Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

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Klaus1943
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Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby Klaus1943 » 30 Jun 2015 00:12

It has been alleged in the British press that the Luftwaffe bombing attacks on Warsaw in September 1939 were terror attacks which violated the rules of war and that this gave justification to Churchill to order RAF bombing attacks on civilians in German cities. It is important to look at all of the facts surrounding the Luftwaffe attacks on Warsaw. When the capital of Poland was surrounded by the German army, some 100,000 Polish soldiers had retreated into the city and began to build a series of defensive lines which were established in depth. An assault on the city cost the 4. Panzer-Division some 57 tanks. The lesson here was that armor in the city's streets can be vulnerable.

The question for the German army commanders would be to either take the city by infantry assault, supported by artillery and the Luftwaffe bombers or to starve out the city with a long siege. The first option would be costly for the infantry and the second option of a siege was out of the question since the army divisions would be required on the western front. It was not known if the French and British would launch their own offensive. Most of the Luftwaffe had already been sent to the West and von Richthofen had around 400 dive and regular bombers on strength. The third option would be to offer the Poles a way to surrender. Thus on September 16, 18, 19, 22 and 24, German bombers dropped millions of leaflets to persuade the Poles to surrender the city. No bombing raids occured during this time. The Polish Army took advantage of this time to strengthen their defenses.

Starting at 0800 on Sept. 25, the dive bombers started their precision bombing attacks. Von Richthofen asked for a group of Heinkel He 111 to add weight to the bombing but all he received was a group of 30 Junkers Ju 52 transport aircraft which were used to throw out small incendiary bombs out the hatch. The German aircraft flew up to four sorties a day and dropped about 500 tons of high explosive and 72 tons of incendiary bombs. On the 26th the garrison announced that it would surrender and marched into captivity on the 27th. This one day's bombing cost the Poles less than would a ground attack which would have lasted several days. The situation had been hopeless for the Poles and every day they postponed their surrender was to cost them more lives. Warsaw had the construction of the defenses in the form of trenches, street barricades, buildings formed into strong points, that an assault would cost German manpower. The Wehrmacht used what it possessed to minimize their casualties. The Poles did not surrender for eleven days for the matter of honor.

The British have justified in their minds and tried to rationalize to the world that their decision to bomb civilians in the Third Reich was all due to the "terror" bombings by the Luftwaffe, especially the raid on Rotterdam on 14 May 1940. The RAF started raids with civilians deliberately as their targets on the night of 15/16 May on various factories in the Ruhr. It appears that the decisions to bomb and the selection of targets was done in less than 24 hours after the Rotterdam bombing. It is amazing to me that the British can work this fast.

The bombing of Rotterdam certainly was not a terror bombing but a support of the army units and the paratroopers operating around the Maas River which flows through Rotterdam, most of the city being to the north of the river. The 7th Flieger Division and the 22nd Airlanding Division had sent units to capture the airfields and bridges across the Maas. The situation on the 14th May was this: the 3rd Bn of the IR 16 of the 22nd Division plus some 60 paratroopers were holding the Maas bridges against Dutch army counter-attacks. A group of several hundred soldiers under General Graf Sponeck, the CO of the 22nd, were holding out north of the city. The 9. PD was advancing north to the Maas and elements on the south bank. The Dutch Army in Rotterdam was under the command of Colonel Scharroo, who was convinced he could bar the way of the advance.

The commander of the XXXIX. Panzer-Korps was Gen. Rudolf Schmidt who was given the mission to capture Rotterdam by the 18th Army but was to avoid "unnecessary bloodshed among the Dutch civilians." The tank assault was to start at 1530 on May 14 across the Willem bridge. Prior to this contact had been made with Col. Scharroo to surrender the city. Scharroo did not want to surrender such a significant strong point as Rotterdam and stalled for time, claiming that he did not have such authority and that he must contact his government. In the meantime, a fire plan was drawn up which would use Kampfgeschwader 54's Heinkel He 111s to bomb a triangle where Dutch resistance was the strongest. One group of Heinkels would fly from the south and the other group would fly from the east.

Col. Scharroo was advised that the city would be bombed if he did not capitulate. Scharroo thought it all a bluff since he outnumbered the German forces both on the south bank and on the north bank of the Maas. However, he did send an emissary to discuss the possibilities with the German commanders. It was then that Gen. Schmidt communicated with his superiors to postpone the scheduled bombing. The recall notice was received by the Heinkel group flying from the south and they returned to base without dropping their payload. The bombers coming from the east never received the recall communication and when the German soldiers fired the red flares to cancel the attack, the bombers crews could not see the flares due to the heavy smoke eminating from the burning ships in the river.

