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Allied Terror bombing of Germany

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by Tomcat, Nov 10, 2014.

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  1. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    The Germans were the first who introduced the terror bombing at Guernica, so it should be understood who has thrown the first stone. The Germans.

    In addition, it is impossible to address this question without referring to the German development of the cruise missiles and the ballistic projectiles. Later on, these became notorious as the Revenge Weapons. However, V-1 and V-2 have been developed as offensive weapons with Britain designated as the target of terror bombing.

    On 28 June 1940, a terror bombing rationale had been advanced at a meeting between Army Ordnance Chief Leeb and Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, Brauchitsch. Much later, these weapons of terror bombing have been renamed by Speer into the V-Weapons.

    Essentially, the Germans introduced terror bombing and the Allies just accepted that. If there is anyone to be blamed it is their Reichmarshal who failed to defend Germany from the Allied air attacks.
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  2. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Leaflet dropped 3rd/4th September, 1939

    "GERMAN MEN AND WOMEN.
    The Government of the Reich have with cold deliberation forced war upon Great Britain. They have done so knowing that it must involve mankind in a calamity worse than that of 1914. The assurances of peaceful intentions the Fuehrer gave to you and to "the world in April have proved as worthless as his words at the Sportpalast last September when he said: —" We have no more territorial claims to make in Europe."


    Never has Government ordered subjects to their death with less excuse. This war is utterly unnecessary. Germany was in no way threatened or deprived of justice. Was she not allowed to re-enter the Rhineland, to achieve the Anschluss, and to take back the Sudeten Germans in peace? Neither we nor any other nation would have sought to limit her advance, so long as she did not violate independent non-German peoples.


    Every German ambition—just to others— might have been satisfied through friendly negotiation.


    President Roosevelt offered you both peace with honour and the prospect of prosperity. Instead your rulers have condemned you to the massacre, miseries and privations of a war they cannot even hope to win.

    It is not us, but you they have deceived. For years their iron censorship has kept from you truths that even uncivilised peoples know. It has imprisoned your minds in, as it were, a concentration camp. Otherwise they would not have dared to misrepresent the combination of peaceful peoples to secure peace as hostile encirclement. We had no enmity against you, the German people.

    This censorship has also concealed from you that you have not the means to sustain protracted warfare. Despite crushing taxation you are on the verge of bankruptcy. Our resources and those of our allies in men, arms, and supplies are immense. We are too strong to break by blows, and we could wear you down inexorably.

    You, the German people, can, if you will, insist on peace at any time. We also desire peace and are prepared to conclude it with any peace-loving Government in Germany."







    "... Our failure to carry the war into Germany was the subject of a good deal of criticism in this country. Why were we dropping leaflets and not bombs? it was asked. The Germans would have been more impressed by high explosives than even the best propagandist literature. It was a policy of 'kid gloves and confetti', said an important monthly journal.' Sometimes the reaction was bewilderment tinged with sardonic amusement. 'Lord, man, you might have hurt someone!' a squadron leader was supposed to have admonished a flying officer who had not untied the packet of 'nickels' (leaflets) before jettisoning them. Another jest was that the Navy had taken to sending down leaflets instead of depth-charges in its hunt for submarines. ... These comments were the froth on the surface of waters of doubt and perplexity which were deep and wide. There was serious criticism of our inaction. The Air Force, it was complained, was not being used for the purpose for which, so far as it was an offensive force, it had been created. Only when the German advance into the Low Countries and France began in May, 1940, was our striking force of the air allowed to fulfill its function." -- J.M. Spaight, Bombing Vindicated (London, 1944), p. 61.

    "Perhaps Hitler's famous intuition gave him an inkling of the ultimate significance of what Britain was beginning to do in 1935-36. In May of the former year he expressed, his personal apprehension on the subject of long-range bombing to Mr. Edward Price Bell, the well-known press correspondent. 'War has been speeded up too much,' he said, 'and made too overwhelmingly destructive for our geographical limitations. Within an hour—in some instances within forty minutes of the outbreak of hostilities—swift bombing machines would wreak ruin upon European capitals.' There was nothing profound in that remark, but it was significant when made by a man in whose brain there was already being formed a scheme for the domination of Europe. He was afraid of the air. He showed that he was, again, when in 1935 and in 1936 he put forward proposals for the prohibition of bombing outside battle-zones. Again, there was nothing new in the idea of such prohibition. It was simply another instance of the survival of the military code of thought. It reflected the view, put forward in Germany in the last war, that the proper rôle of the air arm is that of long-range artillery." -- J.M. Spaight, Bombing Vindicated (London, 1944), pp. 38-39.

