Arthur "Bomber " Harris.....

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phylo_roadking
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Arthur "Bomber " Harris.....

Post by phylo_roadking » Mon Aug 21, 2006 5:56 pm

All, I'm raising this at the suggestion of another regularly-contributing member of Feldgrau......

Comments were made in another thread to the effect that the RAF - specifically Bomber Command - never attacked a target that didnt have legitimate military significance or industrial contribution to the German war effort.

Given that the British War Cabinet had accepted the Lindemann Report, which complemented the start of Harris' bommbing offensive against Germany, and thus approved the specific targeting of an industrial CIVILIAN POPULATION to reduce its working contribution to the war effort and to undermine its morale...

Do you agree or disagree that a civilian population of any nation is a "legitimate" target, whether military or economic?

phylo
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Post by Rajin Cajun » Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:33 pm

I disagree because it accomplishes nothing. Yes you could argue that techincally it could hinder enemy production but so could sending nuclear warheads helter-skelter.

To be honest I see the opposite in doing this most likely this would not diminish a populations will to resist but rather increase it to the point of Zealots being made of regular citizens. No one in their right mind is going to surrender to an enemy that slaughters the civilians at whim.
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Post by Helmut Von Moltke » Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:42 pm

Phylo, just remember it is basically - mass murder. If I remember correctly, some time ago there was as statue of "Bomber Harris" in London, but it met with protests. Is it still there? How bad it was to have it there. What about a statue of Goering? Anyone? :evil:

*tongue in check*

K

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Post by Tom Houlihan » Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:57 pm

Rajin Cajun wrote:To be honest I see the opposite in doing this most likely this would not diminish a populations will to resist but rather increase it to the point of Zealots being made of regular citizens. No one in their right mind is going to surrender to an enemy that slaughters the civilians at whim.
As Phylo mentioned earlier, a clear case can be made with Coventry. Did that bombing come anywhere near breaking the English will to resist? Of course not, it strengthened it! So, why did the RAF think that terror bombing of German civilians would have any different effect?
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Post by DXTR » Tue Aug 22, 2006 12:41 am

The idea to bomb civilian targets in germany was not "just massmurder" as HvM claims.

There is a great deal of reasons why Bombercommand reached this conclusion. First of all Harris was no doubt transfixed with the idea that the bombing campaign was fundamentally able to destroy german morale. I don't know whether the british High Command reached the conclusion that the german targetting of Coventry didn't have a diminishing influence on british morale and therefore neither would a british campaign against germany have a deminishing effect on german morale. Such conclusions can easily be explained away by references to different aspects in national character, that the germans were fundamentally eager to get rid of Hitler and would rather prefer capitalist style democracy if they were bombed enough. (the Bush administration no doubt have made similar miscalculations when it comes to Iraq).

Secondly one also have to acknowledge that the bombing campaign was until D-day the only way to get back at the germans. From a british point of view, being able to hit the germans was a way to boost public morale in Britain. From a strategic point of view it also tied down german ressources in western europe. (although it no doubt used up a lot of commonwealth ressources as well).

When all these factors are corrolated and when we add the interdepartmental rivalry between Bomber command and other branches of the armed forces, I believe we get a more clearer image of why the allied maintained their bombing campaign against civilian targets.

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Post by DXTR » Tue Aug 22, 2006 12:42 am

Helmut Von Moltke wrote:Phylo, just remember it is basically - mass murder. If I remember correctly, some time ago there was as statue of "Bomber Harris" in London, but it met with protests. Is it still there? How bad it was to have it there. What about a statue of Goering? Anyone? :evil:

*tongue in check*

K
The diffference is that Goering was a war criminal, Harris was not.

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Post by Paulus II » Tue Aug 22, 2006 12:48 am

Call me oldfashioned if you will but I think war should only be fought between military formations. If any civilians (such an amorphous thing, they are mostly women, children and the elderly, mind you!) are targeted it should only be the politicians that found it necessary to continue their already failed politics with other means. Those politicians should really slug it out among themselves and not stay behind their safe desks while sending the nations young folks to get slaughtered. Fat chance that ever happening though.
Besides that history has shown that bombing civilians works the other way 'round. People are toughened by it and (as in the case of Germany) slave labour can be used to fill in the gaps in armament and munitions production so, other than some sabotage in the factories, there is no real gain in bombing cities. Arms production in Germany went up after the bombing started.

Paul

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Post by Helmut Von Moltke » Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:05 am

thanks Paul. DXTR, although I stick by my opinion it was mass murder, I agree that it is neccesary to look at the Allied high command's reason for this. And although technically not a war criminal, Harris unofficially is, regarded by many. Just as Hitler was not technically one, since he wasn't judged at Nuremburg, but to all of us and to the whole world it is. Some intresting points everyone, though. :up:

K

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Post by DXTR » Tue Aug 22, 2006 5:05 am

Helmut Von Moltke wrote:thanks Paul. DXTR, although I stick by my opinion it was mass murder, I agree that it is neccesary to look at the Allied high command's reason for this. And although technically not a war criminal, Harris unofficially is, regarded by many. Just as Hitler was not technically one, since he wasn't judged at Nuremburg, but to all of us and to the whole world it is. Some intresting points everyone, though. :up:

K
Kevin you are confusing the issues at hand a bit. Hitler was a war criminal, he gave orders that were in contradiction of the Hague as well as the Geneva convention. But Harris did not do so. Perhaps he was conducting a warfare that we regard as immoral or maybe it is to be regarded as similar to the charges of crimes against humanity. But the action was never in violation of the laws of war as laid down at the time.

