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Stalingrad 23 Aug 1942: Tactics or Spoliation?

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed.
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Postby tonyh on 10 Mar 2005 20:46

My apologies for yesterday. The net cafe I was in didn't allow access to the floppy drive. But here is my reply in regards to the Luftwaffe strategic attacks over Stalingrad.





Main Luftwaffe targets in Stalingrad

Mamayev hill containing Red Army HQ
Krasnyi Oktyabr factory complex
Bread factory
Oil depots
Barrikady factory complex
Dzerzhinski tractor factory & nearby oil depot
Main railway stations and lines
Lazur Chemical works and "tennis racket" rail supply network
Soviet ferry routes on the Volga and habour area
Power stations
Waterworks
Postal communications
Red Square, containing Political & Administrative buildings

All the above are tactical objectives, targeted and repeatedly hit by the Luftwaffe following their tried & tested method of close support for the Heer. Luftwaffe objectives in and around Stalingrad were of a tactical nature and to a large extent they were bombed with great accuracy by Fiebig's stukagruppen and the mediums of the Kampfgeschwader, who could attempt low level bombing runs (and therefore increase accuracy) due to the skies around Stalingrad being cleared of VVS fighters by the Jagdgeschwader. These targets HAD to be accurately, or at least attemptedto be, bombed if the Luftwaffe was to be of any help to the Army at all. The Luftwaffe did not set out to strike residential areas, although undoubtedly those areas would have suffered damage from aerial bombardment (both German and Russian), artillery (both German and Russian) and other large ordinance fire, coupled with the fact that two large Armies were engaged in a war in the immeadiate area in the ongoing 6 Months of the battle. Such destruction of civilians and civilian property in a BATTLEFIELD would have been unavoidable.

The assertion that, that 40.000 civilians could be wiped out be Luftwaffe bombs in the heavy attacks on the 23rd August or even several weeks of bombing or WalterS's opinion that a bomb is a bomb no matter which aircraft its dropped from is clearly bunkum. In addition, if civilians were the target the Luftwaffe would simply have sortied over Stalingrad at night, from the well developed airfields like Pitomnik and Morozovsk and indiscriminately bombed the City, much like the RAF's night attacks. However the Luftwaffe were absent from the sky at night as is borne out by Chuikov's observations quoted in Hayward's book. Tactical targets cannot be hit in darkness. This and the fact that a large number of Richthoffen's Luftflotte IV attack aircraft were stukas which are unsuitable for RAF style 'area bombing' suggests that 40.000 civilians killed by Luftwaffe bombing alone is a ridiculous figure.

That is not to say that 40.000+ (IMO higher) did not die in the 6 Months battle of Stalingrad, but they did not die simply from Luftwaffe bombing alone as is the claim. Other parameters must be taken into account. Such a figure is not only "extravagant" as Joel Hayward says, its downright stupid. Hayward says that the attack on the 23rd "claimed as many victims as the Allied attack on Darmstadt during the night of 11th & 12th Sept 1944, when the RAF unloaded almost 900 tons and killed over 12.300 citizens" and that "The Stalingrad death total may, in fact, have been twice that of Darmstadt..." But even such extrapolations must be taken with a pinch of salt. It is certainly possible that up a large number of people could have been killed in the attack of the 23rd, but we must remember that the strategic objectives, aircraft used and the delivery method of the ordinance were very different in both airforces. 900 tons delivered in the Luftwaffes close support attacks are a very different kettle of fish to 900 tons dropped indiscriminately on the centre of a town in the middle of the night by the RAF.

The following paragraphs from Haywards "Stopped at Stalingrad" clearly illustrate the tactical nature of the Luftwaffe's attacks in and around Stalingrad.

"These were favorable days for Fiebig's Fligerkorps VIII. It deployed most of its bombers against Black Sea ports and shipping and its powerful ground attack and dive-bomber groups against teh Soviet formations resisting both Paulus's advance across the Don and Hoth's drive on Stalingrad from the South. The air corps notched up excellent tallies of enemy aircraft: it claimed 139 victims in three days. It also inflicted heavy damage on enemy troops and armour contexting the battlefield."

"Later that day, Ju88's of KG76 massacred two reserve divisions caught in the open 150 kilometers east of Stalingrad..."

"Weitersheim's corps accomplished its remarkable advance (which deeply shocked the Soviet leadership) by moving up closely behind a deluge of shrapnel and high explosives rained down on enemy positions by fligerkorps VIII..."

"During 1600 nonstop sorties, fiebig's units dropped 1000 tons of bombs on enemy troops and defensive positions in the corps advance path..."

"..determined to support German troops now fighting for every house and building by stopping the steady trickle of Soviet reinforcements entering the City from the eastern bank of the kilometer-wide Volga river, fiebig's corps also directed attacks against the river crossing facilities"

"...mainly "crossing 62", its moorings at the Krasyni Oktyabr and Barrikady factories."

