Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

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GregSingh
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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby GregSingh » 06 Jan 2016 23:40

Taking this into consideration, it is not surprising the Luftwaffe hit civilians targets in September. The approach of 'proving' a deliberate bombing of civilians (especially Jews) with all kinds of photos showing damaged or destroyed buildings, but ignoring everything connected with the state of the targeting techniques in the 30s and their problems (as shown above) is failed.


If it was a general knowledge back in 30's than less than 20-30% of bombs would hit the intended target (not sure if have this number is correct, possibly it was even lower?), than it is logical to assume that majority will hit something else - mostly unrelated civilian objects.
So you have the knowledge beforehand you will do 70-80% of the damage NOT to your intended target, so you shouldn't call this collateral damage.
I would argue if you do something with a 80% certainty, that's where your action is, not with 20%.

And that of course applies not only to Warsaw, Luftwaffe, but to allied bombing as well - thanks for your earlier clarifications, Reichskriegsgericht.
Last edited by GregSingh on 06 Jan 2016 23:49, edited 3 times in total.

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4thskorpion
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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby 4thskorpion » 06 Jan 2016 23:44

GregSingh wrote:
The attacks on 13 September appear to have been deliberately intended to cause fires in both the "Jewish Quarter" and the suburb of Praga and were not as a result of failure to hit any specific target.


I think I already pointed it out, there is some confusion about dates, Speidel also got them wrong.

Attack on Praga railroad facilities and major exit roads in the east of Warsaw happened on the 10th of September (Sunday).
Attack on "northern suburbs" where some areas had a large number of Jewish population happened on the 13th of September (Wednesday).
That why Polish reports for 13th mentioned a two-day break in Luftwaffe activities.

In both cases mostly incendiary bombs were used. It is possible that on the 13th Luftwaffe supposed to target railroads in the north of the town (near Dworzec Gdanski - Danziger Bahnfof), but instead bombs fallen on densely populated Jewish houses and businesses, where large quantities of flammable goods were stored.


Speidel got these dates wrong and yet he is held up by others commentators on this thread as being the undisputed and infallible German reference on the Luftwaffe!! It has been said that Speidel was to have stated that two specific requests to deliberately target the "Jewish quarter" on 13th September 1939 were refused and we are expected to accept this is accurate given these other highlighted discrepancies. Why would Speidel implicate the Luftwaffe in deliberately targeting Jews especially when writing his report in the postwar period after all the Holocaust against the Jews was still being investigated and perpetrators being prosecuted. He had every incentive for saying such requests to target Jews were refused.

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Reichskriegsgericht
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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby Reichskriegsgericht » 07 Jan 2016 00:32

@Greg

Actually the possibilities of precision targeting, the capabilities of bombers, and the effects of bombing were wildly overrated in the 30s. Not only by the military and the air power theorists like Douhet or Trenchard, but also by the civilian governments. Up to Warsaw there had been no large bomber attacks in Europe since 1918 and the development of the air craft had made a huge step forward since then. The only exception I can think of in the moment might be the Japanese attacks on Shanghai in 1937. But that was very far away for the public in the European states.

It goes without saying that the same rules and the same law apply to all air forces. I can't argue the Luftwaffe attacks on Warsaw, Rotterdam or Coventry were legal, similar British and US attacks not. IMO, that would be dishonest and also undermine my own arguments.


@4thscorpion

You make the same fundamental mistake over and over again. Because a bomb fell on the Jewish quarter, it was meant to be the target. Another fundamental mistake is your hindsight bias, combined with personal wild guessings.

Richthofen was a hard soldier and a difficult superior to work with for the officers of his command. If it was necessary to get the job done, forcing Warsaw into capitulaion as soon as possible to end the campaign and free the German forces for the West; he would have bombed Jews, Poles or easter bunnies. He believed an all out attack would achieve this, but the attacks were not allowed by his supriors until the last phase of the siege. The population of the quarter being Jewish has nothing to do with Richthofen's decisions. Corum's Richthofen biography is essential reading.

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4thskorpion
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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby 4thskorpion » 07 Jan 2016 09:25

Reichskriegsgericht wrote:@4thscorpion
You make the same fundamental mistake over and over again. Because a bomb fell on the Jewish quarter, it was meant to be the target. Another fundamental mistake is your hindsight bias, combined with personal wild guessings.

