The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Jun 28, 2016 1:29 pm

So restraint on account of law and the horrors of WWI even though the Allies came close to using gas?

That's much more satisfactory to me than answers like "because gas was unworkable."

On the other hand, in the 1939 British view international law forbade the kind of air war eventually opted for - still the British "thought" their way around that. And the Americans "thought" their way into using atomic weapons against cities.

But with bombing, I think, there were grey areas, continually sliding into acceptance of, or targeting, civilian deaths - the grey area allowing the Allies to rationalize that they were only "bombing installations." Whereas with poison gas, the line was clear - you crossed it or you didn't.

As well - and I would emphasize this, given that Churchill advocated using gas and could not win over the military - had the Allies used poison gas or germs, retaliation would have been sure - the Germans had the capacity to reply (e.g., Sarin or Tabun, botulism), a capacity they gradually lost in the area of bombing. I think with gas (and germs) mutual assured deterrence worked before its time. (The Allies, according to Overy, had intelligence that suggested that the Germans had no plans to use gas; German planning was for use of gas against soldiers whilst Churchill's view was also to use gas against civilians, p 381).

How about the Nazis? Same calculus?
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:25 pm

As I said, theirs was no ordinary enemy - it was an enemy that had threatened them with invasion and occupation, that had targeted civilians without remorse and had started the whole damn war over their expansionist dreams of continental conquest. The British were more than justified in using extreme measures against a brutal and murderous opponent.

I'll I will say is that I would have done much, much worse, especially after information came out about massacres of Jews and Russian civilians. No poison gas or nukes, just a lot more bombs lol

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:42 pm

Not one word has been written in this thread contesting in any way that the Nazis were beyond the pale and had to be defeated. You're ignoring facts and chronology to repeat yourself. Again, there is not one scintilla of evidence that the bombing program was motivated by the Holocaust, and, now I have to repeat myself, the Allies didn't even bomb rail lines to Auschwitz.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:46 pm

I have accepted the chronology. Even in the spring of 1940 the German threat was real and ominous. The decision to embark upon strategic bombing made sense at the time even if it wouldn't be advisable today.

Ultimately I think that the US philosophy towards strategic bombing was bang-on and should continue to be considered today in prospective conflicts against hostile nation-states. The British method, in hindsight, was impractical and not as effective as expected. I concede that, but on pragmatic grounds, not moral ones. But at the time, in the context of March 1940 it made sense.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:47 pm

Good Lord Ovary mind as well write for IHR or something like that.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:53 pm

Jeff_36 wrote:I have accepted the chronology. Even in the spring of 1940 the German threat was real and ominous. The decision to embark upon strategic bombing made sense at the time even if it wouldn't be advisable today.

You were still using Rotterdam and Warsaw as examples of the first strategic bombing yesterday. You're ignoring distinctions among types of strategic bombing. And especially the topic of the thread: the intentional bombing of civilians.

Jeff_36 wrote:Ultimately I think that the US philosophy towards strategic bombing was bang-on and should continue to be considered today in prospective conflicts against hostile nation-states.

Yet your avatar is now Arthur Harris and you've been advocating for his strategy throughout. Are you now changing that position?

Jeff_36 wrote:The British method, in hindsight, was impractical and not as effective as expected. I concede that, but on pragmatic grounds, not moral ones. But at the time, in the context of March 1940 it made sense.

Why didn't the Americans think it made sense at the time?
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:53 pm

Jeff_36 wrote:Good Lord Ovary mind as well write for IHR or something like that.

Hunh? That needs some explanation for sure . . .
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Tue Jun 28, 2016 5:29 pm

Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Jeff_36 wrote:I have accepted the chronology. Even in the spring of 1940 the German threat was real and ominous. The decision to embark upon strategic bombing made sense at the time even if it wouldn't be advisable today.

You were still using Rotterdam and Warsaw as examples of the first strategic bombing yesterday. You're ignoring distinctions among types of strategic bombing. And especially the topic of the thread: the intentional bombing of civilians.


I removed Rotterdam from my initial post after reviewing the chronology. The distinction is not relevant IMO because in both cases (Warsaw and Haburg/Cologne/Dresedn) civillians were targeted.

Jeff_36 wrote:Ultimately I think that the US philosophy towards strategic bombing was bang-on and should continue to be considered today in prospective conflicts against hostile nation-states.

Yet your avatar is now Arthur Harris and you've been advocating for his strategy throughout. Are you now changing that position?
[/quote]

I changed my avatar to Harris as a protest move, akin to flying the black flag. In reality (especially after reviewing the facts) I think that the American strategy was far more prudent and efficient. But even though I think the British strategy was ineffective and should not be used in the future, I nonetheless have no moral qualms with it whatsoever, my issues with it are purely from a practical standpoint. Chemical gas would have been far too dirty IMO, and it would have had no effect on infrastructure.

Jeff_36 wrote:The British method, in hindsight, was impractical and not as effective as expected. I concede that, but on pragmatic grounds, not moral ones. But at the time, in the context of March 1940 it made sense.

Why didn't the Americans think it made sense at the time?


because they were not faced with the prospect of invasion, and could afford to take a more calculated and deft handed summation of the situation.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Tue Jun 28, 2016 5:52 pm

I must empathize that there I am waging two types of defense here

My defense of American bombing tactics is absolute, I think that it was one of the decisive reasons for allied victory. Doenitz and Speer both stated as much after the war. And to be honest anything that brings the monster to its knees is good enough for me. I also am of the opinion that such tactics should be used today in situations involving war with hostile nation states.

