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Sir Arthur Harris-Chief of Bomber Command-War Criminal?

Discussion in 'Sacred Cows and Dead Horses' started by pauledward, Feb 22, 2010.

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  1. Hop

    Hop Member

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    What Harris did doesn't fit the definition. Especially considering existing international law allowed such action in the closest analogue, naval bombardment, and attempts to bring in new laws to outlaw bombing had failed.

    Yes. Firstly the Germans lost the BoB because they lost too many aircraft in their daylight battles with the RAF prior to the attack on London. The Jagdwaffe had 853 serviceable 109s on Eagle day, the day they began their main assault on the RAF. Less than a month later, on 7 September, the day they switched to attacking London, they had only 658. In terms of pilots they went from 869 fit for duty on 1 August to 735 on 1 September. In contrast the RAF had 579 serviceable Spitfires and Hurricanes with pilots on 13 August, 621 on 7 September. The Luftwaffe was much weaker than when the battle began, the RAF stronger.

    The Luftwaffe didn't abandon the battle to attack London, they attacked London because a: they couldn't afford the losses they had been taking, and b: they thought they could draw the RAF in to a single large battle and achieve victory.

    As to morale being crushed, no, it wasn't. But industrial production was more badly affected by the night blitz on cities than by the Luftwaffe's "precise" raids on factories. The British experience was that damage to housing and utilities caused more loss of production than direct damage to factories.

    The claim contrasted German losses to British. In that context it's well worth pointing out that the main focus for the Luftwaffe was Russia, not the UK. Whilst the Luftwaffe "only" killed 62,000 British civilians, the vast majority of those were killed in just 8 months of bombing.

    The Luftwaffe killed about 250 British civilians in July 1940, just over 1,000 in August, 6,954 in September, 6,334 in October, 4,588 in November, 3,793 in December, 1,500 in January 1941, 789 in February, 4,259 in March, 6,065 in April, 5,394 in May.

    The RAF killed 349 German civilians October - December 1940, 2,785 in 1941, 4,327 in 1942.

    By the end of 1942 the RAF had killed less German civilians than the Luftwaffe had killed British civilians in just August and September 1940.

    The only reason Britain didn't suffer hundreds of thousands of civilian dead is because the Russians did instead.

    And old ones continued in the cities. The German records from the bombing of Hamburg in July 1943 show 580 industrial sites destroyed.

    And if a factory is relocated out of the city, where do the workers live? Where does their food come from? Where does the electricity, gas and coal come from? What about the water? The trains that bring the workers and raw materials to the site, and take away the finished products? And where do the sub assemblies come from? The catches and switches and buttons and dials and valves and wire and raw steel and aluminium and rubber and all the other thousands of things that are required to make a tank or plane or boat?

    It didn't increase as much as it should have, or as much as planned. After all, Germany was much larger than Britain, but only overtook UK in aircraft production in 1944, and then only by stopping production of large aircraft in favour of fighters. Even in 1944 Britain produced more aero engines and a greater structural weight of aircraft, despite having far less workers in the aircraft industry.

    No. The RAF were actually more accurate on average than the USAAF. That's because the Americans were forced to fly higher (which meant less accuracy), and they frequently relied on blind bombing through cloud using H2X radar. Early in the war the USAAF were more accurate, but their accuracy got worse whilst the RAF's got better. Because most bombs were dropped towards the end of the war, the RAF ended up more accurate overall. Look for the figures earlier in this thread for raids on German oil targets for an example.

    Sometimes the USAAF tried to be more precise. Sometimes not.

    The truth is both air forces carried out precision raids and both carried out area attacks on cities. (the Luftwaffe blazed that trail, too, starting out with precision attacks on Britain and then largely switching to area bombing).
     
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  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    No good case has been made for his actions being considered such.
    The Germans lost the BoB because the LW strength relative to the RAF was declining for most of the battle. There is some debate as to whether or not the target switch had much effect on this. The evidence against it is IMO stronger than the evidence for it. The British moral wasn't curshed but that wasn't the point of Hop's post. His point was that the German raid on Coventry did indeed have considerable effect and that most of the effect was not due to direct damage to the war related industries.
    Building new factories is not a cheap undertaking. Hideing them is even more expensive. Then there's the cost of commuting in a rural area vs a city. Indeed German production did increase but it grew less efficient and if you factor in declines in civilian production I'm not sure how much it really increased. Then there's the question of how useful it is to produce weapon systems that you are going to have a hard time getting to the troops, supporting when they get there, and repairing when they are damaged or broken.
    I believe it was a night time raid that took out the first floor of a Gestapo HQ in Holland which allowed the (uninjured) prisoners on the second floor to escape. I'd call that pretty precise. Hop probably has more details if you are interested.
     
