Second World War – Bombing of the German Cities

On June 3rd, 1945, not quite a month after the Second World War had come to an end, I had my ninth birthday, but my parents had nothing with which to celebrate it. At that time we had a monotonous diet, not quite enough to eat, consisting of one slice of bread and a bowl of rhubarb soup, thickened with a bit of shredded, steam-dried potatoes, of which Dad had been able to bring home a small bag from work (he stole them).  We had to make sure to make the supply last.  That was not very difficult, because they tasted awful, but the rhubarb masked the taste a bit, especially because it had quite a bit to it, because there was no sugar to be had.  Still, we ate that rhubarb soup, plus one slice of bread, breakfast, lunch and supper, for six weeks in a row.  We ate nothing else, because there was nothing else, until the garden produced a little, but it did not produce potatoes, because we had no planted any,  We had consumed the seed potatoes, and none could be obtained for planting.  There were none to be had.

Dad had worked at a plant that produced wall-paper paste flakes from potato starch extracted from shredded, steam-dried potatoes.  His employer had a big supply of those, enough to keep production going for a while, until it was again possible to produce a potato crop.  We could not buy any potatoes.  There were none to be had, not for another year-and-half.

Food was almost impossible to get, Germany was in ruins and ashes, about 82 percent of my hometown (Duesseldorf) had been destroyed (as opposed to about 84 percent of Duesseldorf’s traditional rival city, Cologne, just 36 km upriver by rail and 42 km by road), and what food we could get was often far less than what our food-ration cards permitted us to purchase.

A maintenance food ration for an adult should be 2,400 calories a day, and our ration cards permitted us no more than half of that per day, but most of the time we could not get even that much food.

Natural gas (actually gas made by gasifying coal) that was the most popular fuel for cooking in many households, was not available, because the gas distribution lines had been damaged by the bombing, and besides, not enough coal could be supplied for the city’s cokeries to provide for the demand.  Electricity was being made available only for two hours each day, one at noon and one at six in the evening.  There was not enough coal to keep electricity generation going; only a small fraction of the demand could be satisfied.  Coal for heating or for cooking stoves could not or only rarely be obtained.  In the two winters that followed, we often could not heat our home, except for when my three older brothers managed to steal some coal out of sunken barges at the Rhine River or at the local RWE power generation station.

At one time a stack of railroad ties mysteriously appeared in the back of our little barn, behind the house, so that it could not be seen from the road.  I remember the many hours I spent helping to cut them to stove size, and even that one of my uncles showed me how to sharpen the saw and to set it’s teeth, as it got dull from the sand and dirt that clung to those railroad ties.  Still, those railroad ties helped us to be able to cook and kept us from freezing in our home.  We would burn them in the kitchen stove and keep at least the kitchen warm for a good portion of the day.  It made for a cozy family life.

_________________

Those memories were triggered by a video that someone had pointed out on Facebook, a video that shows archived colour footage of what the bombed-out city of Berlin looked like two months after the war.

Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Berlin_2-months_after_the_war

Unique historic color video shows Berlin just two months after World War II.

The end of that war was 70 years ago, but most of the suffering that the Germans had to go through had really begun in earnest in about 1943, intensified after May 1945 and continued until July of 1948, when the Morgenthau Plan was replaced with the Marshall Plan.  Over night, money was worth something again, the stores no longer were empty but full to bursting with goods, some of which we had not even dreamed about because we did not know them. There no longer was any rationing of food and other consumer goods.  People began to wear new clothing again.  We no longer had to walk barefooted, and re-construction started with a speed that was soon called the German Economic Miracle.  Most importantly, people again had enough food and began to eat.  Food became an all-consuming passion in which many freely indulged, and a lot of people found out what it is like to be fat or at least overweight — well, to put it more politely and with due respect to the demands of political correctness, many people transformed from being thin lines in the landscape to having a formidable physical presence that could not be overlooked.

Now a few  photos that will illustrate that Berlin was far from being the only German city that got turned into rubble and ashes.  The photos that follow here are from various cities that ranged in size from about a 100,000 to over a million people.  Some of the names of the cities may be familiar to readers, others may not.  More information on all of them can be found on the Internet.  The amazing thing about that is that most people I try to ask about air raids on German cities know virtually nothing about them, even though the Internet puts information on that into reach at a moment’s notice.

