Stalag IV-B was one of the largest prisoner-of-war camps in Germany during World War II. In early 1945 two prisoners held there were Kurt Vonnegut and my friend, Ed, whose biography I’m writing. A few months ago, I listened to the audio book edition of Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut’s book about time travel and the bombing of Dresden. Vonnegut survived the bombing because he was in the basement of a slaughterhouse while on a work detail. This morning I watched the movie that I had ordered through Netflix.
The reason I returned to Slaughterhouse Five was that Ed was in Stalag IV-B at the time of the Dresden bombing. He described how he could see flashes in the sky but couldn’t hear the sound of explosions, being approximately thirty miles away. To put this distance in perspective, I live in Boulder which is approximately that distance from Denver. At ninety-five years of age, Ed is a vital man with a sound memory of past events. He mentioned that one of his fellow prisoners commented, “Oh, boy, is Jerry getting it tonight.” Only later did he learn of the immense destruction to Dresden as a result of the bombing.