"Flames leapt from the huge oil storage containers and fuel tankers on the Volga, across the surface which spilled and burned"

"Richthoffen had Fiebig pound enemy positions in and around Stalingrad with his entire corps...This crushing attack similar in scale to that of the 23rd of August, destroyed 62nd Army's command centre and almost killed Chuikov"

"Throughout 5th September Fligerkorps VIII's bombers and dive-bombers inflicted heavy losses on Soviet troops and armour"

"Throughout September, Fiebig's air corps directed most of its attacks against Stalingrad itself, the main targets being the Lazur chemical factory inside the 'tennis racket' (a huge rail loop), the Krasyni Oktyabr metallurgical works, the barrikady gun factory and the Dzerzhinsky tractor factory. The corps pounded those targets most days, except when aircraft where urgently needed to support an Axis advance or stem a Soviet counter attack in the region North or the City."

Colonel Vladimirov noted in 1943 "The enemy bombers, operating in groups of 10 to 50, ceaselessly bombed our troops, the eastern part of the City (factory area) and the crossings on the Volga...the Germans relied on the aircraft to crush the fire system [that is, the artillery], paralyze our organization, prevent the arrival of reinforcements and disrupt the movements of supplies."

Chuikov stated "The Luftwaffe bombed and straffed our units from our forward positions right to the Volga, the strongpoint organised by the troops of Gorishny's division at the Mamayev Kurgan was utterly destroyed by aircraft artillery. The Army HQ command post was under attack from the air the whole time."

"On October 14th the largest operation [against Stalingrad] to date commenced: an air attack by numerous divisions, including the 14th panzer, 305th and 389th Inf divisions, against the Dzerzinski tractor factory, the eastern part of which was occupied by the Russian 62nd Army"

"On 15th October Paulus's troops entirely cleared the tractor factory and the brick works before turning South the following day, behind Fligerkorps VIII's curtain of falling bombs, toward their next objectives, the Barrikady gun factory, the brad bakeries and the Krasyni Oktyabr metallurgical works...As usual in this period, the army received effective Luftwaffe support."

"Hozzel (of Stg 2) was shocked: although his wing had repeatedly smashed the factory district with intense ferocity, German infantry units encountered fierce counter attacks as though nothing had happened, as if the Geschwader had dropped toy torpedoes instead of bombs."

The above paragraphs from "Stopped at Stalingrad", which is full of such examples, explicitly defines the tatical close support nature of the Luftwaffe's attacks in the Stalingrad area. One doesn't have to be a genius to see where these tactics and the strategic objectives of the RAF's bomber Command depart.

The RAF's primary offensive target, outlined in Directive No22, "the morale of the enemy civil population and in particular of the industrial workers" is completely different to primary tactial nature of the Luftwaffe, that is close support of an advancing land Army in the field, that was outlined even as far back as 1936 in the Luftwaffendienstvorschrift 16.

Given the radical differences of both doctrines, the number of aircraft used, the type of aircraft and the delivery method of the ordinance from specific aircraft (ie stukas), it is improbable that the Luftwaffe attack of the 23rd of August could have killed 40.000 civilians, even if air raid precautions were inferior to that of Western Nations.

The efforts that the Luftwaffe went through to target and attack tactical military objectives, not that they wanted to minimise civilian losses but that they wanted to minimise Soviet military resistance to their own advance, suggests that the 40.000 civilian figure is emotive propaganda and not actual fact.

The RAF used armadas of thousands of heavy bomber aircraft, with bomb loads far higher than that of a Ju88 or a He111, in their indiscriminate area attacks on European cities and managed to kill 40.000+ civilians in several nights over Hamburg. Possibly the worst raid of the war in Europe in terms of civilian dead. The Luftwaffe couldn't come remotely close to that number of aircraft in the attacks on Stalingrad. Fall Blau started out with 1,150 aircraft on paper, the servicable number enevitably was lower. This number includes fighter, recon, stuka, bomber and liason aircraft. By August that number had shrunk. By 20th September Luftflotte IV had just over 500 serviceable aircraft, 120 of which were for recon purposes. In October Luftflotte IV had only 129 servicable bomber aircraft! This is demonstrably unsuitable for RAF style area attacks on civilians and such an endevour would have been utterly futile.

As futile as trying to suggest that the Luftwaffe could bomb 40.000 civilians to death on Aug 23rd, in an effort to try and compare and justify the RAF's bombing of Dresden's city centre.

Again...there is NO COMPARISON.

Tony
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Postby tonyh on 10 Mar 2005 21:00

David Thompson wrote:tonyh -- I don't mind waiting. I'm just trying to see what what the story is on this bombing campaign against Stalingrad in Aug-Oct 1942. I don't think the victim figures are rising, either. There are a number of estimates of casualties for the bombing of Stalingrad, just as there were for Dresden. One question for us to discuss is which are most likely correct, and why.

