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-   -   Bombing civilian targets by the Luftwaffe? (http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showthread.php?t=2585)

Ruy Horta 24th September 2005 21:18

Re: Bombing civilian targets by the Luftwaffe?
 
Thanks Marius, important document indeed, for even without the first crucial sentence it still provides for smoking gun type of evidence which people assume is so impossible to find.

It provides the framework which defines "Terror" bombing.

If one can find such a document for an early target like Warsaw, there will be more such documents on other targets or campaigns.

Again Marius, for the sake of argument I am dropping the significance of the opening sentence.

I love it when this sort of material pops up, similar to that He-59 SAR document which popped up covering possible recon actions from an official Luftwaffe point of view.

ironrat 24th September 2005 21:56

Re: Bombing civilian targets by the Luftwaffe?
 
"The question is if we all in fact agree? As I wrote on 13th September German troops were nearby. What makes you so sure there were no Polish troops in the area? What makes you so sure the town would be entered without any resistance?"

Frampol, just like other towns in the area had mainly 1,2 floor buildings, mainly woodden. This explains in part the disastrous results of the bombardment. For that reason, unless being an idiot, no commander (Pole, German, Russian or any other) would lead his troops into such town. It would be a mouse trap. This is why, there was no AA, troops or any military installation and this is why that town, like many small towns alike in the region were entered without any resistance or shot.


"The most decisive question is, if there in fact were no Polish troops, could it be that these troops left the city before it was bombed?"

The answer is given above.


"And how could the Germans know there were no (or no more) troops in the city?"

Lame excuse that one. Basically, we call it intelligence, and Germany had in September 1939, partially thanks to the V colum a very good one.

So,
a civilian town, without troops or strategic importance was targeted and destroyed. We can look for any excuses we would like, but it will remain a war crime.
There is also one misaing point to the picture. Frampol was, according to Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, part of the Russian zone. The German troops had very soon to quit it remains. This is maybe (just maybe) one of the reasons why Frampol was choosen as a target.


Franek:
if you want to look for targeted towns back before WWII, maybe you should mention for example Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

Martin

Marius 24th September 2005 23:00

Re: Bombing civilian targets by the Luftwaffe?
 
Martin,

"And how could the Germans know there were no (or no more) troops in the city?"

[Lame excuse that one. Basically, we call it intelligence, and Germany had in September 1939, partially thanks to the V colum a very good one.]



The abilities of Vth column here are much to more exaggerated. If this is all you can provide as an evidence for experimental bombing so I have to retire... A serious discussion is going to an end now.


[So,
a civilian town, without troops or strategic importance was targeted and destroyed. We can look for any excuses we would like, but it will remain a war crime.]


Sorry, but I do not understand. Can you prove what you are talking about?
What is your source giving you the certainty that a civilian town, without troops or strategic importance was targeted?
Could you quote a document please? If you can not so I think this is your personal opinion only, perhaps even a soap-bubble, no more no less.
What about the frontline nearby the town?
What about the bombing missions between the 12-14th September in this area?
What about the important road Janow - Frampol - Bilgoraj?
(by the way, Franek, not even a road through the city, great joke!)


Marius

Franek Grabowski 24th September 2005 23:38

Re: Bombing civilian targets by the Luftwaffe?
 
Marius

Quote:

The abilities of Vth column here are much to more exaggerated. If this is all you can provide as an evidence for experimental bombing so I have to retire... A serious discussion is going to an end now.
There was enough of them to attack Polish troops at Bydgoszcz/Bromberg. Also, how would you explain target markers visible on the original photos?
The claim that this was an experiment is by a Luftwaffe serviceman. Whom should I trust more, you or him?
No Marius, there is no serious discussion with you, there is simply no discussion with you.

Quote:

Sorry, but I do not understand. Can you prove what you are talking about?
What is your source giving you the certainty that a civilian town, without troops or strategic importance was targeted?
Just look at the photos courtesy of Luftwaffe. Please show me anything of strategic importance. Any trenches perhaps?

