes on a new perspective.Perhaps one-day Germans can be viewed as victims and World War II will be a reminder of thelast great conflict the world has ever seen. With veterans and survivors of the air war dying offquickly, it is important to remember the sacrifices they made and the experiences they endured.Historians need to keep arguing the importance of the air war and questioning the effectiveness, morality, and victimization. It’s these arguments that keep the memories of World War II alivein hope that history won’t repeat itself.

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