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View Poll Results: Was the strategic bombing of German cities during World War II justified?
The bombing of cities is a normal strategy of warfare, irrespective of who started the war. 18 18.75%
It was totally justified, because Germany started the war. 4 4.17%
It was justified as a means of retaliation, since Germany also bombed cities. 13 13.54%
Although morally ambiguous today, the bombing should not be judged with todayís standards. 27 28.13%
It may have been legitimate in the beginning, but should have been stopped later on in the war. 9 9.38%
It was morally wrong from the beginning, no matter what crimes were committed by Germany. 23 23.96%
I am undecided. 2 2.08%
Voters: 96. You may not vote on this poll

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Old February 11th, 2012, 07:25 AM   #1

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Bombing of German cities during World War II


Most major cities in Germany today are remarkably ugly, consisting of cheap, shabby post-war architecture and modernist concrete blocks. Most people donít even notice that, because they are so used to it. After all, they think, Germany is a place for work and business, and not for pleasure and aesthetics. A small minority of people, however, is actually interested in the historic development of German cities and has started to ask uncomfortable questions. For me personally, born several decades after the war, seeing photographs and video footage of German cities before World War II came as a revelation. I felt betrayed, deceived, and filled with a feeling of loss.

The destruction of German cities, and with it, the killing of approximately 500,000 people, was mainly brought about by strategic bombing, that is, aerial bombing of cities not located in combat zones. Some cities were further damaged by tactical warfare, e.g. artillery, in the final months of the war. The rebuilding of the cities after the war did not heal the wounds: Often, buildings which were only partially damaged or even undamaged, were torn down in favor of modernist city planning. All in all, I would like to state the hypothesis that the destruction of German cities represents the greatest cultural loss in recorded history.

Of course, strategic bombing did not happen out of nowhere; there was clearly a context to it which is necessary to understand its roots. Germany under Nazi rule was an aggressive, expansionist state which somehow had to be stopped. And the German Luftwaffe set disturbing examples of how to destroy a city, e.g. Warsaw, Rotterdam, and Belgrade, and most importantly, English cities.

What do you think of the bombing of German cities? Did it achieve its declared aim, that is, destroying the morale of the ennemy? Did it contribute to shortening the war? Was it legitimate, as a normal means of fighting - or as a retaliation of crimes committed by Germany? Should the campaign have been stopped or modified in the last months of the war?

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Old February 11th, 2012, 07:38 AM   #2
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What do you think and feel about it?
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Old February 11th, 2012, 07:43 AM   #3

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I'm not sure that I buy the "not located in combat zones." While the loss of civilian loss of life was regrettable, the strategic bombing campaign served two significant roles. Destroying German war industries in Germany meant that tanks, aircraft, U-boats etc. were less numerous in the German units on the front. Moreover, an often overlooked aspect of the strategic bombing campaign in Europe was that it forced the Luftwaffe to do battle, and they simply could not sustain the losses incurred to allied Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mustangs, Jugs, Lightnings etc.
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Old February 11th, 2012, 07:47 AM   #4

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I am thoroughly against revisionist history that makes warfare out to be unnecessary when it was absolutely necessary at the time. It is as if the world now would have wanted the Nazis to win by not the bombings in Germany rather than the other way around.

The war was fought in the 1940's in the era of the 1940's, not in the era of the 2010's. Let's leave it there.
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Old February 11th, 2012, 08:05 AM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by monsieurdl View Post
The war was fought in the 1940's in the era of the 1940's, not in the era of the 2010's. Let's leave it there.
This is a history forum for the discussion of things past. The Second World War is not sufficiently far back into the past to history. It still has a foot in current affairs.

Much of what we know about the war has been scripted by the Allied victors who have not released all of the state papers relating to its events. In other words, a better and clearer picture of the war is only now emerging from the secrecy of classified government archives.

Let us do the very opposite of what you suggest! Let us re-examine all that happened in the light of our fuller knowledge of what actually happened and why.
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Old February 11th, 2012, 08:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garry_Owen View Post
This is a history forum for the discussion of things past. The Second World War is not sufficiently far back into the past to history. It still has a foot in current affairs.