The other is whether Hitler's order (which I have not seen but which Hayward describes) for the destruction of Stalingrad is a criminal act. Since Hayward's account suggests that the order was repeated on several occasions and prevented German bombing of Soviet oil installations, why do you think the order was made "offhand"? According to Cajus Bekker, (The Luftwaffe War Diaries, p. 321) on 8 Jul 1941 Hitler expressed his "lasting resolve" to "raze Moscow and Leningrad to the ground by means of the Luftwaffe" as well. And what credence, if any, do you give to von Richthofen's remark: "The city [Stalingrad] is destroyed"?


Can you point out exactly where Hayward cites Hitler's order for destruction? I haven't got Haywards book at hand at the moment. I have seen it in Haywards book that Hitler ordered the city to be "taken". This is far different than ordering the City to be destroyed, but it certainly would be byond Hitler to order the destruction of a City, considering Germany's own towns and Ciies were being levelled.

Also, why would it be a criminal act for Hitler to destroy a city, but not the Allies, who did it night after night in Germany?

The credence I give Richthoffen's remarks is a hyperbolic diary entry, written after a heavy Lutwaffe raid. Much in the same manner as his "...blood flowed" remark that he wrote in the same penflick manner after viewing KG 76's attack on the Red Army reserve units in August. Nothing more. Richthofen seemed given to a quick turn of phrase. His comment that the army in Stalingrad weren't doing enough is equally hyperbolic.

Tony
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Postby tonyh on 10 Mar 2005 21:22


tonyh said many things, many of which are, in my humble opinion, without historical merit.


Says you. But you have clearly demonstarted with your "bomb is a bomb" statement that you have no idea about Luftwaffe equipment or doctrine. You can read the above post to get a clearer picture.

You should actually try and read the WHOLE of Haywards book.


I have, evidently far more thoroughly than tonyh has.

tonyh wrote:

"The Luftwaffe flew some 1660 sorties against Stalingrad on 23 AUG, dropping about 1000 tons of bombs. A ton is a ton. It doesn't matter if that ton is one of 5 tons dropped by a Lancaster, or dropped singly by a Stuka or Heinkel."

WRONG, utterly and completely. This statement alone shows that you have a complete lack of understanding of the various types of aircraft involved in the tactical situation and this discussion.



Actually, that statement shows that I have read Hayward's book, and he agrees with me. Prof Hayward makes a direct comparison between the Luftwaffe raid of 23 Aug 42 on Stalingrad, and the RAF raid of 11/12 Sep 44 on Darmstadt. Prof Hayward uses the amount of tons dropped as the basis for the comparison saying:

"Yet this hellish attack [Stalingrad] caused at least as many deaths as similar-sized Allied raids on German cities."

Prof Hayward also states that the Stalingrad raid killed at least as many people as the RAF raid on Darmstadt which dropped 900 tons and killed 12,300 people, and goes on to state :

The Stalingrad death toll may, in fact, have been twice that of Darmstadt [24,600] due to the fact that the Russian city was poorly equipped with air raid shelters.

Hayward: "Stopped at Stalingrad" p, 188

So, evidently, Prof Hayward draws a correlation between tons dropped and people killed.[/quote]

Again, you cling to your favorite quotes, without regard to the other parameters involved. The answer to this is also included in my reply above. The RAF raid on Darmstadt and the Luftwaffe attacks on Stalingrad are of a completely different nature. Even still Haywards suggestion of 24,600 [IMO far too high still] is far away from your stubborn insistance on the ridiculous 40.000 figure.


tonyh wrote:

Another point. The Luftwaffe didn't have the ordinance to waste hitting Stalingrads civilian areas. There was a shortage of material and bombs had to count.


Another unsourced and unsupported statement from tonyh. Professor Hayward, whose book was introduced into this discussion by tonyh, does not write of any such munition shortage affecting the Luftwaffe during the raids on Stalingrad 23-25 Aug. Also of note is the fact that General von Richthofen's diary, which Prof Hayward uses extensively, says nothing of such a shortage of munitions. In the sources I have quoted regarding these raids, namely Hayward, Beevor and Craig, there is no mention of the Luftwaffe operating under such shortages during this period.[/quote]

Actually the source is in Haywards book, are you sure you read it? Or just the parts that suited you :wink:
Fiebig's units constantly suffered bomb shortages...

Hayward writes this, because Chuikov noted in his diary that the Luftwaffe had resorted to dropping ploughs and farming equipment with their usual ordinance. Perhaps Chuikov was prone to a little embellishment and artistic licence, like Richthoffen when writing in his diary. Hayward says that although Feibig's units suffered bomb shortages, they weren't as dire as Chuikov might suggest.



tonyh wrote:

Haywards book is lttered with actual Luftwaffe targets assigned and hit. I wrote some of them down the other day, but you had the thread shut down :wink: . I'll post them tomorrow.


