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Monday, March 12, 2012

Kurt Vonnegut Interview: Slaughterhouse 5

The bombing of the German city of Dresden was a stragegic military attack on the capital of Saxony.  It took place over 3 days in February 1945.  Heavy bombers from the RAF and USAAF dropped approximately 4000 tons of incendiary bombs and high explosives on one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.  The bombing, deliberately, created an enormous "firestorm" which destroyed 15 square miles of the city's center, and immediately killed an estimated 25,000 people.
 BBC Interview, 2005

Vonnegut, a young and inexperienced GI, had been captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge 3 months prior to the bombing.  As a POW, he was housed in a slaughterhouse in the center of Dresden.  He therefore experienced the bombing first-hand. 

So many people had been killed in such a short time that the municipal and military organizations in the city were overwhelmed.  They could not arrange for individual burials.  Fearing the spread of disease, they burned corpses collectively on pyres.

POW Vonnegut was put to work in this corpse disposal process.

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