We were led to believe that a campaign which dropped environmentally catastrophic bombs with the force of major earthquakes, bombs which actually changed weather patterns, endangered whole species of birds and insects and altered the shape of the map were all within the normal range of warfare and implemented for the “greater good” and carried out only in cases of sheer necessity to “shorten the war.” We accepted the faulty premise that the carefully planned incineration of thousands of innocent women and children was justified. We accepted the preposterous notion that there was only one villain in this conflict, one supreme face of evil which absolved all others of any wrongdoing. We were led in this direction by a relentless effort still being carried out to both conceal activities prejudicial to the glowing image of our heroes and to excuse their own criminal behavior.
Until recently, nobody understood fully that the terror-bombing of German civilians was not a “friendly fire” mistake, or the result of a bomber missing its mark. We believed the tall tale that schools, churches, cathedrals and castles were hit only when “enemy soldiers were firing from them” or because some small town mayor “refused to surrender.” Until the Internet leaked out uncensored, unfiltered information, most of the grim images and graphic accounts of the horror which rained from the skies over Germany were hidden away and free from scrutiny, judgement or condemnation. Mortality figures from Allied bombing, kept top secret for many years, now trickled out, as did photos, personal accounts and old newspaper clippings.
We were led to believe that the Allied bombings delivered on Germany were a legitimate response to an equal number of bombings Germany was delivering on Britain, and the only images of wartime bombings we were (and are) exposed to were those carried out by Germany, mainly of the Blitz. In reality, Germany bombed Britain with a mere five percent of the tonnage that Britain slammed down on Germany, and more British bombs fell upon the city of Berlin alone than German bombs fell on the whole of Britain during the entire war. The targeting of residential Hamburg was a calculated, well-planned mass murder of civilians, and British and US bombers killed over a hundred times as many civilians in that one event as Britons died from the German raid on the heavily defended, major industrial center of Coventry, England, which resulted in the loss of around 400 civilian lives.
Initial RAF bombing of military targets was dangerously unsuccessful. Only one out of five bombs reached within five miles of its intended target and nearly half of British bombers were being shot down. Therefore, the British leadership was already coldly studying the idea of terror-bombing city centers instead. Contrary to public denials, in September 1941, deputy chief of the Air Staff Norman Bottomley urged “saturation by incendiaries” to “break the morale of the population.” His boss, Charles Portal, boasted to Winston Churchill in late 1941 that if Bomber Command was provided with a force of 4,000 planes, huge damage could be inflicted on Germany, including the destruction of six million homes and “civilian casualties estimated at 900,000.”
A bit short of his mark in 1941, Portal wrote: “We have caused death and injury to 93,000 civilians. The result was achieved with a fraction of the bomb-load we hope to employ in 1943.” By early 1942, there were open suggestions that bombing be directed against German working-class houses, leaving factories and military objectives alone. This policy was implemented in full in 1942 when, upon his taking over the entire U.K. Bomber Command, Arthur Harris issued the following directive: “It has been decided that the primary objective of your operations should now be focused on the morale of the enemy civil population and in particular, of industrial workers.” Harris prepared a list of 60 German cities he intended to destroy first:
“The aim is the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers and the disruption of civilised community life through-out Germany. It should be emphasised that the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives; the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale; and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy, they are not by-products of attempts to hit factories.”
Upon its declaration of war against Germany, Britain immediately launched an offensive bombing campaign: on the Kiel Canal, Sept. 3, 1939; On Wilhelmshaven, Sept. 4, 1939; on Helgoland, Dec. 3, 1939; On Mönchengladbach, May 19-11, 1940, all without provocation. The first well-known, intentional cultural attack of a historic city was the RAF bombing attack on Lübeck on Palm Sunday, March 28, 1942. This attack by over 200 heavy bombers was ordered by Harris, not to destroy military targets in Germany, but as an experiment to test whether bombing timber-framed buildings could start an inferno large enough to be used as an easy aiming point for later waves of bombers. In his words: “I wanted my crews to be well-blooded, as they say in fox hunting, to have a taste of success for a change.” It destroyed 80% of the city’s historic timber-framed core.
As early as 1942, 45,732 tons of bombs were dropped on Germany by the RAF, and even at that early stage, only 4% of them were aimed at industrial targets or ports! The rest were squarely aimed at city centers and civilians, not because their weapons were “inaccurate” or “unsophisticated” but because it was planned. Allied bombing would be killing thousands of German civilians a day by the later stages of the war because of this homicidal, morally corrupt and largely unsuccessful policy.
U.S. Allied commanders were at first opposed to the RAF bombing policy, and when they began bombing runs over Germany in 1943, it was mutually agreed that the U.S.A.A.F would carry out daytime raids on military and industrial targets, and the RAF would conduct the nighttime ‘area’ bombing of civilian population centers. Nonetheless, the USA joined the British and Canadians to bomb Hamburg in “Operation Gomorrah” and in several later civilian bombings.