My defense of British bombing tactics is less total and more moral than practical. From a practical perspective it had less real impact than American bombing but it was not totally useless. Dresden was a major industrial center and a perfectly justifiable target for example, Oporation Gomorrah reduced Hamburg's workforce by ten percent. That being said, I do not think that it should be put to use ever again. However, hindsight is 20/20 and we cannot judge the British for making the decision they made. This was only the second time that such a strategy had been put into place (the first being the German destruction of Guernica) and the first time that it had been used on a grand scale. It was in may ways new territory and in summation it did damage to the menace but did not live up to expectations. So rightfully I say scrap it, but I will add that I cannot think of a more deserving Guinea Pig than Nazi Germany.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Tue Jun 28, 2016 6:00 pm

It must also be noted that the British bombings in 1940-41 were limited in scale and often ineffective. It was not until 1942 that the gentleman in my av began pushing for heavier and broader bombing, beginning with the raid on Cologne which was in the summer of 1942 IIRC.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Tue Jun 28, 2016 6:08 pm

A cursory examination of some of Ovary's earlier works gives me the impression that he is not an Irving-esque "historian" but rather a highly respected researcher who has published numerous books and articles on every aspect of the war. So what provoked him into publishing this weepy Bergian sob fest over the grave of Nazi Germany?

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby scrmbldggs » Tue Jun 28, 2016 6:16 pm

:|

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Tue Jun 28, 2016 6:21 pm

we must also take into account the advantages gained in terms of redirection of German forces because of the bombing efforts.
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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Jun 28, 2016 6:22 pm

Jeff_36 wrote:I removed Rotterdam from my initial post after reviewing the chronology. The distinction is not relevant IMO because in both cases (Warsaw and Haburg/Cologne/Dresedn) civillians were targeted.

Not an expert by any means but Overy describes, again, Warsaw as a model of operational bombing. He says that British analysis showed that the Warsaw raids had been "directed at military targets as part of a combined-arms ground campaign," with ambiguous evidence as to indiscriminate bombing. As a defended city, Overy says, Warsaw was bombed "legitimately"; he says that the bombing of Warsaw was designed to speed up capitulation of the Polish armed forces in the city, and that when this occurred, the bombing stopped. He says that the German staff refused Richthofen's request for area terror bombing. Is he wrong?

Jeff_36 wrote:I changed my avatar to Harris as a protest move, akin to flying the black flag. In reality (especially after reviewing the facts) I think that the American strategy was far more prudent and efficient. But even though I think the British strategy was ineffective and should not be used in the future, I nonetheless have no moral qualms with it whatsoever, my issues with it are purely from a practical standpoint. Chemical gas would have been far too dirty IMO, and it would have had no effect on infrastructure.

I think you answered my question that you've changed your view.

Jeff_36 wrote:because they were not faced with the prospect of invasion, and could afford to take a more calculated and deft handed summation of the situation.

Which puts us back to emotion vs strategy. Doing something - if it is the wrong thing or if it prevents doing better things - is not the optimal response to a crisis situation.

And the area bombing cannot be tied tightly to the prospect of invasion of the British Isles, especially given its continuation into 1945. Ironically for deniers, there's probably more justification, or rationale, for the attack on Dresden, which ostensibly was in support of the Soviet advance, than some of the earlier campaigns.

I am more of the view, having read much of Overy's book and putting that together with other reading, that the British had a strategy - at times the Americans couldn't perceive one - that was deeply flawed. It was premised on the idea, despite evidence from the Blitz, that bombing civilians and especially working class areas (the data on this is depressing, frankly) would disorient and overwhelm Germany with so much destruction that the political system wouldn't hold and surrender would be forced, in large part by undermining civilian morale. The area bombing did have positive impact on the Allies war effort - not exactly what was planned for but secondarily through forcing German defense of German territory and diverting German air and other production and effort to that defense. Targeted bombing of military and industrial installations would have had the same effect but with the real payoff of destruction of the German war machine instead of pensioners, kids, etc.

Morality aside, this loose strategy was not effective. It's emotional to say anything goes and not to think about what works: in fact, both the Americans (thanks Cerdic) and British formally surveyed the results of the bombing, beginning before the war had ended.
Last edited by Statistical Mechanic on Tue Jun 28, 2016 6:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Jun 28, 2016 6:23 pm

Jeff_36 wrote:A cursory examination of some of Ovary's earlier works gives me the impression that he is not an Irving-esque "historian" but rather a highly respected researcher who has published numerous books and articles on every aspect of the war. So what provoked him into publishing this weepy Bergian sob fest over the grave of Nazi Germany?

you've not even read his book . . . yet you feel free to grossly mischaracterize it and unfairly malign his work . . . it does have the advantage of looking at evidence and drawing conclusions from that, in a very deep way
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Tue Jun 28, 2016 6:40 pm

Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Jeff_36 wrote:A cursory examination of some of Ovary's earlier works gives me the impression that he is not an Irving-esque "historian" but rather a highly respected researcher who has published numerous books and articles on every aspect of the war. So what provoked him into publishing this weepy Bergian sob fest over the grave of Nazi Germany?

you've not even read his book . . . yet you feel free to grossly mischaracterize it and unfairly malign his work . . . it does have the advantage of looking at evidence and drawing conclusions from that, in a very deep way


From the information you've shared this a legitimate evaluation of the British bombing campaign, a true revisionist examination of the flaws in this campaign.
BTW, when I say "revisionist" I mean that in a truly positive fashion, not the "revisionism" that deniers indulge in.

I am going to pick this up in the near future.
But, I am also interested to see historical opposing views on this subject. I'll be looking around to see if there are other viewpoints on this.
I've also looked into research done on the tactics utilized by the Luftwaffe. The Luftwaffe was a much more tactical versus strategic force. It worked best as an arm of the ground forces, it lacked a true heavy bomber.
I'll see what I come up with and post it here.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:03 pm

I am tired of this topic and I have made my opinions clear.