Quote:

Could you quote a document please? If you can not so I think this is your personal opinion only, perhaps even a soap-bubble, no more no less.
OK, prove there were Polish troops in Frampol. Stop your soap-buble.

Quote:

What about the frontline nearby the town?
Several toilets were near the frontline. Does it make them targets of military importance?

Quote:

What about the bombing missions between the 12-14th September in this area?
Nothing. Is it a proof of anything?

Quote:

What about the important road Janow - Frampol - Bilgoraj?
(by the way, Franek, not even a road through the city, great joke!)
Where it is on the photo and how it was affected in the result of attack?

Marius, you asked in this thread, why German authors manipulate and colourise. Why have you not asked them directly? I see another possible explanation, perhaps all the German authors are liars? Would you agree?

Martin
I am not sure of Guernica because it is much more controversial and unclear topic.

Pawel Burchard 24th September 2005 23:47

Re: Bombing civilian targets by the Luftwaffe?
 
Quote:

What is your source giving you the certainty that a civilian town, without troops or strategic importance was targeted?
To both sides...

Actually this should be fairly easy question to answer, having knowledge of ground troops activities in the area. I do not, but there are vast amounts of documentation from German ground units available on microfilm and/or in BAMA.

Regards,
Pawel

Marius 25th September 2005 01:36

Re: Bombing civilian targets by the Luftwaffe?
 
Pawel,

I am not an expert on German or Polish ground troops. But I remember that around the 13th September there was fighting in the Bilgoraj area.
I have no time to look for it in my books, but quickly I found on the net the following for the 13th:


Heeresgruppe Süd

14.Armee is advancing east and northwest.

Enemy forces in front of the Korps divided into two parts.

a) southern part: Polish 11.Div. around Lemberg with rest in Przemysl. All forces positioned along the hungarian, slowenian and russian border flee to Bulgaria. Several border crossings reported.

b) northern part: is withdrawing across the San into the woods around Zaklikow and Bilgoraj, last time spotted on the road Janow – Frampol.



This confirms what I wrote about a nearby frontline.
By the way Franek furtheron means there was no road in/through Frampol...?



Franek,
what is the source of the sentences written by the Luftwaffe serviceman? What is the exactly tenor? Please quote, if possible in German language.


I don`t know if all German authors are liars. But both, Joachim Trenkner and Olaf Gröhler as well manipulated the original German documents for their own purposes, for the proof of Luftwaffe "war crimes".
I know they did it, because I saw the original German documents used by both authors. Everybody can do it. Concerning Wielun on 1.9.1939 among others:
War diary of I./StG 76 - BA/MA Freiburg, RL 10/342...
War diary of I./StG 77 - BA/MA Freiburg, RL 10/345...
War diary of I./ZG 2 - BA/MA Freiburg, RL 10/248...

It is clear that both authors put the German original documents "in the right place".
Trenkner deliberately backwarded the time I./StG 76 started, from 5.02 hours to 4.02. His intention was to settle the time of the attack to 4.40, therefore before the official opening of the war (4.45). I suppose the Poles are truely loving him for this.
Gröhler deliberately falsified a document cutting out two sentences of it, at the same time changing the declaration of it, because he needed an "original German document", a "reliable order" to Luftwaffe crews clearly showing the intented German bombings on civilian targets. The conclusion is: he did not found any other document. I didn`t as well.
And what is the sad message here? Both authors deliberately lied to general public. I would call it a crime. I confess I was a little bit shocked as I found it out. Many people are using both authors as credible sources until day.

Marius

Nick Beale 25th September 2005 01:53

Re: Bombing civilian targets by the Luftwaffe?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Marius
It is very important to show where such an German attack was intended against a purely civilian target (no ground fighting in the city or nearby, frontline far away and so on... (see for example Dresden 1945)). I am sure you can well differ such a target from a road filled with troops or railway station.

