The psychological and physical mutilation of Germany - Part II
When people think of the Allied bombing of Germany, "Dresden" automatically springs to mind, surely not Wesel, Nürnberg or Würzburg or the hundreds of other obliterated German towns and cities. While people uselessly debate the death toll at Dresden, attention is diverted from the 45,000 to 50,000 civilians murdered in the bombing of Hamburg, or the 10,000 people intentionally burned alive in Kassel, where every building in the city center was hit by at least two of 460,000 "fire sticks" dumped on the city to create a firestorm with temperatures of 1500°C. Neither is anyone aware that 20% of Nordhausen's civilian population was killed in a mere fifteen minutes or that one out of three Pforzheimers was murdered and thousands more hideously injured from an unnecessary bombing based on nothing more that a rumor.
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, exterminated 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", carried out only in cases of sheer and utter necessity. 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 that absolved all others of any wrongdoing. We were led in this direction by a relentless effort still being carried out to both conceal the truth and to excuse 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 bought the fairy 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 neatly away and free from scrutiny, judgment 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 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 on Germany, and more British bombs fell on the city of Berlin alone than German bombs fell on Britain during the entire war.
The targeting of residential areas of Hamburg was a coldly calculated and intentionally planned mass murder of civilians, and British and American bombers killed over a hundred times as many civilians in that one event as did the German raid on the heavily defended, major industrial center of Coventry, England, which resulted in the loss of around 400 civilian lives.
At about the same time that the scope of the Allied bombing of Germany was suddenly being exposed and re-examined, initiating a murmur of criticism, a monument of British Air Chief Arthur Harris shot up in Britain. Harris, clearly the figure most associated with the bombing destruction, clearly laid out his murderous plans on October 25, 1943:
"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."
Harris was but one of many calling for the utter and total destruction of Germany and her people at any cost, even that of their own men.
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, setting aside morality issues. By early 1942, members of Churchill's Cabinet openly suggested that the strategic bombing of Germany 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, 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", a policy intended to terrorize the German population into subjugation.
Technically, Wilhelmshaven, which had been bombed by 25 RAF bombers on Sept. 4, 1939, was the first terror bombing in the war. However, the first well-known deliberate cultural attack on and mass bombing of a historic city was the RAF attack on Lübeck on Palm Sunday, March 28, 1942.
The attack by over 200 heavy bombers was ordered by Harris, not in defense or 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 timber-framed core of the ancient and honorable seaport city.
By some calculations, the numbers of civilians killed per 10,000 bombs delivered was 4,744 in the Allied bombing campaign of Germany, but it varied widely from attack to attack. The ratio of dead civilians, for instance, in the surprise attack on Lübeck on March 28/29, 1942 was 7,600 victims per every 10,000 tons of bombs. The ratio of civilians killed in May 30/31, 1942 on a Cologne attack which soon followed was 2,825 per every 10,000 tons of bombs. Over 1,000 RAF aircraft took off from 52 airfields to destroy Cologne. The attack, while hitting only a few factories, managed to cause an enormous loss of life, particularly of elderly, women and children, with 1,455 tons of dropped bombs. In one fell swoop, it managed to demolish 21 churches, hundreds of businesses, libraries and schools as well as most cultural landmarks and nearly 13,000 homes, leaving 45,132 people homeless.
Until Harris vigorously championed terror bombing and prepared a list of 60 German cities he intended to destroy first, the bombing was tit for tat between Britain and Germany. The policy changed under his command, and his bombers were instructed to concentrate not on dockyards, factories and military targets, but on built-up residential areas and heavily populated civilian districts to, in his words, "disrupt Germany's economy, destroy morale and create chaos by leaving millions shelterless." Low-income areas would be the first targets because of denser population and tightly clustered buildings, initially in German cities with over 100,000 people and eventually, in small, insignificant hamlets. Some cities were attacked 100, even 200 or more times in the course of war.
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 the 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. 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 the exploding phosphorous 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 suffered an immense amount of civilian casulaties. 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 its intentionally created firestorm. Pforzheim lost one-third of its people. Wurzberg was 89% destroyed with 5,000 civilian deaths, and 90,000 people were left homeless. 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 partook in the destruction of some cities, only 6% of American bombs actually fell on German city centers. At the peak of the bombing "war" 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 would end up killing three German civilians for every one killed by the U.S.A.
Targeting of the Refugees
Winston Churchill, 1944: "Expulsion is the method which, in so far as we have been able to see, will be the most satisfactory and lasting. There will be no mixture of populations to cause endless trouble. A clean sweep will be made. I am not alarmed by these transferences." 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.
In January 1945, although German defeat was clearly imminent, Harris and Charles Portal, British Chief of the Air Staff during most of the war, further advocated more destruction being visited upon:
"Magdeburg, Leipzig, 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 losing their homes, farms, fathers, sons and husbands, human beings who had already endured brutal rape, theft, starvation and had spent agonizing days and weeks walking on frozen feet to what they hoped was safety. Bomber Command was ordered to attack their 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 ( only secondarily, to "hamper the movements of troops from the west").
Portal was even more zealous than Harris. He was promoted to marshal of the Royal Air Force in June 1944 and in February, 1945 he was present at the Yalta Conference which laid the blueprint for the deaths and relocation of millions of German civilians in the east. In early 1944, after much of Germany was already in ruins, 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" all German cities with populations exceeding 100,000 into total and complete oblivion, confident that this would lead to "victory" within six months. What it led to was mass slaughter.
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, human beings, were now to be shot at and incinerated under the approved guidelines 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." Spaatz was urged not to by other figures of the Eighth Air Force in Europe, but 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 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." (Roosevelt)
Centuries old castles, cathedrals, medieval villages and ancient libraries were at this late stage all needlessly lost forever. Bach's, Goethe's and Durer's birth houses, Martin Luther landmarks, Leipzig's ancient book district, the grand cathedrals, were all now deemed legitimate targets. Towns having little or nothing to do with the war effort and with no military significance were needlessly obliterated at this point in unnecessary and simply devastating vengeance attacks on civilian populations. The most intense period of bombing occurred between January and May of 1945 when German cities were virtually defenseless. The Allies then bombed German cities "round the clock".
"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." Winston Churchill
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.
"There are no innocent civilians. Nowadays you fight a people, not armed forces." General Le May
In March of 1945, after the dirty deeds were done and hundreds of German cities and towns lay in ruins, Churchill, ever the politician, "distanced himself" from the homicidal bombing campaign after Dresden's destruction resulted at long last in 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 needlessly roasted alive and forced to watch their children die in agony. Women in villages across Germany struggled to climb up church steeples, water towers and roof tops to drape white sheets hoping for mercy which was not given.
Allied bombing destroyed 3.5 million homes, leaving more than 20 million Germans homeless. It destroyed 2000 medieval houses in Frankfurt, 1000 in Hildesheim, 1000 in Nuremburg, 2000 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. The most mind-boggling fact is that most of the destruction occurred in the months of February and March 1945, just weeks before the 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 easy to digest by a public unwilling to give up their heroes.