The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Thu Jun 30, 2016 11:09 pm

Statistical Mechanic wrote: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.


So, are bombing can work against a target that is receptive to it so to speak.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Thu Jun 30, 2016 11:18 pm

Overy is more negative about the effects of bombing in helping to win the war for the Allies than I expected he would be - but, again, he is not talking only about the area strikes on civilians, which I keep thinking is the main topic (controversy) here (maybe not?). Overy's book is about the whole bombing program - in that context, he is really not keen on the civilian aspect of the campaigns at all. In Britain, the USSR, Germany, and even little Malta, the strategic effort did not significantly undermine morale or disrupt politics or even cripple the economy - with the proviso that as Germany collapsed in 1945, the economy at last began to unravel. Italy, in part because of the country's overall weakness, was an exception to this pattern.

Generally Overy describes the civilian-area strategy as a wasteful and not very good approach but, yes, you have to assess the specifics of each case.

I still have to read the conclusion of Overy's book to understand fully how he assesses all these elements. In Italy, where in Overy's assessment the bombing did help weaken attachment to the regime, Overy stresses that it was still just one of many elements shaping what happened during 1943, not a driving factor. Overy doesn't say that the bombing - and certainly not the area strategy - "worked" there. Although the bombing undermined morale in Italy, the war continued, as the Germans were able to occupy the country and keep the war going. By war's end, Overy judges the strategic attacks on Italy actually as sometimes counter-productive to bringing people to the Allies' side - but by then the major focus of the campaigns was really beating the hell out of the German forces, not hitting civilians (though civilians were massively caught in the waves of attacks). There is evidence that the Allied air raids turned some Italian workers against the Americans and made them more favorable to the Soviets by contrast.

And in Germany the efforts of Bomber Command and the Eighth Air Force, in this evaluation, strengthened the ties of workers to the Nazi regime - the exact opposite of what was intended.
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Balsamo » Fri Jul 01, 2016 4:45 am

IIRC, i have order the book, Overy also speak about the "political" bombing of Bulgaria...
Can you confirm, Statmec?

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Fri Jul 01, 2016 1:08 pm

Yes, that is the case study he begins the book with - chosen I think for its complexity and dearth of easy answers.

The Allies decided on bombing of Bulgaria, with heavy strikes on Sofia (a "sharp lesson" in Overy's words), to deliver blows that would drive the Bulgarians out of the war.

The way Overy describes this is that the push came from the British with the Americans and Stalin going along. The attack came in January 1944, killing 750 people in Sofia and causing widespread damage to residences and public buildings. This caused an exodus from Sofia. A second strike in mid-January "did pay political dividends." The Bulgarian government made peace contacts with the Allies.

Churchill turned the pressure up - Stalin agreed but in secret so that the Bulgarians wouldn't connect the Soviets with the bombing - and highly destructive attacks were carried out against Sofia in March and April, more devastating than the January bombing (because of the evacuation of the capital in late January, loss of life in the second raids was less than in the earlier attacks).

"The incendiary attacks hastened the disintegration of Bulgarian politics," and the Bulgarians began to negotiate in earnest to withdraw from the war.

The US postwar assessment was ambiguous and concluded that one result of the air campaign was that the prestige of the US and Britain was damaged, a conclusion which the British rejected.

Overy's assessment is that the air war against Bulgaria was one factor of many leading the country to break with Germany - Bulgaria got a new government not until September 1944 and then it was Soviet oriented, an outcome opposite to Churchill's intent. As with his assessment of Germany in 1945, Overy also gives other factors besides the bombing very strong weight in provoking political collapse: in Bulgaria's case, events in Italy in 1943; the advance of the Red Army and Germany's weakening position; and fear of invasion from the south (Allies or Turkey). I take that the Allies and Churchill agreed to disagree on the relative importance of the bombing campaign in Bulgaria.
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Fri Jul 01, 2016 6:22 pm

In discussing area bombing of civilians, we've touched on vengeance, moral high ground, and the idea that "the pragmatic considerations are primary." We have looked at how the strategic bombing was meant to destroy military power, industry, communications, and infrastructure - and also morale. We have discussed bombing that targeted people who made up workforces - to increase absenteeism and to deprive the German war machine of workers. Another logic for civilian targeting has been that the Third Reich reaped what it sowed; another is that civilians supported the regime and the bombing was justified because of this.