  3. atccbengt

    atccbengt recruit

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    It's today, all over the world, known that this does not work. There were no definitive answer to this back in 1942. The TRIDENT conference, 25. May 1943:
    "2. Defeat of the Axis power in Europe.
    (a) Combined Bomber Offensive from the United Kingdom.
    The Combined Chiefs of Staff have approved a plan to accomplish, by a combined United States-British air offensive, the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system, and the undermining of the morale of the German people to a point where their capasity for armed resistance is fatally weakened." CAB 80/70, TNA, Kew, London.
    This paper, from the top brass and politicians from US and UK, says it all. Harris was, as we all know, doing his duty when he ordered attacks on German towns and cities. And how YOU feel about it, is a totally different discussion. You may feel terrible and dismayed. I dont. So, as you see. It wasn't Harris idea. The idea was born long before Harris became commander of Bomber Command. Your personal feeling about Harris, or anybody else for that matter, has nothing to do with the discussion at all. It is your subjective feeling and thought. Try to make "some personale distance" when you are discussing history.
    Bengt
     
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  4. atccbengt

    atccbengt recruit

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    And since there is so much talk and rumors about Dresden, hear is what happend. I hope you all can read these jpeg files. There was, I'm afraid, nothing special about Dreden. It was a raid, as many on German towns and cities which went "terrific right".
    Bengt
    View attachment 16260
     
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  5. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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    Bngt

    You are so right....... it was just another raid as I've said so many times.


    Dresden ?

    We have all been here before and in general, views are so entrenched on the rights and wrongs of bombing the city that I fear whatever is said today will do nothing to alter fixed viewpoints.

    I would offer just one new item for you to consider.

    My dear late brother Jack who was killed in the skies over Nuremberg on the 16th March '45 had as a crewmate a lovely man by the name of Ted Hull.

    In 1997, when I was belatedly researching Jack's death, I was in constant communication with Ted who had been the Flight Engineer on Jack's Lancaster.

    Ted let me have a copy of his Log Book which, he assured me, would have been identical to Jack's log, regrettably no longer available.

    Note the 5th op in which the crew took part. The date was the 13th of February, it was just another raid on just another German City and one from which they were lucky to return.

    On the 16th of March, just over a month later, their luck finally ran out.
    BBC - WW2 People's War - The night my father was killed in action
     

    Attached Files:

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  6. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    When will this nonsense end?

    This question of Harris and war crimes....what a load of balls! Hang on to your hats, but I'm tired of pointing the following out to people that keep raising this idiotic excuse for justification of the conduct of the German war effort. Lets make a few things perfectly clear....

    1/ When your Army has been pushed off the continent, and your Navy is stretched to the limits of it's capabilities, how do you prosecute a war in any other fashion than from the air? In 1940, Churchill was the recipient of many calls from the press and people of England to "Give it BACK!". The bombing campaign was both an experiment in Douhetian strategy and a retrograde reaction to the 50,000 junior officers that lost their lives frontally assaulting trench systems. The powers that be were looking for a more direct method of attacking Germany. British industry was geared and quite well suited to aviation industry, so the die was cast due to all these contributing factors. The fact that the Luftwaffe was also experimenting with it's doctrinal methodology is often overlooked.

    2/ The Royal Air Force began it's campaign from the air by dropping millions of leaflets, something the Luftwaffe could not also claim. The reaction from the German people was predictable, with much laughter in evidence, and comments about 'contributions to the supply of toilet paper for the Third Reich were heard far and wide:p. Therefore....

    3/ Daylight raids against mainly pure military targets, or the associative industry, were disasterous. The solution was to restrict operations to nighttime, for the Luftwaffe was not very well prepared for this at first. Nightime brought two problems that did not exist by day. How do you navigate when you cannot see a damned thing, and how do you deliver munitions accurately enough to ONLY kill military targets? The RAF strggled with the first problem for the rest of the war. The second problem was brought into the open in mid-1942, after the Butt Report revealed that the RAF was basically wasting it's time, and suffering crippling losses to boot. So....