Mr David Thompson discussed the reasons for locking that thread, and I accept them. tonyh, of course, hasn't posted anything and has avoided quoting the very source he brought into the discussion. So I will.

Professor Hayward does, indeed, discuss specific tactical targets attacked by the Luftwaffe in support of 6th Army's assaults on the city. On p.197 Hayward has a detailed map of Stalingrad which shows, among other things, "main Luftwaffe bombing targets." These targets include: Dzerzhinski tractor factory, oil depot, Bread factory, Lazur Chemical works, etc.

What needs to be kept in mind is that the Luftwaffe attacked these targets in September and October, once 6th Army was fully vested in assaulting the city. The raids of 23-25 August were aimed at the entire city; 6th Army was still advancing from the Don river.[/quote]

In a word, rubbish. And my last post is full of quotes from Haywards book. I have already explained the reason why I had to put off posting, so your cheap shot is redundant Walter.

The rest of your post is rather worthless Walter, I'm afraid. Especially your comments on the Stuka. Which shows you are lacking the knowledge on its employment in WWII. Getting Stukas to bomb a residential area would be incredibly pointless and rather stupid.

You're welcome to cling to your position, but it clearly demonstrates a stubbornness and an unwillingness to engage in other ideas. In my opinion your position is untenable, at best.

Tony
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Postby tonyh on 10 Mar 2005 21:54

So you can claim the Allied bombing campaign pursued strategic objectives. But you cannot claim that just about any military action only pursues tactical objectives. With the only exception of cases in which the local commanding officers have lost awareness of what the strategic objective is, and are pursuing objectives that do not promote their side's strategy. This may happen, but it's an exception.


Well, I am not really trying to claim that at all. Your missing my point. Its really this, that the Luftwaffe were employed on a tactical level, while Bomber Command were employed at a strategic level. These are the phrases of the airforces in question, not mine.

This is not taking into account, by the way, that Dresden is a very bad example for a strategic-only bombing with no reference to land operations, because, you see, bombing it _did_ support a land advance. The bombing of Hamburg, or Pforzheim, did not, but the bombing of Dresden did. A lot.


Perhaps, in a flimsy way. But I suspect that the Allies stated that the bombing of Dresden was to support the Russian advance after the deed was done and after their was an outcry about it. Churchill himself made efforts to distance himself from the raid. As far as I recall, the Russians made specific calls for an attack on Berlin, but did not mention Dresden at all. I think it was Charles Portal who advanced the idea of a raid on Dresden.

I know some people have problems with him, but Irving states in his book...

"Saundby understood that the request had come from the Russians, that the Russians
had insisted that Dresden was full of armoured German forces, re-grouping
and preparing for battle. The Official Historians found no evidence of such a Soviet
request. The Russians also later denied it, and there is no evidence that a request
came through the usual liaison channel, the American Military Mission in Moscow.
General Deane, the head of the mission who was at that time also at Yalta, later had
no recollection of any such Russian request. In other instances he was specifically
apprised by the Russians, for example when they demanded the bombing of the
German general staff headquarters at Zossen, outside Potsdam, and an attack on a
particular shipping concentration at Swinemünde.
In his memoirs, Sir Arthur Harris allowed himself only the guarded comment that
‘the attack on Dresden was at the time considered a military necessity by more
important people than myself’."

I haven't got Taylors book on the same subject, so I cannot reference that. However I suspect that the "supporting the Russian advance" is more damage control, that strategic effort.

The bombing of Dresden is just another raid carried out according to Bomber Commands main strategic goal, the "enemy civil population". It was only the outcry after the event that notions for another reason for attacking the City were advanced.

Of course the RAF may have bombed the City to rubble to "aid the Russians". But if that was truely the case thay could have easilly carried out tactical attacks on the limited tactical objectives that were in the City, as opposed to simply bombing the centre of the town. The RAF and USAF had no fear from the Luftwaffe in Feburary 1945 and targets could be in daylight by the RAF. They had already done this in France in late 44.

You say, "not in the sense we are discussing". But what are we discussing here? Aren't we discussing whether a certain city bombing was spoliation or not?


Actually I thought we originally discussing whether the bombing of Dresden constituted "terrorism" :D

We are discussing whether the attacks on Stalingrad and Dresden can be compared and whether the unsupported 40.000 figure holds any water.

Finally, you say the Luftwaffe "HAD" to target tactical objectives. Had it? I suppose you'll have some evidence to back up the claim? A list of tactical objectives hit by the Luftwaffe won't be enough, of course. We do know it did target tactical objectives. But having targeted them is not synonymous with actually having targeted _only_ those, much less with _being forced_ to target only those. Contemporary sources, including Von Richthofen, seem to think something wider than factories and railways had been destroyed.
A good example of the evidence you need to make this claim credible would be German aerial recon photos taken after the August bombings, showing that only factories had been hit and that all residential areas were still intact.