Yes, I have changed my opinion on the British strategy. I think it was not as effective as planned but I will insist that it did produce positive results in that it destroyed vast amounts of German infrastructure and mad life miserable in Nazi Germany. I refuse to take a bleeding heart stance in regards to a most deservingly vanquished foe. Was it a misstep? Perhaps. Could it have been done differently? Absolutely. Was it an ethical outrage? Hell no. Harris stated in 1977 that if he would have done it again if he had to.

It can also be looked at as a lesson for the future, a harsh warning of what befalls would-be conquerors should they seek to impose their madness on others. This is of course an emotional argument but I think that it deserves to be mentioned as well, although not at the same level as the practical considerations.

As for why the Americans and the British embarked upon different strategies? When I look at it objectively, it can perhaps be put down to a difference in military mentality between the two states. You saw this on the ground as well, Montgomery and Patton clashed over strategy and tactics many times. This divide was not limited to area bombing.

In sum, my opinions on the British bombing strategy can be termed as follows: It did not come as advertised, American raids were more effective, and It should rightfully be shelved, but not for ethical reasons, and the toll on the hated enemy is no great tragedy.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off for a drink

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:23 pm

Jeffk 1970 wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Jeff_36 wrote:A cursory examination of some of Ovary's earlier works gives me the impression that he is not an Irving-esque "historian" but rather a highly respected researcher who has published numerous books and articles on every aspect of the war. So what provoked him into publishing this weepy Bergian sob fest over the grave of Nazi Germany?

you've not even read his book . . . yet you feel free to grossly mischaracterize it and unfairly malign his work . . . it does have the advantage of looking at evidence and drawing conclusions from that, in a very deep way


From the information you've shared this a legitimate evaluation of the British bombing campaign, a true revisionist examination of the flaws in this campaign.
BTW, when I say "revisionist" I mean that in a truly positive fashion, not the "revisionism" that deniers indulge in.

I am going to pick this up in the near future.
But, I am also interested to see historical opposing views on this subject. I'll be looking around to see if there are other viewpoints on this.
I've also looked into research done on the tactics utilized by the Luftwaffe. The Luftwaffe was a much more tactical versus strategic force. It worked best as an arm of the ground forces, it lacked a true heavy bomber.
I'll see what I come up with and post it here.

I plan to do the same with counter points of view, which Xcalibur recommended as well. Overy makes the same observation you do about Lutftwaffe bombing.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:08 pm

Jeff_36 wrote:My defense of American bombing tactics is absolute,

Alas, I am thinking in shades of grey and open to re-thinking a lot of this . . . ;)

That said, what comes through in Overy's account is a level of professionalism in the American effort that surprised me: capable of quick learning, willing to apply up to date management skills and academic research, based on statistical analysis as far as possible, strategic in the broadest sense, empirically rather than theoretically oriented (how American, I guess). Hap Arnold, Carl Spaatz, James Doolittle all come off as thoughtful and impressive; so do many of the British brass, too. There were political issues, obstinacy on the American as well as British side, but many of these people come off well. Some don't . . .

Jeff_36 wrote:I think that it was one of the decisive reasons for allied victory. Doenitz and Speer both stated as much after the war.

That is Overy's point, repeated over and over. That precision bombing of oil, transportation, and air force had a much greater impact than area bombing of civilians. Not only did postwar interrogations say this, but also the American and British bombing surveys concluded the same thing. But this is the point you've been resisting - or muddying with protests using Harris's photo, etc.

It comes across that you have an image of violent heroism you are protecting, in part from evidence that undermines this image.

Jeff_36 wrote:And to be honest anything that brings the monster to its knees is good enough for me. I also am of the opinion that such tactics should be used today in situations involving war with hostile nation states.

I know you are, which is one of the reasons I keep pressing. Emotion-based and vengeful attacks and attacks on civilians don't have a track record of success.

Jeff_36 wrote:My defense of British bombing tactics is less total and more moral than practical.

I fail to see how bombing pensioners in Hamburg is moral. Your defense seems, as Balsamo said long ago in this discussion, more passion and fire-breathing than anything.

Jeff_36 wrote:From a practical perspective it had less real impact than American bombing but it was not totally useless.

Opportunity costs.

Jeff_36 wrote:Dresden was a major industrial center and a perfectly justifiable target for example,

Which is beside the point in the sense that what was targeted was city center, not the industrial center.

Jeff_36 wrote:Oporation Gomorrah reduced Hamburg's workforce by ten percent.

Overy cites that 18,500 civilians were killed in the Hamburg firestorm. Of these only 280 were killed in the factory area, which was a distance from the main brunt of the attack. In Hamburg, less than half the bombers hit the target area - many hitting residential districts outside that area. Overy says that 12 sq mi of the city were incinerated in a single night in a textbook use of incendiary tactics and that additional raids, before and after the firestorm, killed another nearly 19,000 people. The conditions the night of the firestorm were ideal - and unusual: hot, dry weather; the introduction of Window, for which the Germans had no answer. 900,000 people evacuated Hamburg. Harris's conclusion was that area bombing could deliver a knock-out blow, driving Germany out of the war in 1943. British estimates were that Gomorrah cost the Germans 12% of Hamburg's annual production.

But Overy writes that the estimates were overoptimistic, even in the case of this ideal, non-repeatable attack. The port was not as severely damaged as areas in the heart of the city and, far from being nearly knocked out, was at 70% capacity within a month. Some key shipyards had barely been hit at all, it turned out. By fall, the city was at 80% production - and Overy comments that when Göring was captured among the loot he carried were charts and graphs illustrating the rapid recovery of the city.

