excalibur wrote :
."....but weren't the British entitled to retaliate for the blitzing of British cities...the tragedy was Caen and Dresden but would have thought for Caen they got permission from De-Gaulle.
Also IIRC Schweinfurt was destroyed by the USAF and in doing so suffered heavy losses."
I do not want to analyze the motivations of the belligerents and still less judge them . I just want indicate that the systematic bombing of cties was a stategic error : the best way to win a war is to kill ennemy soldiers and destroy their military equipments ; I mean the most economical way in term of losses of soldiers , and equipments for the attackers .
P 47 and Sturmovik IL-2 have been far more efficient than heavy bombers .
When Dresden was burnt : the military effect has been " nil "
Thousands of American and British bombers have been shot down along the war with a far less military efficiency .
I would like to share with you the thoughts of Albert Camus through this article of Robert Zaretsky
I feel this thoughts could be useful to the understanding of History and to humanize our future :
Sixty years ago today, Albert Camus gave the speech of his life. It was a speech, in fact, that nearly cost him his life, as well as one that failed in its goal of saving the lives of countless civilians, Arabs and French alike, caught in the vise of terrorism employed by both sides in Algeria’s war of independence. The reasoning behind the speech, as well as the reasons Camus gave it, cast important light on the “war on terror” now being fought in the West.
For Camus, true rebellion entails great tension. It holds fast to the moral center, resisting oppression while resisting one’s own tendency to oppress.
By early 1956, the war between Algeria’s nationalist movement, the National Liberation Front (the F.L.N.), and the French military had spiraled into mutual butcheries and bloodbaths — from the slaughter of the French colonist population (the “pied-noir”) of Philippeville, where more than 100 men, women and children were hacked to pieces by their Arab neighbors, to the policy of “collective responsibility,” the indiscriminate killing of Arab men, women and children by French soldiers and civilian militias. It was not just Algerians, but Algeria itself, that, in Camus’s words, was dying.
For this reason, on a Sunday afternoon, Jan. 22, shortly after 4 o’clock, a taut and nervous Camus stepped to the podium at the Cercle du Progrès, a Muslim-owned building in the center of Algiers. Born and raised in a working-class neighborhood of Algiers, Camus straddled two dramatically different worlds. There was, on the one hand, his visceral attachment to the people and places of French Algeria; on the other hand, he had an equally fierce commitment to the French republican ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. First as a muckraking journalist, then as a novelist and essayist whose career would soon be crowned with the Nobel Prize in Literature, Camus fought for the extension of these ideals to the eight million Arabs and Berbers living under French rule. Unlike many fellow pieds-noirs, Camus was horrified by the brutal history of de jure and de facto discrimination against the Arabs and Berbers. Clinging to the hope that “French Algeria” could remain French while becoming fully democratic, Camus insisted that the pieds-noirs and Arabs were “condemned to live together.”
By 1956, however, Camus had come to fear they were instead condemned to kill one another. The prospect of unending bloodshed, fueled by acts of terrorism against the civilian populations, was a nearly unbearable burden. Algeria, he told a friend, was “wedged in my throat.” With equal doses of daring and desperation, in late 1955 Camus wrote a series of editorials in the magazine L’Express arguing for a civilian truce. A treaty between Paris and the F.L.N., Camus allowed, seemed impossible: The violent were carrying it away. But could not both sides at least agree to spare civilians? If not, he wrote: “Algeria will be populated solely by murderers and victims. Only the dead will be innocent.” Aware that it was all too easy to prod and push from distant Paris, Camus decided to speak publicly, at great personal risk, on this initiative in his native Algiers.
Albert CamusCredit Kurt Hutton/Getty Images
Algiers, in turn, was waiting: An audience of 1,500 men and women — French and Muslim, intellectuals and shopkeepers — had filled the hall and spilled into the staircases and adjoining rooms. The atmosphere was tense and febrile, especially as a menacing crowd of French colonists opposed to the meeting was massed outside the building. Camus told the audience that it was his duty, both as a French Algerian and a writer, “to make a simple appeal to your humanity.” Returning to an initiative he had first revealed in L’Express magazine, Camus proposed that the F.L.N. and French authorities agree to a “civilian truce.” Looking around the hall, Camus declared that he had not come to ask that his listeners “relinquish any of their conviction.” Regardless of the ideological, political and historical causes at stake, he continued, “no cause justifies the deaths of innocent people.” Camus insisted he had no illusions: resolving the “present situation” was beyond his means. Instead, he urged his listeners “to renounce what makes this situation unforgivable, namely, the slaughter of the innocent.”
Yet the slaughter of the innocent continued for another six years. Even as Camus spoke, the crowd outside, furious at his “betrayal” of French Algeria, screamed for his lynching. Refusing to leave the hall until he finished, Camus was then hustled to safety by his friends.
