Terror from the sky

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The Phony Air War

I'm a Folklorist and Retired USAF veteran and can attest to the fact that rarely in my career were the USAF's intentions for Air Operations ever made public. I can't discuss more contemporary USAF air campaigns but I am absolutely free to discuss those from WW2. To begin with the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS), Reports 205-208 clearly demonstrate that the German Electric Utilities industry was never subjected to any systematic bombardment. The British Ministry of Economic Warfare (Enemy Branch) Report L 294/l/Z, dated August 1943, "Germany Electricity Supply. Parts I, II" listed well over 90% of the generating plants in the "Altreich" and Austria. Only the Goldenbergwerk power station was targeted late in the war. The statistics of the USSBS and the British Bombing Survey Unit (BBSU) clearly document that less than 0.005% of the bombs dropped on Greater Germany fell on Electric Utility generating stations, over 50% on civilians. This was the single most important target system in the Third Reich's industrial infrastructure according to interviews with Albert Speer from teams from the USSBS and BBSU. When Germany declared war on the U.S. the USAAF had already devised an air plan to bomb the German Electric Utilities industry. The Air War Plans Division attached to the War Plans division of the War Department had formulated this plan as AWPD-1, with Electric Utilities and the German Reichsbahn as the top two priorities. During the Casablanca Conference in January of 1943, the newly formed American Committee for Operational Analysts (COA) consisting of a group of Wall Street lawyers and Bankers; Elihu Root, jr., Thomas W. Lamont (Chairman J.P. Morgan) and Guido R. Perera (Bank of America) met with members of the British Ministry of Economic Warfare - Enemys Branch and de-targeted the two most critical industries in Germany; Electric and Rail. They were demoted to 13th and 9th priority respectively. If all we had to go on was this information we might say this was just a naive attempt at Industrial 'voodoo' bombing, but it was intentional. Thomas Lamont had personally seen to the rebuilding of the German Electric Grid between 1923-1929 with huge loans financing the renovation and expansion of not only the Electric Grid but also helping to finance the consolidation of the Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft. As well, in October of 1944, the US Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Anti-trust division launched an investigation into the massive smuggling of industrial diamonds by the British Ministry of Economic Warfare and the Belgian industrial diamond mining consortium, Le Forminière. Nazi Germany was being supplied during the entire war with Industrial diamonds from the Belgian Congo and South Africa according to a declassified OSS report entitled, "Summary and Analysis on Industrial Diamond Intelligence, October 1944." This report was declassified in 1976 and is located at the US National Archives Record Group 226.

Jeffery A. Lindell 21 days ago

An outsider's view

I am an Australian born since the war. My father and two uncles were in Australian uniform during the entire war, in the Pacific theatre. I first became conscious of this subject (Bombenkrieg) on my first visit to Germany in 1974. I am sure I can recall, from those days, a fund-raising campaign to restore Frankfurt's historic Opera House. I soon became aware of the huge rebuilding that had gone on in the cities. I began to pay attention to the remaining historic buildings, often heavily rehabilitated.
Please let me say this much. Having read accounts of the large air raids, particularly against Hamburg, Cologne and Dresden, I reflected that for Germans to be unaffected by the horror, they would have to be inhuman.
I am unaware if anyone has rigorously explored what psychological impact the whole experience had on the minds of German survivors. I suspect curiosity about that impact explains Friedrich's motivation to research the subject. Upon pondering it further, I thought it was important for Germans to recognize their own compatriots' sufferings. After all, if they cannot grieve for their own, how can they empathize with the sufferings of any others? It would be impossible for Germans to feel sorry for Warsaw (a city that suffered much from occupation till final destruction ) if they cannot even shed a tear over what occurred in some of their own great cities.

An Australian view more than 4 years ago

Powerful plea

Even eight years later this plea has not lost any of its power. I've only recently discovered Sebald and through your interview I met Friedrichs. Born in West Germany in 1963, I'm almost a generation removed from the author and I can confirm that the numbness and the lack of words for the traumas of the war are very deep seated and have been passed on through the family systems. Germans need to find a way to speak about this, perhaps a new language is in order, perhaps a new way to wield language. As a writer I feel called upon by the seriousness of the situation to respond—though I don't know yet, how.

Marcus Speh more than 8 years ago

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