German Historians and the Bombing of German Cities

The Contested Air War

Bas von Benda-Beckmann

German Historians and the Bombing of German Cities

Bas von Benda-Beckmann

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

300 pages | 8 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2015
Cloth $99.00 ISBN: 9789089647818 Published August 2015 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada
Today, strategic aerial bombardments of urban areas that harm civilians, at times intentionally, are becoming increasingly common in global conflicts. This book reveals the history of these tactics as employed by nations that initiated aerial bombardments of civilians after World War I and during World War II.

As one of the major symbols of German suffering, the Allied bombing left a strong imprint on German society. Bas von Benda-Beckmann explores how German historical accounts reflected debates on post-war identity and looks at whether the history of the air war forms a counter-narrative against the idea of German collective guilt. Provocative and unflinching, this study offers a valuable contribution to German historiography.
Contents
Preface
 
Introduction
German historians and the Allied bombings
 
1. Putting the Allies on trial
The early Federal Republic, 1945-1970
1.1 The Allied bombings in the early Federal Republic
1.2 West German historiography and the air war in the 1950s and 1960s
1.3 Nazi propaganda and foreign texts
1.4 The Allied bombings and German guilt
 
2. Dresden and the Cold War
East-West Debates on the bombing of Dresden, 1945-1970
2.1 East German historical accounts of the attack on Dresden
2.2 East-West debates on Dresden
2.3 A shared Dresden myth?
 
3. A past becomes History
The professionalizing of the air war historiography of the Federal Republic
3.1 Dresden im Luftkrieg: Götz Bergander
3.2 Horst Boog amd the professionalizing of West German military history
 
4. The 'Imperialist Air War'
East German historiography and the work of Olaf Groehler, 1965-1995
4.1 Part of the system: Olaf Groehler
4.2 Debates with the West
 
5. Breaking taboo
Jörg Friedrich and the 'rediscovery' of the Allied bombings
5.1 Jörg Friedrich's Der Brand
5.2 Der Brand and the new public interest in the Allied bombings
5.3 Der Brand and recent German historiography
 
Conclusion
The contested Air War
 
Abbreviations
 
Bibliography
 
Index
Review Quotes
Choice
“Benda-Beckmann’s ability to compile, synthesize, and summarize disparate histories is admirable; the book functions as an excellent survey of the way German views on the air war changed over time. . . . A solid, well-researched contribution to postwar German historiography. Highly recommended.”
 
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