Stoking the Fire
Jörg Friedrich’s horrifying account of the Allied bombing raids caused a stir on its first publication in Germany. Now it has been translated into English, and York Membery has canvassed some leading British historians for their views.
It’s perhaps the most controversial book to be published in Germany since the war – at least from the Allied point of view. The book in question, The Fire (originally published as Der Brand) by Jörg Friedrich, takes an unflinching look at the suffering inflicted by Allied bombers on the German civilian population during the Second World War.
Around 635,000 German civilians – men, women and children – died as a result of the bombing campaign: an appalling loss by any measure, but the topic has been surprisingly little discussed or researched. This is partly, says the book’s blurb, because it has been regarded as a largely ‘taboo subject – above all in Germany itself’, and partly because many Europeans felt ‘deeply uncomfortable’ reading a book that recounted the suffering of Germans, whether civilians or not, when it was Nazi Germany that had triggered the bloodiest conflict in history.