Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britain?

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Urmel
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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by Urmel » 19 Sep 2013 07:06

Yes, and how does that differ from what I said?
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by Hop » 19 Sep 2013 14:13

Hop, would I then be correct in saying that Churchill only decided to bomb German cities after repeated German attacks on Britain's? Making it a reprisal attack.
The only thing that changed on 25 August is that the RAF began attacks on military targets in Berlin. They were already attacking military targets in other German cities.

The RAF didn't carry out a deliberate attack on a city until 15 December 1940, when they carried out an area attack on Mannheim as a response to the raid on Coventry.

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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by Andrew Arthy » 20 Sep 2013 06:49

Hi,

The Luftwaffe Lageberichte record every bombing raid on German-held territory for the period December 1939 through November 1941. See the attached. A study of that source would give a very good idea of the civilian casualties caused by British bombing. The earlier comments about inaccuracy are confirmed, with "Kein Schaden" being a common entry!
British bombing results.jpg
Cheers,
Andrew A.
Air War Publications - http://www.airwarpublications.com
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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by Sid Guttridge » 20 Sep 2013 11:09

It is, perhaps, worth noting that the bombing of civilians was policy in all three major Axis countries well before WWII. The Japanese had been doing it in China since the early 1930s, while the Germans and Italians did it in Spain over 1937-39. (i.e. Guernica and Barcelona).

Thus the bombing of civilians was ingrained into the practice of war by the Axis before WWII.

The Allies, by contrast, tried to get the practice outlawed at the League of Nations in the late 1930s and began their air offensive after the outbreak of WWII with leaflet raids on German citizens. If only the Chinese and Spanish Republican civilian populations had been so lucky!

It would probably be wrong to attribute the Allies' relative initial reluctance about bombing civilians to purely humanitarian motives. The fact that they believed themselves to be greatly inferior in the air to the Axis powers added a pragmatic edge to their decision making.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by Hop » 21 Sep 2013 21:34

The Luftwaffe Lageberichte record every bombing raid on German-held territory for the period December 1939 through November 1941. See the attached. A study of that source would give a very good idea of the civilian casualties caused by British bombing.
According to one of the USSBS reports (The Effect of Bombing on Health and Medical Care in Germany), the Germans began a central record of air raid deaths in October 1940. From that:

1940 - 349 (October, November, December only)
1941 - 2,785
1942 - 4,327
1943 - 103,271
(the German records began to break down in 1943 and are thought to underestimate the total for the latter part of the war)

The number of deaths in 1940 isn't known. However, to get a very rough estimate:
The RAF dropped 23,000 tons on Germany in 1941 and 37,000 tons in 1942. The ratio of deaths to tons of bombs is therefore 0.12 in both 1941 and 1942.

Assuming the same ratio the 7,000 tons the RAF dropped on Germany in 1940 would have killed around 840 people. That's likely to be an overestimate, though, as the RAF only carried out 1 area attack on a city in 1940.

British civilian deaths from air raids were

1940 (July - December) - 23,338
1941 - 20,000 (approx)

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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by BuddaBell123 » 03 Nov 2013 17:15

Hop, (and anyone else for that matter), what was Bomber Commands doctrine Pre-WWII? Did it plan Pre-WWII to use area bombing or de-housing as a tactic - so the deliberate bombing of the enemies civilian/workers population?

Bomber Command seemed to only begin to bomb German civilians directly after Germany had done it to many other countries and then Britain - so Britain had a very strong justification to conduct its strategic bombing campaign. However, we used more or less direct and indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Iraq in 1921 - where Harris became interested in this new and destructive tactic. Also it seemed to wait standing by for Germany to do something first, suggesting it considered and was ready to implement these tactics, but preferred to wait for the enemy to go first so that it could use the he started it reason.

Now this all rests on Bomber Commands doctrine before the Second World War - when we know what that is we can work from there to suggest whether its policies during the war were a result of Germany starting them and Britain thinking on its feet or was it a pre-planned tactic, but waiting for Germany to strike first would put Britain in a better light?
Last edited by BuddaBell123 on 03 Nov 2013 17:32, edited 2 times in total.
-Oliver

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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by Urmel » 03 Nov 2013 17:27

BuddaBell123 wrote:to prove the good guys myth.
Thanks for finally being clear on where you are coming from.

So it's a myth that in the war between the Axis and the Allies the British were the good guys.

Well, one more member to strike of my 'worth replying to' list.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by Marcus » 03 Nov 2013 21:35

BuddaBell123, you are very familiar with our rules in regard to opinion posts so drop it.

/Marcus

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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by Hop » 04 Nov 2013 00:31

Hop, (and anyone else for that matter), what was Bomber Commands doctrine Pre-WWII? Did it plan Pre-WWII to use area bombing or de-housing as a tactic - so the deliberate bombing of the enemies civilian/workers population?
In the late 30s the RAF came up with a number of "Western Air" plans, (W.A.1 etc). They had various priorities, from attacking German airfields to naval targets, oil supplies, railways etc. None of them specified area attacks or attacks on housing or morale.

At the start of the war the chiefs of staff advised the War Cabinet that British bombing policy should depend on German actions:
(a) If Germany initiates unrestricted air
action from the outset:-
We should attack objectives vital
to Germany's war effort, and in
particular her oil resources.

