TV shatters the Dresden taboo

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A DASHING British hero survives a plane crash in wartime Germany, flees through a crowded city, speaks German without a hint of an accent, makes love to the beautiful nurse who saves his life, then exposes a corruption scandal.

This is no fictional blockbuster but German television's attempt to tell the story of the bombing of Dresden by the British during World War II, when up to 50,000 people are believed to have died.

At pound stg. 7million ($16.5million), Dresden: An Inferno is the costliest drama made by German television.

Yet critics have been harsh in their condemnation of the plot and historians have expressed concern over the made-for-TV treatment given to what many Germans still see as a war crime.

''Why does one wish that Dresden was never filmed?'' asked Kerstin Decker, chief critic of Berlin's influential Tagesspiegel. ''Because it makes a mockery out of suffering.''

Treating the bombing as fiction shatters one of Germany's last historical taboos.

The British raid on February 13, 1945, is still regarded with horror. So far it has been dealt with only in very cautious black-and-white documentaries.

Millions of German viewers watched on Sunday the first part of the miniseries, which has at its heart an implausible love affair between an RAF pilot and a German nurse.

Made by German state broadcaster ZDF, Dresden features British and German actors. The lead role is played by John Light, who starred in Band of Brothers.

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