It wasn't to hit the "military targets" in the city. They were so insignificant they'd been left completely alone until then. It was because the German had strong anti-air defenses concentrated at the targets "we" wanted to hit. We wanted to bomb their oil since it didn't work well to bomb anything else. But if we just bombed those they could put all their defenses around them. So we decided to hit population centers. If they tried to protect everything then we could get their oil easily. And if they didn't, at least we could show them how powerless they were by killing lots of people. Excuses -- proof that bombing could make firestorms was important. And the Germans had declared total war. Why did the Germans publish the death estimates? Did they want the Americans to feel guilty? Surely it hurt German morale. I don't understand why a nation at war would publish truthful or inflated numbers like that. Nations at war don't tell the truth on purpose.
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from the article: Did Nazis exaggerate death toll in WWII Dresden air raid?