Bombing Germany

Period: September 1939 – 1945

Quote: Else Wendel, German housewife: Suddenly sirens in the city began to sound. Immediately everthing was deadly silent. Shops closed, businessmen and gossiping women stopped talking. Everyone started running through the streets ... Everyone ran, and no one spoke a word.

Involved: The bomber pilots Edward and James Norton were killed on May 17, 1943 during their first mission.

mission. In 1939 the RAF - Royal Air Force - began the strategic bombing of targets in Germany and German occupied countries, including the Netherlands. Particular targets were ports and submarine installations. From May 1940 the strategic bombing became gradually more frequent. From mid-1942 the US Air Force arrived in England and also took part in the bombings, which were the Allied response to bombings carried out by the German air force since the beginning of the war.

The bombing of Rotterdam on May 14, 1940 was the direct reason for the Dutch government to surrender a day later. Targets included rail lines, ports and German industrial areas.

The purpose of the bombings was to damage the German war machine as much as possible. Over time, more German cities were bombed resulting in many civilian casualitiies. Germany responded by bombing English cities. The air war between the Allies and Germany continued to 1944, with the Allies gaining the upper hand.

Before the invasion of Normandy the German Luftwaffe had already lost air superiority above the front. The bombing of many German cities grew steadily more intense. At the height of the bombings in 1944 the British and American bombers had dropped nearly 1 million tons of bombs on Germany. The allied bombings were (and still are) not uncontroversial.

In particular, during the so-called carpet bombing of cities like Cologne, Hamburg and Lübeck. Many targets, according to some people, were missed. The carpet bombing of Dresden on the night of 13 on February 14, 1945 is the most famous example. An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Dresden inhabitants were killed during the firestorm, similar to the bombardment of Rotterdam

Rotterdam after the bombardment of May 14, 1940
Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-2005-0003 / CC-BY-SA

Film poster of 'Het Bombardement'

Corpses are piled up after the bombing of Dresden to be cremated
Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-08778-0001 / Hahn / CC-BY-SA

First American daylight bombing of Germany

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