Still, I was nine when the war came to an end.  The memories of the war and especially of its aftermath are lasting and will last me until I am six-feet under, but I am proud to have helped with the re-emergence of Germany and its economy, out of ruins, rubble and ashes, and here is what the cities looked like before that re-emergence happened.

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Berlin

Darmstadt_bombing_Luisenplatz_1944

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Darmstadt – Luisenplatz

Dresden_bombing

City Centre of Dresden — Official estimates of the death toll in Dresden are in the order of about 135,000 dead, but accurate estimates could not be made, as there were about 500,000 refugees and soldiers from the eastern front moving through. The bombing of Dresden took place in the last days of the war, February 9 to 15, 1945

Dresden-bombing_collecting_corpses

Dresden, collecting the dead prior to incinerating them (there were too many to bury them).

Dresden_bombing_burning corpses

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Dresden — Incinerating the dead

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Duesseldorf

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Duesseldorf

Duisburg_bombing

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Duisburg

Essen_bombing

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Essen

Frankfurt_1945_June_destructions_after_bombing_raids_old_town_aerial

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Frankfurt

Hamburg_bombing

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Hamburg

Luftaufnahme nach den britischen Luftangriffen (Operation "Gomorrha")

Hamburg, Inner City. My mother grew up in Hamburg. In about 1950, a cousin of mine and I made a bicycle tour to northern Germany and visited our relatives in Hamburg. They took us to a mass grave in which 51,000 dead of the Hamburg air raid and firestorm had been buried.

Hannover_bombing_1943-10-09

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Hannover

Heilbronn_bombing_1945_US_Army_retouched-2

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Heilbronn

Kleve_bombing

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Kleve

Koblenz_bombing

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Koblenz, at the confluence of the Rhine and the Moselle

Koeln_bombing_ 1942-05-30

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Cologne — Downtown with the Cathedral, showing the railroad bridge going across the Rhine River, no more.

Koeln_bombing_bridge

Another look at the rail road bridge in Cologne. By the end of The Second World War there was hardly a bridge – be it small or large – left intact in Germany. There was not a single bridge intact of those that used to cross the Rhine River between Switzerland and the border to the Netherlands. Well, there was one that the American Forces used to cross the Rhine at Remagen, but that one collapsed a day or so after the Americans had established a bridgehead on the east side of the Rhine. By that time they had a pontoon bridge going at that location and soon another one at Cologne.

Mannheim_bombing_1945_view_over_Rhine_toward_palace

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Mannheim, view across the Rhine River, towards the palace.

Munich_carpet-bombing_foreground-st.peters-church

The Second World War — Munich carpet bombing in Action. The St. Peters Church is in the foreground.

Schweinfurt_bombing

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Schweinfurt, a city that was the centre of the production of ball bearings in Germany.

Wesel_bombing

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Wesel — 97 percent of Wesel was destroyed and obliterated in wave after wave of carpet bombing, February 1945. (The Photo is of the centre of Wesel.)

Worms_bombing

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Worms (City Centre and the Cathedral, the burial place of German Emperors)

Wuppertal_bombing

The Second World War — Consequences of the bombing of Wuppertal, bomb damage may seem slight, but that is deceiving. Virtually all of the buildings in the photo that still appear to be standing are burned-out shells. No one lived or worked in them at the time the photo was taken, which is why the streets look so empty. The air raids, generally by up to and close to one-thousand, four-engined bombers at a time, were designed to burn down as many buildings as possible. Steel does not burn easily (although in the 9/11 “attack” on the World Trade Center it is claimed that it did, whereby nature was defied). At any rate, that is the reason why a portion of the Wuppertal monorail transit line is visible in the lower right-hand corner of the photo. The system was in operation again very shortly after the war, but it did take some time to repair and restore the running stock.

Lastly, I noticed that Facebook popped up a link to a video called “Hellstorm – Exposing The Real Genocide of Nazi Germany.”  The link showed up in connection with a commentary I had posted in the discussion thread following the announcement of the 1945 Berlin footage mentioned in the beginning of this article.  I think that Facebook must have made an error with that link, because it is without a doubt to a video that is politically incorrect.  It has propagandistic overtones but provides a far more thorough summary of the last part of the war and its aftermath in Germany than I did in this article.

The video is propagandistic because it is one-sided.  It mentions and documents almost exclusively only the suffering of the German population in the final days of the war and afterwards.  Well, perhaps that is not so wrong, except that there were other people in Europe who suffered as extremely hard as the Germans did.  One might argue that those people should receive empathy and compassion, too.  Yes, they should, and they did, for seventy years.  Now perhaps is the time to let the Germans tell a bit of their side as well.

