Don't cry for Dresden: remember those tortured and gassed

It says a lot for the much-derided British spirit of fair play that one reads far more elegies for Dresden in the English press ("The enchanted city finds a new kind of beauty", 12 February) than one does for Coventry. I understand from my German friends, on the other hand, that this reverence is by no means mutual and that Coventry is an unknown quantity over there.

Am I the only Briton under the age of 50 thoroughly sick of this endless self-flagellation? Will we still be muttering away about what wicked old types we are in the year 2010, 2020, 2050? Yet the Germans are actively encouraged to put it all behind them, say no more and get on with the business of being good Europeans.

The hard fact remains that it was the Germans who set in motion a chain of events - with the election of Hitler, and the population's overwhelming support for him - that would lead to the most murderous and cataclysmic episodes the world has ever seen. Somehow, I find that, considering events within this context, I just can't get worked up about a few old buildings. And though many innocent people died in Dresden, we would never have been there if they hadn't been here. Surely, in any conflict, the initiator of that conflict is more responsible for the outcome than the respondent, even if the respondent wins?

I would invite anyone who feels a bit weepy about Dresden after reading William Cook's piece to consider how so many other people died during those years. I don't know about William, but I'd rather go quickly in a firestorm than be starved, beaten, tortured and gassed, as the Germans did to so many millions of people. No, it's not nice to mention it after all these years, is it? But what's sauce for the goose, et cetera -.

Julie Burchill