- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 27, 2003


British envoy laments firebombing of Hamburg

HAMBURG — Peter Torry, Britain’s ambassador to Germany, called the Royal Air Force firebombing of Hamburg that killed some 40,000 people 60 years ago an example of the madness that swept Europe in World War II.

“The events of July 1943 were a particularly terrible and destructive part of that madness,” Mr. Torry said in a speech marking the 60th anniversary of the start of “Operation Gomorrah” that left a million people homeless in Germany’s No. 2 city. Mr. Torry, who spent several years as a child in Hamburg in the early 1950s when his father, an army officer, was stationed there, stopped short of an apology for the firebombing.

German historian Joerg Friedrich says the British-led attack on German cities was a morally dubious and militarily questionable campaign to turn the population against Adolf Hitler. He said the firebombs killed 635,000 civilians and destroyed 130 cities, but barely dented Germany’s wartime production.


Quakes damage homes; minor injuries reported

ISTANBUL — A string of earthquakes shook southwestern Turkey yesterday, collapsing a mud-brick house and damaging dozens of other homes, officials said.

Several people sustained minor injuries in their panicked rush toward safety.

The Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory said the strongest quake struck southwestern Denizli province at 11:36 a.m. and had a preliminary magnitude of 5.6.

Recep Yazicioglu, the local governor, told the CNN-Turk news channel that some buildings had cracks and that a mud-brick house in a village had collapsed.

Earlier, he told the Anatolia news agency that 48 homes were damaged. Several people sustained minor injuries as they left their homes in panic, he added.

Denizli is about 280 miles southwest of Ankara, the capital.

There were more than 20 aftershocks, including one with a preliminary magnitude of 4.9 late in the afternoon.


Ban on booze in legislature sought

VIENNA — Women members of Parliament in Austria say they have had enough of listening to drunken debates and called for a ban on alcohol in the national legislature.

In the latest edition of the women’s magazine Wienerin, Ulrike Lunacek, a deputy with the opposition Greens, said: “No leader of the house has ever dared tackle the problem,” adding: “If there were women in top positions, they would surely have acted.”

Silvia Fuhrmann, a lawmaker with the conservative ruling People’s Party, said she was aware of the problem but opposes a ban on alcohol. “It is not a kindergarten, after all,” she said.

Weekly notes …

Ending a Soviet-era law dating to former President Mikhail Gorbachev’s efforts to cut down on alcoholism that was ravaging the country’s health and economy, Russia’s Health Ministry last week issued an order allowing people to drive as long as their blood-alcohol level is lower than 0.5 percent — a tad more lenient than in Britain, where the limit is 0.4 percent. A ministry statement gave no explanation for the change. … Dozens of Greek prostitutes demonstrated outside the Interior Ministry on Thursday to protest the closure of brothels in Athens in what they see as a crackdown ahead of the 2004 Olympic Games. The protest came as Nordic and Baltic ministers from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania protested purported Greek plans to license more brothels to gear up for next year’s tourist influx.

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