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TAYLOR, Frederick



Dresden
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In the garden of the Hoch family's suburban waterside villa is a stone monument, from which it is possible to look downriver and view the skyline of Dresden two or three miles distant. It was built by some long-ago Francophile to commemorate the afternoon when Napoleon, on headlong retreat from Moscow and considering where to make a stand, was led to that same height, at that same spot, so that he too could examine Dresden from a distance. The year was 1813. Saxony was one of the few allies Napoleon had left. The French emperor was thinking of having a battle on its territory. In the event, he liked the idea so much, he had several. The Saxons, as the pastor often points out, have never been especially clever in their choice of friends.
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In 1945 Pastor Hoch's family were spared the total destruction visited upon the inner city. Isolated stray bombs scarred their leafy neighborhood, but the Hochs and their lodgers and neighbors just took refuge in the shelter in the garden until the raid was over. Then - when the roar of aircraft engines had faded - they emerged, to be presented with a grandstand view of their native city, two miles or so distant, being devoured by flame. A woman who lived up the hill, a fervent Nazi, spotted them out on their balcony and called out, "So, Frau Hoch! Was Goebbels right or not? Are the English criminals or not?"

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Most Germans had realized at the time of the fall of Stalingrad that talk of victory was hollow. By the winter of 1944-45, even Nazi fanatics realized that to all practical intents the war was lost. Ever resourceful, Goebbels now made a characteristically bold and cunning decision: Instead of putting a positive gloss on the German position, he would hammer home the horrors in store if the Third Reich was defeated. The Bolshevik hordes pressing from the east, raping and looting as they advanced into the neat, untouched towns of East Prussia and Silesia; the treacherous, hypocritical Anglo-Americans with their pitiless bomber fleets and their cosmopolitan (read Jewish) contempt for Germany's unique cultural heritage. These were the threats to German - and European - civilization.

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