The HAD to attack tactical targets if they were to be of any use to the Heer, which Luftwaffe doctrine demanded they be subordinate to. Given the limited resources available to the Luftwaffe, the tactical objectives outline in my above post would have been of utmost importance and attacking civilians and civilian buildings would have been pointless. This is not to say that the Luftwaffe on occasion did not depart from its primary function, this is evidenced in the night bombing of London and in the night attacks on Leninngrad. However, over Stalingrad, Tactical targets were the order of the day.

Again, that doesn't mean that civilian targets would have escaped damage. But attacking them specifically wouldn't have helped either the Luftwaffe (who would have to attack the tactical target on another day) or the army that they were supporting.

The choice is attack the Red Army HQ at Mamayev hill or hit that row of houses.

The first option is the best tactical choice. The other is a waste of resources, given the limitations involved.

Tony
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Postby David Thompson on 10 Mar 2005 21:59

(1) Posters -- Please avoid further personal remarks so that we can have a civil discussion of an historical issue. Remember that the purpose of a research section is to inform the readers, and anything that gets in the way of that goal is unwelcome here.

(2) I locked the Dresden thread because of general misbehavior, not because of any one or another person. I don't want the same thing to happen with this thread, so let's tone down the rhetoric and emphasize the factual elements of the argument.
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Postby David Thompson on 10 Mar 2005 22:05

tonyh -- You asked:
Can you point out exactly where Hayward cites Hitler's order for destruction? I haven't got Haywards book at hand at the moment. I have seen it in Haywards book that Hitler ordered the city to be "taken". This is far different than ordering the City to be destroyed, but it certainly would be byond Hitler to order the destruction of a City, considering Germany's own towns and Ciies were being levelled.

Hitler's destruction order is described in Hayward's article "From Too Little, Too Late: An Analysis of Hitler's Failure in August 1942 to Damage Soviet Oil Production" which can be seen online (no page numbers, sorry) at:
http://www.freewebs.com/joelhayward2/lu ... etoilf.htm

The Luftwaffe, Hitler stated, was to continue providing close and strong support to both army groups. "The early destruction of Stalingrad is especially important," he said.[17] (Citation is to Weisung Nr. 45, in W. Hubatsch, ed., Hitlers Weisungen fuer die Kriegfuehrung, 1939-1945. Dokumente des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht (Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe, 1983), 196-200)(emphasis added - DT)
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Postby tonyh on 10 Mar 2005 22:06

I haven't read that article. I'll read it tonight, but I do recall in his book, that Hitler ordered that Stalingrad be "taken" and I've seen it as "taken" in other places too. He may well have ordered that it be destroyed too, but it certainly would be a very flimsy case for a criminal accusation surely.

Tony
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Postby michael mills on 10 Mar 2005 23:56

The obsession with trying to find a war-crime in the Luftwaffe operations at Stalingrad has led to the selective use of Dr Hayward's article, and a possible misinterpretation of a statement made by Hitler.

If we look at the entire section of Dr Hayward's article in which the statement by Hitler is quoted, its intention becomes clear.

No longer deeming it necessary to secure the northern flank and pound Stalingrad with artillery and airpower and then head south into the Caucasus, he stipulated that both operations be undertaken at the same time by the two new army groups recently formed from Army Group South. In Operation Fischreiher (Heron), Generaloberst (Colonel-General) Maximilian von Weichs' Army Group B would construct a solid front along the Don. Then, by thrusting forward to Stalingrad, it would smash the enemy forces concentrated there, occupy the city and block the land bridge between the Don and the Volga. Meanwhile, fast-moving troops were to advance south-eastwards along the Volga to Astrakhan, thereby cutting off this valuable waterway. Reflecting his growing fixation on Stalingrad, formerly not even a main target, Hitler ordered the transfer of a Panzer corps from Fourth Panzer to Sixth Army (and thus from the Caucasus to the Stalingrad theatre).

In Operation Edelweiss, Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm List's Army Group A was to encircle and destroy the Soviet formations that fled across the Don into the northern Caucasus. It was then to carry out its most important task: the occupation of the entire Black Sea coastline, including its naval bases. This would effectively put an end to the Red Fleet. At the same time, mountain and light infantry divisions (including some brought across the Kerch Straits from Eleventh Army) were to take the high ground around Maikop and Armavir and close the passes in the western Caucasus. Finally, a mobile force was to head south and east to close the military road between Ossetia and Grozny, and to strike along the Caspian coast to the great oil metropolis of Baku.