Richthofen was a hard soldier and a difficult superior to work with for the officers of his command. If it was necessary to get the job done, forcing Warsaw into capitulaion as soon as possible to end the campaign and free the German forces for the West; he would have bombed Jews, Poles or easter bunnies. He believed an all out attack would achieve this, but the attacks were not allowed by his supriors until the last phase of the siege. The population of the quarter being Jewish has nothing to do with Richthofen's decisions. Corum's Richthofen biography is essential reading.


Please save yourself from repeating yourself needlessly, you already have said this was not worthy of further discussion and yet you continue?

I am aware that the Jewish Quarter was bombed on the 13 September and on other dates also. You say the infallible Speidel states Richthofen twice requested the "Jewish Quarter" be bombed (but no reason given for his request) on the 13 September however his requests to bomb the Jewish Quarter were denied.

Reichskriegsgericht wrote:Back to the attack of the 13.09.1939:
Speidel mentions two requests of von Richthofen to attack the jewish quarter of Warsaw (without giving a specific reason for the requests), but both were denied.


So Richthofen asks to bomb the "Jewish Quarter" but it had nothing to do with the population of that quarter being Jewish...hokum, and the Jewish quarter gets bombed on the 13th accidentally because the Luftwaffe really could not hit any specific target without blanket bombing a fifth of the city area. What targets were supposed to bombed on the 13th?

Re casualties 25. IX. 39:
Angesichts der absehbaren Niederlage Polens, griff die Wehrmacht Warschau seit dem 24. September pausenlos mit Bombern und Artillerie an, um einen verlustreichen Straßen- und Häuserkampf zu vermeiden. Unter anderem wurden Ju 52-Flugzeuge für verheerende Angriffe mit Brandbomben eingesetzt. Dabei wurde jedes achte Haus in Warschau zerstört, die Verluste unter der Zivilbevölkerung beliefen sich auf circa 10.000 Tote und 35.000 Verletzte. Dieses Kriegsverbrechen sollte später vor dem Internationalen Gerichtshof in Nürnberg verhandelt werden.(7)
(7) Böhler, Jochen: Auftakt zum Vernichtungskrieg – die Wehrmacht in Polen 1939, Bonn 2006, S. 164

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby histan » 07 Jan 2016 20:43

Continuing to investigate the attacks on 13 September, including the intended targets and where the incendiaries actually landed.

The order from the Lufwaffe HQ ordered the bombing of the Northern suburbs of Warsaw and issued specific instructions that the forward locations of II AK were to be identified to ensure that they were not bombed by accident. [First question: does anyone have any evidence - not opinion - that this order was not issued or that the wording was different - it seems to have been available in the German records - maybe it can be found there.]

So where was II AK?

II AK consisted of 32 Inf Div and 217 Inf div and according to its records on 13 September these had established bridgeheads across the Narew river.

The map below shows in the top right hand side the advance of 32 Inf Div.

bzura_mapa.gif


It shows II AK operating North of the Vistula, crossing a river and advancing on the Northern part of Warsaw, by this time the river Vistula has turned to be more North-South that East-West and II AK end up on the Eastern side of the Vistula, opposite what looks to me like the Northern suburbs of Warsaw.

This is shown the the map below:

Warszawa_obrona_1939a.jpg


So the attack order and the direction of approach are consistent with an attack on the Northern part of Warsaw on the eastern side of the Vistula.

Unless I am mistaken in a post above [from GregSingh] the Warsaw Defence Command reported fires in the Noerthern suburbs, which again seems consistent.

So does anyone have any eyewitness accounts or other evidence [again not opinion] to confirm or disprove this hypothesis of the planned location for the attacks on 13 September and to confirm or disprove the hypothesis that the actual attacks were carried out against the planned location.

You can see my problem - the location of these Northern suburbs is on the eastern side of the Vistula and North of Praga. The "Jewish Quarter" shown on the maps given in the posts further up this thread is located on the Western side of the Vistula and to the West of Prage.

Please note - I am not trying to prove or disprove anything, merely to reconcile the available information.

I know Hooton states tat the attack was on the "Jewish Quarter" but can we please have some sources and references on which he has based this claim.

Regards

John
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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby GregSingh » 08 Jan 2016 00:38

On the 13th of September bombs fell on the Western side of Vistula river, not on the Eastern one. Some German sources mention two events as one, although they happened two days apart.

I think exact wording of Polish sources is important. Let's check again English translation I already posted.

"Dangerous fire broke out in the northern district and lasted the whole night."
Originally: "Groźny pożar wynikł w dzielnicy północnej i trwał całą noc."
Dzielnica Północna or Northern District was the area 4thskorpion is talking about: Northern District in Warsaw

Workers' housing blocks which were also hit were on the NW edge of Northern District, near Dworzec Gdanski - Danziger Bahnfof.