After the bombing, Col. Scharroo surrendered the city, which was soon followed by the surrender of Holland. The bombing raid was in support of the ground forces and thus a legitimate method in warfare. All bombs, 97 tons, dropped were high explosive, no incediaries were used. High explosives are very effective against dug-in troops. If the Dutch had fought for the city of Rotterdam, which had then a population of about one million, the civilians would also have suffered under artillery, tank, and infantry fire in addition to aerial bombs. The Dutch civilian population sustained around 800 deaths, not the 35,000 claimed by Churchill.

steverodgers801
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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby steverodgers801 » 30 Jun 2015 22:33

The Germans also deliberately straffed and killed civilians in Poland and other places. I just don't see how the Germans can complain about terror when they committed so many acts them selves

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby Denniss » 30 Jun 2015 23:13

You'll find similar actions (or claims) for many nations involved in WW2. I don't think any nation permitted these acts of incivility.

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby Klaus1943 » 01 Jul 2015 01:12

The official doctrine of the Luftwaffe since 1935 was to use air power against military targets while supporting the ground forces and against targets manufacturing items used by the opponents' militaries. The Luftwaffe did not have the resources to expend on civilians and the doctrine stated that targeting civilians would only strengthen civilian resolve.

The RAF on the other hand adopted the policy of deliberately targeting civilians in 1928 and it was Churchill who instituted that official policy. The first victims of the RAF were two Danish civilians when RAF bombers lost their way.

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby GregSingh » 01 Jul 2015 05:44

Klaus1943 wrote:The official doctrine of the Luftwaffe since 1935 was to use air power against military targets while supporting the ground forces and against targets manufacturing items used by the opponents' militaries. The Luftwaffe did not have the resources to expend on civilians and the doctrine stated that targeting civilians would only strengthen civilian resolve.

So why was Guernica bombed in 1937? Did Legion Condor have unofficial doctrine?

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby Ironmachine » 01 Jul 2015 07:15

GregSingh wrote:So why was Guernica bombed in 1937? Did Legion Condor have unofficial doctrine?

Guernica was indeed a military target, though one can argue about the real reasons for the attack and about the way the attack was carried out. On the other hand, even if the Legion Condor had an official doctrine that did not include targeting civilians they were fighting in an undeclared civil war under cover where they could have feel themselves protected from international backlash, so they could have decided to experiment a little bit.

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby 4thskorpion » 01 Jul 2015 10:31

Klaus1943 wrote:Thus on September 16, 18, 19, 22 and 24, German bombers dropped millions of leaflets to persuade the Poles to surrender the city. No bombing raids occured during this time.


This is simply not borne out by the American photojournalist Julien Bryan, who was the last "western" reporter remaining in Warsaw 1939 and whom filmed the German fire-bombing of the densely populated "Jewish quarter" of the city on !6 September 1939. The "Jewish quarter" of Warsaw constituted approximately a fifth of the city and was a densely populated section with a population of around 250-300,000. Below, ul. Nalewki, the commercial heart of Warsaw's Jewish quarter.

Nalewki.jpg


See USHMM: Jewish quarter of Warsaw burning, 1939 http://www.ushmm.org/online/film/displa ... e_num=4369

"...This sequence was shot on the night of September 16, 1939, during Rosh Hashanah. The German invasion of Warsaw, Poland had begun over a week before, but they intentionally set the Jewish quarter of Warsaw on fire during the holiday. Bryan did not have any external lights to illuminate the action while shooting this event. If the viewer looks closely they can make out the outlines and shadows of the inhabitants of the Jewish quarter in bucket brigades in the foreground of these shots trying to save their homes, their lives, and their livelihoods. The quarter was destroyed that night."

ul. Nalewki- 1942.jpg


From the Smithsonian : Capturing Warsaw at the Dawn of World War II http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/c ... 01/?no-ist

"...While the retreating Polish Army valiantly resisted the advancing German columns, Warsaw’s 1.3 million inhabitants were subjected to furious bombardment. Hospitals, churches and schools were hit. Bryan wrote that a 40-unit apartment building “looked as if a giant with an ice-cream scoop had taken out the entire central section.” Homeless families crowded the streets, pushing what remained of their belongings in wheelbarrows and baby carriages.

All this was happening, essentially, out of the world’s sight; Bryan was the sole foreign journalist left in the city. He acknowledged the journalistic tingle of getting “a grand scoop,” but he also recognized the historical imperative to capture the horror of modern warfare for the world to see. “I was not,” he realized, “making a travelogue.”