So we can get to more complex questions. In occupied Europe, "free" and "captive" employees had to work for enterprises producing for the Germans or even taken over by the Germans. These civilians had opposed Germany, and their countries had been conquered by Germany. Yet objectively - to resort to good Marxist language - such people supported the German war effort, despite opposing it in belief and feeling. They worked in coercive environments and for their survival - they might have supported anti-German forces and activities or not, but they kept working. Their contribution to the war effort was every bit as real as that of a worker in Hamburg or Dresden. The Germans could even shift some production to occupied countries should the Allies proceed against them less ruthlessly than they attacked German cities and industry.

If the pragmatic grounds were primary, should the Allies thus have conducted the same sorts of strategic operations, including area targeting of workers' neighborhoods and residences, in occupied countries that they conducted in Germany? Should the Allies, to destroy the war machine have bombed, for example, cities in occupied France, burned them to the ground with incendiaries, and incinerated homes and residential districts as they did in German cities? Should Allied tolerance of accidental civilian death in targeted strategic raids have been the same or different to what prevailed for attacks against Germany? What are the morale aspects of this? Moral aspects? What about the role of the Resistance? What about governments in exile in cases like Belgium and the Netherlands? Does the practical level play out differently in occupied countries to bombing of Axis countries and especially of Germany?
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:44 pm

A couple corrections, sort of:
* I summarized from either Biddle or Strachan writing that Allied bombing became accurate by war's end; Overy disagrees fundamentally. He would be hard pressed to say that it even became less inaccurate. In his view, one of the defining features of the strategic bombing was its inability to hit targets precisely - Overy refers to it over and over as a blunt or crude instrument. Use of strategic bombing in many situations simply meant high civilian casualties, not necessarily Hamburgs or Dresdens, which were the product of intentional effort to create firestorms in city centers/residential areas, but 100s or 1000s of civilians dead in attacks whatever the primary target. To escape anti-aircraft defenses, planes had to fly at very high altitudes - and without guided missiles there was no possibility of planes bombing with accuracy from such altitudes. Other factors ensuring inaccurate bombing included weather, novice pilots, use of early generation navigational systems, the state of maps and intelligence.
* Overy writes that in his view there is no doubt that the German and Allied bombing programs violated international law and norms; for him, the question is how it became widely accepted on both sides to transgress agreed boundaries, knowingly; he is also interested in the escalation that occurred during war-time conditions.
* Toward the end of the book there's discussion of the bombing of western European occupied countries - the situation I posted about above - which makes me even more curious about thoughts on that situation . . .
* Overy's view is that intelligence during the war was generally not helpful to understanding the impact/results of bombing - and persistently overestimated the damage to property. and the enemy's war effort.
* To Balsamo's question about the political bombing of Sofia, I should add to my reply that in Overy's opinion that largest bombing undertaken for political purposes was that carried out in lieu of the western Allies opening a second front - presumably to placate Stalin; the heavy area bombing in the West didn't do this, Stalin continuing to press for an Allied front in the West - and the Soviets, who favored tactical air operations utilizing fighters and fighter bombers of high quality and precision, insisted on bombing demarcation lines in the East, as the Red Army advanced, over which the Allies would not bomb, in order to protect their ground forces from "friendly fire."
* Going back to point 1, inaccuracy, the US Air Force, whilst never joining the British in targeting cities/residential areas/civilians, conducted strategic campaigns under rules and conditions that blurred the distinction between targeting of oil, transportation, industry, and the like and targeting of people, homes, etc; under the intense US bombing of 1944-1945 civilian casualties grew to very large numbers, not very different from much of the civilian-targeted bombing of the British.
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sun Jul 03, 2016 4:25 pm