Warsaw daily press did not report any kind of attacks (air or artillery) on the 13th in the northern part of PRAGA, as per one of the maps attached by histan.
Some articles mention damage to residential areas in Zoliborz and Marymont (both north of railroad and Danziger Bahnfof) - that would be "northern suburbs" in my opinion, all on Western side of Vistula river.

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby histan » 08 Jan 2016 01:36

Thanks very much for this information GregSingh.

I am trying to explore the possible reason for dropping incendiaries rather than just HE. HE was the weapon of choice for use against fixed targets and civilian casualties and damage to civilian buildings were the unfortunate result of the accuracy of the technology of the time. Some reasons for starting fires across an area of a city are legal, others are not.

It seems to rule out one legal possibility - that the attacks were carried out in support of the advancing II AK.

4thskorpian I certainly don't deny that the attacks were deliberately aimed to start fires and not attacks against fixed targets with a military value, such as bridges and railway infrastructure. Indeed, in my earlier posts I particularly emphasized this point.

My contention has always been that civilian casualties up the 12 September were as a result of attacks against fixed targets with a military value but that those on the 13 September were caused by a deliberate attempt to start fires across an area of the city. This area did not contain a fixed target, such as a port or dockyard large enough to consider destroying it by means of setting it on fire.

Once again, sorry if I have shown a lack of detailed knowledge of the Polish side of the evidence available, but as I say one possible legal reason for the use of incendiaries seems to have been ruled out.

As an aside - the real myths that were being created in the 1950s related to the activities carried out by the German Army. Certainly most people in the UK in the 1950s believed that the Luftwaffe had deliberately attacked the civilian population of UK cities in 1940 and 1941 and would not be easily persuaded that the had not done the same in Warsaw. One idea would be to downplay the role of the Army in the destruction of Warsaw by placing the blame on the Luftwaffe.

Regards

John

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby 4thskorpion » 08 Jan 2016 09:37

Some thus far unpublished photos to illustrate damage to parts of the Praga district during the siege:

image.jpeg

image.jpeg
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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby mirekw » 08 Jan 2016 18:36

A Dornier Do 17 P of KG 77 directly before attack from Radom on Warsaw on 24 and 25.09.1939

mw
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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby mirekw » 08 Jan 2016 19:32

I still do not understand some of total focus on aviation operations, when the Germans pulled up a lot of field artillery for the siege of Warsaw. NIemecy pulled even such large howitzers (Morser 30.5 cm Skoda M 16) - pair.
Guns and howitzers got at least three times greater allocation of ammunition to fire on the city than the Luftwaffe dropped 25 September.

mw
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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby GregSingh » 09 Jan 2016 05:28

It seems to rule out one legal possibility - that the attacks were carried out in support of the advancing II AK.


I decided to look into overall military situation North-West of Warsaw on the 13th of September. Map presented earlier shows situation from 24th of Sep, which was quite different to that from the 13th as most of German infantry units were not there yet (like 18.ID and 19.ID).
Around 13th of Sep Battle of the Bzura seems to be raging further West of Warsaw, with most of German units involved there.
German situation map from the 12th shows gap between area of the battle and Western approaches to Warsaw. That gap was about to be filled by forward elements of German 4th Panzer Divison, which after unsuccessful attempts to enter Warsaw from South-West on the 8th and 9th, was now moving in the North-Western direction, trying to squeeze surrounded Polish forces from the East, as shown by an small arrow on the map.

Poland 1939-09-12.jpg

I found reports of commander of Polish 30th Infantry Regiment, Captain Bogdan Roznowski, who's unit was defending North-Western parts of Warsaw. Here are his notes:
12 IX. Enemy noticed in Babice (tanks repulsed), also in Młociny and Wawrzyszew, Wólka Węglowa (reconnaissance and screening). Major Decowski with his battalion attacks Babice and takes it after the withdrawal of enemy. Artillery fire increases on fork road Warsaw-Młociny-Wawrzyszew. My command post under strong artillery fire. Command post moved to Gdańska street, later to Słowackiego Street.
13 IX. Strong air raids. The enemy tries to maintain Mlociny, then retreats. Enemy detected on other directions. Strong artillery shelling
and aerial bombardment. Large losses among the civilian population. Rail station Gdanski burned to the ground. Barrack near the railroad stations also burned.

14 IX. The enemy attacks Babice, Major Decowski repels attack. Further artillery and air bombardment. The presence of small enemy patrols and single tanks in the foreground.
----
Source: Zbigniew Moszumański "Defence of Żoliborz in 1939".

