Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cracked Like Dresden Porcelain

So I've been reading about the real Valentine's Day Massacre, the Firebombing of Dresden, Germany in WWII.

A little light reading material anyone?

For alot of years, no one knew anything about this horrific massacre because even the allied military and political bigwigs at the time, doubted whether it was really necessary. But then Kurt Vonnegut wrote about his personal experiences as a prisoner of war and eyewitness, in Slaughterhouse Five, and suddenly everyone knew that this air raid, using conventional explosives, had wreaked more havoc and destruction than Hiroshima.

"We saw the burning street, the falling ruins and the terrible firestorm. My mother covered us with wet blankets and coats she found in a water tub. We saw terrible things: cremated adults shrunk to the size of small children, pieces of arms and legs, dead people, whole families burnt to death, burning people ran to and from, burnt coaches filled with civilian refugees, dead rescuers and soldiers, many were calling and looking for their children and families, and fire everywhere, everywhere fire, and all the time the hot wind of the firestorm threw people back into the burning houses they were trying to escape from."

So, why have I been amusing myself this way, you might ask. Because, before I knew some of the facts about this air raid, I was gonna have the heroes in my Urban Fantasy series take part in it. They're a WWII bombing crew. I needed them to be in the airspace over the Black Forest as they returned from a mission. I needed them to be lost and confused -- and the smoke over the city after the firebombing certainly could've lead to that. Dresden seemed the perfect raid for them to have taken part in before they were cursed.

But now, I have to ask: Can my men still be heroes after dropping jellied gasoline on children and refugees?

I think about it and here's how I answer myself: Sure. Why not? My dad is still a hero to me. He did the same thing, under orders and for a great reason. And to be honest, he got pretty sensitive about the war as he got older -- didn't want to talk about it anymore. Perhaps he'd read the facts about Dresden too. Perhaps he'd been involved.

It's so easy to romanticize war. In fact, romanticizing it is one of the brainwashing tools used to recruit soldiers. We see tons of pics of what the enemy did. Of the death camps and gas chambers. I'll admit I fall under the spell all the time. Until I see something like this. This is something we did:

This is something we, The Heroes caused:

I'm still gonna write it. But now, my heart hurts. I'll have to use those wrenching, contradictory feelings to deepen my characters.

Sometimes, writing is such a pain.

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Blogger Renee' said...

Ann, have you ever seen the 1993 movie Map of the Human Heart? It deals with the bombing of Dresdin through the eyes of a map-maker.

It details his conflicting emotions with his involvement in the bombing.

The movie is a extremely well done, and is considered a romance as well.


August 15, 2007 4:07 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Oh wow! I never heard of that movie. I'll definitely be renting it. Thanks mucho, Renee!

You stalkers sure do come in handy ;)

August 15, 2007 9:26 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Oh and ps -- thanks for buying my book!

August 15, 2007 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

Dresden was terrible but so were the gas chambers. We have to put war in perspective. We did not start it, the Germans and Japanese did. They committed far more atrocities than Dresden. You also have to remember that we didn't even want to get into the war until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Remember the Bataan Death March perpetrated by the Japanese. I could go on and on but I think that you see my point.

August 15, 2007 11:16 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Oh absolutely Bev. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone more rah-rah about WWII than me. Our enemies got far less than they deserved, without a doubt.

My father bombed the ever-loving shit out of Germany as a charter member of the Eighth Air Force and I'm fiercely proud of that.

The thing that bothered me about Dresden is that it's considered by many to be "the war crime we got away with". Our own, personal atrocity, and did I want my romantic heroes attached to that?

August 15, 2007 11:35 PM  
Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

Lets hear it for your dad! I'm so glad that he bombed the ever-lovin' shit out of Germany. In his Liberator Bomber, right?

I don't think of Dresden as "the war crime we got away with". It was unfortunate but it was a target and the pilots were told to bomb it. This could hold true of your heroes also. Remember, if they refused orders they could be subject to a Court Martial. This doesn't make it right but it does make it war.

August 16, 2007 12:01 AM  
Blogger Renee' said...

Ann, I have all of your books, write faster! LOL

My group is posting your book as the spotlight Title in our blog next week. We just spotlighted Jaci Burton and she added us to her blog as reviewers.

I would like to make one more comment on WWII. The USA did have a great moment of shame that is often forgotten.

When Mass hysteria, paranoia, and ignorance collided the USA was promted into the Internment of Japanese Americans for the duration of World War II. We stole the rights, freedom and property of American citizens. This was our shame.

This is Renee' leaving her soapbox! LOL

August 16, 2007 1:06 AM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

This doesn't make it right but it does make it war.

That's a fantastic quote, Bev. May I steal it? And yeah, in his Liberator. I love the name they gave that plane!

Renee -- I was thinking about the internment last night. At our church, growing up, we knew a couple who had been in one. That is indeed an hour of shame.

I'm excited about being spotlighted! I'll be over to take a look and grab that link. Thanks so much!

This post of mine was just a little still life of sadness, ya know. War books do that to me, but I'm addicted to them for some reason.

August 16, 2007 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Bev Stephans said...

Sure you can steal it. It just came off the top of my head.

On a lighter note, I sent you a "flying" joke via e-mail. It's probably in your junk box.

August 16, 2007 10:26 AM  

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