Taking the area bombing campaign as a whole. Overy adds that even if workers had been 100% of the victims of Allied bombing - and he says they were not, that would have meant that area bombing destroyed around 1.5% of Germany's workforce, which was more elastic than area bombing advocates credited. But British area bombing could only kill a fraction of this 1.5%. Nor can you extrapolate from Hamburg - as German defenses responded, and with "bad" weather, the British found it difficult to replicate Hamburgs.

Again, the convergence of German testimony, war-time experience, and post-war bombing surveys was that other bombing strategies would have been significantly more effective than area bombing.

Jeff_36 wrote:However, hindsight is 20/20 and we cannot judge the British for making the decision they made.

Except that at the time some people made cogent arguments against area bombing. Churchill was unimpressed enough with the strategy to waver in his support.

Where Overy will agree that "war is easier to fight looking backwards" is on the overall bombing campaign, beyond area bombing. He sees the overall bombing war as less than optimal. He gives a number of telling statistics, one of which I found especially sobering: 41% of Bomber Command pilots died in combat or accidents. Almost half the British bomber pilots did not survive.

Jeff_36 wrote:This was only the second time that such a strategy had been put into place (the first being the German destruction of Guernica)

Overy will dispute that the bombing of Guernica was area bombing of the sort advocated by Harris.

Jeff_36 wrote:I cannot think of a more deserving Guinea Pig than Nazi Germany.

Again, conflating the Nazis with the civilian population is an example of muddying the waters. If you mean to say that you cannot think of a more deserving target than civilians living in German cities, that would be clearer. Because that's what we're discussing.
Last edited by Statistical Mechanic on Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:41 pm

Jeffk 1970 wrote:when I say "revisionist" I mean that in a truly positive fashion, not the "revisionism" that deniers indulge in.

I agree. Some significant topics on which Overy has challenged my thinking include the German bombing of Guernica, Warsaw, and Rotterdam; the overall German air strategy and effort; the secondary effects of Allied bombing in terms of opportunity costs to the Germans and how they prosecuted the war; the larger context for "Dresden"; the bombers' experience; the US strategic concept.

The alternative idea - that Overy's book is a "weepy Bergian sob fest" - is, I hate to say, out there in Stundie land. Nor am I tired of the topic; it's actually one that's, for us (not for wiser and more veteran folks here . . . you know who I mean, you veterans!), fresher than repeating the same old nonsense with Monstrous or David.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Tue Jun 28, 2016 9:48 pm

Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Jeffk 1970 wrote:when I say "revisionist" I mean that in a truly positive fashion, not the "revisionism" that deniers indulge in.

I agree. Some significant topics on which Overy has challenged my thinking include the German bombing of Guernica, Warsaw, and Rotterdam; the overall German air strategy and effort; the secondary effects of Allied bombing in terms of opportunity costs to the Germans and how they prosecuted the war; the larger context for "Dresden"; the bombers' experience; the US strategic concept.

The alternative idea - that Overy's book is a "weepy Bergian sob fest" - is, I hate to say, out there in Stundie land. Nor am I tired of the topic; it's actually one that's, for us (not for wiser and more veteran folks here . . . you know who I mean, you veterans!), fresher than repeating the same old nonsense with Monstrous or David.


I'm anxious to read this book.
I think it's important to look at Allied as well as Axis actions. This doesn't diminish in any way the atrocities committed by the Axis, they certainly deserve our disgust over what they did. In the end the responsibility is theirs.
However, whatever they did, it doesn't excuse what the allies did in prosecuting the war. The allies were certainly not white knights coming to the rescue.
I do want to point out that it took a lot of courage for those pilots to complete their missions. Glancing through Michael Burleigh's Moral Combat, he noted that 122,000 men served in Bomber Command. 55,000 died, with around another 19,000 wounded. So, a majority of the men that served were casualties, a majority of the casualties were fatalities. That's shocking. Whatever we say about the decisions that Churchill and Harris, it's important to think of the brave men that flew those missions night after night.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Balsamo » Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:02 pm

Statistical Mechanic wrote:So restraint on account of law and the horrors of WWI even though the Allies came close to using gas?

That's much more satisfactory to me than answers like "because gas was unworkable."

On the other hand, in the 1939 British view international law forbade the kind of air war eventually opted for - still the British "thought" their way around that. And the Americans "thought" their way into using atomic weapons against cities.

But with bombing, I think, there were grey areas, continually sliding into acceptance of, or targeting, civilian deaths - the grey area allowing the Allies to rationalize that they were only "bombing installations." Whereas with poison gas, the line was clear - you crossed it or you didn't.

As well - and I would emphasize this, given that Churchill advocated using gas and could not win over the military - had the Allies used poison gas or germs, retaliation would have been sure - the Germans had the capacity to reply (e.g., Sarin or Tabun, botulism), a capacity they gradually lost in the area of bombing. I think with gas (and germs) mutual assured deterrence worked before its time. (The Allies, according to Overy, had intelligence that suggested that the Germans had no plans to use gas; German planning was for use of gas against soldiers whilst Churchill's view was also to use gas against civilians, p 381).

How about the Nazis? Same calculus?



Actually, yes. As i said many times, a treaty or an international norms has a chance to stand if it is in the interest of every participants.
In this context, both sides had reserve of biological and toxic weapons in reserve, Both sides signed a binding agreement never to use them. But even by 1945, the Nazi could have filled a V2 with Botulism or Sarin gas and throw it on London.

The Germans had indeed no plan to use gas. According to the story, it was Hitler's personal experience during WW1 which had an deep impact. That did not prevent him from using gas against other victims, but not in a context of warfare.

Up to now, same thing happened with the Atomic bomb. It was used twice, now everyone can realize concretely what it means, and therefore,many has the weapon, but - up to now - refrain from using it.

