morality: ends and means

The anniversary of the Allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany in 1945 prompts us to post these thoughts on means and ends.

If the desired objective to be achieved through action is morally licit, the means employed to achieve that end must also be morally licit.  In other words, the ends do not justify the means.



The bombing of Dresden (a civilian population center) was, by the definition of war crimes at the International Military Tribunal (at Nuremberg after the war), a war crime.  Sadly, Dresden was no isolated case but part of the Allied bombing campaign that specifically targeted German cities and towns in the last 3 years of the war.  So, to those who believe that the Allies were prosecuting a “just” war, we must say that that did not give license to the Allies to commit war crimes (atrocities) during their conduct of the war.

There are, of course, those who rationalize immoral means to justify these being used, or having been used in the past.  But, it seems to us that to play the role of moral arbiter, a person or persons must be able to effectively, objectively and honestly deal with moral complexity.

For those who may not know much about what happened in Dresden over the nights and days of 13 February to 15 February 1945, there are well researched articles online now easily found through search engines.  Dresden’s population had swollen in the weeks preceding the massive bombing raids with refugees fleeing the advancing Red Army.  2 things worth noting are that “official” death toll estimates put out by the Allies are absurdly, incredulously low (25,000?!), and that photographs taken in the days after the bombings (by the Germans) of the piles of dead civilians at Dresden were later used by the Allies as showing “Holocaust victims”.

In wartime, truth is the first casualty (an old adage).  And, so it is with war crimes committed by the victorious Allies being trivialized, minimized, or ignored and those of their defeated adversaries being exaggerated.  When I first read true in-depth accounts about Dresden (on the 50th anniversary back in 1995), it made me begin to more seriously question the history of the entire second world war period that we are served up in high school and college. Regrettably, much that passes for “history” is propaganda.

As we have written on this topic before, and at much greater length, we will end now.

copyright 2017 –


  1. Have you read “Firestorm: Allied Airpower and the Destruction of Dresden” by Marshall de Bruhl and “Apocalypse 1945“ the Destruction of Dresden by the much maligned author David Irving?
    What struck me in both these books was the calculated method of timing the bombing raids to catch and annihilate the first responders and all the fire crews and emergency services in the secondary raids. Plus the crushing nerve wrecking effect of time delay fuses to catch out whatever beleaguered services were left.
    But then I realise that we were the “Good Guys” in that war so it’s all fine.

    1. No, I have not read those works, but have read articles that have dealt with this horrific war crime in depth (as in The Barnes Review for February, 1995 (the 50th anniversary of the events)).

      We get the holocaust thrown at us ad nauseum in a calculated attempt to divert attention from Allied atrocities and war crimes and to justify that Britain and America aided Stalin’s murderous Soviet Union. Allied crimes did not end in May, 1945. Germans were forcefully expelled in the East and many died en route to the new West Germany. As well, German military personnel were starved after the war by Eisenhower (see James Bacque’s books on this, Crimes and Mercies, etc.).

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