Bryan walked the streets with a Leica still camera and a Bell & Howell movie camera. Day by day the job grew riskier. He confessed that he and his Polish interpreter, Stephan Radlinski, often wanted to run when a bomb landed close by. “But neither of us ran, because each was afraid of what the other might think,” he wrote. On Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, incendiary bombs set 20 blocks of the Jewish quarter aflame."


Also from: The Jews of Warsaw, 1939-1943: Ghetto, Underground, Revolt By Yisrael Gutman, Ina Friedman

The-Jews-of-Warsaw,-1939-1943--Ghetto,-Underground,-Revolt---pages-5-6.jpg


It is interesting to note that the punitive German bombing of Warsaw on 25 September which became known by all Varsovians' as "Black Monday" was also the holiest day of the year for the Varsovian Jews - Yom Kippur.

Klaus1943 wrote: This one day's bombing cost the Poles less than would a ground attack which would have lasted several days.


That was a very humane gesture by the German high command!
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Marcus Wendel
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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby Marcus Wendel » 01 Jul 2015 10:47

Please stay on topic, i.e. the the bombings of Warsaw and Rotterdam. This is not the thread to discuss Guernica, Dresden or any other events.

/Marcus

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby 4thskorpion » 01 Jul 2015 11:09

Chief of JTA Warsaw Bureau Gives Graphic Radio Account of Air Raid Havoc - September 7, 1939 , NEW YORK (Sep. 6)- Jewish Telegraph Agency:

"...On Monday night, after Warsaw and its suburbs had been subjected to three days of Nazi air raids, an American broadcasting company asked Mr. Manuel Mozes, chief of the Warsaw bureau of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, to give an eyewitness account over the radio of the havoc wrought by the German bombers.". Full article: http://www.jta.org/1939/09/07/archive/c ... raid-havoc

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Toll in Warsaw Jewish Quarters Heavy - September 13, 1939 - KAUNAS (Sep. 12) - Jewish Telegraph Agency:

"...Advices from zones in Poland invaded by the German army said today that many Jews were being arrested on charges of sabotage and espionage.

The bombardment of Warsaw, the same advices reported, has taken a particularly heavy toll of Jewish lives. Nazi planes were dropping bombs in Nalewki, Dluga, Zamenhof and other streets in the thickly populated Jewish quarter, resulting in many casualties.

Warsaw’s normal Jewish population of 350,000 has been swelled by thousands of refugees from Lodz and other occupied territories, who were actively participating in the Polish capital’s defense.

Hundreds of Jewish shops have been converted into canteens for troops and first-aid stations. The Jewish Aid Committee was serving soup, bread and tea both to troops and children.".

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Jewish Defenders of Warsaw Hold Yom Kippur Services on Barricades - September 25, 1939, PARIS (Sep. 24) - Jewish Telegraph Agency:

"...Religious Jews participating in Warsaw’s defense Friday evening and Saturday gathered on the barricades for the observance of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and most solemn holiday of the Hebrew calendar, according to news received through Polish channels.

Old bearded men in long kaftans and yarmelkes, who had been digging trenches under German bombardment, were released from active defense work for Yom Kippur, but were obliged to remain at the front since their homes and synagogues were in ruins.

Side by side with them, the children of the religious schools in their long coats were helping dig trenches in the front lines. These children make up 30 per cent of the socalled “Children’s Battalion” which is active in the defense of the beleaguered Polish capital.

The old Jews, while digging trenches, recited psalms and chanted “Vidui,” the confessional prayer said before death. They met each exploding bomb with a shouted “Sh’ma Yisroel!” (“Hear, O Israel”–prayer recited in time of distress). They were quite reconciled to death after the days of Nazi siege with insufficient food and sleepless nights.".

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Hundreds Killed in Wilno As 18 Nazi Planes Strafe Jewish Quarters - September 18, 1939 - RIGA (Sep. 16) - Jewish Telegraph Agency:

Wilno was subjected to a devastating series of German air raids Friday afternoon and evening, it was learned here today, when 18 Nazi bombers swooped without warning on the city. The German warplanes, advices from Wilno said, rained more than 200 explosive and incendiary bombs on the city. The thickly populated Jewish quarters were hardest hit in the raids.

Horrible carnage was reported among Jewish children, women and aged. The planes were said to have dived close to the streets in the Jewish quarters, machine-gunning fleeing pedestrians and leaving hundreds dead and wounded in their wake...". Full article: http://www.jta.org/1939/09/18/archive/h ... h-quarters
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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby Klaus1943 » 01 Jul 2015 20:31

A source written and published during a war probably has more of a propaganda purpose than reciting actual facts. The American source, Bryan, did not have German records at his command and he was willing to take the words of the Poles as the truth.