Much of what we know about the war has been scripted by the Allied victors who have not released all of the state papers relating to its events. In other words, a better and clearer picture of the war is only now emerging from the secrecy of classified government archives.

Let us do the very opposite of what you suggest! Let us re-examine all that happened in the light of our fuller knowledge of what actually happened and why.
Re-examine what? Hitler flattened many British cities... it was all out war, are you suggesting that we should be playing the pathetic blame game now on the allies? Why, because some time has past by and you feel like having a hissy fit about it? World War Two was horrific for every country involved, but I will not sit back and nod my head to someone who is trying to point the finger at the allies which fought against the nazi's and stopped the further mass extermination of millions of people.
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Old February 11th, 2012, 08:26 AM   #7
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Grimald ,you learned at school




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Old February 11th, 2012, 08:27 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brisieis View Post
Re-examine what? Hitler flattened many British cities... it was all out war, are you suggesting that we should be playing the pathetic blame game now on the allies? Why, because some time has past by and you feel like having a hissy fit about it? World War Two was horrific for every country involved, but I will not sit back and nod my head to someone who is trying to point the finger at the allies which fought against the nazi's and stopped the further mass extermination of millions of people.
Calm down. It is not I who is having the hissy fit!

Don't you think history ought not to be discussed on a history board? Or is it that you feel your version ought not to be challenged?

Most of those who died in aerial bombardments were not quilty of what you call 'the mass extermination of millions of people'. Do you think German women and children were legitimate targets for Allied bombs and deserved their deaths?

And, please, do not pigeon-hole me as some kind of a Nazi or a Holocaust Denier. I am neither.
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Old February 11th, 2012, 08:29 AM   #9

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The strategic bombings over Germany failed to have any decisive impact on the war. German war production was not seriously affected, since factories are resistant to bombing: in total, of the over 2 million machine tools in Germany, strategic bombing ammounting to 1,360,000 tons of bombs destroyed 130,000 machines, or about 6 months worth of machine tool production. Overall, the impact of strategic bombing on German war production was small, in the order of decreasing german output by around 10% during the last phase of the war.

The same irrelevant effect happened in Britain where German bombing destroyed only 1.5% of the country's stock of machine tools. In Britain the stock of machine tools was 500,000 in 1940, of which 7,500 machines were destroyed. The Germans dropped 70,000 tons of bombs in Britain.

The resources expended in strategic bombing could be better spend if they were allocated to other areas of the war. This is specially true for the western allies. Who only caused civilian suffering in bombing the german residential areas without significantly impacting the frontlines.

Last edited by Guaporense; February 11th, 2012 at 08:43 AM.
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Old February 11th, 2012, 08:37 AM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brisieis View Post
What do you think and feel about it?
I deliberately didn't vote myself, although I have an opinion. In any case, I am not pointing a finger at anybody, and I am trying to get a balanced view on the matter. There are many things which we can judge only in hindsight, and probably were not as clear back then.

A major argument against the campaign is that it did not break the morale in Germany. This could have also been known to the British back then, who themselves experienced major damage to their cities and up to 50,000 civilian deaths.

I understand the argument that the bombing bound German forces, and some attacks (e.g. on the Ruhr area) also led to a decrease in industrial output. However, I think that the bombing should have been directed to industrial areas. Instead, as is visible still today in German cities, it was deliberately directed against the historic city centers and the civilian population. This was also clearly stated in the Dehousing paper and the Area bombing directive. Accordingly, there are numerous cities and towns which didn't even have significant industry and were bombed nevertheless.

I think the development of strategic bombing is also important - there was a clear escalation towards the end of the war, with attacks which in my eyes were unnecessary. I don't know if people here are aware of the extent of the damage done to German cities in the last months of the war. Most people have heard of Dresden, but this is only one city, which somehow became a symbol (a late success of Goebbels?). There are other attacks with higher death rates and more desctruction; and attacks which may appear even more unnecessary, because they were performed even later on, and targeted small cities without military or industrial importance.
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