|While the damage to the cities and towns in the Rhine-Ruhr region was immense, such as the air raid
on Dortmund in the night of May 4/5, 1943 that destroyed almost the whole city center with its
medieval historical monuments in one hour, damage to the armaments factories was quickly repaired.
While the US later partook in the destruction of Dresden and many other cities, only 6% of American
bombs actually fell on German city centers in the war. At the peak of the bombing "war" in 1945, the
U.S. Eighth Air Force dropped fully half of its bombs on transportation targets; the figure for the
RAF, who concentrated largely on cities, was only 13%. The RAF Bomber Command would end up
killing three German civilians for every one killed by the U.S.A. In contrast, Germany bombed
Britain with a mere five percent of the tonnage that Britain slammed down on Germany, and more
British bombs fell on the city of Berlin alone than German bombs fell on Britain during the entire
war. From July 1944 to January 1945, a low average of 14,000 German civilians, not including
countless undocumented refugees, were killed from bombings every month in just the western areas
of Germany. "Town areas" below indicate civilian centers.
|The "Battle of the Ruhr"
|Running parallel to their air raids, the Allies conducted an extensive psychological warfare campaign
until the end of the war in May 1945 and dropped billions of leaflets over Germany to inform the
German population of the crimes of their government. Of course, these were not too impressive to
the German people and the arrogant request seemed disingenuous while babies and children were
being incinerated by their authors in British air attacks which honed in on the civilian population.
By 1944, the RAF and the USA both took part in "round the clock bombing" by their combined
forces night and day. The industrial and city landscape, in which over four million humans lived in
1939, sank into debris and ash. The number of inhabitants of Essen was halved. On October 15,
1944, Essen was hit with large-caliber "Tallboys," so-called earthquake bombs with a weight of about
five tons. On October 25, 1944, the ruins of Essen were the goal for about 1,800 bombers.
Two unnecessary "1000 bomber raids" were executed over Essen near war's end on March 11, 1945
when 1,079 RAF aircraft departed for a daylight operation on the city in what was recorded as the
second largest bombing attack of the second world war, surpassed only by the following night's
1,108 plane attack on Dortmund (elsewhere). In what must have seemed a horrifying scene straight
from hell, the huge number of allied aircraft involved in this operation was reported to be eight miles
long and five miles wide. The RAF Bomber Command record for the largest tonnage dropped on a
single target in a single day was the 4,661 ton drop of bombs on Essen.
The 9th American army took control over the city a month later. What comprised the Germany army
in the "Battle of the Ruhr" toward the end were 12-14 year old German boys and men over age 65.
The "battle" managed to kill 5,000 British and Commonwealth air crewmen as well.
Post-war analysis indicated that the impact upon German industry by the attacks on the Ruhr was
not as great as had been believed. But it was a success if looked at in terms of impacting civilians.
Over 50,000 people, including allied prisoners of war, met their death in the Rhine Ruhr by Allied
bomb attacks. The closely cultivated city centers, many from the Middle Ages, lay in rubble, with
just narrow paths marking former roads. Hagen and Essen centers below click
|Here is a breakdown in the Allied Ruhr bombings of the USA and British Bomber Command (BC):
|On September 1, 1939, the first air-raids started in Essen, mostly on military targets. The Rhine Ruhr
was exposed to bomb attacks from May, 1940. On February 14, 1942, a British directive determined
the conduct of the air war by the British Bomber Command from then until the end of the war. Area
attacks should "destroy the moral of the German population and the infrastructure in the large cities".
The "1000-bomber-raid" on Cologne on the night of May 29/30, 1942, caused major damage and
huge casualties for the first time in one of the largest cities in Germany. But the numerous area raids
on the Ruhr in 1942 were less successful because of the strong air defense. On March 5th, 1943, the
inner city of Essen experienced one of the heaviest air-raids, killing 461 people and injuring 1,593,
and leaving 50,000 inhabitants homeless. On the 26th, another 700 bombers flew over the city and
unloaded 1,000 high-explosives bombs, 160,000 staff and 30,000 incendiary bombs. 550 more died,
1,500 were injured. 7,000 more homes, 2 hospitals, 4 churches and 6 schools were destroyed.
In May and June, 1943, the "Battle of the Ruhr" increased, killing more than 6,000 civilians in two
attacks on Wuppertal and almost 5,000 in Cologne in the night of June 28/29, 1943. The attack on
Wuppertal in the night of May 29/30, 1943 was the first example of a firestorm (under Wuppertal).
Other cities lying beside the Rhine river, notably Duisburg, Düsseldorf and Cologne, suffered heavy
damage and high civilian casualties. From a major attack on Essen in the night of March 5/6, 1943,
the RAF Bomber Command started an air offensive against the Rhine-Ruhr area which was to last
four months until mid-July 1943, continuously bombing nearly all larger cities in this region.
Only the city Hagen in the south of the Ruhr remained past the summer of 1943 without damage.
Hagen, the "Gate to the Sauerland", is the mountain region south of the Ruhr. It was an historical
areas for fossils and archaeology in Germany. By August, 1943, Dortmund, Bochum, Mülheim,
Essen, Duisburg, Cologne, Wuppertal and many other cities and towns were only ruins.
Hagen is on the eastern edge of the Ruhr area. It was first mentioned about 1200, and grew from the
19th century with the mining of coal and the production of steel in the Ruhr. The Hagener museum
had one of the largest collections of geology and archaeology in Germany. Hagen was mostly
destroyed on October 1, 1943 in one British area attack, but Allied bombing raids on Hagen between
October 1943 and March 1945 destroyed the museum building and the bulk of the collection as well
as the extensive image collection and the thousands of specialized library volumes. 267 RAF aircraft
attacked Hagen and started 1,439 fires, of which 124 were classified as large.
In a special operation in the night of May 16/17, 1943, Bomber Command also carried out an attack
on the reservoirs in the Sauerland in the Dambuster raid under the dubious name of "Operation
Chastise". Its main targets were the dams of the Möhne, Sorpe, Eder, Lister and Ennepe. In the
course of this violent mission, an exercise guaranteed to cause massive civilian casualties, the
important Möhne and Eder dams were destroyed and the resultant gigantic flood in the Ruhr valley
killed about 2,000 people. More than 70 people were also killed when the Eder dam was blown up.
|Massive environmental and civilian damage cause by British bombing (click)