The destruction of Hamburg came on the night of July 27, 1943 and followed a smaller bombing three days earlier. In this second attack, a mix of munitions was used which had a higher proportion of incendiaries, including deadly phosphorus. It was here, not Dresden, that term ‘Feuersturm,’ or firestorm, was first used, and at least 45,000 to 55,000 civilians were intentionally murdered in an agonizing manner in a well-crafted firestorm that corralled the population, leaving them no escape.
The heinous ten day long firebombing not only murdered thousands, it left a million people homeless and the historic ancient city wholly obliterated. An astounding 30,000 of those killed in Hamburg were women and children. 1.2 million refugees fled the city in the immediate aftermath, many of them with mental and physical baggage (and some with other baggage: one distraught mother was found to be carrying her dead infant in her suitcase). The choreographed inferno circled the city and spread inward, creating a swirling column of super-heated air which generated ferocious 150 mile per hour tornado-like winds capable of snatching up small children and plucking babies from their mother’s arms. People were fried to the melting pavement or slowly choked by poison gases in cellars. At the same time the US military denied to the American public that any terror-bombing was taking place, they were supplying the British with the napalm-like phosphorous to burn German civilians alive. The chemical cannot be extinguished once ablaze, and these bombs sprayed their contents on people in such a way that a horrible death was the inevitable outcome.
With Hamburg, the world media, starting in London, turned the mass murder of German civilian populations into an “acceptable” and “legitimate” method of war, and RAF bombing runs would often be blithely referred to as “Hamburgisations” by their crews from then on. Aside from the “normal” terror-bombings, cities incinerated by these fiendishly crafted firestorms included Dresden, Wuppertal, Hamburg, Remscheid, Kassel, Braunschweig, Kaiserslautern, Saarbrücken, Darmstadt, Stuttgart, Heilbronn, Ulm, Pforzheim, Mainz, Würzburg and Hildesheim, all suffering immense civilian casualties. 10,000 died in Kassel’s firestorm. Darmstadt, a harmless classic center of German culture, produced less than two-tenths of one percent of Germany’s total war production, yet, a minimum of ten percent of Darmstadt’s population died as a result of the intentional firestorm vested upon them. Pforzheim lost one-third of its people. Wurzberg was 89% destroyed with 90,000 people left homeless and 5,000 civilian deaths with women and children making up 81 percent of that figure. From July 1944 to January 1945, a low average of 14,000 German civilians, not including countless undocumented refugees, were killed from bombings every month in just the western German areas.
While the US helped destroy some German cities, only 6% of American bombs actually fell on their city centers. While at the peak of the bombing in 1945, the U.S. Eighth Air Force dropped fully half of its bombs on transportation targets; the figure for the RAF was only 13%. The RAF Bomber Command killed three German civilians for every one killed by the U.S.
In some cases, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. The expulsions and genocide carried out by the communists put thousands upon thousands of homeless, wandering refugees on the roads in harm’s way to fulfill Stalin’s objective to “modestly reduce the German population” and the Allies were more than eager to assist him. These innocent non-combatants, who already suffered from appalling rape, robbery, drowning and enslavement now became targets for bombs as well. It was not without British losses, however.
During the first six months of 1944, out of each 1,000 RAF bomber crews who had flown missions during that period, 712 were reported killed or missing and 175 were wounded, an astounding 89 percent casualty rate. British Chief of the Air Staff Charles Portal was promoted to marshal of the RAF in June of that year. Even more zealous than Harris, and although much of Germany was in ruins already, Portal strongly argued for using his hugely increased bomber force to not only continue to carry out its murderous precision bombing, but to even more indiscriminately “area bomb” cities into total and complete oblivion, confident that this would lead to “victory” within six months.
In February, 1945, Portal was present at the Yalta Conference which laid the blueprint for the deaths and relocation of millions of German civilians in the east. Even in January 1945, when German defeat was clearly imminent, Harris and Portal further advocated even more destruction being visited upon Leipzig, Magdeburg, Chemnitz, Dresden, Breslau, Posen, Halle, Erfurt, Gotha, Weimar, Eisenach, and the rest of Berlin, in other words, all points refugees were flocking to.
Part of the impetus of the British plan named “Operation Thunderclap” was to target the sorry lot of frantic refugees fleeing from the Red Army, millions of terrified people who had already suffered immensely. Thunderclap, in the words of a British bombing operations directorate in January 1945, promised to adhere to “the basic principle of true morale bombing,” which was “to provoke a state of terror by air attack.” Bomber Command was ordered to attack the anticipated destinations in order to, in their own words, “cause confusion in the evacuation from the east,” referring not to retreating troops, but to these civilian refugees (and only secondarily to “hamper the movements of troops from the west”). When ordering the bombing of Chemnitz following the destruction of Dresden, the Allied commander stated the motive to his pilots: “The reason you are going there tonight is to finish off the refugees who managed to escape Dresden.” Women, children and old folks were now to be shot at and incinerated under the approved guidelines which both the British and Americans had set in place and implemented to eliminate the future “refugee problem” for their Soviet allies.
The Associated Press finally admitted that “the Allied air commanders have made the long-awaited decision to adopt deliberate terror-bombing of the great German population centers.” General Carl Spaatz, U.S. Strategic Air Force commander in Europe, concocted Operation “Clarion” in February 1945, targeting smaller towns “to spread the impact on the population,” and although he was urged not to by other figures of the Eighth Air Force in Europe, Spaatz got his way.
