Allied air raids on Berlin
The Allied air raids on Berlin during World War II were carried out by units of the British Royal Air Force (RAF), the US USAAF , the Soviet air force and the French Armée de l'air . The first air raid flew in the night of June 7th to 8th 1940, a single plane of the Armée de l'air; in the air war of the Second World War , the main part of the attacks was carried out by the British RAF Bomber Command during the Battle of Berlin from November 1943 to March 1944, which was proclaimed by Air Marshal Arthur Harris . The USAAF carried out the three heaviest major attacks on the city in the last three months before the end of the war on February 3 and 26, and on March 18, 1945.
Of the total of 363 air strikes by the US and British Air Forces on the region, 310 targeted the city itself, including 40 major and 29 major attacks. 45,517 tons of bombs were dropped. There were 421 full alarms . There are different figures about the number of civilian victims.
The first air raid on Berlin took place on the night of June 7th to 8th, 1940 by a single French plane. The SNCAC NC.2234 named Jules Verne dropped eight 250 kg bombs and 24 bombs weighing 10 kg each on an industrial district, the smaller bombs being thrown from the passenger door of the auxiliary bomber. The German campaign in France was then in full swing; this air attack was a retaliation by the French for the bombing of the airfields of Paris, but also of the Ministry of Aviation on June 3rd by at least 700 German planes.
In view of the experiences of World War I , fear of an attack with chemical weapons was still high; the population was asked to wear respiratory protection masks during an air raid , as they feared the use of gas bombs. The Royal Air Force (RAF) attacked for the first time on August 25, 1940 . The day before, the German Air Force had started to drop bombs on London as part of the Battle of Britain (→ The Blitz ). The British had deliberately not attacked Berlin until then, on the one hand out of fear of a German counterstrike against London, on the other hand because of the great distance from Great Britain (London and Berlin are 930 kilometers apart as the crow flies) and the strong German air defense . Of the 81 Hampden and Wellington bomber planes deployed on the night of August 25-26, 1940, not all reached the city, and the anti-aircraft barrage prevented bombs from being dropped on the city center . Therefore, most of the 22 tons of bombs fell widely scattered on the north of Berlin, especially on Wedding , Reinickendorf and Lichtenberg , without harming people or causing major material damage. The second air raid on Berlin took place on the night of August 29, 1940, hit the Görlitz train station and surrounding residential areas, killing 12 people and injuring 28. During the third air raid on Berlin on the night of August 31, 1940, bombs fell on the city center, Siemensstadt and Neukölln , and six people were injured. On September 4, 1940, between 0.09 a.m. and 2.12 a.m., bombs fell widely scattered on the city center, with little damage to property and no harm to people. In a medium air raid on April 10, 1941 u. a. the State Opera Unter den Linden hit by bombs and partially burned down. (On Hitler's personal orders , it was immediately rebuilt and reopened in December 1942.)
On August 8, 1941, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), Josef Stalin , ordered the attack on Berlin from the air. Due to the advance of the German troops into Estonia , the operation on the suitable airfields in Estonia was stopped in early September 1941.
Until 7./8. November 1941, the RAF continued its small and medium-sized attacks. After 21 of 169 aircraft were lost in an attack on Berlin that night, the RAF then concentrated on lighter targets and flew z. B. Attacks on the Ruhr area . From January 16, 1943 she bombed Berlin again; meanwhile the RAF had heavy four-engine bombers.
January 16 to March 30, 1943
From January 16 to March 30, 1943, parts of the Tempelhof district , the Deutschlandhalle , St. Hedwig's Cathedral , the large lecture hall of the Pharmaceutical Institute of Berlin University , the German Opera House on Bismarckstrasse , the Komödie and the theater on Kurfürstendamm were opened met. In addition, there were 600 major fires and damage to 20,000 houses, in some cases entire districts were destroyed. Several hundred people died.
August 23 to September 4, 1943
From August 23 to September 4, 1943, 85 percent of Lankwitz was destroyed. The air raids with up to 727 bombers on Lankwitz were particularly massive in the night from 23 August to 24 August 1943, which became known as the Lankwitz bomb night . In addition, the large restaurant Haus Vaterland next to the Potsdam train station , the Dahlem post office , the Reich Health Office in Staaken , part of the airport facilities, the experimental and training institute for brewing and the Plötzensee prison in Charlottenburg were bombed. Four people sentenced to death were able to flee. As a result, the death penalty was soon carried out on all other convicts (" Plötzenseer Blutnächte ").
