Last week people gathered in Dresden to commemorate the Allies’ bombing of Dresden 13-15 February 1945. The toll of that firestorm was 25,000 people and the destruction of the city.
Back in the Vietnam War period, the Left, seeking to discredit America wherever and however possible, often used the Dresden conflagration against them, as if Dresden was the only tragedy of the Second World War. What, of course, was not mentioned was that carpet-bombing was a Nazi tactic. The examples in Holland were Rotterdam and the lesser known Middelburg, the capital of Zeeland.
On 13 May 1940, the German commander of the invasion of The Netherlands gave the instruction: “Resistance in Rotterdam should be broken with all means, if necessary threaten with and carry out the annihilation [Vernichtung] of the city”. That’s what happened. The Dutch military had proven more stubborn than anticipated. Fearing the British would come to their aid, the German commander order the destruction of Rotterdam to enforce surrender. That happened on 15 May.
On the 17th of May, reconnaissance planes circled Middelburg and left. Bombers later came to complete the destruction of the constant shelling from the Sloedam causeway. Almost the entire centre of Middelburg made up of splendid examples of medieval and Dutch Renaissance buildings was prey to the bombing.
When the smoke had cleared, one could see that most of the ancient part of Middelburg’s town centre had been destroyed. Around six hundred houses and public buildings lay in ruins. Perhaps worse, the town’s ancient documents and records going back a thousand years went up in the flames.
The Germans destroyed Middelburg in order to secure the strategic Zeeland Coastline.