The Luftwaffe, Hitler stated, was to continue providing close and strong support to both army groups. "The early destruction of Stalingrad is especially important," he said.[17] As opportunities present themselves, attacks should be made on Astrakhan and mines laid in the Lower Volga. In view of the Caucasus oilfields' critical importance to the prosecution of the war, he stressed, air raids should immediately be launched against railways and pipelines being used by the enemy. However, attacks on refineries, storage tanks and ports used for oil shipments should only be carried out if circumstances on the ground made them absolutely necessary.



It is clear from the above that Hitler saw Stalingrad as a military objective, a Soviet strongpoint that needed to be captured in order to cut the Soviet supply lines.

When he referred to the "early destruction of Stalingrad", it is obvious that he was referring to its function as a Soviet strongpoint, a place where enemy forces were concentrated.

It is a misinterpretation to draw the conclusion that Hitler was ordering the gratuitous destruction of the civilian population, which would be a war-crime.
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Postby Curioso on 11 Mar 2005 10:36

tonyh wrote:my point. Its really this, that the Luftwaffe were employed on a tactical level, while Bomber Command were employed at a strategic level. These are the phrases of the airforces in question, not mine.


This is not taking into account, by the way, that Dresden is a very bad example for a strategic-only bombing with no reference to land operations, because, you see, bombing it _did_ support a land advance. The bombing of Hamburg, or Pforzheim, did not, but the bombing of Dresden did. A lot.


Perhaps, in a flimsy way. But I suspect that the Allies stated that the bombing of Dresden was to support the Russian advance after the deed was done and after their was an outcry about it. Churchill himself made efforts to distance himself from the raid. As far as I recall, the Russians made specific calls for an attack on Berlin, but did not mention Dresden at all. I think it was Charles Portal who advanced the idea of a raid on Dresden.

I know some people have problems with him, but Irving states in his book...
(snip)

Actually I thought we originally discussing whether the bombing of Dresden constituted "terrorism" :D

We are discussing whether the attacks on Stalingrad and Dresden can be compared and whether the unsupported 40.000 figure holds any water.

Finally, you say the Luftwaffe "HAD" to target tactical objectives. Had it? I suppose you'll have some evidence to back up the claim? A list of tactical objectives hit by the Luftwaffe won't be enough, of course. We do know it did target tactical objectives. But having targeted them is not synonymous with actually having targeted _only_ those, much less with _being forced_ to target only those. Contemporary sources, including Von Richthofen, seem to think something wider than factories and railways had been destroyed.
A good example of the evidence you need to make this claim credible would be German aerial recon photos taken after the August bombings, showing that only factories had been hit and that all residential areas were still intact.


The HAD to attack tactical targets if they were to be of any use to the Heer, which Luftwaffe doctrine demanded they be subordinate to. Given the limited resources available to the Luftwaffe, the tactical objectives outline in my above post would have been of utmost importance and attacking civilians and civilian buildings would have been pointless. This is not to say that the Luftwaffe on occasion did not depart from its primary function, this is evidenced in the night bombing of London and in the night attacks on Leninngrad. However, over Stalingrad, Tactical targets were the order of the day.

Again, that doesn't mean that civilian targets would have escaped damage. But attacking them specifically wouldn't have helped either the Luftwaffe (who would have to attack the tactical target on another day) or the army that they were supporting.

The choice is attack the Red Army HQ at Mamayev hill or hit that row of houses.

The first option is the best tactical choice. The other is a waste of resources, given the limitations involved.

Tony



So you are defining the Battle of Britain, the ongoing Blitz on London, the "Baedeker" raids as "tactical level"? I am sure you know better.
Sure, the Luftwaffe carried out, over the course of the war, a lot of direct-support missions (and BTW, it is misleading to compare the Luftwaffe with Bomber Command - the equivalent of the Luftwaffe is the RAF) aimed at helping the German ground troops. This does not mean that the Luftwaffe did not carry out non-direct-support missions, nor that the RAF did not carry out direct-support missions. Both did both, and both did what was needed.

You "suspect" that the Allies justified the Dresden bombing with the support to an Allied advance "after the deed was done"? My advice to you is that you could and indeed should study the documents, rather than relying on your own "suspects". Mr. Thompson recently posted to this very forum an article titled "Dresden 1945 - Just Another Raid?". It quotes from the original documents of the time, which, mind you, have dates _prior_ to the bombing.

Portal also echoed the sentiments of the JIC report recommending attacks on Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Chemnitz, 'or any other cities where a severe blitz will not only cause confusion in the evacuation from the East, but will also hamper the movement of troops from the West'.


It is true that there is no document by the Soviets mentioning Dresden. It is however also true that the closing document of the Yalta conference mentioned, as a Soviet request:

b. By air action on communications hinder the enemy from carrying out the shifting of his troops to the East from the Western Front, from Norway, and from Italy (In particular, to paralyze the junctions of Berlin and Leipzig).


