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32 A.F. L. Rev. 1 (1990)
Air War and the Law of War

handle is hein.journals/airfor32 and id is 7 raw text is: Air War and the Law of War
W. HAYS PARKS
I. INTRODUCTION
For many it must seem incongruous to speak of law of war in light of the
degree of destruction wrought during World War II. It appears a contradiction in
terms when one considers the number of civilian dead,1 recalls British Prime Minis-
Mr. Parks (B.A., J.D., Baylor University) is Chief, International Law Team, International Affairs
Division, Office of The Judge Advocate General of the Army; Professorial Lecturer on International
Law, The George Washington University School of Law, Washington, D.C.
1. Estimates of German deaths vary. The United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Summary Report
(European War) 15 (1945) estimated that 250,253 civilians were killed by Allied bombing between
January 1, 1943, and January 31, 1945. Hans Rumpf in THE BOMBING OF GERMANY 164 (1962), places
the figure at 600,000. David Irving in THE DESTRUCTION OF DRESDEN 41 (1963) sets the number of
civilian deaths at 635,000. However, Irving originally estimated civilian deaths resulting from the
February 1945 Allied air raids on Dresden at more than 135,000. Id. at !1. Subsequently, in a letter
to The Times, London, July 7, 1966, at 13c, he reduced the total to 25,000. But later historians
continue to cite Irving's original figure in arriving at their own conclusions as to total civilian deaths.
See, e.g., L. BIDINIAN, THE COMBINED ALLIED BOMBING OFFENSIVE AGAINST THE GERMAN CIVILIAN
1942-1945 37, 51, 242 (1976); and G. QUESTER, DETERRENCE BEFORE HIROSHIMA 150 (1966) (the
error remained, uncorrected, in a 1986 edition).
Civilians killed in Great Britain have been accounted for as follows:
Bombing                       51,509
Flying bombs                   6,184
Rockets                        2,754
Cross-channel guns               148
Total                         60,595
B. COLLIER, THE DEFENCE OF THE UNITED KINGDOM 528 (1957).
From a law of war standpoint, there is a potential for discrepancy in these figures. Civilian workers
killed within a legitimate target, such as a military base, munitions plant, or aircraft engine manufactur-
ing plant, are not regarded as civilian casualties. While this should not be construed so broadly as to
include all civilians in an industrial city, as occurred during World War II, reasonable persons could
arrive at different numbers, but disagreement would have only a fractional impact on the total numbers.
The United States Strategic Bombing Survey, The Effects of Bombing on Health and Medical Services
in Japan 5 (1947) notes that the majority of civilian casualties in Germany and Japan were women and
children, while placing German civilian casualties at 500,000 and Japanese civilian deaths at 338,000,
the latter all occurring in one year. See, e.g., F. IKLE, THE SOCIAL IMPACT OF BOMB DESTRUCTION 205
(1958). The DEUTSCHLAND HEUTE 156 (1958), official statistical publication of the Federal Republic of
Germany, provides the following figures:
Losses among German civilians
through hostile action:                500,000 dead
Losses among German civilians
from the eastern provinces:          1,550,000 dead
See also M. SORGE, THE OTHER PRICE OF HITLER'S WAR 67 (1986).
Obviously not all civilian casualties can be attributed to bombing. The devastation of Berlin by
Russian artillery bombardment was so great that the United States Strategic Bombing Survey could not
perform an evaluation of the damage done to that city by the Allied strategic air offensive. A Brief Study
of the Effects of Area Bombing on Berlin, Augsurg, Bochum, Leipzig, Hagen, Dortmund, Oberhausen,
Schweinfurt, and Bremen, 39 THE UNITED STATES STRATEGIC BOMBING SURVEY (2d ed. 8, Jan. 1947).

Air War - 1

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