But one thing is certain, should any country fires one, he will get about a hundred within minutes. A good deterrent.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:17 pm

Yeah, that sounds right to me, too.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:20 pm

Jeffk 1970 wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Jeffk 1970 wrote:when I say "revisionist" I mean that in a truly positive fashion, not the "revisionism" that deniers indulge in.

I agree. Some significant topics on which Overy has challenged my thinking include the German bombing of Guernica, Warsaw, and Rotterdam; the overall German air strategy and effort; the secondary effects of Allied bombing in terms of opportunity costs to the Germans and how they prosecuted the war; the larger context for "Dresden"; the bombers' experience; the US strategic concept.

The alternative idea - that Overy's book is a "weepy Bergian sob fest" - is, I hate to say, out there in Stundie land. Nor am I tired of the topic; it's actually one that's, for us (not for wiser and more veteran folks here . . . you know who I mean, you veterans!), fresher than repeating the same old nonsense with Monstrous or David.


I'm anxious to read this book.
I think it's important to look at Allied as well as Axis actions. This doesn't diminish in any way the atrocities committed by the Axis, they certainly deserve our disgust over what they did. In the end the responsibility is theirs.
However, whatever they did, it doesn't excuse what the allies did in prosecuting the war. The allies were certainly not white knights coming to the rescue.
I do want to point out that it took a lot of courage for those pilots to complete their missions. Glancing through Michael Burleigh's Moral Combat, he noted that 122,000 men served in Bomber Command. 55,000 died, with around another 19,000 wounded. So, a majority of the men that served were casualties, a majority of the casualties were fatalities. That's shocking. Whatever we say about the decisions that Churchill and Harris, it's important to think of the brave men that flew those missions night after night.

I highly recommend Overy's passage on the pilots and crews; it is beyond harrowing. At points in the war, these men knew with almost certainty that they would not make it. They carried on. The next chapter I read will be Germany under the bombs - as Overy is very good at getting at the real, lived impact of the war, I am sure it will be hard to read, if very worthwhile.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:10 am

Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Jeffk 1970 wrote:when I say "revisionist" I mean that in a truly positive fashion, not the "revisionism" that deniers indulge in.

I agree. Some significant topics on which Overy has challenged my thinking include the German bombing of Guernica, Warsaw, and Rotterdam; the overall German air strategy and effort; the secondary effects of Allied bombing in terms of opportunity costs to the Germans and how they prosecuted the war; the larger context for "Dresden"; the bombers' experience; the US strategic concept.

The alternative idea - that Overy's book is a "weepy Bergian sob fest" - is, I hate to say, out there in Stundie land. Nor am I tired of the topic; it's actually one that's, for us (not for wiser and more veteran folks here . . . you know who I mean, you veterans!), fresher than repeating the same old nonsense with Monstrous or David.


Ok, I will retract my claim about the "Bergian sobfest", that was an unacceptable bit of hyperbole. But I will say that it is Suvorov esque revisionism that will be used (dishonestly of course) by Nazi apologists and deniers.
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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:21 am

Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Jeffk 1970 wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Jeffk 1970 wrote:when I say "revisionist" I mean that in a truly positive fashion, not the "revisionism" that deniers indulge in.

I agree. Some significant topics on which Overy has challenged my thinking include the German bombing of Guernica, Warsaw, and Rotterdam; the overall German air strategy and effort; the secondary effects of Allied bombing in terms of opportunity costs to the Germans and how they prosecuted the war; the larger context for "Dresden"; the bombers' experience; the US strategic concept.

The alternative idea - that Overy's book is a "weepy Bergian sob fest" - is, I hate to say, out there in Stundie land. Nor am I tired of the topic; it's actually one that's, for us (not for wiser and more veteran folks here . . . you know who I mean, you veterans!), fresher than repeating the same old nonsense with Monstrous or David.


I'm anxious to read this book.
I think it's important to look at Allied as well as Axis actions. This doesn't diminish in any way the atrocities committed by the Axis, they certainly deserve our disgust over what they did. In the end the responsibility is theirs.
However, whatever they did, it doesn't excuse what the allies did in prosecuting the war. The allies were certainly not white knights coming to the rescue.
I do want to point out that it took a lot of courage for those pilots to complete their missions. Glancing through Michael Burleigh's Moral Combat, he noted that 122,000 men served in Bomber Command. 55,000 died, with around another 19,000 wounded. So, a majority of the men that served were casualties, a majority of the casualties were fatalities. That's shocking. Whatever we say about the decisions that Churchill and Harris, it's important to think of the brave men that flew those missions night after night.

I highly recommend Overy's passage on the pilots and crews; it is beyond harrowing. At points in the war, these men knew with almost certainty that they would not make it. They carried on. The next chapter I read will be Germany under the bombs - as Overy is very good at getting at the real, lived impact of the war, I am sure it will be hard to read, if very worthwhile.


Ok that is reassuring to read. Like I said, I met a number of former Bomber Command crew members some years ago and it had a profound impact on me. I came to view rhetoric on the bombing campaign as direct attacks on those men and that in many ways influenced my stance.

I am now willing to discuss this topic with an open mind and a reasoned approach, but it is not a topic that I have ever put much thought into. like I said earlier it does not gnaw at my conscience and any issues I will take of the campaign will be on a nuts and bolts level. I am fine with anything so long as the community does not lean to far into RODOH territory.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:36 am

Jeff_36 wrote:Ok, I will retract my claim about the "Bergian sobfest", that was an unacceptable bit of hyperbole. But I will say that it is Suvorov esque revisionism that will be used (dishonestly of course) by Nazi apologists and deniers.

Not to worry, it relies on thorough research in the archives, has complex sentences and big words. It's way over their heads.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:57 am

Jeff_36 wrote:Ok that is reassuring to read. Like I said, I met a number of former Bomber Command crew members . . .