It clearly states presence of German units with some tanks North-West and West of Warsaw. That most likely was 4th Panzer Divison trying to secure the area.
Based on all these and earlier presented reports I marked some areas on the map below.
Yellow cirles - areas targeted by Luftwaffe - Northern District, Gdanska rail station, worker's barracks next to it, approximate location of some damaged residential buildings in northern suburbs of Marymont and Zoliborz.
Red circle - artillery bombardment of a fork road.
Blue circles - areas where German units were detected.
In the corner there is a scale in kilometers to show proximity of Luftwaffe bombings and German ground forces.

Warsaw 1939-09-12.jpg


Let's all draw some conclusions....
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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby 4thskorpion » 09 Jan 2016 09:10

mirekw wrote:I still do not understand some of total focus on aviation operations, when the Germans pulled up a lot of field artillery for the siege of Warsaw. NIemecy pulled even such large howitzers (Morser 30.5 cm Skoda M 16) - pair.
Guns and howitzers got at least three times greater allocation of ammunition to fire on the city than the Luftwaffe dropped 25 September.

mw


MW, the focus on Luftwaffe rather than artillery is because the original question was whether Great Britain's bombing of German cities was aimed primarily against civilians rather than military targets because the British said the RAF raids were in retaliation of German terror bombing over Warsaw and later Rotterdam.

Of course German artillery bombardments during the siege were significant. It would IMO be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to establish separately casualties from German artillery and aerial bombardment during the seige.

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby 4thskorpion » 09 Jan 2016 09:39

GregSingh wrote:13 IX. Strong air raids. The enemy tries to maintain Mlociny, then retreats. Enemy detected on other directions. Strong artillery shelling
and aerial bombardment. Large losses among the civilian population. Rail station Gdanski burned to the ground. Barrack near the railroad stations also burned.

14 IX. The enemy attacks Babice, Major Decowski repels attack. Further artillery and air bombardment. The presence of small enemy patrols and single tanks in the foreground.
----
Source: Zbigniew Moszumański "Defence of Żoliborz in 1939.


Thanks for the further research from Polish sources making a very informative post, Greg.

Only part of Gdanski rail station must have been burnt to the ground because I have some photos which show the station and platforms still in use during the occupation.

Would the use of Polish anti-aircraft batteries determine the altitude at which Germn bombers operated from? Presumably with no Polish fighter planes to hamper Luftwaffe operations bombers and ineffective light flak aircraft would be able to operate at lower altitudes to increase the prospects of locating designated military targets and the accuracy of raids?

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby mirekw » 09 Jan 2016 18:17

Would the use of Polish anti-aircraft batteries determine the altitude at which Germn bombers operated from? Presumably with no Polish fighter planes to hamper Luftwaffe operations bombers and ineffective light flak aircraft would be able to operate at lower altitudes to increase the prospects of locating designated military targets and the accuracy of raids?



Polish fighters practically could not prevent the raids on Warsaw on 1-6 September. Poles failed to break any bombing the Luftwaffe before dropping bombs on the city.

The actual barrier for the Luftwaffe was only bad weather conditions along the route or over the target.

Flak was even less effective in destroying Luftwaffe despite the seemingly large forces. The effectiveness of the active defense of Poles in defense of the capital was very small - has been unable to deter attacks and inflict significant losses to the enemy.

mw

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Re: Luftwaffe Bombing of Warsaw and Rotterdam

Postby 4thskorpion » 09 Jan 2016 18:33

mirekw wrote:
Would the use of Polish anti-aircraft batteries determine the altitude at which Germn bombers operated from? Presumably with no Polish fighter planes to hamper Luftwaffe operations bombers and ineffective light flak aircraft would be able to operate at lower altitudes to increase the prospects of locating designated military targets and the accuracy of raids?



Polish fighters practically could not prevent the raids on Warsaw on 1-6 September. Poles failed to break any bombing the Luftwaffe before dropping bombs on the city.

The actual barrier for the Luftwaffe was only bad weather conditions along the route or over the target.

Flak was even less effective in destroying Luftwaffe despite the seemingly large forces. The effectiveness of the active defense of Poles in defense of the capital was very small - has been unable to deter attacks and inflict significant losses to the enemy.

mw


So given the above, presumably Luftwaffe bombers could fly at much lower altitudes to achieve greater bombing accuracy on designated targets than if they were being harried by Polish fighter aircraft or effective flak gunners and forced to offload their bombs wherever possible?


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