IMO the paper by Sebastian Cox in Firestorm is a bit disjointed: his conclusions don't well match the narrative he gives. To support his conclusions, he rules out asking about targeting, even in a general way. Since the target point was the center of the old city, and not industrial areas and transportation hubs, this proscription comes across to me like false pleading.
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sun Jul 03, 2016 9:29 pm

Has this thread run its course? LOL
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Sun Jul 03, 2016 10:43 pm

Sorry, I haven't had a chance to go through some books on this subject. I've read everything you've posted, it's been fascinating and very informative.
I'll have more to say once I can read more about it.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Sun Jul 03, 2016 10:52 pm

I was picking up an echo . . . LOL . . . your thread has gotten me quite intrigued . . . working my way through Firestorm . . .
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Mon Jul 04, 2016 1:08 pm

Biddle's paper in Firestorm, on reactions to the attack on Dresden, is everything that Cox's paper is not. One interesting point she makes:

On 16 February, a SHAEF spokesperson, Air Commodore C.M. Gierson, gave a press conference on the bombing campaign's extension to eastern cities, including the Dresden bombing of a couple days prior. Gierson told reporters that the Allies had decided on "the employment of Heavies against centres of population."

Gierson's press conference led to an AP story by Howard Cowan characterizing the decision, and the bombing of Dresden, thus: "the long-awaited decision to adopt terror bombing of German population centers" to hasten to surrender of Germany.

Gierson's incautious remarks and Cowan's inflammatory story put the Allies, especially the Americans, into spin control, with reiterations of the precision bombing policy, which Biddle says, concurring with Overy, had by 1945 morphed into area bombing in all but name.

Following on the bombing of Dresden, the Americans supported Operation Clarion - targeting smaller German cities and towns not yet hit and only poorly defended - with US General Ira Eaker explaining the rationale: "It will absolutely convince the Germans that we are the barbarians they say we are, for it would be perfectly obvious to them that this is primarily a large-scale attack on civilians, which, of course, it will be. Of all the people killed in this attack over 95% of them can be expected to be civilians." In this respect, as Dresden was an extension of earlier bombing attacks, Clarion was to be continuous with Dresden.

Although Cowan's AP piece was suppressed in Britain, an MP raised it in Commons. In late March, the war now apparently won, Churchill himself wrote a note to Portal and Ismay, saying that it was time to "review" whether the British should continue "bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, although under other pretexts . . ." He specifically mentioned Dresden, contrasting a more precise bombing of oil and communications with "mere acts of terror and wanton destruction, however impressive." Unsurprisingly, Bomber Command was not pleased with the Prime Minister's minute.

(By the way, lest the question arise what separates Biddle from Irving, in terms of reactions to Dresden, Biddle directly refers to Irving's book, describing it as an act of hubris and an exercise in hyperbole. Biddle's paper is excellent in being forthright, in placing the attack on Dresden into its larger context, and in dealing with the complexities of Dresden and the bombing campaign.)
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Mon Jul 04, 2016 3:32 pm

Btw, to continue with the explanation of how historians see Irving and differentiate historical analysis from works like his, in the article which Nick Terry linked to, Overy discusses Irving's book (he didn't consider it worthy even of reference in The Bombing War, which is focused on the history not postwar debates) as a centerpiece of the politicization and obfuscation of the history of the Dresden bombing, an attempt to make a charge of genocide against the Allies stick by manipulating evidence. A prime example of Irving's tactics, argues Overy, is his dishonest inflation of the Dresden death toll, an inflation designed to underscore an emotional pitch that Dresden was a unique crime and a gross historical injustice of unparalleled violence and viciousness, that Dresden showed that the Allies sought to victimize the German people as an end in and of itself, and that "Dresden" was a crime on a par with - or worse than - Auschwitz. Overy describes Irving's work as "unscholarly and misleading," citing documents from the Irving trial that revealed Irving's methodology. Overy shows that Irving at one point made use of a Nazi forgery (TB47) - is Monstrous listening? - to support his unsupportable claims on the death toll. In short, in Overy's view Irving distorted the context and aims of the Dresden raid and misstated its intent and execution, even using manipulated evidence about it, in the service of Holocaust denial.
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:06 pm