A very interesting source is the two volume history of the 4th PD which had reached the outskirts of Warsaw by 8 Sept 1939. The division received the order that day to capture the capital of Poland, Warsaw. The first objective was to capture two bridges over the Vistuala. The division was divided into two combat groups and as they advanced, they ran into stiff Polish opposition. The German forces ran into minefields which disabled vehicles, the roads were blocked by Polish vehicles, all covered by infantry and artillery fire. The attack continued into the 9th but resulted in the total loss of 30 tanks and heavy losses (inc. 250 wounded) among the infantry. The assault was brought to a halt.

The next phase of the battle for Warsaw was to surround the city to prevent Polish forces from reinforcing the forces in Warsaw. This included using the Luftwaffe by bombing the rail facilities in and around the city. The first raid on the city (other than airfields or aircraft factories by a few aircraft) was on 13 Sept. by 183 bombers with the object being the rail system in Praga to block Polish reenforcements from the East. Naturally, not every bomb is going to hit its intended target. By this time several bomber units had moved to the Western Front.

The next raid was on 25 September. I can find nothing regarding any bombing attacks on Warsaw between the 13th and the 25th. (See Kampfflieger Vol.1 by J. Richard Smith). On these days KG 4 dropped 100s of thousands of leaflets telling the Poles to surrender which they refused to do and thus are responsible for their divilian deaths. The Polish Army in Warsaw also did not evacuate the civilians. It is claimed that 40,000 civilians were killed but only 561 tons of bombs were dropped which makes this staggering total unlikely. This figure is surprisingly close to the civilian loss in Hamburg in July 1943 and those claimed by Churchill in Rotterdam in May 1940. All a deliberate justification for the British bombing of German civilians.

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby Hop » 01 Jul 2015 23:32

The RAF started raids with civilians deliberately as their targets on the night of 15/16 May on various factories in the Ruhr. It appears that the decisions to bomb and the selection of targets was done in less than 24 hours after the Rotterdam bombing. It is amazing to me that the British can work this fast.


The selection of targets was done earlier. It was part of Western Air plan 4 (C). In the event of a German attack on the low countries, the RAF was to attack oil targets and marshalling yards in the Ruhr.

The claim that it was a deliberate attack on civilians is not supported, either by the orders that were given, or the tactics employed.

The War Cabinet discussed bomber attacks on Germany on 15 May. Repeated references to attacks on oil facilities and marshalling yards were made. For example:

THE CHIEF OF THE AIR STAFF entirely endorsed
the views of the Secretary of State for Air, and
strongly advocated that the War Cabinet should approve
these operations. If so, it would be possible to attack
the marshalling yards that night and the oil refineries,
if not that night, on the following night.


and

THE SECRETARY OP STATE FOR WAR said that
the German railway system was dependent for its
smooth running on the successful functioning of its
marshalling yards. He accordingly suggested that
it was most desirable that in choosing those which
were to be attacked that night, due regard should
be paid to the selection of yards of which the
interruption would be likely to have the greatest
effect in delaying the movement of German reinforce­
ments. Among the targets to be attacked he (the
Secretary of State for War) suggested Cologne or
Opladen, Weden, and Vohwinkel. He mentioned, in
this connection, that General Garnelin had taken the
view that attacks by heavy bombers should go deep.


The orders issued by the War Cabinet on the 15 May:

To authorise the Chief of the Air
Staff to order Bomber Command to
carry out attacks on suitable
military objectives, (including
marshalling yards and oil refineries)
in the Ruhr as well as elsewhere in
Germany; and that these attacks
should begin that night with
approximately 100 heavy bombers.


"Military" is underlined in the original document.

Bomber Command did not switch to area attacks on German cities because of German bombing of Poland or the Netherlands. They did so because of German bombing of Britain. The first British area attack on a German city, ie the first attack that did not have a specific military/industrial installation as its target, was the raid on Mannheim on 16 December 1940. It was planned as a result of, and using lessons learnt from, the bombing of Coventry a month earlier. By the time BC launched its first area raid, more than 20,000 British civilians had been killed by German bombing (and about 800 German civilians had been killed by the RAF)

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby GregSingh » 01 Jul 2015 23:58

Klaus1943 wrote:The first raid on the city (other than airfields or aircraft factories by a few aircraft) was on 13 Sept. by 183 bombers with the object being the rail system in Praga to block Polish reenforcements from the East.

By 13th of September Warsaw was firmly surrounded by German infantry divisions, with strong tank/mot. forces (Guderian) further East.
So that explanation does not stick, unless there was no cooperation between Heer and Luftwaffe which was hardly the case.

