WW2Truth Note: Most of us are familiar with the Dresden and Hamburg bombings of Germany and the tremendous loss of life during those bombing raids. Most truthful historians will agree that Dresden, in particular had no strategic value for the Allies, and therefore the bombing was a deliberate attack on the German population, designed to create a situation where there would be a maximum loss of life. However, you may not be aware, that this Allied “terror bombing” of non-strategic cities happened all across Germany, and many of the targets were old medieval towns that were bombed in the last weeks and days of the war, when Germany was close to surrender. The above picture is taken from Nordhausen, Germany. There was a labor camp there, and British bombers deliberately murdered the camp inmates. The deaths were blamed on the Germans, and this photo is still used today as “evidence” of a German plan of extermination.
Nordhausen is a 1080 years old Saxon German town at the southern edge of the Harz mountains in Thuringia. Emperor Friedrich II declared Nordhausen an Imperial City on July 27, 1220.
On August 24, 1944, 11 B-17 Flying Fortresses of Mission 568 bombed the airfield at Nordhausen as a “target of opportunity.” The British repeatedly struck Nordhausen, murdering around 8,800 civilians. On April 3 and 4, 1945 three-quarters of the town was destroyed by more bombing raids. The labor camp nearby was bombed purportedly because it was “mistaken for a German munitions depot” by the US. This bombing killed thousands of inmates which were later erroneously reported as being killed by Germans. 20% of Nordhausen’s civilian population was killed by Allied bombing before the US Army gave it to the communists.
Charlemagne sent out missionaries in 793 under the Frisian Ludger to convert the Saxons. Ludger built his church and cloister on the right bank of the river Aa, on the height called the Horsteberg: it was the monastery (“monasterium”) from which Münster derives its name. In 805, he travelled to Rome to be ordained a bishop, and soon founded a school. The combination of ford and crossroad, marketplace, episcopal center, library and school established Münster’s as a Cathedral city. Münster was a leading member of the Hanseatic League. In 1534, the Anabaptists took power in the what was called the Münster Rebellion, and founded their own democratic state, but in 1535, when the town was recaptured, the Anabaptists were tortured to death. At the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the legal foundations upon which modern Europe was built were laid. Munster remained Catholic.
The ancient city center of Münster was turned to cheese and 91% destroyed by Allied bombing by both British and Americans, with the loss of nearly all historical buildings. With the first air raid on May 16, 1940, an industrial camp was destroyed. By December 23, further attacks followed. In the nights between July 6th and 10th, 1941, the first surface bombardments came. After a large-scale night attack on June 12, 1943, in which the target was the Cathedral entry, and in a daylight raid on October 10, 1943, large parts of the city center were destroyed or heavily damage.
Between September, 1944 and March, 1945 there were 50 more air raids directed at the cathedral city, of which the last and most devastating was on March 25, 1945 toward the end of the war. 112 heavy bombers dropped over 1,800 high impact bombs and 150,000 incendiary bombs. The fabulous cathedral sustained direct hits on the western porch and the nave, and was filled with unexploded bombs, leaving the nave and towers roofless. The Prior responsible for the church treasures was dead. On the evening of April 2, 1945, the Allies took the town anyway. Up to this time there were 1,128 air alarms and 112 air raids in altogether. The bombs amounted to altogether 32,000 high-explosives, 642,000 staff incendiaries and 8,100 phosphorus (napalm) bombs. With the numerous attacks more than 1,600 people died. Of 33,737 dwellings once in the city, only 1,050 remained intact, and more than 60% were mostly or completely destroyed. The infrastructure broke down completely.
Substantial parts of the water pipe lines were destroyed as well as electricity and gas supply. Roads were not any longer passable. 24 schools as well as a majority of the hospitals were destroyed, so that only 400 beds remained to treat the wounded. Standing in place of hundreds of years of history was 2.5 million cubic feet of debris and rubble. Burned out towers of the medieval churches jutted up in the ruined city, the 14th to 18th century buildings all gone. The piled up rubble caused a flood disaster by February of 1946. These gigantic heaps of rubble had to be removed for traffic to flow again. Young kids, women and old people had to do this all over Germany because the men were either dead, missing or prisoners.
The Duchy of Kleve, which from late Carolingian times spread to both sides of the lower Rhine bordering on the Netherlands. In 1521, Anne of Kleve’s father, Duke Johann III of Kleve, inherited the duchies of Jülich and Berg and the county of Ravensberg. Kleve means ‘cliff ’ and its 11th century castle, Die Schwanenburg, set atop the cliff.
The story of Percival’s son, Lohengrin, was centered here according to local legend. In 1609, the male line of Kleve became extinct, and in 1614, Kleve was aquired by Brandenburg along with Mark and Ravensberg; the Palatinate-Neuburg line of the Bavarian house of Wittelsbach took Jülich and Berg. Kleve was held by France during the French Revolutiona and in 1815 was returned to Prussia.