In the following days and weeks, Camus found that his speech had influenced neither side. He never again spoke publicly about Algeria — a silence sealed by his death in a car accident in 1960 — and terror remained the order of the day in his native country until the signing of the Evian peace accords between France and the F.L.N. in 1962.
Reaction, like revolution, comes easily. Both scorn limits, and instead embrace extremes.
Of what possible relevance could Camus’s speech have for us today? Not only had it failed in its immediate goal, but the character of terrorism then and now seem utterly different. To an important degree, the F.L.N.’s use of terror was tactical: Through their bombings and massacres, the movement sought to spur French repression and thus radicalize their fellow Arabs and Berbers. They also wanted to demoralize the pied-noir community, making clear that they had no future in Algeria. Once their objectives were achieved, the F.L.N. ended their campaign of terror against the French (though they continued to terrorize their own citizens). As for the French, their use of terrorism (and torture) also came to an end (though diehards of French Algeria tried repeatedly to assassinate Charles de Gaulle).
The Islamic State jihadists who murdered 130 civilians in Paris on Nov. 13, however, are not terror tacticians. Of course, acts of terrorism are a potent recruitment tool for the Islamic State. But for many of the young men and women, born in the disaffected and distant suburbs of Paris and Brussels, the opportunity to wreak terror does not have a great deal to do with either French airstrikes in Syria or the dreams of creating a caliphate stretching from the Middle East to the Balkans. Instead, it may well be an act of simple nihilism and, as such, an end in itself.
Camus knew, of course, that his moral imperative — to save innocent lives — had no more traction than does a delegation of Girl Scouts with nihilists. But the black-clad terrorists of the Islamic State were not his audience: We are. Camus recognized that violence was inextricably woven into the fabric of everyday life. Though a pacifist, he also knew violence was, at critical moments, essential if we were to hold onto our humanity. This was the case with Hitler’s Germany — it’s defeat required violence on a massive scale — and the reason for his engagement with the Resistance. (By the time of Paris’s liberation in 1944, Camus was the editor of the most influential clandestine journal, Combat, and the face not just of French existentialism but of the French Resistance as well.) Addressing in 1943 an imaginary German friend, who by embracing the Nazis has also embraced nihilism, Camus remarks that it is easy “to do violence when it is more natural to you than thinking.” It is a much greater effort, however, “to fight while despising war.”
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With sobering clarity, Camus saw how easily we lose our own humanity at such moments. In his book-length essay “The Rebel,” in which he sought to establish a vital distinction between rebellion and revolution, he wrote that while killing others is at times inescapable, it must never become legitimate. The true rebel, while insisting on her humanity, never loses sight of the humanity of others. She resists not only her oppressors’ efforts to dehumanize her, but also her own reflex to dehumanize them in turn. Reaction, like revolution, comes easily. Both scorn limits, and instead embrace extremes. On the other hand, rebellion is, for Camus, “nothing but pure tension.” As he wrote in a L’Express editorial, it is natural that the oppressed, whether the French under the Nazis or the Algerian Arabs under the French, take up arms in the name of justice. But just as “one must never cease to demand justice for the oppressed, there are limits beyond which one cannot approve of the injustice committed in their name.”
For Camus, true rebellion entails great tension. It holds fast to the moral center, resisting those who seek to oppress oneself all the while resisting one’s own tendency to oppress in turn. While it is a nearly impossible balance to maintain, we must commit ourselves, not unlike Sisyphus does to his task, of always and already making it ours.
Though at first glance paradoxical, rebellion represents our best chance of holding onto our humanity. Political language on both sides of the Atlantic repeatedly dehumanizes not just our true opponents, but entire peoples who share the same religion. To describe the growing and desperate wave of Syrian refugees as “invaders” or “vermin,” or to refer to Muslims praying in the streets of Paris as “occupiers”; to speak glibly about carpet-bombing Islamic State-occupied cities or to bomb these areas until the sand glows at night; to declare all Muslim immigrants to our country as persona non grata or propose that we kill those related to Islamic State killers means that we have violated the limits of resistance against inhuman actions set out by Camus.
Camus would immediately recognize the Islamic State as an enemy as loathsome and nihilistic as Nazism, and one that we must combat with violence. But at the same time, he would warn us not to lose recognition of who we are and why we are fighting. At the end of “The Rebel,” he wrote that the rebel’s logic is “to serve justice so as not to add to the injustice of the human condition [and] to insist on plain language so as not to increase a world of lies.”
How absurd, on the one hand, to think it should be otherwise; how absurd, on the other, to think it could be other than how it now is. While this tension ultimately reduced Camus to silence, perhaps it can now spur those who seek to govern us to reflect on the true imperatives of justice and consider the real-life implications of the words they choose and use.
Robert Zaretsky is author of “Albert Camus: Elements of a Life,” “A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning” and most recently, “Boswell’s Enlightenment.”
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