"In particular" does not seem to exclude the possibilities that other railway junctions that were used by the Germans to shift troops to the East should be paralyzed, too. As you will certainly know, Taylor tells us that some 28 troop trains passed through Dresden on their way East in the first days of February - daily.

The quotes above, coupled with your quote from Irving, shows that if many people have problems with Irving, there are rock-solid reasons.

So yes, the Dresden bombing supported an Allied land advance, and this had been set as an Allied objective before, not after, the fact.

Having cleared that, yes, originally we were discussing whether bombing Dresden was "terrorism". Since the definition of terrorism was so broad (an act having consequences on enemy morale) that it applied to just about any act of war, the moderator shifted the attention to "spoliation", which I will define, for ease of reference, as "destruction with no good reason". And, in this thread, to the supposed spoliation of Stalingrad.

As to whether we are discussing the number of casualties in Stalingrad, maybe you are discussing that with somebody else, not with me. I have already repeated several times that the numbers are irrelevant to the issue of spoliation.

As to the rest, I do take notice that you have no evidence whatsoever that the Luftwaffe did not engage in general destruction at Stalingrad. According to this forum's rules, then, your claim is unsupported and can then be disregarded.
Your only point on this is deductive, based on the "most logical" behavior. Since we very well know that many military decision-makers in general, and German decision-makers in WWII in particular, were perfectly capable of illogical behavior, that's not enough.

We have thus cleared that you cannot claim that the Luftwaffe only attacked limited, tactical, military-industrial targets in Stalingrad, because you have no proof of that. Of course, if in the future you will be able to dig up any evidence, I'll be curious to look at it. Thank you.

Since I'm at it, I will now state my own position on the issue of spoliation and on its relationship with the quantitative issue you seem so interested in, and with the issue of means.
It is extremely difficult to prove that a certain destruction was carried out with no good reason, and, therefore, in violation of Art. 23 or of Section III of the Hague Convention IV 1907. Almost any resource that is, or soon will be, or remains in the hands of the enemy can be of assistance in furthering the enemy's military operations, and, therefore, it could be destroyed with good reason. In practice, the only time you could be sure a certain asset cannot be used by the enemy and, therefore, there is no "necessity of war" to destroy it, is when you are controlling the asset and are relatively sure you won't be forced to relinquish it any time soon.
So if I drop tons and tons of bombs on a factory in Stalingrad, held and used by the enemy to produce tanks, and kill a few hundreds of civilians in it, I'm not destroying it with no good reason. If I drop the bombs all over Stalingrad, the same holds true, because the enemy can make military use of every building, every street, every workshop, every warehouse, every utility. Regardless of the numbers of victims, regardless of the huge means employed.
On the contrary, if I'm in occupied Poland, and use just a simple match to get rid of an old barn because it belongs to a Jewish family, I am causing a destruction with no good reason. After all my army is occupying the region, will presumably stay there forever, and could even have used the barn! So this is spoliation, regardless of the fact that I caused no victims and regardless of the puny means employed.

Of course, just like bombing Stalingrad was no spoliation for the reasons explained above, the same goes for Dresden, Warsaw, London, Coventry etc.; the enemy was making some use, for its own war purposes, of those cities. Thus the destruction inflicted had a reason.

On the contrary, bombing Belgrade is spoliation, for the reasons explained above.
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Postby David Thompson on 11 Mar 2005 15:54

Michael -- You said:
It is a misinterpretation to draw the conclusion that Hitler was ordering the gratuitous destruction of the civilian population, which would be a war-crime.

Albert Seaton, in his work The Russo-German War (Presidio Press, Novato [CA]: 1971, p. 293 fn 16), wrote:
[Generaloberst Franz] Halder recorded in his diary on 31 August 1942 what presumably were Hitler's thoughts:
Stalingrad: male population to be destroyed, female to be transported.
Halder, Kriegetagesbuch, vol. 3, p. 514.

There's not much room for misinterpretation there.
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Postby David Thompson on 12 Mar 2005 05:47

This description of the bombing of Stalingrad is from Alan Clark, Operation Barbarossa: The Russo-German Conflict, Penguin Books, London: 1966, p. 249:

In numbers of aircraft employed, as in weight of explosives, the bombardment of the night of 23-4 August was the heaviest strike mounted by the Luftwaffe since 22 June 1941. The whole of Richthofen's air corps was used, together with all available Ju 52 squadrons and long-range bombers from airfields as far away as Orel and Kerch. Many of the pilots in Richthofen's corps made up to three sorties, and over half the bombs dropped were incendiaries. The effect was spectacular. Nearly every wooden building - including acres of workers' settlements on the outskirts - was burned down, and the flames made it possible to read a paper forty miles away. It was a pure terror raid, its purpose to kill as many civilians as possible, overload all the services, sow panic and demoralization, to place a blazing pyre in the path of the retreating army - the pattern of Warsaw, Rotterdam, Belgrade, and Kiev.

