Damousi, J. (2017). Sounds and silence of war: Dresden and Paris during World War II. J. Damousi, P. Hamilton. A Cultural History of Sound, Memory, and the Senses 123-141. New York, United States of America: Routledge. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315445328
[Extract] In February 2015, the seventieth anniversary of the bombing of Dresden (13-15 February 1945) was commemorated with great solemnity around the world. Public mourning and official recognition marked the commemoration of the event by German and British governments. In deeply moving and emotional scenes of survivors and their families, as well as sombre speeches by political leaders, there was widespread acknowledgement of the brutality and violence unleashed by this event that has since become one of the iconic symbols of the tragic destruction of World War II. 1Military historians have extensively examined the impact of the bombings in many detailed accounts; the event has been identified as one of the key turning points in the course of the war. It has remained controversial for the bombing of a city, which was aimed specifically at women, children and the elderly rather than military targets. Over time, aspects of the narrative about the event have highlighted the German victims of the war. 2 More broadly, as events in military history have increasingly become the focus of examination by cultural and social historians, war has been re-interpreted as a cultural and not exclusively a military phenomenon. 3 In this methodological shift, the experiences of war by individuals, including how they remembered the bombings, have recently come to frame historical accounts of war. It is within this framework that I seek to analyse the impact and centrality of sound in survivor accounts of the bombings. 4 Based on interviews undertaken in Dresden in 2015, 5 this chapter seeks to examine the enduring nature of sound in the memory of the event and the emotional connection to the bombings through sound. The nexus between memory, sound and war is powerfully illustrated in these interviews, and the intersection of these three concepts informs the discussion of the bombings.
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