The point is that neither Harris nor Goering was convicted of having initiated bomberoffensives against civilians.

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Post by Pirx » Tue Aug 22, 2006 5:58 am

Paulus II wrote: Arms production in Germany went up after the bombing started.

Paul
Bombing did not accelerated that proces. Bombardments much slower that rising production. And of course that was "cannon instead butter". If Germany was able to do strategic bombing, they for sure would use that possibility. Without strategic bombers they couldn't do that. So in 1940 British arms production also went up.
Maybe it not romantic but mechanised war in fact recognised whole enemy state as a military target. People who work in factories, farms, offices or hospitals (also women, old people) are de facto supporting warmachine. Terrible, but enemy will try to destroy that support.
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Post by Paulus II » Tue Aug 22, 2006 6:15 am

Hi Pirx,

The increase in arms production is indeed due to other causes than the bombing of civilian targets, I meant it more like the bombing didn't prevent the production going up and was therefore of little use.
And, as you say, "mechanised war in fact recognised whole enemy state as a military target. People who work in factories, farms, offices or hospitals (also women, old people) are de facto supporting warmachine" is also true but that does not make it morally right! And that makes civilians an illegitimate target in my personal opinion.

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Paul

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Post by Tom Houlihan » Tue Aug 22, 2006 6:36 am

Paulus II wrote:And, as you say, "mechanised war in fact recognised whole enemy state as a military target. People who work in factories, farms, offices or hospitals (also women, old people) are de facto supporting warmachine" is also true but that does not make it morally right! And that makes civilians an illegitimate target in my personal opinion.
I see absolutely no problem with bombing targets related to the war industry, even though they are staffed by civilians. Destroy the tank plants, aircraft production lines, and bullet factories, and the war is directly affected.

However, bombing the neighborhood where the factory workers live should be most certainly out of bounds. Even if Papa makes bullets, that is no reason to bomb Mama and the children.
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Post by phylo_roadking » Tue Aug 22, 2006 6:48 am

all, some things to note :-

1/ Coventry wasnt a "terror raid" aimed at the civilian population....it was a bombing error.The raid was aimed at the HUGE Coventry Ordnance Works of Armstrong-Vickers, and several other plants in the area...including Triumph (sniff!) But being a night bombing there was the normal "spread" of fall, and the old medieval town got it. Its actually suprising to all, including the GERMANS, that so much damage was done, because they WERENT carrying theior normal HE/Landmine/Incendiary mix that the British later copied.

2/ Albert Speer commented after Hamburg that 6 more raids like that would have broken the Germans' will to resist - but as we know exactly the OPPOSITE happened...

3/ regarding the increase in German production - what WAS actually happening was that the Germans were
a/ building new plants;
b/ moving to the new UNDERGROUND factories
c/ had finished converting a lot of factories in occupied countries to full production of German military materiel.
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Helmut Von Moltke

Post by Helmut Von Moltke » Tue Aug 22, 2006 6:51 am

Phylo, about Coventry, that raid was ordered by Hitler as a retalioaton for a British "1000 bomber" raid on Lubeck in 1942 or something like that, right?

K

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Post by maschinengewehr42 » Tue Aug 22, 2006 7:06 am

Helmut Von Moltke wrote:Phylo, just remember it is basically - mass murder. If I remember correctly, some time ago there was as statue of "Bomber Harris" in London, but it met with protests. Is it still there? How bad it was to have it there. What about a statue of Goering? Anyone? :evil:

*tongue in check*

K
As far as I know the statue is still there, and rightly so as far as I'm concerned. Removing it would have been political correctness gone mad! Harris was a popular figure in his day, and should not be judged by the standards of today. I bear no ill will against Goering or the Luftwaffe for bombing my home town, hitting mostly civilians, although legitimate military production facilities were also present, and I would argue that they were simply doing their job to wear down the enemy industry and population by any means necessary. Harris was no different. It was a brutal time, and his methods were accepted then as the best way to get the job done, whether they were subsequently proved right or not.

Morality aside, I have no doubt that area bombing of cities was an effective way to reduce the morale of an enemy, and to undermine production capacity. We all know that production actually rose during the escalation of the bombing campaigns against Germany, but what can't be so easily quantified is the vastly increased effort expended to produce the same amount of war material due to dispersal of facilities and increased transport of parts from such widely spread out workshops.

I've read so many times in German memoirs of the detrimental effect on morale news of heavy bombing of German cities had on troops. Not knowing whether your family is alive or dead, and having to endure the agony of waiting for the next several mail deliveries until a letter dated after the raid arrived must have been a serious distraction from duty. On the Western front in particular, I'm sure it induced many to surrender who might otherwise have fought on.

The bombing of civilians was standard practice during WW2. I believe that in any comparable war for national survival today, civilians would be treated no better. We're just lucky to have the luxury of a peaceful Europe today where the majority of people will never have to experience such events.

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