I am going to take a pause now - Overy's piece in Firestorm and in the link Nick Terry posted - is every bit as good as Strachan's and Biddle's papers.

I recommend reading these three papers - Strachan, Biddle, and Overy, along with Cox's paper, even though I find the latter terribly flawed (precisely because he fails by a wide berth to connect means and ends, whilst arguing in essence the justification of means by ends). But my pause is to clear my head a bit before I read Bloxham's contribution to Firestorm; it's modestly entitled "Dresden as a War Crime."
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:14 pm

Statistical Mechanic wrote:I am going to take a pause now - Overy's piece in Firestorm and in the link Nick Terry posted - is every bit as good as Strachan's and Biddle's papers.

I recommend reading these three papers - Strachan, Biddle, and Overy, along with Cox's paper, even though I find the latter terribly flawed (precisely because he fails by a wide berth to connect means and ends, whilst arguing in essence the justification of means by ends). But my pause is to clear my head a bit before I read Bloxham's contribution to Firestorm; it's modestly entitled "Dresden as a War Crime."


Thanks for the information, I really do appreciate everything you've posted here. I've read all of it with great interest.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:20 pm

LOL, I will be back, when I can read it, with some thoughts on Bloxham's paper (I struggle with him, both his Nuremberg book and his Final Solution essay, especially the latter). Right now I have homework to do (learning a language) and then company for the 4th . . . so it won't be today! Thanks for this thread, it prompted me to read in depth on issues I'd read only very generally!
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:44 pm

Statistical Mechanic wrote:LOL, I will be back, when I can read it, with some thoughts on Bloxham's paper (I struggle with him, both his Nuremberg book and his Final Solution essay, especially the latter). Right now I have homework to do (learning a language) and then company for the 4th . . . so it won't be today! Thanks for this thread, it prompted me to read in depth on issues I'd read only very generally!


Yes, this made me realize how much I didn't know about the subject. I'm looking around on-line, trying to find additional sources, plus read over what I do have on the subject.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:03 pm

I went ahead and read Bloxham's paper - homework will have to wait; it's quite interesting, especially IMO what he has to say about the international law (in his view "we" laypeople view "war crime" in terms of moral absolutes rather than legal definitions). He examines tu quoque arguments, HD - including claims of moral equivalency, the argument for the Dresden bombing based on military necessity and the limits on necessity in the law, political motivations for the bombing, the policy of area bombing and its history, and what he calls contextual mitigation (arguments that rationalize the bombing via the state of war, the nature of the enemy, the general brutalization caused by war, Nazi barbarity - war crimes and crimes against humanity including the Blitz on the one hand and the Final Solution on the other, retribution and the legal principle of the lesser evil, the defensive position of Britain and the US).

To some questions Jeff_36 has asked previously, Bloxham, like Overy (and like me), is unreserved in his depiction of Nazi criminality, in Bloxham's case a distinction being made between a criminal state and war aggressor (the Third Reich) and states like the UK and US fighting a war they didn't seek but which may have committed war crimes in the prosecution of the war (here's another difference of these guys to Irving, who tries making, as we saw above, the Allies the aggressors).