    "I am personally convinced that the proposal, was seriously meant, that is, that it was intended to be accepted. I can not subscribe to the view that Hitler brought it forward in 1935 and 1936 with his tongue in his cheek; not in the least because he was incapable of doing so, but simply because it was unquestionably in his interest to have such a restriction accepted. He was scared of the possible effect of a bombing offensive upon Germany's war effort and the morale of the German population. He would infinitely have preferred to fight out the war in another way, a way that was not our way but was his way. He did not want our kind of war. That is why it is right and proper that he should get our kind of war from now to the end." -- J.M. Spaight, Bombing Vindicated (London, 1944), p. 41.

    "... When I look around to see how we can win the war I see that there is only one sure path. We have no Continental Army which can defeat the German military power. The blockade is broken and Hitler has Asia and probably Africa to draw from. Should he be repulsed here or not try invasion, he will recoil eastward, and we have nothing to stop him. But there is one thing that will bring him back and bring him down, and that is an absolutely devastating exterminating attack by very heavy bombers from this country upon the Nazi homeland. We must be able to overwhelm him by this means, without which I do not see a way through." -- Prime Minister Winston Churchill, July 8, 1940, quoted in Max Hastings, Bomber Command (NY: Dial Press, 1979), p. 116.


    "Yet, because we were doubtful about the psychological effect of propagandist distortion of the truth that it was we who started the strategic offensive, we have shrunk from giving our great decision of May, 1940, the publicity which it deserved. That, surely, was a mistake. It was a splendid decision. It was as heroic, as self-sacrificing, as Russia's decision, to adopt her policy of 'scorched earth'. It gave Coventry and Birmingham, Sheffield and Southampton, the right to look Kief and Kharkov, Stalingrad and Sebastopol, in the face. Our Soviet allies would have been less critical of our inactivity in 1942 if they had understood what we had done. We should have shouted it from the house-tops instead of keeping silence about it.
    It could have harmed us morally only if it were equivalent to an admission that we were the first to bomb towns. It was nothing of the sort." -- J.M. Spaight, Bombing Vindicated (London, 1944), pp. 73-74.

    "In the days when we were fighting alone we answered the question 'How are you going to win the war?' by stating 'We will shatter Germany by bombing.' Since then the enormous injuries inflicted on the German army by the Russians, and the accession of the manpower and munitions of the United States, have rendered other possibilities open. ... We look forward to the mass invasion of the Continent by liberating armies, and the general revolt of the populations against the Hitler tyranny. All the same it would be a mistake to cast aside our original thought - which, it may be mentioned, is also strong in American minds, namely, that the severe, ruthless bombing of Germany on an ever-increasing scale will not only cripple her war effort, including U-boat and aircraft production, but will also create conditions intolerable to the mass of German population. ... We must regard the bomber offensive against Germany at least as a feature in breaking her war-will second only to the largest military operations which can be conducted on the Continent until that war-will is broken." -- Prime Minister Winston Churchill to Air Minister Sir Archibald Sinclair, late 1942, quoted in Max Hastings, Bomber Command (NY: Dial Press, 1979), p. 117.

    In Dec '44, Germany still controlled most of Central Europe, and was still resisting fiercely.

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  3. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    The Germans used a false flag to invade Poland, and deceptions, lies. and sneakiness to invade Russia. They invaded Western countries that didn't declare war on them, Rotterdam and Warsaw are mixed in cruelness apparently, blitzed England every night ( supposedly the German pilot lost his way and accidentally bombed London, so Churchill ordered a revenge bombing of Berlin, which sent Hitler into a rage and he ordered the non-war targets) for whatever reason, V-1 and V-2, the methodical, sadistic torturing and killing of millions of innocent civilians of what the Nazis considered "sub-human," the biggest mass theft and looting of countries and individuals in history.
     
  4. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

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    I think it did. Germany could have been given an alternative solution: get rid of the Nazies and we can talk about the peace. That might have encouraged more anti-Hitler conspiracies á la Stauffenberg - or helped some of the participants in that plot to keep their focus even after Hitler survived the assassination attempt.

    Now, because of the unconditional surrender demand, the Germans were forced and willing to fight the soviets - and because of that the British and the Americans as well - to the bitter end, since there was no other option.