That is the truth, and I could not really find anything extraordinarily wrong with anything in the video.  Germans, as I well know, did starve for three long years after the war was over, and that was the result of a deliberate consensus by the Allied Forces to starve the Germans out of existence.  That plan was succeeding, whether anyone wishes to consider that claim to be propaganda or not.  Fortunately, there were elections, especially in the U.S., and saner minds prevailed.  Someone with good-old American business sense had the insight that dead Europeans would not constitute a good market for American products.  So they put about $15 per head into circulation in Europe and turned the Europeans into good and dedicated consumers of American products and ideology.  That is good marketing, and you know what?  Good marketing does not work without effective public relations, which, applied to promoting goods, services and ideology, is nothing other than good, old-fashioned propaganda.  It certainly helped to get the American economy back out of the slump it was into after the high output of war materials came to a virtual standstill at the end of the Second World War.  There was a high demand for American goods in Europe after the war.

Aside from that, if some of the Germans think that they must blow off a little steam, why not let them tell their side of the story?  They can’t do it at home!  The German authorities lock’m up in jail if they do.   They were not the victors of that war.  The history that has been and will be taught in the schools is the one being written by the victors, not the losers,  Germany was the loser and is still an occupied country up until now, with no end in sight for that state of affairs.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, eh?  What better way to keep an enemy-country close than to keep it occupied for seventy years and for as long after as possible.  Mind you, some of the countries that are still being occupied now are not now and were not then enemy countries.  They were allies and are occupied just as much and as hard as Germany is!  What is it with that?

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11 Responses to Second World War – Bombing of the German Cities

  1. Pingback: Instant and excessive punishment | dads & things

  2. The production of explosives and ammunition is a massive industry. Look at what is involved in the way of factories and production plants just in one country, the United Kindom.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filling_Factories_in_the_United_Kingdom
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Royal_Ordnance_Factories
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Government_munitions_production_in_the_United_Kingdom

    That was then, in World War I and World War II, but a profitable industry like that would resist dying off and instead wish to grow. Here are just a few snapshots:

    >>>
    World Military Spending Out Does Anything Else

    As detailed further on the next page on military expenditure, world military spending has now reached one trillion dollars, close to Cold War levels.

    As summarized from the Military Balance, 2000/2001, by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (October 2001), for the larger arms-purchasing nations each year:

    Arms procurement is normally 20-30% of their military budgets
    The main portion is usually on operations, maintenance and personnel
    Some 40 to 50 billion dollars are in actual deliveries, (that is, the delivery of sales, which can be many years after the initial contract is signed)
    Each year, around 30-35 billion dollars are made in actual sales (agreements, or signing of contracts).

    In more recent years, annual sales of arms have risen to around $50-60 billion although the global financial crisis is slowly beginning to be felt in arms sales too.
    http://www.globalissues.org/article/74/the-arms-trade-is-big-business
    < << Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 July Through 31 December 2000 http://www.nti.org/media/pdfs/23-us.pdf?_=1317161214 Survey of Cluster Munitions Produced and Stockpiled Briefing Paper Prepared for the ICRC Experts Meeting on Cluster Munitions Montreux, Switzerland, April 2007 http://www.hrw.org/legacy/backgrounder/arms/cluster0407/index.htm#_Toc165269831 The industry is doing well, providing massive profits, employment and an unestimable extent of ongoing misery for humanity. >>>
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  3. The conglomerate of Nobel corporations played an important role in all of that destruction and killing, and still does today. We all learned in school about the origins of the Nobel Prize, of which the Nobel Peace Prize is one, according to Alfred Nobel, and was to be a reward as follows:

    “The whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” — Alfred Nobel, last will and testament, http://www.nobelprize.org/alfred_nobel/will/will-full.html

    Well, I wonder whether all of what we were told about Alfred Nobel’s motivations is true, and whether the Nobel Prizes, especially the Nobel Peace Prize, are not merely a public relations effort that was to be more effective, enduring, elaborate, lavish and expensive than the $5,000 worth of dimes and nickels with which John D. Rockefeller Jr. did so much to restore himself to favour in the public eye * after he had the striking miners and their families machine-gunned in the massacre at Ludlow, April 20, 1914. http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/04/28/100-years-later-miners-remember-ludlow-massacre/

    After all, the family of Nobel corporations is still heavily involved in producing explosives with which wars are being fought all over the world to continue to destroy property and human lives.

