For five years during the Second World War, the Allies launched a trial and error bombing campaign against Germany's historical city landscape. Peaking in the war's final three months, it was the first air attack of its kind. Civilian dwellings were struck by-in today's terms- weapons of mass destruction, with a total of 600,000 casualties, including 70,000 children. In The Fire, historian J& ouml;rg Friedrich explores this crucial chapter in military and world history. Combining meticulous research with striking illustrations, Friedrich presents a vivid account of the saturation bombing, rendering in acute detail the annihilation of cities such as Dresden, the jewel of Germany's rich art and architectural heritage. He incorporates the personal stories and firsthand testimony of German civilians into his narrative, creating a macabre portrait of unimaginable suffering, horror, and grief, and he draws on official military documents to unravel the reasoning behind the strikes. Evolving military techlogies made the extermination of whole cities possible, but owing, perhaps, to the Allied victory and what W. G.Sebald ted as a pre-conscious self-censorship, a way of obscuring a world that could longer be presented in comprehensible terms, the wisdom of this strategy has never been questioned. The Fire is a rare account of the air raids as they were experienced by the civilians who were their targets.
J& ouml;rg Friedrich was born in Tyrolia in 1944 and grew up in the Ruhr District (Essen). A broadcaster in Berlin, Friedrich became a historian after he reported on the Majdanek Trial during the 1970s. His first comprehensive history of the prosecution of Nazi criminals in Germany, The Cold Amnesty (1984), was a bestseller in the Federal Republic. In 1993 he published a monograph on the forgotten Nuremberg Trial of the German High Command titled The Law of War: The German Army in Russia, which earned him a honorary doctorate from the University of Amsterdam. The idea for The Fire came to Friedrich accidentally one night in February 2002, and since its publication, the book has been translated into ten languages, sparking debate worldwide.