I want to look into more, and think more about, Overy's twin points that (1) the US and the UK failed to ratify the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention of 1949 which proscribed attacks on civilians because of its absolute terms and because both powers wished to have an exception for nuclear weapons (in the US case I can add that the reasons for non-ratification concern exactly the one being discussed here - distinctions between non-combatants/combatants as well as others related to the definition of an international conflict and what armed forces are) - and (2) since the 1970s bombing of cities has been "confined almost entirely to the" air forces of the US and UK.
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Tue Jul 05, 2016 1:57 am

Statistical Mechanic wrote:
To some questions Jeff_36 has asked previously, Bloxham, like Overy (and like me), is unreserved in his depiction of Nazi criminality, in Bloxham's case a distinction being made between a criminal state and war aggressor (the Third Reich) and states like the UK and US fighting a war they didn't seek but which may have committed war crimes in the prosecution of the war (here's another difference of these guys to Irving, who tries making, as we saw above, the Allies the aggressors).


Could we then perhaps state that the Nazis would not have been subjected to area bombing had they not waged aggressive war replete with violations of the Geneva convention?

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Jul 05, 2016 3:48 am

Jeff_36 wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
To some questions Jeff_36 has asked previously, Bloxham, like Overy (and like me), is unreserved in his depiction of Nazi criminality, in Bloxham's case a distinction being made between a criminal state and war aggressor (the Third Reich) and states like the UK and US fighting a war they didn't seek but which may have committed war crimes in the prosecution of the war (here's another difference of these guys to Irving, who tries making, as we saw above, the Allies the aggressors).


Could we then perhaps state that the Nazis would not have been subjected to area bombing had they not waged aggressive war replete with violations of the Geneva convention?

Stepping back to the bigger picture, the important point is that the war waged by the Allies was forced on them. Within a justifiable war, they may have crossed the line at times - I would argue that they did with the area bombing program - not just with Dresden, but that does not change the nature of the war they were fighting. Nor does it make the Nazis any less responsible for starting the war and violating conventions and laws of war - or for committing massive crimes against humanity. In the Allies' case, the issues have to do with transgressions within the context of waging a justifiable war; in the Nazis' case, the issues are shot through with criminality, from the nature of the regime to the war it prosecuted to the genocide and other crimes against humanity it committed. The claims of deniers that "Dresden" proves an Allied war of aggression and/or genocidal intent are patently false; the area bombing program proves nothing of the sort - "Dresden" shows that in a long and vicious war of tremendous violence and scale, moral and legal breaches are difficult to prevent. My two cents - after a loooooong 4th of July whoopdeedoo.
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:29 am

On topic....a two page read on the attitude of General Sherman in sacking cities in his sweep thru the South. I'd copy it....but have a feeling there is some kind of forum rule against it? There are Pros and cons to all we do. Make war civilized, and seems to me you just promote and prolong them? thats what Captain James T. Kirk said ....... once.

But here's a tease from a letter Sherman wrote the opposing General: " 'If we must be enemies, let us be men and fight it out ... and not deal in such hypocrit­ical appeals to God and Humanity. God will judge us in due time,' but military men, real men, will act out of pure force rather than hiding in effeminate appeals to higher moral powers."

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Cerdic » Thu Aug 04, 2016 7:18 pm

Today I visited the museum at RAF Elvington, east of York. There was an exhibition relating to Bomber Command and strategic bombing, and while inevitably whitewashing some of the more controversial aspects, it confirms most of what has been covered in this thread. It says that up until the middle of 1944, British bombing was ineffective and incurred heavy UK casualties. Effectiveness improved in the last year of the war - noting that BC started targetting railways, bridges, and other infrastructure.
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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby psychiatry is a scam » Fri Aug 05, 2016 12:21 am

Jeff_36 wrote:I posted this in response to Statmech in the Rizoli thread and I'll repost it here.

Allied methods may seen sketchy when looked at in isolation, but when one examines the Axis atrocities that provoked them then it becomes easily understandable. The bombing of Leningrad, the Blitz, the bombing of Rotterdam and all manner of Nazi atrocities against civilians on the Eastern front makes the bombing of Germany look like a case of chickens coming home to roost (and roost they did ).

