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The Bombing of Germany

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by Steve Petersen, Mar 29, 2010.

  1. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Well,one could blame Harris:not from a moral Point of View (morality and war ?:cool:),besides if it is moral to kill the crew of a tank,why should it be immoral to target those making the tank,those transporting the tank,those making the ammunition,those ........ ?
    But,one could blame Harris from a point of view of efficiency:he was claiming that,with his private war (the Douhet doctrine) he could obtain a cheap and quick victory :I know most people believed this assumption ,I don't blame Harris for this .
    But,once the Douhet doctrine proved to be a failure(already in 1943 ),Harris,with his obstinacy and his big ego,refused to admit that he was wrong,and continued the aera bombardments till 8 may 1945 :this was a waste of aircrafts,crew,...and caused the needless death of thousands of civilians and the needless destruction of a lot of German cities .
     
  2. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    I do not think one should expect those of the strategic bombing survey to conclude that the strategic bomber offensive had failed .:cool:;)
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Well since it didn't I agree. But they were also looking for why it hadn't worked better and shifting targets too soon was one clear problem.
     
  4. ANZAC

    ANZAC Member

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    Another reason is probably that the bombing offensive didn't get into top gear until '44.
    Percentage of all Allied bombs dropped by year %
    1940 0.8%
    1941 2%
    1942 3%
    1943 12.8%
    1944 57.9%
    1945 23.5%

    80% dropped in less then a year and a half, '44/'45.

    Apart from the Ruhr raids by Bomber command in March-July '43, which set back production for eight vital months, it wasn't until the Luftwaffe was defeated in early '44 that the bombing offensive really began the collapse of the German economy.
     
  5. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    So we will never know if it was working or not, before 1944 it certainly wasn't achieving the claimed objective of reducing German war production, far less causing a moral collapse, just limiting the growth rate is not going to take you anywhere in the long run.
    The rise in production continued well into 1944 and by the end of that year other factors like the end of raw materials stocks, loss of territories and the drafting of practically every able bodied man at the expense of the factories muddy the issue too much.
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    It all depends on what you mean by "reducing". I'm pretty sure there is a strong case for their war production being less than it would have been without the bombing and it also redirected a fair amount of it as well. Was it as successful as pre war theories suggested and everyone hoped? Clearly here the answer is no.
     
  7. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Reducing means making it smaller, there is no doubt German production would have been greater without the bombing, but for the campaign to qualify as a stand alone war winning effort, like it's proponents said it was meant to be, it needs to actually decrease production not just slow down the production growth rate and it's doubtful it achieved that, German production didn't decrease until late 1944 and by then lots of other factors had kicked in.
    Slowing your enemy's advance is not a victory, it's a minor defeat, victory is when you push him back.

    I still suspect that due to the raw materials bottlenck the effect of no strategic bombing would be more on quality assurance than raw numbers, the Germans probably produced more weapons in early 1944 than they could effectively crew and deploy.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    But making actual production decrease or reducing the amount that could be produced. Both are reasonable definitions the question is which were they going for?
     
  9. freebird

    freebird Member

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    No, in fact there were a few selfish, misguided fools in the military that were largely responsible for the whole fiasco

    They were well aware that strategic bombing had little actual effect as early as mid-1941 when the Butt report came out.

    It was indeed argued by Trenchard, Douhet & Lindemann and others that Air Forces could win the war by themselves.



    Yes, it had minimal effect until 1943, by which time the war was already unwinnable by Germany.


    The whole problem was that there were a few misguided vainglorious fools (to be charitable) who would push interservice rivalries so far to even risk losing the war.

    Their insistance in building up a strategic bombing force to the exclusion of any other preparations such as fighter aircraft (as fighters would be ineffective against bombers :rolleyes: ) and naval aircraft (the Navy would only be waiting idle while the Air force won the war :rolleyes: ) came very close to losing the war for the British.
     
  10. ANZAC

    ANZAC Member

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    A.C.Mierzejewski says in ''The collapse of the German war economy 44/45.''

    ....that it was not territorial losses that paralysed the German economy but the onset of a campaign of aerial bombing of completely unprecedented intensity.

    In March '43, 1000 bombers could deliver 4000 tons of bombs, in July '44, 5,250 aircraft could deliver 20000 tons. Between June-Oct '44, half a million tons were dropped, more then the rest of the war up to that point, & over next six months another 545,000 tons.