With satisfaction Wilhelm Hoffmann, of the 267th Regiment, 94th Division, noted :
The whole city is on fire; on the Führer's orders our Luftwaffe has sent it up in flames. That's what the Russians need, to stop them resisting...


Albert Seaton, in The Russo-German War 1941-1945, Presidio Press, Novato [CA]: 1971, p. 293, only has a brief description of the Stalingrad bombing:
On 23 and 24 August Stalingrad was heavily bombed and left in a great sea of flame, and fighting started on the northern outskirts of the town. All the Red Army communications networks broke down and Soviet resistance was weak and uncoordinated until the troops had recovered from their shock, and the officers and commissars had re-established their authority.


The German sources I have at hand are very quiet on the subject of the 23/24 August 1942 bombing of Stalingrad:

Cajus Bekker, in The Luftwaffe War Diaries, Macdonald & Co., Ltd, 1966, doesn't mention the bombing (he doesn't mention the bombing of Belgrade either -- Belgrade is not even in the index).

Werner Baumbach, one time commander of Germany's bomber forces who wrote The Life and Death of the Luftwaffe (originally published in English in 1960), doesn't mention the bombing of Stalingrad either (he too omits to mention Belgrade, which is also not in this book's index).

Generalleutnant Hermann Plocher, who wrote The German Air Force versus Russia, 1942 for the US Air Force (published 1966), passes over the bombing with a quote from General von Richthofen's unit war diary, noting that the VIII Air Corps had flown a total of 1,600 sorties during the raid, had dropped 1,000 lbs. of bombs on targets, and downed 91 Soviet aircraft, losing only 3 German planes. Von Richthofen also remarked that "The attack completely paralyzed the Russians. . . ."

Does anyone else have any sources on or descriptions of the 23/24 August raids other than what has already been posted?
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Postby Peter H on 12 Mar 2005 11:33

Walter Kerr's The Secret of Stalingrad,1978, appears a confusing work in determining the effect of the air-raids.On page 135 he quotes a Soviet source(Samsonov,Alesandr M."Stalingradskaya Bitva",Moscow 'Nauka',1968) providing what I think are civilian casualties(by district) on what he terms "Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday"(no date,nor if they are tallies from the day before?).I assume he is talking about the air attacks as his preceding page mentions them.

Stalingrad was divided into seven adminstrative districts,with only the most southern one(Kirovski) escaping the attack.Casualty lists,by district,north to south:

Tractor District
68 killed,247 wounded.

Barricades District
200 killed,120 wounded.

Red October District
62 killed,126 wounded.

Dzerzhinsky District
70 killed,257 wounded.

Yermansky District
302 killed,257 wounded.

Voroshilov District
315 killed,463 wounded.

Total
1017 killed,1281 wounded.

However Kerr also mentions that these figures are too "precise and pitifully incomplete".He also states that no mention is made in these figures of the estimated 1,050 evacuating civilians killed in an air attack on the steamer Josef Stalin crossing the Don in the same period.

Its a pity his book is so poorly written and vague to determine if he's talking about the same period.I wouldn't recommend it as a good source.
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Postby Fugazi on 12 Mar 2005 13:32

Curioso:
Having cleared that, yes, originally we were discussing whether bombing Dresden was "terrorism". Since the definition of terrorism was so broad (an act having consequences on enemy morale) that it applied to just about any act of war, the moderator shifted the attention to "spoliation", which I will define, for ease of reference, as "destruction with no good reason". And, in this thread, to the supposed spoliation of Stalingrad.

Curioso, as I recall the determination that terrorism was defined this broadly, and the determination that it therefore covered pretty much any act of war, were yours alone. Juha Tompori and I both offered definitions of terrorism based on deliberately targeting the civilian population, which fits the Dresden raid quite nicely. So far, nobody has offered any evidence to indicate the Luftwaffe was deliberately targeting civilians in Stalingrad. Of course, if anyone has target plans showing residential neighbourhoods of Stalingrad selected as target areas, and bombing results maps showing residential neighbourhoods destroyed and military/industrial targets left intact, I'll be happy to concede the point.
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Postby David Thompson on 12 Mar 2005 17:30

Fugazi -- You said:
So far, nobody has offered any evidence to indicate the Luftwaffe was deliberately targeting civilians in Stalingrad.

Aren't you overstating your case just a bit?
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Postby Andy H on 12 Mar 2005 18:59

Fugazi wrote:
Of course, if anyone has target plans showing residential neighbourhoods of Stalingrad selected as target areas, and bombing results maps showing residential neighbourhoods destroyed and military/industrial targets left intact, I'll be happy to concede the point.


Your not asking for much then. Given that a very large proportion of unit records were lost or destroyed during the war, that might well either prove or disprove your viewpoint.

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