November 18-26, 1943
In the first month of the so-called air battle for Berlin of the RAF Bomber Command, which was to last until March 1944, entire districts were destroyed between November 18 and 26, 1943. The main building of the Technical University Berlin , many institute buildings in the area, the zoological garden , the engineering school Beuth in Wedding , the main administration of the Berlin transport company at Köthener Straße 12 ( Kreuzberg ), the chemical institute of the agricultural university, the house of the Berlin fraternity Arminia , the office of the German Pharmaceutical Society and the Trinity Church ( Mauer - corner of Kanonierstrasse , today: Glinkastrasse , in the middle ), the Kaufhaus des Westens in Tauentzienstrasse ( Schöneberg ) and the television station "Paul Nipkow" on the Amerikahaus at Adolf-Hitler-Platz (today: Theodor-Heuss-Platz ) fell in ruins. The New Synagogue was badly damaged. On the night of November 22nd to 23rd, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was partially destroyed. In total, several thousand people died and hundreds of thousands were left homeless.
In December 1943, the Hotel Fürstenhof , parts of the S-Bahn systems at Sundgauer Straße station , the nave of St. Bernhard in Dahlem , the community school in Lichtenrade , the building of the Berlin University and the Lichtenrade village church were destroyed by fire and explosive bombs. There was also great damage to many houses.
In the evening hours of January 27, the British RAF attacked Berlin with 481 bombers, which dropped 1,761 tons of bombs on the city. According to a report by the Wehrmacht High Command , air mines , high explosive devices and incendiary bombs mainly destroyed or damaged densely populated residential areas and cultural sites. The Royal Air Force lost 33 aircraft.
March 6, 1944
On March 6, 1944, USAAF bomber groups launched the first day raid on Berlin. With 69 bombers lost, it was the 8th Air Force's worst attack in the entire war.
24./25. March 1944
On the evening of March 24, 1944, 811 RAF bombers launched an air raid on Berlin. 739 of them returned, 72 crashed over Germany or over the North Sea .
February 3, 1945
On February 3, 1945, a Saturday, Berlin was attacked by 958 USAAF aircraft, 939 of which came through the German defense lines. The 288th air raid on Berlin took place in two waves, the first from 11:02 am to 11:18 am by the 1st Air Division and a second from 11:24 am to 11:52 am by the 3rd Air Division with Boeing B-17 . In total, more than 2000 tons of high-explosive bombs and 250 tons of incendiary bombs were dropped on large parts of the northwest of Kreuzberg and the Mitte district , with the newspaper district and the export district around Ritterstraße being badly hit. The fires were also fueled by the strong wind that prevailed that day.
The Wehrmacht report of February 14, 1945 spoke of 2,894 dead; the actual number should have been much larger. The US military estimated that up to 25,000 people died. In terms of the death toll, it was the heaviest air raid on Berlin. At least 20,000 people were injured and 120,000 were left homeless in the attack. Among the victims were many prisoners and forced laborers who were generally denied protection by air raids. The chairman of the People's Court, Roland Freisler , also died in the attack .
2,296 buildings were totally destroyed, 909 were severely and 3,606 moderately to slightly damaged, 22,519 apartments were destroyed and a further 27,017 had to be evacuated because of the risk of collapse. 360 armaments factories were completely destroyed and another 170 severely impaired. Potsdamer and Anhalter Bahnhof with their spacious tracks were completely destroyed. Most of the Berlin City Palace burned out, as did the Unter den Linden State Opera, which was destroyed for the second time.
February 26, 1945
On February 26, 1945, a Monday, 1184 US bombers reached Berlin and dropped 1628.7 tons of high explosive bombs and 1258 tons of incendiary bombs.
March 18, 1945
On March 18, 1945, a Sunday, at least 1200 USAAF bombers reached the city and dropped over 3000 tons of bombs between 10:57 and 12:45. Measured by the bomb load, it was the heaviest air raid on Berlin.
The USAAF's last major daytime attack began on April 10, 1945 at 2:30 p.m. and ended at 2:55 p.m. 1232 aircraft took part; this was the largest number of machines ever deployed over Berlin at the same time.
The last British air raid on Berlin was on April 19, 1945.