My point was that almost every attack, whatever the true intention, can be justified on "military grounds" - as was done with Dresden (rail links supplying the Eastern Front). I would be quite surprised if many German operational orders were written explicitly in terms of attacking civilians.

Such objectives can be found in the policy documents for the RAF bombing campaign but I think you would find that the individual targets were always desribed as military/economic ones.

As for attempted genocide, the Einsatzgruppen routinely described those they murdered as partisans.

Franek Grabowski 25th September 2005 04:16

Re: Bombing civilian targets by the Luftwaffe?
 
Marius

Quote:

This confirms what I wrote about a nearby frontline.
At war every place may be at frontline but this is not necessarily a justification.

Quote:

By the way Franek furtheron means there was no road in/through Frampol...?
You have the photo. Show the road and show, how it was affected.

Quote:

what is the source of the sentences written by the Luftwaffe serviceman? What is the exactly tenor? Please quote, if possible in German language.
Find it yourself. You have the name of the man, who was the first source of published pictures of Frampol. I do not know if he is alive but certainly his comments were published in the German press of 1960s.

Quote:

I don`t know if all German authors are liars. But both, Joachim Trenkner and Olaf Gröhler as well manipulated the original German documents for their own purposes, for the proof of Luftwaffe "war crimes".
Really? So, why you do not ask them directly, why they did so?

Quote:

Trenkner deliberately backwarded the time I./StG 76 started, from 5.02 hours to 4.02. His intention was to settle the time of the attack to 4.40, therefore before the official opening of the war (4.45). I suppose the Poles are truely loving him for this.
What does it change from the Polish point of view? What does it change at all? The war was not declared, that is considered a war crime itself, I think. What does it change if Westerplatte, Tczew or Wieluń, one of them was hit the first? The fact is that a city was deliberately bombed by Luftwaffe and the only who suffered were civilians and the city almost completely whipped out. Trenkner cannot change anything either it happenned at 4.40, 5.40 or whatever hour you wish.

Quote:

Gröhler deliberately falsified a document cutting out two sentences of it, at the same time changing the declaration of it, because he needed an "original German document", a "reliable order" to Luftwaffe crews clearly showing the intented German bombings on civilian targets. The conclusion is: he did not found any other document. I didn`t as well.
Well, are there any other such orders for the other raids and is the order not a document?

Quote:

And what is the sad message here? Both authors deliberately lied to general public. I would call it a crime. I confess I was a little bit shocked as I found it out. Many people are using both authors as credible sources until day.
OK, you may feel free to accuse them publicly. You may explain that with them. Do whatever you want. You asked for civilian targets attacked by the Luftwaffe and you got them. If you consider them military targets, it is not my problem. I am afraid I cannot be of further help.

Hop 25th September 2005 05:52

Re: Bombing civilian targets by the Luftwaffe?
 
I wont go in to Poland, becaue I know little about the air war there.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marius
I don`t agree. It is very important to show where such an German attack was intended against a purely civilian target (no ground fighting in the city or nearby, frontline far away and so on... (see for example Dresden 1945)).

This doesn't define a civilian target.

The first Luftwaffe raid on England was on the night of 10 May 940, when they bombed open ground near Cantebury. I've no idea what the target they were aiming for was.

The first RAF raid on the German mainland was on the 11 May, when the RAF conducted attacks on transport targets west of the Rhine.

The Luftwaffe conducted raids on targets in French, Belgian and Dutch cities from 10 May, often very far behind the lines.

The British began bombing military and industrial targets in Germany from 14 May.

All these raids were aimed at defined military and industrial targets. Most did not hit them, but neither side seemed to realise just how innacurate they were.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ruy Horta
It should be possible to clearly define when the first RAF raid was conducted with German morale (residential areas etc) was the prime target, certainly at a strategic level.

Can you do so?

The problem is that bombing targets were chosen to maximize damage, and something like "morale" was never the only target. Why just bomb "morale" when you can also bomb an industrial city and burn out factories, destory power stations, gas works, canals, train stations etc?

