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PostCivilian Bombings in WWII (Nigel Jones, UK, 01/06/12 10:47 am)
I wonder where Alain de Benoist (5 January) gets his figure that the Anglo-American bomber offensive in Germany in WWII killed "around one million civilians."
After the war during the Allied Military occupation of Germany, the US Strategic Bombing Survey did a careful computation of German casualties from Allied bombing, and concluded that Germany's own estimates of their casualties had been too low. Nevertheless, they found that bombing had killed 305,000 people--a figure way below Alain's one million.
It does not help one's case to wildly exaggerate already grim statistics in this way.
Alain also quotes the number of those killed by Anglo-American bombing raids on France without mentioning that these raids were carried out during the German military occupation of France, and against German targets or French industrial plants--for example the Renault raid in 1944--being used for the German war effort. If France had not collapsed so ignominiously in 1940, such raids would never have taken place.
Nor does Alain mention the country which began bombing civilian targets in Europe. That country was Germany and it started before World War II with the Condor Legion's razing of Guernica early in the Spanish Civil War.
The chief reason for the disparity between the number of those killed by German and Allied bombing is that Britain and America possessed heavy bombers--for example the Lancaster, and the Liberator--whereas Germany only had light and medium bombers.
After the suffering that Nazi Germany inflicted on Europe in 1939-45, the suffering they received back in full measure is not surprising. As the architect of Britain's Bomber offensive, Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris succinctly put it: "They have sowed the wind--they will reap the whirlwind." And they did.
JE comments: Apologies for the delays in today's postings. The WAISworld.org website was down this morning. My thanks to Roman Zhovtulya for bringing us back on line.
Civilian Bombings in WWII
(Alain de Benoist, France
01/07/12 3:04 PM)
Nigel Jones wrote on 6 January: "I wonder where Alain de Benoist... gets his figure that the Anglo-American bomber offensive in Germany in WWII killed ‘around one million civilians.'"
The precise number of people killed by the bombings is notoriously hard to evaluate. Most of the people were so much destroyed and burned, especially by the phosphorous bombs, that only estimates could be given. The demographic data (comparing the number of inhabitants in a city before and after the bombings) lead to underestimation, because of the great number of refugees (Flüchtlinge) staying in the cities, especially at the end of the war. To give just an example, the estimates of the number of victims of the famous Dresden bombings (February 1945) vary between 35,000 and 350,000! Moreover, some political or ideological biases have lead to underestimates or overestimates.
One million victims may be too much. But when Nigel says that the US Strategic Bombing Survey "found that bombing killed 305,000 people," he gives a figure that most historians would surely reject today. Many historical studies have been published in the last 20 years about the "Anglo-American Luftterror," and they give quite different numbers.
Jörg Friedrich, Der Brand. Deutschland im Bombenkrieg 1940-1945 (2002), gives a number of 570,000 killed (including 75,000 children) and almost six million transferred/deplaced people. Günter Zemella, "Moral Bombing," Die Chronologie des Luftterrors 1939-45 (2006), gives a total of 600,000 civilians killed. Cajus Bekker, Angriffshöhe 4000--Die deutsche Luftwaffe im Zweiten Weltkrieg (1980), a total of 635,000 killed (570,000 civilians and refugees). Maximilian Czenay, Nie wieder Krieg gegen die Zivilbevölkerung. Eine völkerrechtliche Untersuchung des Luftkrieges 1939 bis 1945 (1964), a total of 635,000 killed and 955,000 wounded people, etc. The official number given today by the German government is 635,000 people killed. Etc., etc.
I have no doubt that today Arthur T. "Bomber" Harris (1892-1984) would be judged for war crimes or crimes against mankind by the International Penal Court.
Nigel added: "Alain also quotes the number of those killed by Anglo-American bombing raids on France without mentioning that these raids were carried out during the German military occupation of France, and against German targets or French industrial plants--for example the Renault raid in 1944--being used for the German war effort. If France had not collapsed so ignominiously in 1940, such raids would never have taken place."
I did not mention that these raids were carried out during the German military occupation of France because it was of course obvious for everybody. Yes, these raids were supposed to be made "against German targets or French industrial plants [...] being used for the German war effort." The problem is that the bombers were not very good bombers. They failed very often to reach their targets, but were very efficient at killing French civilians.
Finally, I hear that France "collapsed ignominiously in 1940." Really? France was certainly defeated in 1940, like Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg. No wonder: France had 86 divisions and 1,400 planes, while Germany had 141 divisions and 4,020 planes. During the battle of France, 123,000 French people were killed on the whole, 85,000 French soldiers died on the front while resisting the German forces, between 120,000 and 250,000 were wounded, 1.8 million were made prisoners. I do not see any "ignominy" in these numbers. Had England been invaded by the Wehrmacht in 1940, I doubt very much that the English would have been less "ignominious."
Civilian Bombings in WWII
(John Heelan, UK
01/08/12 4:57 AM)
Alain de Benoist (7 January) wrote about French civilian casualties caused by Allied bombing in WWII: "Yes, these raids were supposed to be made 'against German targets or French industrial plants [...] being used for the German war effort.' The problem is that the bombers were not very good bombers. They failed very often to reach their targets, but were very efficient at killing French civilians."
The military historian Antony Beevor in his recent excellent account of the Normandy landings comments on the "overkill" of Allied bombing and artillery--he states 19,890 during the liberation of Normandy on top of the 15,000 killed and 19,000 injured during the preparatory bombing for Operation Overlord in the first 5 months of 1944. He comments: "It is a sobering thought that 70,000 French civilians were killed by Allied action during the course of the war, a figure which exceeds the total number of British killed by German bombing." (p. 519)
He also reports that Churchill wrote to Roosevelt fearing "the bad effect which will be produced upon the French civilian population by these slaughters, all taking place so soon before Overlord D-Day... They may leave a legacy of hate behind them." Roosevelt rejected the plea on 11 May, stating "However regrettable the attendant loss of civilian lives is, I am not prepared to impose from this distance any restrictions on military action by the responsible military commanders that in their opinion might militate against the success of Overlord or cause additional loss of life to our Allied forces of invasion." (p. 49)
See Antony Beevor, D-Day--The Battle for Normandy (2009).
Civilian Bombings in WWII
(Cameron Sawyer, Russia
01/08/12 6:51 AM)
Let's keep in mind, please, that German civilian casualties of Allied bombing raids were intentional. (See John Heelan, 8 January.) The purpose of a large part of the bombing raids on Germany during WWII was to destroy residential neighborhoods and kill German civilians.
French civilian casualties of Allied bombing are, of course, regrettable. There is a good case to made that more should have been done to avoid them. But they were not intentional--French civilians killed were collateral damage to regular military action.
There is a very significant difference.
- Civilian Bombings in WWII (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 01/08/12 6:51 AM)
- Civilian Bombings in WWII (John Heelan, UK 01/08/12 4:57 AM)