The Fires That Will Not Die

HULTON-DEUTSCH COLLECTION/CORBIS

RUBBLE AHEAD: Citizens of Dresden after the Allied bombing in 1945

When the British air force raided the German city of Darmstadt on Sept. 11, 1944, the fires set by the incendiary bombs were so intensely hot that, of the night's 12,300 mortalities, the bodies of many of those who were trapped in underground shelters shriveled to the size of dolls. "A crying boy in an air force uniform came out of the cellar, a covered enamel bucket in his hand," an anonymous survivor remembers. "It contained his parents."

The military details of the Allied air warfare on Hitler's Germany between 1940 and 1945 have been extensively described by...

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