Klaus1943 wrote:It is claimed that 40,000 civilians were killed but only 561 tons of bombs were dropped which makes this staggering total unlikely.

Not sure where this number comes from. If you look at recent Polish estimates, they claim 10,000 dead and 35,000 wounded on the 25th of September alone.

I don't think enough of original Luftwaffe document survived, so it's impossible even to establish how many air attacks actually happened and what the intended targets were. What we have is a large amount of video footage and photos showing Warsaw right after the events.
Unfortunately quite often it's hard to tell if particular damage was caused by air attack or artillery fire.

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby von thoma » 02 Jul 2015 08:09

Really, Oberst Hajo Herrmann was involved in the Rotterdam bombing ?
There is some evidence of this ?
" The right to believe is the right of those who don't know "

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby 4thskorpion » 02 Jul 2015 09:22

Klaus1943 wrote:A source written and published during a war probably has more of a propaganda purpose than reciting actual facts. The American source, Bryan, did not have German records at his command and he was willing to take the words of the Poles as the truth.


Julien Bryan "did not have German records at his command" but he had a Bell & Howell movie camera at his command when he personally filmed the fire-bombing of the "Jewish quarter" on the 16 September 1939 in complete contradiction of your assertion that only "leaflet" raids took place on that day. Also Bryan did not have to take the words of the propagandist Poles, he didn't need to because he was there filming as a witness to the siege!

Klaus1943 wrote: The next raid was on 25 September. I can find nothing regarding any bombing attacks on Warsaw between the 13th and the 25th. (See Kampfflieger Vol.1 by J. Richard Smith).


Simply put, Bryan, Kaplan, Manuel Mozes of the JTA and numerous other witnesses of the siege in Warsaw contradict your source.

Re Juilen Bryan "...In two weeks between September 7 and September 21 he managed to take hundreds of still photographs and 5000 feet of motion picture film documenting the Siege of Warsaw and the terror bombing of the city by German Luftwaffe. He is credited as the only foreign journalist in Warsaw at that time. Through Polish Radio he also made an appeal to the American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt to help the Warsaw's civilians targeted by enemy bombers." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julien_Bryan



Klaus1943 wrote: On these days KG 4 dropped 100s of thousands of leaflets telling the Poles to surrender which they refused to do and thus are responsible for their divilian deaths.


On that basis one could use the same argument against the Germans' being responsible for their own civilian deaths for the entire war when they ignored the millions of leaflets dropped over German cities by the RAF during the night of 3rd – 4th of September 1939 and subsequent times!

The decision for the creation of the first leaflet titled "DARUM KRIEG" as part of what the British press called the "Pamphlet raids" or the "Confetti War" was taken by HMG in May 1939 and it was also decided that at the immediate outbreak of war propaganda leaflets would be dropped over Germany before any full scale retaliatory military action was taken.

The central message of the leaflet was, "Why a war which you cannot win?". Below part of the original cabinet approved typescript for the "DARUM KRIEG" leaflet and the German translated leaflet that was dropped over German cities 3-4th September 1939 in accordance with the British plan of May 1939.

british-propaganda-leaflet-outbreak-wii-imported-photos-00170.jpg


british-propaganda-leaflet-outbreak-wii-imported-photos-00163.jpg


british-propaganda-leaflet-outbreak-wii-imported-photos-00159.jpg


british-propaganda-leaflet-outbreak-wii-imported-photos-00161.jpg


british-propaganda-leaflet-outbreak-wii-imported-photos-00165.jpg


Unfortunately the German people did not heed the message printed on the leaflet and as a result cost the lives of tens of millions...including themselves.
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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby Klaus1943 » 03 Jul 2015 01:43

The fact than Bryan claims he took a photo of a destroyed Warsaw building does not prove that the building was destroyed on a specific date. The negatives do not have the time and date when the photo was taken, only perhaps when they were developed. The claim of Polish Jews that their neighborhood was singled out by the Luftwaffe bombers is absurd on the face of it. Warsaw was not an open city but it had been turned into a fortress with some 150,000 Polish soldiers and artillery and AAA. It was a legitimate military target. The Luftwaffe had excellent air recon on which targets were selected. If artillery, tanks, masses of troops were located, that would be the target. The Germans did not have an abundant supply of bombs and shells. What has not been provided is the number and types of aircraft which bombed on a certain day, let alone the German units involved and the type of bombs dropped. The claim that German records no longer exist is a poor excuse. The burden of proof is on the person making a claim and wartime allegations are just not enough. The fact that the Polish Jews make no mention whatsoever of any military units in their neighborhood is enough to discredit their story in my mind.


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