The same is true of the Luftwaffe. In the bombings of London, morale was one factor, along with food depots, docks etc.

And how do you define a food depot? As a civilian target? And if civilian food isn't a civilian target, then how is civilian housing?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Juha
Dutch resistance had been more intensive than the Germans had predicted and the other purpose of the bombing was to terrorize the Dutch to surrender. IIRC Germans made treats to bomb also some other Dutch towns if Dutch would not surrender.

Exactly. One raid, multiple objectives.

At the same time as the raid on Rotterdam, the Luftwaffe dropped leaflets over Utrecht threatening that the same fate would befall Utrecht as had befallen Warsaw, if the Dutch did not surrender. See the thread on the Axis History Forum which discusses this subject, and has a link to the leaflet:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtop...r=asc&start=15

I believe that even Trenchard, the arch proponent of morale bombing, said the bombing should concentrat on military targets within cities for the maximum effect.

When the Luftwaffe bombed Coventry, briefing notes said that "wiping out the most densley populated workers settlements" would hinder the resumption of manufacturing.

Is attacking civilian housing to hinder manufacturing a civilian target?

Quote:

as in mission so and so on date so and so had civilian morale as its primary target, based on strategy, operational planning, bomb load etc.
If you are going to base it on method, rather than declared policy, then the Luftwaffe gradually switched to attacking civilian targets in Britain in September and October 1940.

To quote Richard Overy, The Battle:

"Though the German Air Force never formally adopted terror bombing, the tactic of widely scattered attacks, the use of a special incendiary squadron to start fires for other bombers to follow, the relaxation of rules of engagement over London on moonless nights, the deliberate decision to target the enemy psychologically by attacking intermittently round the clock (and for as long as possible at night), the use of aerial mines and the targetting of administrative areas of the capital, all reeal the gradual abandonment of any pretence that civilians and civilian morale would not become targets."

I think the use of parachute mines, and to a lesser extent the incendiary cannisters, over city centres means attacking civilians, as there is no hope of attacking a precise target with such weapons.

If you want to argue London is a military target, then so were all the German cities bombed.

For the RAF, the dates are clear. The first area attack was on th 16/17 December 1940, with the atack on Mannheim, which was lunched as a response to Coventry. Prior to that all RAF atacks had been aimed at precise military or industrial targets, even if, like the Luftwaffe up to September 1940, they didn't often hit them at night.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ruy Horta
The RAF bomber campaign is a good example.

At one point there came a strategic shift in thinking where maximizing civilians casualties and the destruction of housing became a primary military objective

Can you offer any evidence for civilian casualties becoming the objective?

Housing certainly ws, as the British experience of he Blitz was that damage to housing had a major effect on production.

Here's part of a letter from Herschel Johnson to the US Secretary of State, January 1941:

"
At numerous industrial plants, in this part of England, where
hundreds of workmen are employed, only a neglible percent of
uch workpeople is not in one way or another adversely affected
i %n consequence of air raids. Loss of sleep is a factor even in
cases where the workmen remain at home and do not repair to shelters.
But, generally speaking, a more potent factor is worry induced
by the disintegration of family life. It requires little imagination
to comprehend what must be the state of mind of a workman who
begins his task in the morning knowing that his wife and children
are standing at some windswept bus stop both hungry and cold,
or what must be the state of mind of a workman who knows that
his wife and family must remain in a house which has been rendered
unfit for human habitation and which it is beyond his means to
repair.




The bombing of working-class residential districts in this
area has come to be accepted as an ingenious and effective move
on the part of Germany. Moreover, such bombing has come to be
viewed as even a greater menace than the damage actually done
to industrial plant. What happened at Coventry well illustrates
the devilish effectiveness of the bombing of districts inhabited
by working-class people. It seems to be pretty well established
that as many as 70,000 houses in the comparatively small city
of Coventry were affected by bombing and that of these 30,000
were made unfit for human habitation, and 7,000 demolished entirely.