Overy writes at one point in the section on life as a bomber pilot or crew member (pp 344-355) that weather, accuracy and the prolonged, dangerous nature of the complex duty combined to create a "factor about the bombing war that is seldom given the weight it deserves in assessing what was and was not possible for the forces at the Allies' disposal." His point is that the scale, complexity, technology, logistical, geographic, training, and coordination demands were unprecedented - and these demands had to be met by men serving in almost unthinkable conditions. In this section Overy reviews the context - in terms of how operations were conducted and what equipment was available - in which bomber crews had to operated and the impact of all this on the fliers - at a time when 1 in 4 survived a first tour and 1 in 10 survived a second tour. He concludes, from medical, psychiatric, and personnel data, that the men maintained high morale even as they suffered symptoms such as weight loss, fatigue, and insomnia. Overy in this section, as elsewhere, writes without rhetoric flourish and in an understated way, heightening the impact. I do recommend this dozen or so pages.
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"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby scrmbldggs » Wed Jun 29, 2016 2:16 am

Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Jeff_36 wrote:Ok, I will retract my claim about the "Bergian sobfest", that was an unacceptable bit of hyperbole. But I will say that it is Suvorov esque revisionism that will be used (dishonestly of course) by Nazi apologists and deniers.

Not to worry, it relies on thorough research in the archives, has complex sentences and big words. It's way over their heads.

And being dealt with here in an appropriate manner creates another good place to find what's real and true and what is not...

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Xcalibur » Wed Jun 29, 2016 2:38 am

Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Jeff_36 wrote:Ok that is reassuring to read. Like I said, I met a number of former Bomber Command crew members . . .

Overy writes at one point in the section on life as a bomber pilot or crew member (pp 344-355) that weather, accuracy and the prolonged, dangerous nature of the complex duty combined to create a "factor about the bombing war that is seldom given the weight it deserves in assessing what was and was not possible for the forces at the Allies' disposal." His point is that the scale, complexity, technology, logistical, geographic, training, and coordination demands were unprecedented - and these demands had to be met by men serving in almost unthinkable conditions. In this section Overy reviews the context - in terms of how operations were conducted and what equipment was available - in which bomber crews had to operated and the impact of all this on the fliers - at a time when 1 in 4 survived a first tour and 1 in 10 survived a second tour. He concludes, from medical, psychiatric, and personnel data, that the men maintained high morale even as they suffered symptoms such as weight loss, fatigue, and insomnia. Overy in this section, as elsewhere, writes without rhetoric flourish and in an understated way, heightening the impact. I do recommend this dozen or so pages.



The ground crews in England also suffered quite a bit as those surviving but shot up planes always contained scenes of carnage..

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Wed Jun 29, 2016 2:43 am

Jeff_36 wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Jeffk 1970 wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
Jeffk 1970 wrote:when I say "revisionist" I mean that in a truly positive fashion, not the "revisionism" that deniers indulge in.

I agree. Some significant topics on which Overy has challenged my thinking include the German bombing of Guernica, Warsaw, and Rotterdam; the overall German air strategy and effort; the secondary effects of Allied bombing in terms of opportunity costs to the Germans and how they prosecuted the war; the larger context for "Dresden"; the bombers' experience; the US strategic concept.

The alternative idea - that Overy's book is a "weepy Bergian sob fest" - is, I hate to say, out there in Stundie land. Nor am I tired of the topic; it's actually one that's, for us (not for wiser and more veteran folks here . . . you know who I mean, you veterans!), fresher than repeating the same old nonsense with Monstrous or David.


I'm anxious to read this book.
I think it's important to look at Allied as well as Axis actions. This doesn't diminish in any way the atrocities committed by the Axis, they certainly deserve our disgust over what they did. In the end the responsibility is theirs.
However, whatever they did, it doesn't excuse what the allies did in prosecuting the war. The allies were certainly not white knights coming to the rescue.
I do want to point out that it took a lot of courage for those pilots to complete their missions. Glancing through Michael Burleigh's Moral Combat, he noted that 122,000 men served in Bomber Command. 55,000 died, with around another 19,000 wounded. So, a majority of the men that served were casualties, a majority of the casualties were fatalities. That's shocking. Whatever we say about the decisions that Churchill and Harris, it's important to think of the brave men that flew those missions night after night.

I highly recommend Overy's passage on the pilots and crews; it is beyond harrowing. At points in the war, these men knew with almost certainty that they would not make it. They carried on. The next chapter I read will be Germany under the bombs - as Overy is very good at getting at the real, lived impact of the war, I am sure it will be hard to read, if very worthwhile.


Ok that is reassuring to read. Like I said, I met a number of former Bomber Command crew members some years ago and it had a profound impact on me. I came to view rhetoric on the bombing campaign as direct attacks on those men and that in many ways influenced my stance.

I am now willing to discuss this topic with an open mind and a reasoned approach, but it is not a topic that I have ever put much thought into. like I said earlier it does not gnaw at my conscience and any issues I will take of the campaign will be on a nuts and bolts level. I am fine with anything so long as the community does not lean to far into RODOH territory.


I'd never denigrate the men in the planes.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jun 29, 2016 2:27 pm

According to one person - no one in this thread - the crews following the target markers on bombing missions were "rabbits"; the force had among it "weak sisters" - crew or pilots rattled by or concerned about the course of the campaigns; the damned Canadians were prone "to huddle into a corner by themselves"; the Eighth Air Force needed to step up its game and get on board; advocates of precision attacks were nothing but "Panacea Target mongers" and "Diversionists." I am sure you know to whom I refer.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Wed Jun 29, 2016 4:16 pm

It appears as though the tactic of creating firestorms was one that was devised and pioneered by the Germans, and used in both London and Coventry in the fall of 1940 with utterly devastating results. The first Allied firebombing was in 1942. You know what they say about those who can dish out but can't take it right?