(b) If Germans confines, her attacks to purely
military objectives : ­
(i) We should, launch an attack on the
German Fleet at Wilhelmshaven
unless we have certain information
that it is not there
However, we used more or less direct and indiscriminate bombing of civilians in Iraq in 1921 - where Harris became interested in this new and destructive tactic.
Well, the extent of bombing in actions in Iraq etc in the 20s is usually over-exaggerated. From Air Vice Marshal Sir John Salmond (commander of the RAF in Iraq) to Hugh Trenchard:

No action is ever taken except at the request of the British civilian adviser on the spot, and only after this request has been duly weighed by the [Iraqi] Minister of the Interior and by the British Adviser and by the High Commissioner [in Baghdad]. Even after a request has passed this three-fold scrutiny, I have on more than one occasion, as the High Commissioner’s chief Military Adviser, opposed it on the military grounds that I did not consider that the offensive action which I had been asked to take would lead to the result desired; and His Excellency has always acceded to such advice on the acknowledged basis that I am more perfectly acquainted with the effects it may be expected to achieve.

It is a commonplace here that aircraft achieve their results by their effect on morale, and by the material damage they do, and by the interference they cause to the daily routine of life, and not through the infliction of casualties. The casualties inflicted have been most remarkably small. A tribe that is out for trouble is well aware when the patience of Government has reached breaking point; and negotiations inevitably end in what is in effect an ultimatum in some form or other. Complete surprise is impossible and the real weight of air action lies in the daily interruption of normal life which it can effect, if necessary for an indefinite period, while offering negligible chances of looting or of hitting back.

It [air action] can knock the roofs of huts about and prevent their repair, a considerable inconvenience in winter time. It can seriously interfere with ploughing or harvesting—a vital matter—or burn up the stores laboriously piled up and garnered for the winter. By attacks on livestock, which is the main form of capital and source of wealth to the less settled tribes, it can impose in effect a considerable fine or seriously interfere with the actual sources of the tribe—and in the end the tribesman finds it is much the best to obey the Government.

Occasionally the house or fort of a rebel leader like Sheikh Mahmud would be selected as a target of individual attack and this called for a high degree of bombing accuracy. Otherwise it was unnecessary, and indeed undesirable, to inflict serious or extensive damage. The object was really the air blockade of the recalcitrant village by means of intermittent light attacks, which were never delivered without due warning to the villagers so that they could leave their dwellings. After they had surrendered, troops or police would be flown in, with medical staff, to restore order, stop looting, treat the sick and the injured, distribute food and rehabilitate the area generally.
Quoted from The Myths of Air Control and the Realities of Imperial Policing, Group Captain Peter W. Gray, RAF. http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airc ... /gray.html
Also it seemed to wait standing by for Germany to do something first, suggesting it considered and was ready to implement these tactics, but preferred to wait for the enemy to go first so that it could use the he started it reason.
There was a certain element of that. But British policy was contemplating attacks on military and industrial targets, with an awareness that would cause civilian collateral damage. There was no intention to begin area bombing of cities.
Now this all rests on Bomber Commands doctrine before the Second World War - when we know what that is we can work from there to suggest whether its policies during the war were a result of Germany starting them and Britain thinking on its feet or was it a pre-planned tactic, but waiting for Germany to strike first would put Britain in a better light?
It was definitely a response to German actions. At the start of the war the government and RAF favoured a plan to attack German oil targets. It didn't begin that attack because it didn't want to begin attacks that would, inevitably, result in civilian casualties. But the idea of area bombing wasn't really discussed until after the Luftwaffe had begun the Blitz on London.

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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by BuddaBell123 » 04 Nov 2013 14:07

Thank you, Hop. So before the Second World War Bomber Command's policies were to attack only enemy military targets while trying to prevent any civilian casualties. But, if Germany's Luftwaffe was to attack civilian targets/industrial targets that would or could result in civilian casualties then Bomber Command would slowly relax its policices towards German civilians. So, Britain was prepared to fight a war that it was not sure for a long time it would win with Bomber Command only bombing specific military targets - would Britain have stuck to this even if lets say Germany also didn't bomb any civilian targets, but managed to get where it had in May-June 1940 with most of Western Europe and Poland in its hands?
-Oliver

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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by Marcus » 04 Nov 2013 20:19

This section is not for speculations on what might have been, please stay on topic.

/Marcus

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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by Sid Guttridge » 05 Nov 2013 11:23

Hi Guys,

This is clearly a mischevious question.

It is best answered in its wider historical context.

The bombing of civilians was policy and practice in all three major Axis countries well before WWII. The Japanese had been doing it in China since the early 1930s, while the Germans and Italians did it in Spain over 1937-39. (i.e. Guernica and Barcelona).

Thus the bombing of civilians was ingrained into the practice of war by the Axis before WWII.

The Allies, by contrast, tried to get the practice outlawed at the League of Nations in the late 1930s and began their air offensive after the outbreak of WWII with leaflet raids on German citizens, despite the fact that Germany had already bombed the civilian population of their ally Poland.

It would probably be wrong to attribute the Allies' relative initial reluctance about bombing civilians to purely humanitarian motives. The fact that they believed themselves to be greatly inferior in the air to the Axis powers added a pragmatic edge to their decision making.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that all the major Axis powers were already bombing enemy civilians in the late 1930s, whereas none of the Allies were. In this context, it is pretty irrelevant whether the UK bombed German civilians first or Germany bombed British citizens first, because the wider precedent had alreasdy been set by the Axis powers, including Germany.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by Marcus » 05 Nov 2013 11:27

A post by BuddaBell123 was removed following the warning at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 2#p1831492

/Marcus

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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by Marcus » 05 Nov 2013 16:23

A discussion that was going off-topic was split off into a new thread: "British bombing policy 1939-1940".

Now please stay on topic.

/Marcus

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Re: Who Bombed The Others Civilians First? Germany or Britai

Post by Cerdic » 02 Dec 2013 20:19

Hop quoted the following:
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.
The original document can be viewed in PDF form here: http://ukwarcabinet.s3.amazonaws.com/do ... 8-0001.pdf with the relevant quote on page 36.

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