About bombing raids on German cities                   På dansk                  Updated:  29 JUN 2015

RKSK * Næsten klar/ready * Bomb Berlin + Shellhouse * Loss of Lives in the air war * Sir Arthur Harris and lost airmen * Albert Speer * Navigation

The article in the Weekendavisen on 6 March 2015 Tysk blod på tanden (pdf) by Morten Beiter triggered a reaction in the next edition on13 March 2015:

Historiography. Christian Ringskou emphasizes that the English ought to have known better, as the Germans failed to bring them to their knees with air raids on
their cities. According to Albert Speer, the German minister of armament and war production, he is wrong.

Bombing Hamburg was useful

By Hans Elfelt Bonnesen

In the article “A taste of German blood” Mogens Beiter last week told about his visit to West Jutland where the exhibition “Bombers in the night” has opened. In spite
of the decreasing number of German tourists on the West Coast this exhibition and its predecessor “What the bunker hid” have great chances to attract in particular German tourists who would like to see what their fathers were doing here during World War II. Actually, at least half of the visitors are Germans.

Here an interesting paradox is touched upon, as the Museum of Danish Resistance in Copenhagen has been the centre of an intense discussion: Is the museum to contain anything else than an account of the Danish fight for liberation? Must the policy of collaboration be dealt with or even the German presence in Zealand and in Copenhagen?

The result is clear. Contrary to the above-mentioned attitude in West Jutland there will under no circumstances be opened up for other views than those connected to
the fight for freedom.

Morten Beiter’s discussion with the 37-year-old historian and curator of the museum Christian Ringskou, who is in charge of the exhibition “Bombers in the night”,
touches on something very interesting.

The point is what views you may have 70 years after the war when you approach the area “Hero or villain”. In Morten Beiter’s article we do not avoid the ancient
discussion about the justification and the effect of the tremendous air raids that London and particularly Hamburg were exposed to.

Among other points Christian Ringskou emphasizes that the English ought to know that the Germans failed to bring the Englishmen to their knees by air raids on
their cities. According to Albert Speer, the German minister of armament and war production, he is not right. It can be told very briefly why the Germans during 57
nights of “Blitz” failed to break the English.

To begin with, in September 1940 the Germans had no idea about the location of English places of production. Secondly they poured bombs over the centre of
London and the docks that were of no real strategic importance although 40,000 civilian Englishmen were killed. In the third place the Germans did not have
four-engined bombers that could simultaneously carry a big bomb load. In the fourth place the English production of war materials was increased in the period of the attacks.

In his book Bomber Offensive Sir Arthur Harris, the British chief of Bomber Command, explains why Hamburg was hit at a relatively late time and what the effect was. When the campaign of air raids against the Ruhr was completed in the spring of 1943, two options were open. Either an aerial attack deep into Germany with heavy losses or, by using a system of jamming the German radar systems, carrying out successful attacks on a single target.

The development of H2S, an airborne radar system, had been completed, and from the planes the Elbe was clearly seen and so the targets were visible with precision. With these two unknown weapons the attacks on Hamburg were started.

The first British air raid took place on 24/25 July 1943. The second air raid took place on 29/30 July and the last air raid on 2/3 August. In these three nights alone
7,196 tons of bombs were dropped the equivalent of what the Germans had dropped against British targets during 57 nights. In both cases it cost the adversary about 40,000 lives.

The blitz against London had been severe. The three nights of bombing were disastrous to Hamburg. With lightning speed, in just three nights the second largest city
in Germany with more than 2 million inhabitants was hit by a so-called fire storm and was 71 % wiped out. Four big shipyards and assembly shops for U-boats were destroyed. However, the worst was that neither water, gas, telephone, nor supply of electricity worked any more. The result was that hundreds of thousands of
inhabitants had to be evacuated as soon as possible to avoid starving to death.

In 1946 Albert Speer, minister of armament and war production, during an interrogation stated that he had informed the supreme command in Germany that a rapid repetition of such an attack against the remaining five largest cities in Germany would mean the collapse of Germany. This was the proof that attacks of this
character worked.