Jorge Freidrich, IIRC, has accepted that this is the case.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Wed Jun 29, 2016 4:29 pm

If I were to state my position clearly, it would be to say that the tactics of the USAAF were superior to the tactics used by the RAF. However, I do not think that the RAF tactics, while quite wasteful and sloppy, were morally wrong, and I can see why they made sense in 1940 even if we today can state definitively that different routs should have been taken. I remain thankful to Bomber command for diverting so many German resources away from the front and tightening the screws on the Third Reich, even if their methods were inefficient and unpragamtic.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jun 29, 2016 5:37 pm

Jeff_36 wrote:It appears as though the tactic of creating firestorms was one that was devised and pioneered by the Germans, and used in both London and Coventry in the fall of 1940 with utterly devastating results. The first Allied firebombing was in 1942. You know what they say about those who can dish out but can't take it right?

Jorge Freidrich, IIRC, has accepted that this is the case.

This is not a schoolyard spat, for crissakes. To define precisely, as Balsamo did earlier, the nature of the German bombing of Warsaw or Rotterdam, or as Overy does the British bombing of 1942, is not to make a judgment about either. It is to frame the discussion properly. The latest confusion being introduced here seems to be an equation of the use of incendiaries with bombing directed mainly at civilians.

The British began bombing Germany in May, within a couple days of the German advance west. Again, according to Overy (and I plan to read others), the German escalation in the "attack on England" was in part retaliatory for air raids on Berlin (25-29 August, p 83) but a deeper reason for the Blitz lay in the many weeks of British air attacks on Germany, especially in the Ruhr and Rhineland, which attacks were poorly executed and which the Germans understood as pure terror raids (they were by no means terror raids) on account of their haphazard targeting. The planless appearance of the British bombing during the summer obscured that it was aimed at industrial sites. The Germans, unable to discern a military-strategic intent to such random bombing, drew the erroneous conclusion that the British had instigated terror bombing.

The German view, which Overy doesn't endorse, so don't get your knickers in a twist, was that in summer 1940 the British had crossed the threshold to bombing of civilians (the casualty numbers were low compared to what would follow) and so gloves could come off, so to speak.

At least as important, the Blitz was meant to prepare the planned German channel crossing - the goals included rendering ports useless for the British, damaging infrastructure valuable to sustaining military defense, and intimidating the British population indirectly - the Germans knew that targeting of industrial areas and ports in, and massive destruction from the air of, dense cities would cause civilian casualties. The Germans proceeded anyway. No one has presented this bombing campaign otherwise: it was destructive and brutal, with many civilian casualties.

However, Hitler specifically ruled out targeting civilians (p 86) as requested by the air force - thus targeting focused on "war-essential" sites, like airfields and industry. Overy sees the Blitz bombing as akin to economic warfare (p 90); a major focus was shipping. That's why London was hit extensively; targets in the Midlands included aircraft manufacturing, components plants, engine factories. The Germans most certainly used incendiaries in this campaign - no dispute (but again, the issue we're looking at isn't use of incendiaries but rather strategic concept, targeting and aims of the bombing - especially targeting of civilians).

Overy says that in late fall 1940 German escalation - especially noticeable in rising numbers of British civilian casualties - was evident. He says the increase in civilian casualties was in part a result of the high explosives and incendiary bombs utilized but also on account of more German night-time attacks, which reduced accuracy. (Overy will trace this same pattern with the Allied bombing of Germany.) Overy cites a case in the German air campaign in which accuracy was so bad that the Germans bombed Nottingham when the target was a ball-bearing plant in Derby. The declining German performance was in part due to improved British air defense. By spring (p 106), the British response was to prepare gas warfare against Germany should the Germans use gas or further escalate in their bombing campaign. Overy also says that the 1941 bombing was noteworthy for the high % of incendiaries which started (his phrase) "large-scale fires" in port and warehouse areas. IIRC close 45,000 British civilians perished in the Blitz vs fewer than 1,000 Germans in the British bombing of Germany which began in summer 1940.

What might have happened later in 1941 is speculative, as Hitler pivoted east. Still, improvements in British air defense, and very high attrition of German air strength, with the result that the campaign was difficult to sustain and raised questions in Berlin about the ability of bombing to destroy morale. As with the Allied bombing, Overy sees one benefit for the Germans of the British campaign as diversion of attention and resources; most important, the bombing was intended to "prove" to Stalin that Germany was focused west and not planning an attack against the USSR.

Overy is describing context and process, not debating like schoolkids about who hit first. His section on the Blitz is, in his understated usual manner, outraged by the German campaign. That said, he is clear - I intend to read others' pov's about this - in making distinctions - e.g., about targeting, intent, and so on, concluding that German strategic bombing of Britain was aimed at infrastructure and military targets with an acceptance of methods that made high civilian casualties certain, at rates far exceeding the British bombing of Germany which began in May, when the British had accepted civilian casualties in their bombing of Germany. The numbers of civilians killed under bombs would grow much larger, especially in 1943-1945, and then mostly on the German side.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Xcalibur » Thu Jun 30, 2016 2:02 am

Jeff_36:

>"It appears as though the tactic of creating firestorms was one that was devised and pioneered by the Germans, and used in both London and Coventry in the fall of 1940 with utterly devastating results. The first Allied firebombing was in 1942. You know what they say about those who can dish out but can't take it right?

Jorge Freidrich, IIRC, has accepted that this is the case."