Berlin was the German city with the most air raids, but the number of victims remained lower than, for example, in " Operation Gomorrah " in Hamburg. There are different details about the number of victims:
In general, there are reports of at least 20,000 and at most 50,000 deaths in Berlin, although the whereabouts of the missing people are unclear. The author Jörg Friedrich named a total of 11,367 dead in his book Der Brand , published in 2004 . The military historian Olaf Groehler estimated the number of victims of the air raids at 29,000–30,000. The private records of a colonel in the police force indicate 49,600 deaths in Berlin.
In Berlin, unlike in other German cities, there was no firestorm due to structural conditions (few to no half-timbered houses, wide streets without dense buildings) . In cities with more densely built-up areas or in valleys (such as Wuppertal or Stuttgart) this was more likely the case.
At the end of the war, 28.5 km² of the built-up area of the city lay in ruins. Hundreds of thousands of Berliners were homeless.
Of 1,562,641 apartments, over 500,000 were totally destroyed, around 100,000 were badly damaged and 380,000 were slightly damaged; only 370,000 remained undamaged. In the districts of Berlin-Mitte and Tiergarten , over 50% of the apartments were completely or severely destroyed.
Typical Berlin tenement barracks of the working class were built on the US military base Dugway Proving Ground (" German Village ") in May 1943 because the Allies failed to ignite a firestorm in the Reich capital . The rooms in this village were furnished with typical German furniture and the windows were hung with curtains made of German fabrics. The aim was to test the incendiary bombs for bombing the capital and other German cities on the buildings in order to “take the roof over the head of the German industrial worker” ( moral bombing strategy ).
- 1st Flak Division , responsible for air defense in the greater Berlin area
- Berlin flak towers
- List of bunkers # Berlin
- List of Allied air raids on the German Reich (1939–1945)
- Laurenz Demps (ed.): Air raids on Berlin. The reports of the main air raid shelter 1940–1945 (= series of publications by the Berlin State Archives , Volume 16). Ch. Links, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86153-706-9 .
- Jörg Friedrich : The fire. Germany in the bombing war 1940–1945. 15th edition. Propylaeen, Berlin / Munich 2002, ISBN 3-549-07165-5 , here in particular pp. 363-370.
- Werner Girbig: On the approach to the Reich capital. Documentation of the bombing raids on Berlin . Motorbuchverlag, Stuttgart 1971. 2001, ISBN 3-87943-172-8 .
- Martin Middlebrook: The Berlin Raids. Viking, London 1988, ISBN 0-670-80697-8 ( English ). Cassell, 2000, ISBN 0-304-35347-7 .
- Karl Deutmann: Berlin in a bomb storm. In: Collective Memory. German Historical Museum, accessed on December 18, 2012 .
- Josepha von Koskull: Bomb raids on Berlin. In: Collective Memory. German Historical Museum, accessed on December 18, 2012 .
- Katharina Stegelmann: Bomb war in Berlin: Death from Heaven. In: Spiegel Online. Spiegel Verlag, October 10, 2012, accessed December 18, 2012 .
- Chronicle: Berlin in 1943 - 1944 - 1945 . Luisenstadt educational association .
- Rolf Beyer: I saw the bombs on Berlin and low-flying planes in the countryside. On: Uni-leipzig.de .
- fbinter.stadt-berlin.de: Building damage 1945 (overall picture)
- Laurenz Demps (ed.): Air raids on Berlin. The reports of the main air raid shelter 1940–1945 (= series of publications by the Berlin State Archives . Volume 16). Ch. Links, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86153-706-9 , p. 41; Werner Girbig: On the approach to the Reich capital. Documentation of the bombing raids on Berlin . Motorbuchverlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-87943-172-8 , pp. 229-230.
- Werner Girbig: On the approach to the Reich capital. Documentation of the bombing raids on Berlin . Motorbuchverlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-87943-172-8 , p. 230.
- Le bombardement de Paris le 3 juin 1940 , Radio France International, January 16, 2010 (French)
- Werner Girbig: On the approach to the Reich capital. Documentation of the bombing raids on Berlin . Stuttgart 2001, pp. 19-21.
- According to Laurenz Demps ( Air raids on Berlin , 2nd edition 2014, p. 237) there was no air raid
- Ulf Balke: The Air War in Europe 1939–1941 , p. 160.
- Ulf Balke: The Air War in Europe 1939–1941 , p. 161.
- Ulf Balke: The Air War in Europe 1939–1941 , p. 162.
- Ulf Balke: The Air War in Europe 1939–1941 , p. 165.
