As the U.S. Fifth Army inched its way up Italy in 1944, its command constantly pondered which towns should be spared bombardment. Monte Cassino was destroyed. The centers of Rome and Florence were saved. The Pieros of Sansepulcro were reprieved at the last minute (I believe by an art-loving gunner). These decisions were taken out of respect for the civilized values that the Allies believed they were defending, even if they cost soldiers’ lives. The Allies were right.
Now we are arguing about Dresden again. Yesterday its people commemorated the night, 50 years ago, that Bomber Command devastated their city, roasting at least 25,000 of its inhabitants in the notorious firestorm. They would like us to apologize. To them it was an act of pure savagery, planned at Stalin’s request and aimed at civilians and refugees from the east. The war was all but over and military installations around Dresden were not targeted. The attack was a modern version of medieval ” putting a city to fire and the sword.”