    For instance, Akzo Nobel held a controlling share of Imperial Chemical Industries, the makers of the explosives and incendiary devices with which the German cities were turned to rubble and ashes during World War II. More at,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Enterprises#History
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_Chemical_Industries
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incendiary_device#Development_and_use_in_World_War_II

    Would the politics involved in awarding the Nobel Peace Prize have served to exonerate Alfred Nobel of his role in causing unimaginable extents of human suffering, and would he, if he were still alive, as easily become a recipient as did, say, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Yasser Arafat in 1994, whose legacy we can witness in the widespread and ongoing destruction in the Middle East until today?
    __________________
    * “Rockefeller became well known in his later life for the practice of giving dimes to adults and nickels to children wherever he went. He even gave dimes as a playful gesture to wealthy men, such as tire mogul Harvey Firestone.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._Rockefeller#Philanthropy (end of section)

    The gesture had been the brainchild of William Lyon MacKenzie King. He was rewarded for his valuable contributions to restoring John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s public image through a payment of $150,000. That was a princely sum at the time (roughly the equivalent of about $10 million in today’s money) and surely proved to be of help in making William Lyon Mackenzie King the prime minister of Canada in 1921. http://fathersforlife.org/fatherhood/preserve4.htm

  4. APOCALYPSE 1945
    The Destruction of Dresden
    By David Irving

    http://www.fpp.co.uk/books/Dresden/Dresden_1995.pdf

    THE DESTRUCTION OF DRESDEN
    Copyright © Focal Point, London 1995
    Internet edition Copyright © Focal Point, London 1999
    http://www.fpp.co.uk/bookchapters/Dresden
    [Note: That link produces a 404 error, and I have not been able to find an archived version of the web page in the Internet Archive.)

    • “…before six years were out, over 635,000 German civilians were to die in an air offensive for which they now had in part their own leaders to blame.” The Destruction of Dresden, by David Irving, p. 33

      “After investigating the final totals of missing persons Hamburg’s provincial bureau of statistics, the Statistisches Landesamt, arrived at an estimate of over fifty thousand dead in the 1943 Battle of Hamburg.” ibid. pp. 49, 50

      “The Battle of Hamburg, like the Dresden tragedy just eighteen months later, was an operation executed with the precision and determination characteristic of Bomber Command at its most puissant: the commander had fulfilled his commission of briefly demoralising the enemy; it was the tragedy of Casablanca, that the same political leaders who had given the Command its directive had by their requirement of ‘un-conditional surrender’ ensured that the best that the Command could accomplish on this front would not shorten the war by one day.” ibid. p. 52

  5. A video showing a summary of what happened in Germany during the end of the second word war and its aftermath.

    This documentary tells the tale that the victors still do not want you to know. Learn the terrible truth about the rape, torture, slavery, and mass murder inflicted upon the German people by the Allied victors of World Word II. This is the biggest cover-up in world history.

    Another documentary relating to the history of what happened in parts of Germany at the end of and after the second world war. The video shows what survivors of that time have to tell about their memories of it.

    • Eisenhower’s Rhine-Meadows Death Camps – Documentary

      Published on Aug 21, 2013

      The untold story of Eisenhower’s Rhine Meadows Death Camps – A Deliberate Policy of Extermination of the Surrendered German forces by the Allies in post war Germany (Rheinwiesenlager). Full documentary, plus additional background information, and a memorial for the victims. A German language film, translated to English, re-edited, narrated, and published by Justice for Germans: http://justice4germans.com

      It appears that the Rhine-Meadows POW camps were not specifically mentioned in “Hellstorm.” It seems to me that they deserve to be remembered, although that may be a little difficult. I was never interned in one, and my three older brothers returned within weeks to a couple of months from the POW camps they had been in. The youngest of them, after having celebrated his 18th birth day in an American POW camp in Italy, escaped while being transferred to France, to do slave labour there.

      Still, I left Germany in 1962, mainly because I wanted to spare my children a repetition of what I had experienced, but in all of those years and at least another 30 years following, I had never heard of the enormous number of POWs that were being kept in the POW camps of the allies 6 million of them. It seems to me now that censorship was very effective and very much alive then.