- The Ministry of Defense published Stalin's order to bomb Berlin in 1941. In: Novaya Gazeta , August 12, 2018
- Laurenz Demps (ed.): Air raids on Berlin. The reports of the main air raid shelter 1940–1945 . 2nd Edition. Ch. Links Verlag, Berlin 2014, ISBN 3-86153-706-0 , p. 238 ff. (1844 pp. + CD). Laurenz Demps : Laying Paths in the History of the City . In: Berlin monthly magazine ( Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein ) . Issue 2, 1997, ISSN 0944-5560 , p. 60 ( luise-berlin.de ).
- Martin Middlebrook, Chris Everitt: The Bomber Command War Diaries. An operational reference book. 1939-1945. Midland Publishing, Leicester 1996, ISBN 1-85780-033-8 ; Quoted from: LancasterBombers.com , accessed February 23, 2014.
- AC Grayling: Among the Dead Cities. Bloomsbury Publishing, London 2006, ISBN 0-7475-8502-4 , p. 308.
- Martin Middlebrook: The Berlin Raids . P. 29–76, here P. 33: According to Middlebrook there were 719 bombers, since according to footnote 1 he refers to a study of squadron recordings, which is supposed to be more precise than the usual records of groups and commandos, which even with or should contain crashed aircraft shortly after take-off.
- Klaus Voeckler: The Bomb Night of August 23, 1943 . In: Märkische Allgemeine , August 22, 2013, accessed on February 23, 2014.
- Laurenz Demps (ed.): Air raids on Berlin. The reports of the main air raid shelter 1940–1945 (= series of publications by the Berlin State Archives . Volume 16). Ch. Links Verlag 2012, ISBN 978-3-86153-706-9 , p. 44.
- Martin Middlebrook: The Berlin Raids . 1988, Reprint 2010, p. 1.
- The day Berlin went under . In: Berliner Zeitung , February 3, 2000.
- Laurenz Demps : The air raid of February 3, 1945 . In: Berlin monthly magazine ( Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein ) . Issue 9, 2000, ISSN 0944-5560 ( luise-berlin.de ).
- Erik Smit, Evthalia Staikos, Dirk Thormann: February 3, 1945. The destruction of Kreuzberg from the air. Kunstamt Kreuzberg, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-9804686-0-7 , p. 12 ff.
- There are different sources for both the number of bombers and the bomb load dropped, cf. u. a .: Eighth Air Force Historical Society ( April 2, 2016 memento in the Internet Archive ), Walter J. Boyne , Stewart Halsey Ross .
- In the hail of bombs from the Allies . ( Memento from February 28, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) At stern.de , March 21, 2005. Retrieved on February 23, 2014.
- German cities sank in a hail of bombs . In: Frankfurter Rundschau , March 9, 2005; accessed on February 23, 2014.
- cf. Werner Girbig: On the approach to the Reich capital . Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, p. 229.
- Cf. u. a .: David Ensikat: cellar children . In: Der Tagesspiegel , January 27, 2003; Katharina Stegelmann: Death from Heaven . In: Spiegel Online , October 10, 2012. Laurenz Demps (Ed.): Air raids on Berlin. The reports of the main air raid shelter 1940–1945 (= series of publications by the Berlin State Archives . Volume 16). Ch. Links, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86153-706-9 , v. a. P. 97 ff .; Werner Girbig: On the approach to the Reich capital . Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, pp. 227-231.
- Jörg Friedrich: The fire. Germany in the bombing war 1940–1945. P. 365.
- Laurenz Demps (ed.): Air raids on Berlin. The reports of the main air raid shelter 1940–1945 (= series of publications by the Berlin State Archives . Volume 16). Ch.links, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86153-706-9 , p. 98.
- Werner Girbig: On the approach to the Reich capital . Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, p. 227.
- Laurenz Demps (ed.): Air raids on Berlin. The reports of the main air raid shelter 1940–1945 (= series of publications by the Berlin State Archives , Volume 16). Ch. Links Verlag, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86153-706-9 , p. 38; Laurenz Demps : Berlin in the bombing war . In: Michael Wildt, Christoph Kreutzmüller (eds.): Berlin 1933–1945 . Siedler, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-8275-0016-8 , p. 357 ff.
- Werner Girbig: On the approach to the Reich capital . Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, p. 229.
- Katharina Stegelmann: Death from Heaven . In: Spiegel Online , October 10, 2012, accessed on March 19, 2014.
- Mike Davis : Attack on "German Village" . In: Der Spiegel , October 11, 1999; Retrieved February 19, 2014.