The Destruction of Hamburg during World War II
Hamburg is one of the cities that were most affected by air-raid during WWII. Most momentous among the aerial attacks on the city were the bombings that occurred between25 July and 3 August 1943. The Royal Air Force bombed Hamburg’s residential areas for several nights in a row, aiming to demoralize the German population, while the US Air Force attacked U-boat shipyard and armaments factories during the day. “Operation Gomorrah” reduced large parts of the city to ashes. 35,000 people died in the flames, among them thousands of slave labourers who had been deported to Germany from other European countries and over 5,000 children. Around one million of its inhabitants fled the city, and the number of injured people is estimated at over 120,000.
Hamburg’s eastern areas were especially hard hit. The three districts of Hammerbrook, Rothenburgsort and Hammsüd were completely destroyed by the firestorm and had to be declared prohibited areas. Prisoners from Neuengamme concentration camp were forced to recover the bodies, clear the rubble and defuse unexploded bombs.
In total, the bombing completely destroyed 255,691 flats. At the end of the war, 902,000 inhabitants of Hamburg have lost all their belongings and another 265,000 had lost parts of their property, most of them during “Operation Gomorrah”.
These images of destruction remind us of the cruelty which Nazi Germany spread all over Europe with its war of aggression and annihilation. It has been rightfully pointed out that the carpet bombings of residential areas were in breach of international law, cruel, and not the right instrument for breaking the German masses’ loyalty to Hitler. However, the fuse of the firestorm was lit in Germany. The German air-raids on Guernica (1937), Warsaw (1939), Coventry and Rotterdam (1940), London (1941), and many other cities in Western and Eastern Europe preceded the destruction of Hamburg.
The original catastrophe occurred ten years earlier, in 1933, when then the National Socialists with the support of large parts of the elite and the population abolished democracy and the rule of law within a matter of weeks. This catastrophe was to bring on all other tragedies that followed, such as the air-raids and later the expulsion of the German population from Eastern and Central Europe as well as the partition of Germany. Ultimately, the dead, injured and homeless of the air-raids, too, were victims of Nazi Germany’s politics of aggression, its claim for world domination and its barbarization of war.
[ 本帖最后由 斜桥 于 2012-10-18 04:36 编辑 ]