Slaughterhouse-Five Historical Context

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The Firebombing of Dresden

The most important historical event which in­forms Slaughterhouse-Five took place almost a quarter of a century before the novel was published. On February 13 and 14, 1945, allied aircraft dropped incendiary bombs on the German city of Dresden-a so-called "open city" with no signifi­cant military targets. The bombing raid created a firestorm that destroyed the city and killed an esti­mated 135,000 people, almost all of them civilians. This was nearly twice the number of people killed by the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The Dresden bombing remains the single heaviest air strike in military history. The raid remains con­troversial to this day, as many historians have sug­gested that the raid served no real military purpose and did nothing to hasten Germany's defeat. Ap­proximately one hundred American prisoners of war, captured at the Battle of the...

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This section contains 811 words
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Slaughterhouse-Five from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.