As for Japan - the Japanese, frankly, behaved like barbarians towards prisoners and civilians. One need only read about the Rape of Nanking, Unit 731, and their horrible treatment of POW's including slave labor, medieval torture, and mass execution to understand that they were no normal foe. Just ask Matthew and Nathan how bad they feel about Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Yokahoma.

What's more - their mentality was diametrically opposed to surrender and held the view that their islands were sacred. If the allies had invaded Japan, it would have been the most heated battle of WWII and it would have lasted a few years. Every Japanese man, woman, and child would have fought by the time the smoke cleared the Allies would have lost a million troops (according to McArthur's estimate) and casualties among the civilian populace would have likely been a plurality of the total Japanese population. Like it or not, the nuclear bombing saved millions of Japanese lives by convincing them to abrogate their insane last stand. If I were Obama, I'd send a card to Japan this August saying "you're welcome".


why no mention of the bombing of London ? I doubt the british knew about or cared about the events you mentioned .
it would have just been numbers typed on paper to them .
the bombing of London was in retaliation for the bombing of berlin , I think ? and a dumb move on hitlers part .
major factor in the bombing of german cities would have been the british had the planes , and used them .
the planes were built in the usa and heck they were usa flight crews ; what was the down side ?
should mention Dresden .

japan - 2 alternative options - did not have to invade . could have kept bombing till they all starved to death .

and they could have dropped an h bomb outside a city and said next time we wont miss
for the real minority ; there will be no justice , there will be no peace .
makes sense 2me , so it has 2be wrong .

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Fri Oct 21, 2016 5:14 pm

nickterry wrote:I hope you ordered the UK edition, as the US edition (The Bombers and the Bombed) was heavily truncated; the editors were mainly interested in US-related bombing material and not in the comparative picture that the UK edition offers.


I'm glad you made this distinction, I almost bought The Bombers and the Bombed.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:40 pm

Re-reading Anthony Beevor's The Second World War. He is critical of Harris, mentioning that Harris kept track of German cities bombed out by putting them in his "Blue Books." Beevor stated that Harris wanted to bomb Dresden because it was a city he hadn't flattened yet.

Beevor also stated that Harris criticized the "oil plan" even though it showed real results. Harris wanted to continue bombing German cities because he felt this was the way to shorten the war (even if this was not the case).

Beevor mentions that after Dresden serious questions were raised over the bombing of German cities and there were concerns over "terror bombing."

Beevor estimates the number of German civilian dead at around half a million. That's pretty close to what I've seen, I think Max Hastings estimated around 450,000.

Yes, I posted this in a desperate attempt to get back to normal.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:06 pm

again, at the risk of sounding utterly repetitive, the Nazi state should have considered this type of reaction before they started the war in 1939. Or does Beevoir dispute that Germany started the war?

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:35 pm

Jeff_36 wrote:again, at the risk of sounding utterly repetitive, the Nazi state should have considered this type of reaction before they started the war in 1939. Or does Beevoir dispute that Germany started the war?


Of course Beevor doesn't dispute Germany's responsibility.

I think both sides expected that bombers would get through and cause damage but the level of damage the British and US caused over 2-3 years of heavy bombing was unprecedented. Here are the issues that I see:
1) What was the purpose to the bombing?
You can justify flattening German (and Japanese) cities if there are military considerations involved. This includes the Luftwaffe, BTW. But bombing cities for the sake of killing or "de-housing" civilians is a war crime. I understand that technology was an issue and targeting cities made sense to destroy industry located in those cities. But Harris made it his goal to simply wipe out German cities one by one.
2) How effective was bombing German cities?
The answer to that is "not much." Industry moved, went underground or surrounded itself with anti-aircraft defenses. In the end German civilians suffered for not a lot of gain. And the cost....bomber command lost 55,573 out 125,000. That is a terrible price to pay for something that turned out to not really shorten the war at all. The sad thing to me is that Harris refused to acknowledge his failure in this matter, even when alternate strategies started to pan out.