    There's no question about the fact that the WW2 was started by Hitler and Stalin. Getting rid of only Hitler - as the task illogically was - might have happened sooner, and millions of lives might have been saved. We will never know, since that was not even tried.
     
  5. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Indeed. What about sending Hitler to exile in luxury villa on Cannary Islands? :green:


    [​IMG]
     
  6. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Germany had been given a chance at Versailles,but it refused to draw lessons and started again a war .Thus,it deserved no more chances : it was war till Germany would surrender unconditionally .

    Other point : a lot of people have a wrong understanding of unconditional surrender :this meant that Germany could not say : we surrender on that and these conditions :the conditions would be put by the Allies .

    In fact : in june 1919,Germany also surrendered unconditionally : the Allies were giving their conditions,and these could be accepted or refused,but there was no discussion possible .

    The only difference between 1919 and 1945 was that in 1945 the Allied conditions were much harsher .

    Last point : the theory that without the Unconditional Surrender,the military would have deposed Hitler is not only nonsens,it is the usual attemt by the German military to blame the Allies for the millions of casualties that happened after Cadablanca : the WM had had ample time before Casablanca to depose Hitler : it did nothing .
    Thus :why woulf they have deposed Hitler if there was no Casablanca ?


    They were caught together,they would be hung together .
     
  7. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member Patron  

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    I am a tad confused by this statement. I am not defending Germany's involvement in the Great War and their culpability nor do I disagree with the Allied bombing strategy during the Second World War. I for one find it justifiable given the gruesome atrocities committed by the Nazi Party. However, the Treaty of Versailles was not a cut and dry document. For nearly a century people have argued whether it was too harsh (War Guilt Clause, the surrender of 7,000,000 people and roughly 20,000 square miles of country, Germany being excluded from negotiations, just to name a few). The Treaty, as a document, in many ways set a tone for the people of Germany and set the psychological mindset for future hostilities (the market crash didn't help either) . If the Treaty was meant to teach a lesson it most certainly did. If the aim was to end hostilities, it did nothing of the sort. In fact, the idealistic Wilson had a much larger picture in mind, but I digress.
     
  8. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    Yes, of course, but I missed that one. It appears that he got the dates wrong based on the fact that the facts he is quoting are accurate just with the wrong time stamp and I am aware the Germans used incenearies on Britain but I am only focusing on the allied bombing of Germany here.

    I find the argument of 'Did' the Germans ask for it' a diffcult one to comprehend as I am so against intentional targeting of targets that have no military use such as what occured during the allied bombing campaign when they targetd workers houses and the like. I guess for a German in the 1940's it must have been hard just coming out of the depression feeling at a loss and to have Hitler appear to save and unite Germany and to promise to make Germany strong again, naturally they would be drawn towards him. Fasictism can be a powerful tool to the right person. My question though is did the people deserve to be targeted due to their ignorance. But hindsight is 20/20 and I can only hope that the terror wrought on civilian populations during the war, whether it was Russian, British, German, Chinese or Japanese served a purpose to teach us the horrors of war and hopefully we will not repeat them again on this scale, although I don't like our chances.
     
  9. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Didn't the Germans bomb London in WW1 with Zeppelins too? I think it caused the British to pull some aero squadrons back from the Western Front to deal with the issue.
     
  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    It wasn't just Zeps, but Gothas and Giants too.
     
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  11. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I won't get into the argument about who was worse but I'm currently reading Toland's biography of Hitler. I tend to agree with Tamino that the fault lies with the entire German population. During the 20's and 30's the adulation given to Hitler was astounding. I'm still in disbelief.

    By the way, welcome back Robert. Nice to see you around again.
     
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  12. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Didn't know about the Gothas and Giants, but the point I was making was that the Germans were on the cutting edge, innovators if you will, of the concept of terror bombing, with London in WW1, and Guernica in the Spanish Civil War. The shape of things to come was getting horrific with each step.
     