    The writing was on the wall when you look at the aviation fuel stats for Germany from early '44 when the bombing offensive targeted oil, including synthetic refineries.

    German aviation fuel for March '44....

    Programmed.... 169,000 tons, produced 181,000 tons, consumed 169,000 tons.

    For September '44....

    Programmed....221,000 tons, produced 10,000 tons, consumed 60,000 tons.

    As Feuchter says......

    ''Obviously Germany could not continue any effective military resistance when there was no more fuel to keep her tanks moving and aircraft flying in effective strength, nor could she look to any future recovery through the collapse of her transport systems.''
     
  11. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Well,here I have to disagree:more bombs (june-october 1944) does not result in more effective damage.One could argue that to continue the bombings on specific essential targets(with less bombs) would have more results in 1943.
    In early 1944 the bombing offensive targeted oil,yes,but how many of the 500000 tons were dropped on the oil industry? The area bombing continued and was consuming the overwhelming majority of the bombs used,in 1943,Harris and Spaatz had the means to attack the oil industry,the ball-bearing plants but they were sticking on the area bombardments,to prove that they could,without any help,win the war .If they had used in 1944 a little part of the bombs dropped on the German cities,to attack the oil industry,the results would had been more effective .What was more usefull:attacking Berlin during some 3 months,or eliminating definitively the ball-bearing plants ?
     
  12. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    It is an error to say that 'civilians' were the focus of the bombing effort in 1944-45. Here is a chart showing the RAF targets:

    [​IMG]

    The second chart shows how the losses decreased in the same period
    [​IMG]

    As the intensity increased the losses decreased. Clearly the tide had turned by early 1944
     
  13. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    It is incorrect to state that Douhet claimed that victory could be achieved via air power alone. That was not his claim. What he did claim was that air power would be decisive, i.e. that he who commands the air also can command the land and the sea. He did make claims such as air power breaking the will to resist that have not been validated, but his basic premise that air power would be decisive has been born out in conflicts where air power was brought to bear, and the taking of territory was an objective.

    Here's Douhet's words from his Command of the Air: "When I say that the Air Force will be decisive, I do not mean to say that the Air Force will be the sole factor of victory. If that were my contention, I should logically advocate the abolition of the army and the navy; because, if victory could be won by one factor only, this being the aerial factor, the other two would be completely useless."
     
  14. menright

    menright Member

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    Quite a few posts back in this topic, someone made the observation of 'the time' and the dangers of hindsight.

    Some observations that might be added to this very wide ranging discussion include:

    - the vagueness of the directives issued to Peirce then Harris. A look at the number and variety of objectives reveals them to be so ambiguous as to amount to a brief to Bomber Command that could either be exceeded or failed more than met.

    - Harris seems to have developed a bit of tunnel vision about the efficay of bombing out the cities but it seems unlikely that he was a sole, errant leader who somehow stared-down the entire Air Ministry, RAF Command and the Cabinet. He did not undertake the area bombing of German cities alone and unaided, let alone unsupported.

    - There had never been anything like this before. Even Webster and Frankland feel it necessary to define strategic bombing in their OH before proceeding with subsequent judgements.

    - The 'you started it' argument would have been very cogent at the time to the British in particular and this is somewhat left out of the discussion. Guernica, Warsaw, Rotterdam, a few bits of England were extant German precedents to total aerial war.

    - Following on from this, it might be helpful to glance over a map of Europe in 1940 and see how the British might have felt. They were surrounded by occupied countries, there was no means of telling if an invasion of Britain was off the agenda, and an air front, an entirely new dimension, certainly gained favour.

    The thesis I hold to is that there never really was achievment of precision bombing save for prohibitevly costly attacks such as daylight Augsburg,the Dams Raid and 1 August Ploesti. Neither the Americans nor the RAF were ever able to maintain precision other than by 'accuracy'. Put another way, when precision failed, the inclusion of a target point in a broader area would presumably provide 'accuracy'.

    Here is the key rationale for the area bombing policy. The evidence is before us that the Americans were in a similar situation. There never really was 'precision'. Harris's apparent contempt for civilians deserves a temporal setting - 1942-1945. Hindsight is fine, as long as one does not accord it to that time. They did not have it.

    Michael
     
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  15. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    I would like to make one thing patently clear....

