ANY suggestion that the Archbishop of Canterbury apologised for
the bombing of Dresden was "manifestly false", a statement from
Lambeth Palace said on Friday. It followed a report in the
Daily Mail under the headline "Archbishop says sorry for
bombing the Nazis".
"The Archbishop's comments were a reflection in a solemn
ceremony on the tragedy of war," a spokesman said. "They very
carefully avoided apologising, and those present, including the
President of Germany, recognised the difference. In his speech, the
President also recognised the fact that there is no equivalence
with Nazi war crimes, and that the war started with Nazi
The Archbishop was among a delegation from the UK who attended a
service commemorating the 70th anniversary of the bombing of
Dresden last week (News,
13 February). Speaking at the Frauenkirche, he said that even
being invited, as a British church leader, was "nothing short of
He described how Allied bombers had "brought death and
destruction on a scale and with a ferocity it is impossible to
imagine. In the rage of war our hearts inevitably harden, and
increasingly brutal and devastating force is unleashed. . .
"Much debate surrounds this most controversial raid of the
Allied bombing campaign. Whatever the arguments, events here 70
years ago left a deep wound and diminished all our humanity. So, as
a follower of Jesus, I stand here among you with a profound feeling
of regret and deep sorrow."
He concluded: "We should never underestimate the miracle which
peace in Europe represents - arguably the most significant
political process of reconciliation in history."
In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live after the service, the
Archbishop was asked whether Britain and the United States should
apologise for what happened in Dresden.
He replied: ". . . I think it's more complicated than 'Should we
apologise?' I think there is a deep need for profound sorrow at the
events and the causes of such dreadful times as Europe lived
In a blog written on Saturday, he expressed his "sadness" on
seeing the Daily Mail headline: "No honest reading of what
I said . . . could come anywhere near such an idea."
"I want to get back to the recognition in Dresden that the great
evil of the Nazis created a great war, and during it terrible
things were done, by necessity, by the nature of war," he wrote.
"Churchill said: 'Jaw-jaw is better than war-war'. So let us mourn
and learn, honour the heroism of those who defeated Hitler and his
regime, celebrate our freedoms, and, in the strength of Jesus
Christ, struggle for peace and reconciliation, of which he is the
The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, was scathing in
his response to the Daily Mail.
"It is shameful that a so-called free press sees fit to
celebrate the freedoms gained by the sacrifice of so many 70 years
ago by stooping to lies, misrepresentation, slander, and brain-dead
ideological nonsense," he wrote on his blog on Sunday. "Is the
Daily Mail going to have the courage and integrity -
values demonstrated by those who sacrificed so much during World
War Two - to apologise?"