  13. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Thanks boys for this additional information. I really wasn't aware of that. :)

    This additionally confirms that the Germans have first selected bombing civilian targets. Now, the Neo-Nazis are moaning after their grandpas were beaten by the weapons of their own choice!!! :circlejerk:

    And about the prolonged war I can just reiterate Harry S. Truman's advice:

    If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    :pacman-pinky: :pacman-clyde: :pacman-inky:
     
  14. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    WW1 era bombing was "terror" as the actual damage the bombs could do was pretty limited, just like shelling coastal towns, a tactic both sides used, the impact was more psychological than material. The Italians probably understood this as when they made a multi plane raid on Vienna they only carried leaflets. The Zeppelin, and later Gotha raids were a new form of warfare, like tanks, submarines, poison gas, flamethrowers and the "paris gun", some developed into standard weapons for all armies, some dropped as impractical (though Saddam Hussein toyed with the "extreme gun" concept pretty recently), others were banned by treaties (and few things in human history are less rational than arms treaties, the recent ban on land mines and cluster munitions would shock any WW2 weapon designer, and modern small arms designers are struggling to "sneak between the paragraphs" of a 100 years old document) , The RAF had plans to start a massive, for the times, bombing campaign in 1919 that could have had some material effects so could possibly qualify as strategic bombing, but the war ended before that happened.

    Guernica was a cold blooded experiment, but not strategic, as Spain imported most of its weapons there were few weapons production centers, or terror in nature, the aim was to determine how much disruption bombing a communications hub far behind the frontlines could cause, exactly the same motivation the allies used for Dresden and the Berlin marshalling yards, let's not forget Spain was a civil war, Franco would quickly get rid of the Condor legion if it started targeting the population as that would seriously undermine his support.
     
  15. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Glad to help out. Always something new to learn here ain't it?
     
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  16. green slime

    green slime Member

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    German dead in the "1,000 bomber raid" of Cologne May, 1942: 469
    Cologne was a defended city, with bomb shelters, and air sirens informed the population of the pending arrival of the bombers. Of the 1,046 participating planes, 39 aircraft were lost, primarily to night fighters.

    Spanish Dead, Guernica: a modern estimate is 200-300.
    Guernica was a small town, with no defences worth mentioning. IIRC, no German aircraft were lost. Fantastic "experiment". Maybe some German sprained his wrist working a stiff bomb lever. But I doubt it: it was probably very well-oiled.

    And now the topic of WW1 raised its head:

    "Britain can be overcome by means of airships,' Peter Strasser, the commander of the Zeppelin force, confidently declared.
    On January 19, 1915, two of his airships - numbers L3 and L4 - attacked Great Britain.

    There were 52 Zeppelin raids in all, killing 556 people and injuring 1,357. The newspapers thundered against German "murderers". They ran poignant photographs of the victims: under one of an 11-year-old girl, a caption asked: "What had she ever done to Germany?"

    The raids had no military targets, their goal was only to cause terror.

    The Gotha's and Bertha's came later.

    And the country that introduced this form of warfare to the home front of Britain, is then surprised that the British public opinion 22 years later has no qualms about destroying worker's homes? Worker's producing munitions used to kill Poles, Jews, and repress people everywhere under the Fascist boot heel...
     
  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I thought I read somewhere that the actual target at Guernica was a bridge and that their were Republican forces in the area. I'm not expert but if so it may not have been intended as a "terror" attack and I think that's key. Likewise if the Zepplin raids were actually aimed at governmental or military targets then I wouldn't call them "terror" attacks just as I do not consider Dresden such.

    Part of the problem early on (and perhaps not so early on) is that the accuracy and effectiveness of bombers was hugely overestimated. So raids targeted at military or especially governmental and industrial targets often ended up hitting targets that had little or nothing to do with the military (Such as the bombs that fell early in the war on a neutral Danish city).
     
  18. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    One specificity about Rotterdam was the violation of the Dutch neuttrality in May 1940. But neutrality did not stop the Gemrans in 1914 wen they attacked Belgium either. I'm not saying that it's worse to bomb one city rather than an other, but the violation of neutrality made it even more undefendable
     
  19. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

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    Which part of my post do you think suggested, that the crimes of Hitler and his posse should have been ignored - like Stalin's? Right - none!


    Actually Germany had been given no chance at Versailles. The vengeful Western leaders wanted to crush Germany and by doing so, made the Germans extremely bitter and the popularity of somebody like Hitler possible.

    After the reality of Versailles and now the war against the soviets the unconditional surrender in WW2 was something all Germans wanted to avoid for all costs - for the very good reasons.

    The fact is, that there were real attempts to murder Hitler, which even very nearly succeeded. The awareness of possible peace deal could have tipped the scale and encouraged more such attempts. Now the unconditional surrender strategy did the opposite.
     
  20. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member Patron  

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    I agree. I mentioned this in an earlier post as well. The treaty set the wheels in motion long before the outbreak of WWII. It was only a matter of time.
     
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