I realize that this all hindsite and that the British needed to do something while they were parked on their island. The British also needed to show Stalin that they weren't just sitting on their hands while the USSR bled itself dry. So, while I'm not going to scream that Harris was a war criminal that deserved the noose I do think it's fair to analyze and critique what happened.

I do find it interesting that we never spent any real time talking about what the Germans and Japanese did. The Germans and Japanese are hardly blameless but they lacked truly heavy bombers to inflict the kind of damage the British and US did.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:11 pm

Once again, I'm happy to talk about damned near anything again besides the orange pumpkin.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:14 pm

Jeffk 1970 wrote:The Germans and Japanese are hardly blameless but they lacked truly heavy bombers to inflict the kind of damage the British and US did.


When the Germans could do it, they did. The bombing of Leningrad was done mainly by artillery more so than aircraft, but It was for the explicit purpose of wiping the city out and exterminating the population.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:25 pm

The question is not whether the Germans committed widespread atrocities and mass murder. It is about the nature of the Allied bombing campaign. Tu quoque doesn't give a lot of insight into this.
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:29 pm

Jeff_36 wrote:
Jeffk 1970 wrote:The Germans and Japanese are hardly blameless but they lacked truly heavy bombers to inflict the kind of damage the British and US did.


When the Germans could do it, they did. The bombing of Leningrad was done mainly by artillery more so than aircraft, but It was for the explicit purpose of wiping the city out and exterminating the population.


You can add V-1 and V-2 rockets. Undoubtedly if the Germans possessed them in larger numbers they would have used them more than they did against Britain and the USSR. Imagine mass produced rockets raining down on Moscow or London.
The Germans lacked the resources to put up the massive campaign like the British and US but not the willpower to do it.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Nov 08, 2016 8:05 pm

Yup, they certainly made the effort . . .
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:29 pm

In his new book on Europe under Hitler, Fritzsche Discusses the bombing of Warsaw in fall '39. Instead of arguing from doctrine - strategic vs tactical bombing, rules of war, etc - or considering the aerial war in isolation from other aspects of the German invasion, he proceeds mostly from the way the bombing was experienced, as part of the German attack, by Poles. He describes the condition of the city following the big raids of 10 September and 25 September: by comparison, he says, the bombing of Coventry and even those of Hamburg and Dresden were less destructive. Warsaw suffered, according to Fritzsche, 50-60,000 dead civilians from air raids and artillery shelling - which Fritzsche doesn't wall off, as he sees the aerial and ground campaigns as elements of the same assault. Fritzsche writes of the casualties in the 25 September raid that "Civilians were the primary victims of the assaults . . . ."

When German troops entered the city at month's end, says Fritzsche, the violence against civilians continued. Fritzsche describes Warsaw by October '39 as "a city of the dead . . . A 'coffin' or a 'corpse' in contemporary accounts. Throughout Warsaw, death notices, obituaries, inquiries about loved ones were posted. Basic services collapsed, food supplies became critical, queues soon became ubiquitous, for cash, bread, necessities. On the heels of this crisis came German executions - publicized in by placards the Germans put up on city streets: victims and their infractions (which might include curfew violations, insulting Germans, tearing down posters) were listed. By November, reprisal actions against Poles were common. Fifty-three male Jews on Nalewki St in Warsaw were killed for the murder of a policeman (whose murderer had been caught!); in December in the suburb of Wawer, in reprisal for injuries to two German soldiers, the Germans massacred 107 men. Already in September, in their invasion of Poland, the Germans were executing Poles: "16,000 Polish civilians were killed, mostly for suspicion of being irregular 'franc-tireurs.'" By year's end, the murder toll had reached 50,000 across Poland.