      The last German soldier who had been a POW in the USSR returned in 1956. That is male privilege for you. Don’t believe a word the feminists tell you about that. At any rate, watch this video, and you will understand why so many German soldiers died after WWII was long over, as a result of having become POWs: Eisenhower’s Rhine-Meadows Death Camps – Documentary

      • A section of a Wikipedia article about the Rhine-Meadows POW camps shows that,

        “Maj. Ruediger Overmans of the German Office of Military History in Freiburg who wrote the final volume of the official German history of the war estimated that the total death by all causes of German prisoners in American hands could not have been greater than 56,000 approximately 1% of the over 5,000,000 German POWs in Allied hands exclusive of the Soviets.”

        It is impossible to accept that as a reasonable estimate. There is no doubt that the prisoners endured seriously substandard living conditions, such as,

        — Rations that were one-third to one-half of the daily calory requirement for sedentary adults to maintain good health;
        — Insufficient drinking water and no water with which to wash up;
        — Exposure to the elements; they were kept in barbed-wire enclosures that lacked every imaginable amenities: no tarps, no tents, no barracks, no roofs, not even spades with which to dig latrines, and
        — Complete and total lack of medical care and medications, with the exception of some care for individuals who were expected to die within the next 24 hours.

        The annual mortality rate of healthy individuals in 2012 in Germany was 10.8 per 1000. In 1960 it was 12 per thousand. The age range of the inmates of the POW camps was 9 to 80, but let’s use a conservative age range of 15 to 64 years for POWs in the Rheinwiesen POW camps.

        Main causes of death by age and sex group, 1992/1993 [in Germany]
        (standardized death rates per 100 000 by age and sex group)

        Males . . . . . Deaths
        Age 15-34 about 100
        Age 35-64 about 715
        ____________
        Source: HIGHLIGHTS ON HEALTH IN GERMANY, WHO Regional Office for Europe, p. 15, http://www.tokb.ru/elibrary/book/med/E65505.pdf

        The death rate for males in the age group 15-64 is more than 100 and less than 715 per 100,000 or between 1% and 7.15% per year, an exact number depending on the proportions of the two age groups within that range. Let’s assume that the proportions are 50:50. The death rate for the whole age range from 15 to 64 would then be about 4 percent per year.

        That means that the death rate, with an average residence time of perhaps two years for the over 5 million POW in the Rheinwiesen camps, would have had to be at least about 8 percent. However, that would be the death rate for optimum living conditions, which is something the POWs in the camps most certainly did not have. Mind you, it could be argued that those POWs had comparatively safe living conditions, as there was no possible way for any of them to lose their lives in traffic- or work-accidents.

        It appears that Maj. Ruediger Overmans’ estimate of no more than 56,000 or 1 percent of the more than 5 million POWs in the Rheinwiesen camps is at the very least based on faulty assumptions, if not outright ludicrous. At a minimum, the death rate could not have been less than 8 percent, with the number of deaths no less than 400,000 POWs. Any deaths over and above that number would be caused by the atrocious living conditions the POWs experienced. Unfortunately, we will never know what the actual number of deaths in those camps was, regardless of whether that is due to deliberate obfuscation or any other circumstances.

        At the very least, none of the relatives and friends of the POWs that died of whatever causes in the Rheinwiesen camps ever had any opportunity to visit the graves of those POWs. They never had and still don’t have a clue where those graves are.

      • Here is an article by James Bacque, the author of “Other Losses.” It seems to me that anyone reading it can easily decide whether the criticism he received from his detractors was justified.
        >>>
        Eisenhower’s Death Camps
        The Last Dirty Secret of World War Two

        by James Bacque

        Saturday Night
        Sept 1989

        Call it callousness, call it reprisal, call it a policy of hostile neglect: a million Germans taken prisoner by Eisenhower’s armies died in captivity after the surrender.

        More: Eisenhower’s Death Camps The Last Dirty Secret of World War Two
        <<<

    • Today I was made aware of an interview of Ursula Haverbeck (in German, with English subtitles), in which Ursula Haverbeck, a convicted Holocaust denier, attempts to set the record straight regarding the Holocaust. She maintains that neither was there, nor is there any evidence supporting, a systematic German objective to eradicate six million Jews.

      To promote that she is right about that is presently a criminal offence in Germany. However, she is most definitely correct about the expulsion of about 15 million Germans from East-European territories that today are no longer German. She mentions that of those Germans expelled at the end of the second world war at least 2.5 million died during their expulsion and the subsequent migration to core-German territories.

      Here is the video with the interview (45 minutes): Auschwitz-Expertin bei NPD Veranstaltungen

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