Although Kleve provided Henry the 8th of England one of his many wives, there was no sentimentality during World War 2 when British Bomber Command instructed 285 of its aircraft to plaster 1,384 tons of high explosive on the ancient and historic town, destroying over 90% of its medieval buildings. Nothing substantial of the medieval city remains today. Kleve claimed to be the most completely destroyed town in Germany of its size.
Mainz was one of the great historical cities of Germany, founded in the 1st century on the site of the Roman camp of Maguntiacum. Charlemagne granted the city its rights. Around 746, Mainz became the seat of the first German archbishop, St. Boniface. The later archbishops acquired considerable territory around Mainz on both sides of the Main and in Frankonia, which they ruled as princes of the Holy Roman Empire with precedence over the other electors in the Imperial elections. Mainz flourished under the rule of the Archbishops-electors and the German kings were crowned here. Mainz became the first printing center of Europe under its citizen Johann Gutenberg, 1397-1468.
Although the French burned the city and brought near destruction to Mainz as they did to most of the Rhineland in the 17th century, worse was in store for her on February 27, 1945 when 435 British bombers attacked, dropping 1,500 tons of bombs and thousands of incendiaries. Within 20 minutes, 200 people were dead, and the city center was 86% destroyed, including almost every historic structure.The cathedral, from 1037, was badly damaged and other churches were lost forever. Much of what had stood for centuries bearing testament to early European history was snuffed out.
Dessau in Saxony-Anhalt was first mentioned in 1213 and became an important center in 1570 when the principality of Anhalt was founded. Dessau became the capital of this state within the Holy Roman Empire. Anhalt was dissolved in 1603, but Dessau remained a prosperous town.
Between 1940 and 1945, Dessau had 20 Allied air attacks beginning in 1940, but the bombing on March 7, 1945 sent it into rubble and ash. Out of the red sky, from the mouths of 520 Royal Air Force Lancasters and 5 Mosquitos, fell 1,693 tons of bombs, of which about 800 were high explosives and 600,000 were incendiary bombs dropped in three waves of attack, all intended to assist the Red Army. Dessau was 84% destroyed and 1,136 civilians lost their lives.
Nearby Zerbst is located about halfway between Magdeburg and Dessau in the district of Anhalt. The town is first mentioned in the chronicle of Thietmar of Merseburg in 1018 and after the Reformation, from 1582 to 1798, it became a center of Calvinism in Germany. It is best known for Princess Sophie Auguste Friederike von Anhalt-Zerbst who became known as Catharine the Great of Russia and her manor home was in Zerbst.
On April 16, 1945, mere weeks before the final surrender of Germany, eighty percent of Zerbst was destroyed by Allied bombing. Zerbst was pummeled by four or five waves of 20 to 60 aircraft each for an estimated 40 minutes. The city was teeming with refugees fleeing from the east and wounded soldiers. 574 people were killed by bombing. The Americans were the first to occupy the city and handed it over to the Russians the following month. Only a few historical structures being preserved.
Construction of Zerbst Palace was first begun in the year 1196 and it was expanded and improved in 1681 by Prince Karl Wilhelm of House of Anhalt-Zerbst. In the bombing of April 16, 1945, the castle was bombed and burned out completely destroying the precious interior as well as the exhibits in the museum and the documents held in the State Archives. Reconstructing the palace would have been possible, but this option was rejected by the communists for ideological reasons.
A Frankish settlement first mentioned in 748, Düren grew from the Villa Duria of Frankish King Pippin the Short. Under Charlemagne, it was subsequently the seat of diets and synods and the base for several of his Saxon campaigns. In about 1242, it was destroyed in a war between Wilhelm V of Jülich and the Holy Roman emperor Karl V in 1543 and then rebuilt. In the industrial age, Düren’s prosperity increased. By 1900, Düren was among Germany’s richest cities with 42 millionaires and 93 factories. Its population had grown from 5,000 in 1800 to 27,168.
On November 16, 1944, the sky over Duren filled with bombers overloaded with incendiaries and high explosive bombs as part of a lethal joint British-American operation called “Operation Queen.” A few quick snaps and the town was engulfed in a tower of fire, houses collapsed into rubble, and the tar on the roads became so hot that the soles of shoes stuck to it. 1,204 heavy US bombers joined 498 British bombers, and within two hours dropped over 9,000 tons of bombs on the ancient town. The idyllic city life as well as the beautiful, old buildings were obliterated. Of 45,000 humans who lived there, 3,127 who didn’t evacuate in time were painfully extinguished.
The aerial mines sucked off rooftops, opening the houses up for total destruction from within and without by the heavy pounding of heavy, high-explosives bombs, which brought the houses to their helpless collapse and broke water, sewer and gas pipelines, while smaller high-explosives bombs spread panic and forced people into cellars. Afterward, the release of heavy liquid incendiary bombs created fire towers and suffocated those who fled below ground. Burning phosphorus, which turned people into living candles, blanketed any area of possible escape. Duren had 6,431 houses before the assault, and only 131 after. The whole medieval core of town was totally destroyed. There is no building in Duren today which dates from before 1945/46.