The combined devastation from air and ground were later featured in a German propaganda movie, shown across Europe, Feuertaufe. Posters were also used to convey the lessons of Warsaw: "scenes of the destruction of Warsaw made a 'deep and lasting impression' . . . As the new face of war, the Luftwaffe's air assault frightened civilians across Europe . . . " But "it was German boots, not bombs, that ultimately wrought the worst havoc." Fritzsche's account, by taking a ground view, and looking at the various aspects of the German assault - aerial, regular military operations, special actions - reinforces the points which Jeff_36 has made so strongly in this thread about the Germans' conduct in the early days of the war.

Fritzsche, An Iron Wind: Europe under Hitler pp109-113

(edit: fixed appalling spelling errors)
Last edited by Statistical Mechanic on Tue Dec 13, 2016 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeff_36 » Tue Dec 13, 2016 4:11 am

Statistical Mechanic wrote:Fritzsche's account, by taking a ground view, and looking at the various aspects of the German assault - aerial, regular military operations, special actions - reinforces the points which Jeff_36 has made so strongly in this thread about the Germans' conduct in the early days of the war.

Fritzsche, An Iron Wind: Europe under Hitler pp109-113


This makes a mockery of those that try to frame us as the war criminals.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Tue Dec 13, 2016 10:16 am

Jeff_36 wrote:This makes a mockery of those that try to frame us as the war criminals.

I don't think that follows from an account of German attacks on civilians.
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Thu Dec 29, 2016 7:17 pm

I read this nice, short anecdote relevant to this topic: during summer 1940, a group of German soldiers came upon Picasso's studio and entered it. One of them noticed some preliminary sketches for the painting that had become known as "Guernica":

Image

One of the soldiers, eyeing the sketches, challenged Picasso, "So you did this?"

"No," replied Picasso, "you did."
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:17 pm

Back to this, IIRC Jeffk raised the V-1 and V-2 rockets as an issue. In 1942-1943 not only the V-1 and V-2 but also the long-range gun (the so-called Hochdruckpumpe) and nerve gases were being researched/developed primarily for attacks on the UK, against population centers like London. Development and technical time lines and issues (my understanding with the nerve gas is lack of effective self-defense; these issues also include the condition and capacity of Göring's air force) were the constraints, not Nazi Germany's qualms. Jeffk was right to bring this point up; I think it needs highlighting - and also it needs re-stating that critical consideration of Allied strategic bombing isn't an apologia for the Nazis.
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:51 pm

Statistical Mechanic wrote:Back to this, IIRC Jeffk raised the V-1 and V-2 rockets as an issue. In 1942-1943 not only the V-1 and V-2 but also the long-range gun (the so-called Hochdruckpumpe) and nerve gases were being researched/developed primarily for attacks on the UK, against population centers like London. Development and technical time lines and issues (my understanding with the nerve gas is lack of effective self-defense; these issues also include the condition and capacity of Göring's air force) were the constraints, not Nazi Germany's qualms. Jeffk was right to bring this point up; I think it needs highlighting - and also it needs re-stating that critical consideration of Allied strategic bombing isn't an apologia for the Nazis.


I think you also need to look at the possibility of German atomic weapons. I don't remember where I read this but it was something about Hitler fantasizing about nuking New York. Undoubtedly in their desperation if the Germans possessed nuclear weapons they would have used them, either against Moscow, London, Paris, etc. Luckily their research never went anywhere.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Jeffk 1970 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:52 pm

Or even the use of dirty bombs, conventional bombs laced with radioactive material.

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Statistical Mechanic » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:53 pm

/ revisionist mode/ but there was a war on . . .
. . . I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. - John Keats, 1817

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Re: The Bombing Campaigns of the Allies and the Germans

Postby Xcalibur » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:08 pm

Jeffk 1970 wrote:Or even the use of dirty bombs, conventional bombs laced with radioactive material.



This might be well out in front of their thinking at the time.... not that they wouldn't have tried it if they were thinking along those lines.


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