You didn't mention Rotterdam. And there was a massive fire there, though I'm not clear that initially this was part of pre-mission planning, ie, intentional. IIrc, the fires started in the bombing of petroleum facilities and spread. Now, I am certainly willing to be corrected on this point. That said, I think the Nazis were totally irresponsible in trying to bring the Dutch to heel by launching this raid as a "threat" because of everything that could have gone pear-shaped, and ultimately did.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Thu Jun 30, 2016 2:16 am

Yes, Overy says that s significant part of the damage to Rotterdam was indeed caused by fire which started after the bombing from leaking oil installations. The death toll in Rotterdam was appalling - almost 1000. Almost 3 sq mi burnt to the ground. Overy's explanation is that the Germans resorted to bombing to support their troops who were in a difficult posture to the city's south.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 2:18 am

Statistical Mechanic wrote:Yes, Overy says that s significant part of the damage to Rotterdam was indeed caused by fire which started after the bombing from leaking oil installations. The death toll in Rotterdam was appalling - almost 1000. Almost 3 sq mi burnt to the ground. Overy's explanation is that the Germans resorted to bombing to support their troops who were in a difficult posture to the city's south.


Whereas in Coventry, IIRC, they used incendiary bombs, deliberately creating firestorm conditions, a technique that the RAF later used against them lol.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Thu Jun 30, 2016 2:52 am

Jeff_36 wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:Yes, Overy says that s significant part of the damage to Rotterdam was indeed caused by fire which started after the bombing from leaking oil installations. The death toll in Rotterdam was appalling - almost 1000. Almost 3 sq mi burnt to the ground. Overy's explanation is that the Germans resorted to bombing to support their troops who were in a difficult posture to the city's south.


Whereas in Coventry, IIRC, they used incendiary bombs, deliberately creating firestorm conditions, a technique that the RAF later used against them lol.

That's funny . . . why?

Coventry was targeted for its aircraft industry. Overy gives the proportion (in tons) of high explosive bombs to incendiaries as 797 HE and 69 incendiaries - this surprised me, and it is one thing I plan checking on; surely the Germans used incendiaries - a point we've discussed and on which there's no disagreement that I'm aware of. The target point for the big November 1940 Coventry raid, which was part of a shift from London to the industrial Midllands, was not working class residential districts but aircraft engine and components factories (Daimler, Alvis works) - a third of Coventry's factories were destroyed and many others badly damaged. As workers' residential areas lay close to the 30 factory target points, there was devastation among the families living there.

The civilian casualties were high with nearly 600 dead in the city-center firestorm created by the combination of HEs and incendiaries.

In Overy's terms this bombing was of the industrial target + heavy civilian collateral damage type, a result the Germans endorsed - in part to intimidate the British. IMO such bombings remain morally dubious - in "1939" terms they were illegal (that's what I'd advocate). By fall 1940, not so much. Unlike the bombing of Warsaw - Overy uses the word "legitimate" for the participation of the air force in the battle for Warsaw, a defended city - Overy doesn't describe Coventry and such air attacks as legitimate. His account portrays the Germans as brutal and callous, the bombings, although mainly targeting industrial sites, as intentionally careless of civilian life and raising stakes to an appalling, new level.

It is of course true that the RAF learned from German techniques in the Blitz - and used similar and improved methods, not only in industry target + collateral civilian attacks but eventually in civilian target + collateral industry attacks (using Overy's terms).

I hope you're not confused about my thoughts on how the war started, the Third Reich's criminal conduct of the war and German atrocities, why Allied victory was so important - your posts read as though we're debating things I don't believe, many of which I've not even mentioned in this thread! The Nazis were responsible for launching a criminal and massively destructive war - and continuing it to the point of the near-apocalyptic devastation of much of Europe including their own country. I know from his other books that Overy has interesting thoughts on how war resulted in 1939 and widened in 1941, but, not having yet read his conclusion to The Bombing War I will wait before commenting on this.

So this is not a zero-sum game; by criticizing British area bombing of cities in 1941 and after we do not "run out" of chips with which to criticize German methods, for example, for the tactics of the Third Reich's air force during the Blitz, which killed 45,000 civilians and during which German air strikes (use of incendiaries, burning out of industrial districts) escalated. And the escalation isn't IMO a laughing matter.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:46 pm

Another data point on efficacy of strategic bombing: Strategic bombing of Italy had a different impact on civilian morale and the war effort than the bombing of Germany had. In Germany, says Overy, the bombing didn't achieve its "morale"/political goals for a number of reasons, among them the management of the Nazi war effort (war preparation in place, rings and circles in industry, industrial rationalization which grew output, slave and foreign labor pools, very importantly deep civil defense, firefighting and welfare and relief support, repair and re-building efforts). In fact, in Germany the bombing tended to make civilians increasingly dependent - through civil defense and relief efforts, Jewish and other racial policy favoring Aryans, and police coercion - on party and state.

In Italy, the country's economy was not at the level to support the war effort, civil defense and relief were not well prepared, and air defense was not up to the task. Overy shows that the bombing of Italy had an impact on the morale of the population, which under the pressure of sustained bombing and the overall war became demoralized and estranged from the Fascists. In Overy's judgment, strategic bombing in Italy, e.g., the bombing of Rome, was a factor among many in the mix of events leading to the overthrow of Mussolini - he calls it more a symptom of the overall failure of the Fascists and of their war effort - and an important factor in accelerating the agreement of the Badoglio government to the armistice terms in early fall 1943. Overy observes that, nonetheless, with the German occupation, the war continued and the bombing continued, with the American air force leading the bombing effort.

In thinking about civilian morale, Overy places a lot of emphasis on the quality and scope of (broadly speaking) civil defense plans and capability and on economic flexibility.
"World peace is certainly an ideal worth striving for; in Hitler's opinion it will be realizable only when one power, the racially best one, has attained complete and uncontested supremacy. That can then provide a sort of world police, seeing to it at the same time that the most valuable race is guaranteed the necessary living space. And if no other way is open to them, the lower races will have to restrict themselves accordingly."

- Rudolf Hess, letter, 1927


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