    4/ Night Area Bombing became the standard for the above stated reasons. Air-Vice Marshall Saundby chimed in at this time, presenting a plan to 'de-house' the industrial workers that the German economy depended on. It was a superb piece of paperwork from a military point of view, because it complemented the tactical thinking and practice of the time. Right on cue, it coincided with Arthur Harris's arrival as OC Bomber Command. Not a man to mince words, Harris was singleminded in his approach. He got results, tangible results, which is exactly what was asked of him. Albert Speer knew that if Harris's resources were much larger than he was given, the impact might have finished the war sooner. After Hamburg, Speer went on record to say that "Six more raids like that will finish the war."


    And The Third Reich wasn't laughing anymore ........:eek:

    Harris was so effective that German civilians still talk about it. Many Londoners have memories of the Blitz, too. But their recollections are laced with humor.

    Most German memories of The Whirlwind are not.

    We gave it back. And more than the measure.

    Stop whining! Start blaming the man that made it all happen to begin with. "Der Dicke" himself, none other than the flamboyant drug addict HERMANN GOERING....

     
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  7. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    As for Dresden, the RAF aircrew that participated in this would have referred to it as a "Wizard Prang!"

    Hard to disagree with them. Over 60 years later, the German people are still shocked by it. It's what happens when you play the World domination Game for real ;)
     
  8. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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  9. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Göring's plan was to extort the peace by bombing and allies said: Yeah! Why not! The peace with Germany was extorted according to Göring's plan.
     
  10. Nordwind511

    Nordwind511 Member

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    Some of the last posts which were placed here have such a "low level" that I question myself if this Thread wants to find answers or discuss different serious views on the subject or maybe it´s only place to write historical noncense. Some humans are not able to handle complex historical subjects. And these posts aren´t getting more usefull by saluting to it ... It´s always same story.
     
  11. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    What answers do you want...the ones you want to hear? Reap the whirlwind...there said it again...Its what happened...the answer. You can go as high level as you wish...We have done this so many times and it is not getting through. But Its always worth repeating that you get what you dish out...If you cannot live with that or it is above your high brow reasoning then tough.
     
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  12. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Perhaps I cannot "handle complex historical subjects" and I refrain from discussing such issues but I can distinguish right from wrong. When someone points his finger to the honest man and says: "A criminal!" I feel tempted to present my simple but correct view. Whether you like it or not, the "whirlwind theory" is entirely correct.
     
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  13. Nordwind511

    Nordwind511 Member

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    What I answers I want? It would be fantastic if you would answer the question of the Thread - but what kind of answers we have to read ... the posts talking about Göring, V1 and V2, Hitler, Germans, Coventry, air raids on London, counting losses ... is this the answer of the question? No, it isn´t! Justifications! The air-attacks on London by V1 and V2 were terror attacks, no doubt about that. But is this the question of the Thread?

    I will give you another example which my made me laughing: Volga Boatman wrote:

    (...) "3/ Daylight raids against mainly pure military targets, or the associative industry, were disasterous. The solution was to restrict operations to nighttime, for the Luftwaffe was not very well prepared for this at first. Nightime brought two problems that did not exist by day. How do you navigate when you cannot see a damned thing, and how do you deliver munitions accurately enough to ONLY kill military targets? The RAF strggled with the first problem for the rest of the war. The second problem was brought into the open in mid-1942, after the Butt Report revealed that the RAF was basically wasting it's time, and suffering crippling losses to boot. So...."
    (...)

    Yes, now I understand. If you "cannot see the damned thing" - you should bomb the whole city, right? In the end you can say: "well, we had some problems with the navigation or there were too many clouds, the night was too dark ... what ever. But Sir Arthur Harries and the Bomb command had a very detailed plan for the bombing of the German cities. Especially several air-raids late 44 and beginning 45 had no military targets ... how you call these kind of assaults? Air-raids against civilian targets ... and this point it plays no rule if the bombers are by RAF, Luftwaffe or Airforce ... the tactics were an evil plan to kill innocent people ...
     
  14. rkline56

    rkline56 USS Oklahoma City CG5

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    Sir Harris, a war criminal, bloody well not. True warrior Knight, indeed!!

    I can see why some would be very upset about the civilians caught in the crossfire but it goes back on their very demented leaders, megalomaniacal and greedy as they were, and them alone. They could not admit or accept when they were beaten (the Russians were going to ease up??, Brits or French as well??) and their populace became very unfortunate collateral damage. It is pretty simple and your point will not see the light of day. They prosecuted the war in very unsavory ways and the Allies were going to exact a whole bunch of retribution. The passions and fires of hatred had been fanned (not by any Allied actions), not easy emotions to cool once established and in play. Surely you must understand this, Nordwind. People must consider ancillary questions in arriving at the final evolving answer to The Question. This is the process.