Also destroyed or damaged during this operation were several surrounding towns and villages. The 8th U.S. Air Force hit the three towns of Eschweiler, Weisweiler and Langerwehe with 4,120 bombs. 339 fighter bombers of the 9th U.S. Air Force attacked Hamich, Hürtgen and Gey with 200 tons of bombs. Gey was a town located at the outskirts of the beautiful Hürtgen forest, situated in a valley through which all roads leading from the forest intersect. The forest is about twenty miles long and ten miles wide, just a few miles from Aachen and Düren. It is accented with steep gorges and winding slopes covered with thick layers of evergreens and firs. There was heavy fighting in the war here after it was bombed during “Operation Queen.”
Among the many towns also bombed in “Operation Queen” was Aldenhoven whose history goes back 4,000 years before the birth of Christ. The still well-preserved castles in the towns and Dürboslar Engelsdorf date from 898 and 1080. There was a 12th century church (only parts of it stand today) and in the neighboring village of Siersdorf was one of the most important branches of the Teutonic Order. This incredibly destructive and yet militarily ineffective bombing operation destroyed the ancient city of Jülich as well because of faulty information.
The City of Braunschweig (Brunswick) is very old. Over one thousand years ago, merchants found a quiet rest stop at the intersection of busy trade routes where the Oker river was navigable by way of the Aller and Weser to Bremen and then to the sea. Because it was such a strategic location, Heinrich the Lion choose Braunschweig as his residence in the middle of the 12th century, and it grew into a large medieval city of five districts: Altstadt, Hagen, Sack, Altewiek, and Neustadt, each with its own constitution, townhall, market and church. By the 13th and 14th centuries, Braunschweig was an important and prosperous merchant city trading with Flanders, England, the Nordic countries and even Russian regions. The resulting riches produced magnificent timber framed buildings. The Braunschweig Altstadt had the largest ensemble of half-timbered framework houses in Germany, and over 800 were located in the heart of the old city surrounded by 17th and 18th century stone buildings, gorgeous churches, schools and monuments.
The independence of the city was lost when the absolutist Welf rulers moved their place of residence in 1753 back from Wolfenbüttel to Braunschweig, but soon trade and culture recommenced and the Dukes formed a college in 1745 and a bank in 1765 to promote the economy. The dukes also promoted science, art, music and theater, turning the city into a glistening cultural center in the Enlightenment. The dukes maintained law and order, and ran their duchies like tight ships. All would vanish within less than an hour.
On the fifth British raid on Braunschweig by the RAF, October 15, 1944, 240 bombers dropped their lethal load which produced an intentional fire storm that completely destroyed the old city center within the moat, and other large areas. In what was called “sector bombing,” the RAF used the cathedral as a reckoning point for the master bomber in the lead plane who dropped a green marker on the cathedral dome to guide the aimers in the following aircraft, who then flew over it from various directions in a fan-shaped formation and dropped their deadly loads.
The first of the 200,000 phosphorus and incendiary bombs to fall on the city were 12,000 “Blockbuster” explosive bombs. These were typically laid in “carpets” on the historical centers of old timber-frame towns to efficiently expose the town’s guts for an injection of fire and the intended firestorm and Braunschweig’s medieval houses were perfect fuel. The blasts blew off the old wooden houses’ roofs and windows, then split the house’s interior walls open so as to receive their death by fire. After the explosive bombs, the phosphorus and incendiary bombs were dropped.
Their job was to ignite the firestorm. The British perfected this technique after careful research done in conjunction with the US in places like Dugway. The bombers were long gone when the firestorm reached its peak in the core of the city. In a scene reminiscent of the eruption of Vesuvius, sparks and embers rained in a lethal deluge over the blazing inner city, making it nearly impossible for rescue vehicles and fire engines to reach into the fire and try to save people. The city had a well planned system of bunkers for shelters, but some were made inaccessible to rescue crews by flames. Rescue and fire personnel screamed into the burning city from all surrounding areas to help and an amazing and courageous rescue of 23,000 trapped people was carried out, although 100 people in one shelter suffocated and could not be saved. 1,000 were killed, but 2,905 more died later from after effects and UXB’s. The hideous glow of the incinerating city could be seen for miles and miles. It was so bad that even the next morning when British reconnaissance flew overhead to take pictures of their handiwork, they had to turn back because the smoke was still too thick. They were satisfied none the less, for they only lost a single Lancaster bomber to anti-aircraft fire that night.
The fires raged for 2½ days, in the case of Braunschweig about 200,000 phosphorus and incendiary bombs. Within the 24 hours of “Operation Hurricane,” the RAF dropped over 10,000 tons of bombs on Duisburg and Braunschweig alone, the greatest bomb load dropped on any one day in the war. There were 202,284 city citizens before the war, and only 149,641 by the war’s end. The city also lost 15,000 men during the war years. The lovely ancient city is but a small shred of her former self. A woman prays at the site of children killed in the bombing, below.