The big raid on Coventry took place during the night of November
14-15, 1940. Since that time some weeks have elapsed and great
strides have been made in the direction of make-shift repairs
to damaged working-class residences. But there is not a sizeable
industrial enterprise in the whole of Coventry whose production
is not still being adversely affected by raiding has wrought
in the lives of Coventry working people. There hovers over that
city an apprehensiveness which has lingered since the raid took
place. This apprehensiveness is born of a realization that the
Germans can at will again do to Coventry what they did to it
during that one horrible night in November.




Intricate, costly, and heavy machine tools can be extricated
from the cellars of demolished manufacturing plants. Many of
them can be repaired and installed in new plant. But the workers
who man these machines, so long as they live as they do today,
can never attain the efficiency which, before the events in question
took place, they maintained as a mere matter of course."

Note that damage to housing, not civilian casualties, is cited as the main effect
of the raids.

Logic would suggest the same. If you look at Hamburg, the most destructive area raid
of all, about 3% of the population was killed, 50% or more made homeless, and
industrial production fell by about 50% in the month following the raid.

And Lord Cherwell certainly argued that was the policy:
"Investigation seems to show that having one's house demolished is most damaging
to morale. People seem to mind it more than having their friends or even relatives
killed"

Does anyone have any solid information on German boming in Norway?

JM Spaight wrote a book during the war. It's often misquoted to claim Britain started bombing civilians first. But Spaight says:

"
Even if Warsaw is left out of account on the ground - vide German
propaganda - that the city was invested and had refused to surrender,
it is still undeniable that the Germans bombed undefended towns in
Norway before we ever dropped a bomb in Germany.

'Kristiansund, an open and absolutely defenceless town where there have
never been any military establishments whatever, was bombed for three
days; only one house remained. . 15,000 inhabitants were left without
shelter. In the same way Molde was bombed, and
Reknes, the great sanatorium for tuberculosis, was bombed and set on
fire.' 'Where Elverum had been but a few hours before, only the church
and the Red Cross hospital were left standing. . . . Hardly a house but
had been razed to within four feet of the ground.'

Ruy Horta 25th September 2005 10:03

Re: Bombing civilian targets by the Luftwaffe?
 
Hop,

It has been written several times in this thread that any civilian target can be linked to a military one, however insignificant. Yet your example of german air mines is good one, showing a clear intend in military planning to cause maximum (civilian) damage - just like cookies, blockbusters and incendiaries.

But as I feared you are taking my example of the RAF as a main argument, while it is only intended to give a more steady framework. We'll enter on well tread ground with the same old arguments. Sorry Hop, I'll skip that discussion if you don't mind (which will in part be based on semantics and my (lack) of english).

I am not trying to establish that the Luftwaffe did not attack civilian targets, or did not in fact deploy terror bombing tactics, but the RAF did.

That has never been my aim.

However for the sake of argument lets go back to Guernica.

Three theories, from left to right.
  1. Terror bombing to demoralize the Basque nation
  2. Tactical bombing to stop retreating Republican troops
  3. Mainly Republican sabotage action and Luftwaffe bombing actually causing relatively little damage
James Corum in The Luftwaffe - Creating the Operational Air War does provide an interesting note on p.199/200:

There is no evidence that Wolfram von Richthofen, who served as a senior Luftwaffe commander in Spain, Poland, the low countries, France, against Britain, and in Russia, ever carried out the policy of terror bombing or the deliberate targeting of civilians. On the other hand, Von Richthofen was a ruthless commander who never expressed any sympathy or concern for civilians who might be located in the vincinity of the military targets. Von Richthofen's actions at Guernica and throughout the Spanish War and World War II showed consistency in this attitude toward targeting.

This quote isn't hard evidence (although Corum seems to have based his writings on primary source material), but it does give us a framework where to put Guernica or Frampol.

I am afraid that much of this debate is fixed around moral guilt.


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