    I have many fantastic German friends from Kaiserslautern, Rammelsbach, Kusel and Bavaria and I feel sad for the losses they must have suffered in those dark days. The tragedy is that the political processes of 1920 - 1932 were in such disarray that a group as evil as the Nazis could usurp power from the Hindenburg Group and con the public into following their demented philosophies. I am happy that they have found lasting economic strength, prosperitiy and growth through their intellect, innovation and hard work.
     
  15. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Nord is right chaps . The low level of this thread makes me think of an abyssal zone rather than an aviation thread. I hope some of you realized that RAF Vets and their relatives may read this and in my humble opinion they deserve better than having Bomber Harris treated this way. It took extreme ways to end an extreme regime.
     
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  16. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Sir Arthur Harris is indeed a person who splitts up theopinion of people over here! If anyone takes the horrible numbers of victim the Dresden Raid had, and only this number of victims, he may say that Sir Arthur Harris was a War Criminal. But he forgot to add other numbers to the bill. 1. He had to win a war. 2. The Luftwaffe wasn´t differen´t in their ways to reach the goal. 3. If Hitler had the chance to have 4-mot bombers, he had used them the same way. And as said, hard times will need hard solutions.
    I´m personally not a big fan of Sir Arthur Harris, for the reason that he had the chance to do some things in a different way, but i´m honest enough to say that this opinion is made with all the guesses from today. And He hadn´t those guesses in his times.
    The whole thing looks completely different if any of the posters will take the time, read the facts ( the real facts not the todays guesses) and make their own decisions like he would be in Command of the Bomber wings. And i´m sure that the results are more or less the same. Maybe some victims less but would this make a real difference?
     
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  17. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    I do indeed appreciate your opinion but, with all due respect, this thread wasn't about aviation. If we just go back to the first post we may easily verify that the initial assertion was quite straightforward; the initial post was an outright accusation that Sir Arthur Harris was a war criminal. I and many among us strongly oppose this unfair accusation.

    Sir Arthur Harris' duty was to attack and Herman Göring's duty was to defend citizens of the Third Reich from airborne attacks. That was purely a struggle of a soldier against a soldier and Göring was the one who utterly failed. The bitter consequences weren't Harris' fault but Göring's failure to do what he promised: "If Allied planes ever bomb Berlin, you can call me Meyer."

    Blame it all on »Mr. Meyer«.
     
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  18. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Answer the question of the thread? Have you not read the answers...They have been given by many, You Norwind do not seem to want to acknowledge those answers unless they are of your liking. The answer and one I have personally stated numerous times is no. The reasons have been expanded not just in this thread but in others. If you want to introduce personal slanging matches hidden in a haze of smoke and mirrors then it is still tough. Again...the answer...to the thread question...Is...No he is not was not and never will be a war criminal. The reasons have been given by many. Your some humans are not able to handle remark is offensive in its own right and aimed at other members here. Moderators should re read that remark before interviening. The only insult to RAF vetrans does not come from this RAF vetran of 15 years thats for sure. Until that remark this thread had not entered the personal. If you want to be intellectually insulting this is not the place for it. Take it to the land of the trolls.
     
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  19. efestos

    efestos Member

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    I recently started to read "The III Reich in War" and what they 've done just in 1940 in Poland ... and how the the PEOPLE that saw it (resettlement, ethnic cleansing) ... agreed with that actions, with very few exceptions ...then the Blitz ... make me to change my mind and accept the idea that the Nazi's people deserved "to reap the whirlwind" .

    From "MAX Hastings' BOMBER COMMAND" :

    Even if the Bomber command campaing wasn't really successful ... the kind of evil enemy that Arthur Harris had to face made me to accept his decisions without reproach.

     
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  20. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    I think if you were to ask Britons of ww2 era...the question would not ever arise...They wanted to give out what they were getting or had got...base instincts...It would not matter who was in charge of bomber command...Bombing of Germany was not a problem to the British people then. And they were the only ones that mattered to the British people at that time. Todays morals are none transferable. Some people may not be able to get their heads around that, but no one here or anywhere is ever going to make Harris a war criminal...I'll stick with my mum...She was bombed out...She couldn't give a damn on what happened to the folk that bombed her out or killed her neighbours daughter. Base instincts. War is fought by rough men. Thank God.
     
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