By February 3, 1945, there was no surprise when Berlin was attacked again in bombing orchestrated by Spaatz, this time killing another 25,000 people, including thousands more undocumented refugees. City after city was destroyed well after Germany’s doom was obvious, and under “Operation Clarion” smaller towns and cities were incinerated under the flimsiest of pretexts. Nürnberg was attacked because it was an “ideological” center, and likewise, Bayreuth and other small, ancient cities.
“We have got to be tough with Germany and I mean the German people, not just the Nazis. You either have to castrate the German people or you have got to treat them in such a manner so they can’t just go on reproducing people who want to continue the way they have in the past.” This was Roosevelt’s attitude, and it was echoed by Winston Churchill: “You must understand that this war is not against Hitler or National Socialism, but against the strength of the German people, which is to be smashed once and for all, regardless of whether it is in the hands of Hitler or a Jesuit priest.”
Centuries old castles, cathedrals and medieval villages were needlessly destroyed at this late stage. The birth houses of Bach, Durer and Goethe, Martin Luther landmarks, Leipzig’s ancient book district, libraries and universities were all targets. Allied bombing destroyed well over one third of all German books as its universities and libraries and museums were unnecessarily obliterated (not including those in German lands taken away!). Towns with no military significance and having little or nothing to do with the war effort were simply blown away at this point in devastating attacks on vulnerable civilian populations.
The mounting devastation of European heritage had already been raised in vain in British parliament by the Bishop of Chichester on February 9, 1944. The Bishop begged for a more humane approach: “In the fifth year of the war it must be apparent to any but the most complacent and reckless how far the destruction of European culture has already gone. We ought to think once, twice and three times before destroying the rest.” His words fell on deaf ears and he was ruthlessly vilified.
There were abysmal British losses from the time Arthur Harris took charge of the expanded bombing operations until the end of war, yet Harris only allowed 26 per cent of Bomber Command’s attacks to be directed against Germany’s remaining oil facilities between January and May of 1945, while he fanatically continued to concentrate his resources on civilian area bombing, a policy which not only murdered thousands more civilians unnecessarily, but killed hundreds of his own men as well.
In March of 1945, after the dirty deeds were done and hundreds of German cities and towns lay in groaning, bloodied ruins, Churchill, ever the politician, disingenuously “distanced himself” from the homicidal bombing campaign after the destruction of Dresden at long last generated some unfavorable publicity. He wrote that “the destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied Bombing.” Even so, with the German military/industrial complexes already in ruins, the British and Americans compiled new “hit lists” which included wanton civilian attacks on mainly small, rural towns that had not yet been assaulted and whose populations were praying for peace.
In the vicinity of the great castle of Mad King Ludwig, lies Ellingen, a small town in Bavaria which had 1,500 inhabitants, most of them farmers. Ellingen had nothing of military value to attack and was totally unprepared on February 23, 1945 when 25 American bombers dumped 285 high explosive bombs on the hamlet in a surprise attack which left 120 bomb craters and killed the town’s farm animals along with 98 villagers.
U.S. General Frederick Anderson explained that these late-stage terror-bombings were NOT carried out to shorten the war but rather to teach the Germans a lesson: “if Germany was struck all over it will be passed on, from father to son, thence to grandson, as a deterrent for the initiation of future wars.” This “noble” sentiment can no longer excuse the fact that at the dismal end of war, countless thousands of innocent civilians were brazenly roasted alive and forced to watch their children die.
Lost were 3.5 million homes, leaving more than 20 million Germans homeless. Bombs destroyed 2,000 medieval houses in Frankfurt, 1,000 in Hildesheim, 1,000 in Nuremburg, 2,000 in Braunschweig and thousands of others elsewhere. Only three medieval German cities, Bamberg, Heidelberg and Göttingen, remained for the most part, intact. It wiped out such architectural gems as the Baroque center and Archbishop’s Residenz in Wurzburg, the Residenz in Munich, the Hanseatic cities of Lubeck and Bremen, all of Dresden, the Prussian royal palaces at Potsdam and countless others. Most major German town and cities suffered total destruction to their historic inner city areas of at least 90%: Augsburg, Aachen, Cologne, Leipzig, Dortmund, Stuttgart, Freiburg, Hamburg, Kassel, Magdeburg, Mannheim, Nürnberg, Worms, and many, many more. Again, this does not include the utter and complete devastation which occurred in the lost German lands.
The most intense bombing destruction occurred in the months of February and March 1945, just weeks prior to German surrender when German defenses were minimal or absent and the war was all but over. Over 80 million incendiary sticks were dropped on German cities by war’s end. The human death count may never be known, but to this day continues, inexplicably and unforgivably, to be intentionally lowered to an unbelievable and unrealistic level by whichever current formula is popular among conformist social scientists and easily digested by a public unwilling to give up their heroes.
|Kiel Canal, Sept. 3, 1939|
|Left: Lübec 1942. Right: Hamburg 1943|
|Left: Harris. Right: Portal|