Examining both sides of World War Two with a critical eye


I was watching an interesting video that talked about Rommel from the Italian perspective.

It got me to think, along with the week by week episodes of WW2, of how difficult it would seem to look with an objective or critical eye towards all belligerents in the war.

To give further context and clarification, in World War 1 both sides of the war did some terrible things and there was a moral gray that permeated the conflict. This is one reason why I especially enjoy studying The Great War, as it’s a war removed enough that an objective view point seems possible. Generals on all sides did horrible mistakes that caused tens of thousands of needless casualties, etc. But, with World War 2 there seems a more clear moral component. The Nazis were the bad guys. But, moral component that is still relevant today makes it seem that a even handed (or if you want to call it objective or critical) look at the war very difficult. Off the top of my head, one specific example is the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of strategic bombing of civilian targets. This “seems” like an argument that is relevant to all sides. Looking at the blitz of London, the bombing of Dresden or the bombings of mainland Japan, these all seem like a valid area of research and discussion. But, as I said above, there is a stark moral differences, not necessarily of the individual actions but of the sides committing the actions.

Just looking at the Wikipedia page (I know it’s not completely accurate) I can see mention of how contemporary right wing holocaust deniers use the history of the Dresden bombings for their own repugnant ends. To be clear, I am not trying to say that neo-nazis are right, or anything other than hate groups. And, I’m not saying that they might have a valid point in regards to the history of the war. But, it seems that when these odious groups make a claim, it poisons any argument that could be close to their own.

I guess, I’m trying to figure out how to ask legitimate questions and find the answers on my own. “Is strategic bombing always a crime against humanity ?” Is it playing into the hate speech of radical groups to even ask that question?

Again, I’m not trying to draw a moral equivalence between Britain, the US versus Germany. Just trying to figure out how to examine the history of the war but do it the right way. If there’s any advice or insight into delving into this politicized history, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you for your time,


If any of this is unclear I’m happy to give more detail. I hope this wasn’t rambling or unclear.


one big problem with dresden when it come to the “it’s a war crime!” is that it was a industrial center and it helped nazi logisitics with the railway+bomber weren’t that precise at this time and yea neo nazi and wehraboo LOVE to use dresden as a equivalent of the hollocaust and they also like to inflate the number of dead (I’m sure it’s to make it somehat equal to the holocaust)


Good points, Frederick Taylor did some ground breaking work on the bombing and destroyed some of the myths. Like that of the P-51-s swooping down from high altitude to shoot at the civilians and not protect the bombers. Apart from this making no sense as these P-51s were specifically optimized for high altitude combat and there mission was to protect the bombers there is another problem. All these planes had gun cameras AND non of this was mention in the extensive mission reports. The author also noted that these facts tend to be ignored anyway. One of the problem with these “revisionist” historians is that they just quote eachother and don’t seem to be interested in conflicting prime evidence. (In my view still the best place to go).

The other myth is that it didn’t hurt morale, this myth keeps persisting. The assassination attempt(s) on Hitler seem to disagree with this myth. Of course there were multiple good reasons to assassinate Hitler and the bombing can’t be singled out but it is safe to say that Stauffenberg and others were demoralized about the war.

The bombers like the B-17/B-24 (I flew on those thus know) were designed for “precision bombing”. It did have a state of the art Norden bombsight with which the bombardier could take control of the plane and an intervalator which set the sequence of the bombs and also which bombs. E.g. bomb the railroad track with the left side and the right side. This worked fine when training over the desert but not from the jetstreams over Japan or foggy Germany. The Allies did build all this stuff into their bombers, they did their best to be as precise as their time permitted.

And the final humane argument, Germany went from democracy to Dachau and other death camps. The war had to be stopped and won as quickly as possible. That was the whole idea of hitting the population itself who had largely stood by during the Kristallnacht. This time the war would come inside German borders for a change.

Maybe not a nice way to fight, but most of the Allied leaders went through the horrors of World War 1 and wanted to make sure that the next generation didn’t have to fight Germany again. I think this is a very understandable standpoint.