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The Inglorious Dead of WWII

12th November 2017 · 11:00am - 12:30pm

In person | Virtual event

 The Inglorious Dead of WWII

The “Glorious Dead” of WWI and subsequent engagements are commemorated at the Cenotaph, and by the Unknown Warrior’s tomb in Westminster Abbey, but there is no equivalent Citizens’ Cenotaph for non-combatants killed in our many wars, where one could wear or lay a wreath of white poppies. Perhaps it is because Britain, and her US ally in WWII, suffered far fewer such casualties than we inflicted, primarily through bombing.

It is easy to quarantine the bombing designed to incinerate Dresden in a firestorm as a single horror; perhaps as an aberration. But hundreds of cities, and many more that number of small towns, principally in Germany but across the entire European theatre of war, suffered massive aerial bombardment, resulting in an estimated 600,000 dead and millions seriously injured: this talk will give an all too brief overview of this.

The doctrine of indiscriminate bombing of an enemy population in order to terminally damage its morale, supposedly to induce an ill-defined “it” to give up and surrender, was the rationale behind Bomber Command’s equipping, and hence deployment, despite growing evidence in the latter stages of the war that it had no such effect. Chris Bratcher argues that it raises all sorts of questions of morality and asks: does the motive justify the end, even if the means don’t?  Do the actual effects destroy any utilitarian argument for it? And if it had shortened the war, perhaps (in a strange inversion of normal argument) by collateral military damage, would that be good reason to justify it? All these questions will be discussed.

Chris Bratcher is a former Chair and Treasurer of Conway Hall Ethical Society, a practised Sunday Session talks giver and a lecturer on a wide range of topics born of his academic philosophical discipline of Ethics and the Philosophy of Mind, and from his studies in Literature and Fine Arts.

Doors 10.30am. Start 11am.

Entry £3, £2 concessions (free to Conway Hall Ethical Society members, who are encouraged to book these tickets in advance via the Book Now button)

Event is subject to capacity, without exceptions. Space will be reserved for ticket holders.

Brockway Room (Ground floor – accessible. Induction loop audio).

Tea, coffee & biscuits will be available.

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