    Total war does not discriminate between "civilians" and "military".

    Both are legitimate targets. The military for obvious reasons, and the civilian because of the very fact of aiding and abettment of military persons. The military serviceperson will not function as efficiently if his home and family are compromised. The military CANNOT function without civilian support in many spheres.

    As I have said on other threads, Harris put the subject into words that more than justified the expenditure of money/people/resources....."The Nazis began this war under the rather childish assumption that they were going to bomb everybody elses cities, and nobody was going to bomb theirs."

    One of the chief reasons why Herman Goering was so unenthusiastic about going to war at all in 1939 was that he of all people knew what a paper tiger the Luftwaffe really was. As Minister for the Five Year Plan, Goering was in the best position of all to look at the problem sqaure in the face and come to the inevitable conclusion that Germany was going to be bombed out of existence....eventually. It was really only a matter of time. Goering made hay while the sun shone, but as the tide turned, (as he had privately predicted all along), he sank further into his own interests. He realised that Germany was on a slippery slope to begin with, and that Allied supieriority of manufacture was going to make all the difference. As commander of the Richtohofen Jasta, Goering already had a first hand look at what allied production could accomplish in a relatively short space of time. He had seen with his own eyes how numbers counted for EVERYTHING, and that his gruppe of magnificently trained and equiped pilots got smaller and smaller, whilst the Allied juggernaut kept on increasing in size.

    There is no reason to suppose that he thought any differnetly about the subject in 1939. Certainly his diplomatic efforts, half-hearted they may have been, pointed to a private opinion that was no different to that which he saw in 1918.

    I firmly believe that if Hermann had his way, there would have been no war for Poland, and no military action of any kind. But Goering wasn't in charge, his half-assed diplomacy came to nought, and he retreated into the background to escape from the daily reality that he had known would occur....eventually.
     
  16. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    We weigh heavily how the tactics of the allies compared ethically to each other. I point out that the buzz bombs sent to Allies were aimed less accurately than a diving airplane with no bomb sights. I can't imagine a crew (and I think of my neighbor who was shot down and imprisoned in Germany) that is dropping in altitude amidst the heavy flak not trying to accomplish getting a bomb off on or near the targets they have been assigned. Many a crew perished from the air trying to accomplish a target so it seems a bit irrelevant when you consider their loss ratios to raise great ethics questions about where the bombs landed. Isn't this, buzz bomb makers, trying to have an ex post facto set of ethics contrary to what they themselves practiced?
     
  17. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Sometimes it is better to say nothing, seems all the Germans are the same criminals to some people!

    Regards

    Ulrich
     
  18. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Bombing the civilians is always a problem. Volga Boatman said it right "The military CANNOT function without civilian support"! Yes, and at some point i have to admit it was neccessary to do so to end the war sooner. But at an other point i have to say it was only pure terrorism against the civilians. Now you will say" Oh my god, now he brings Dresden onto the plate!" Yes i will, because at this point it was not longer neccessary to bomb the cities. In late 44 and the few months of 45 there was nothing in the german industry to be afraid for. No resources not enough trained man only some ideoligical blind kids and old men. Nothing to see of the glorious Luftwaffe and the so feared Wehrmacht. At this point Ed " The Butcher"Harris had no reason to bomb cities. It would be enough to destroy the most important traffic infrastructure, known airbases and other military facilities. And yes, we did it too for, those who would say this at next! And it was wrong too!

    Regards

    Ulrich
     
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  19. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    I will always like to point out in Germany when they began to militarize, Hitler barred people from attacking the Jews to keep up his factory production. However in time his hatred weakened this stance and they began to attack and imprison them instead. Thus he robbed his own economy of some of the most important producers. Had he not done that, perhaps his production and development of raw materials would have carried him a lot farther in the war effort. Germany without the Jews was much less productive than before. It could have made the difference in the net results!
     
  20. ULITHI

    ULITHI Ace

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    I just got done reading a book on Gen. Marshall, and I read something that I found very interesting.

    The passage stated that it was truly sad that some of big German cities had to be bombed as bad as they were, because the residents tended to be the most anti-Nazi in the country. This is because of the big work unions these cities had up until the Nazi's took over.

    I don't know how true this statement is, but nevertheless, if it's somewhat true, it makes me wonder if some of these actions may have diminished or discouraged working with the resistance movement.
     

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