A crime? Why, which law was broken? Well, that is easy to answer. Its a crime against humanity. (I am using a term the Allies invented themselves, if you don't mind.
It wasn't invented by the allies. It comes from the preamble to the 1907 Hague convention ("laws of humanity")
Remember the "prparation of offensive war"? Nazis were hung for it, but since when had it been forbidden to start a war? By which law?
By treaty, namely the Kellog - Briand treaty of 1928, signed by Britain, Germany, the US, Poland, France, amongst others. (And the 2 most important parties to remember are Germany and Poland)
The High Contracting Parties solemly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.
That's Germany, in 1928, promising not to go to war, and to use only peacefull means to resolve conflicts.
If you are seeing things in the strict legalist sense, we have the problem that the highest order of organisation that existed back then (and, despite the existence of the UN, exists today) is the national level. From that point of view, even the Holocaust is no crime. It was perfectly legal, since ordered by the "Führer".
No, it was illegal under international law.
Nations are bound by the international treaties they sign up to. Germany signed up to the Hague conventions of 1907, and the Geneva conventions of 1928.
Article 23 of the Hague convention:
The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.
Note that bit about respecting laws in force in an occupied country.
The laws of Poland and France and Holland 9as examples) did not allow Jews to be rounded up, taken away by force, and murdered.
Family honour and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice, must be respected.
Private property cannot be confiscated.
Did the Nazis respect family honour and rights, the lives of persons, and public property? Of course not. They ordered large scale murder in the territories they had occupied.
There might not have been a "higher power" than national governments, but national governments can, and do, freely bind themselves by agreeing to treaties, which then have the force of law for those that have signed up to them.
Same goes of course for the Stalinist meat-grinding GULAG. Perfectly legal.
Possibly. Purely internal matters are not usually covered by international law, because whilst countries might agree treaties between them, they typically don't like limiting their own internal power.
And if we are talking about international treaties, the Genevan convention forbids the deliberate killing of civilians.
Not the 1928 and 1929 conventions, I believe, although the post war 1949 one does. (The 1928 protocol bans the use of gas in war, the 1929 convention regards treatment of prisoners of war)
And if we are talking about international treaties, the Genevan convention forbids the deliberate killing of civilians.
About the closest applicable treaty limitng bombardment would be the 1907 Hague convention on bombardment by naval forces. That again bans the bombardment of "undefended" towns, which of course does not apply to defended towns. (And even undefended towns can be bombarded in some circumstances)
civilian deaths are not an essential byproduct anymore, they are becoming a prime obejctive. That is what the British did and "pioneered"
Hardly. The British pioneered nothing in the bombing war, apart from technical aids. The tactics, and targets, followed the German lead.
And civilians were never the target, towns and cities were. Read again the Herschel Johnson comments I posted. Casualties were not seen as the problem, damage to the town and it's housing were.
(You can see an example in Hamburg. Less than 3% of the population were killed, absenteeism went up to over 25%, and industrial production declined by up to 50% for months after the raid. The damage to the city and it's housing were responsible, not the relatively small number of people killed)
And thats as much a warcrime as many the Germans committed. And should be treated accordingly.
The "crime" of bombing was treated exactly the same for both sides. So, incidentally, was the "crime" of shelling enemy towns, straffing civilian traffic, etc.
A parallel to the Holocaust? Where have I said this? But now that you mention it...there is indeed one. Women and Children, killed and burnt, just because they belonged to a certain ethnic group or nationality.
Sorry, that's rubbish. I do not know of German civilians killed after they fell under British occupation (and I'm talking policy here, not isolated incidents). I know of no German towns bombed after they had surrendered, no German women and children rounded up and gassed by the British, etc.
On the other hand, I can give you plenty of examples of Jews, Slavs etc rounded up and murdered by the Germans after they had surrendered, after their towns had been overrun.
The difference is Britain targetted the enemy country. Once occupied or surrendered, the people ceased to be the enemy, and ceased to be targets.
You could as well argue that shooting prisoners isn't wrong, because shooting enemy soldiers isn't. There is all the difference in the world between enemies who are fighting a war against you, and people who have been captured, who you owe a duty of care to.
Other things may be different, that is however a similiarity.
Too right they are. Things like motive (a strategy to win the war on one hand, racial hatred on the other) and method (attacking enemy cities on the one hand, rounding up captured civilians and murdering them on the other) and opportunity (bringing in a system of law and justice after occupation on one hand, deciding to exterminate entire population groups after occupation on the other)
- How does one turn bombers into land troops? One does not. One spends the available ressources to build tanks, artillery and guns to equip ground troops instead of bombers. One trains more army soldiers than aircrews.
All very well, but the numbers of men suitable to serve at the front line is only a small proportion of the overall total. The RAF was very "tail heavy", the frontline divisions "teeth heavy". Britain had a shortage of infantry, not tail units.
Remember the number of aircrew was pretty small. (assume 10 per bomber, 2 - 3,000 crews in total, less than 30,000 men)
Britain had ample time to do it, even to change its obvious inhuman and ineffective strategy: all the time from 1941 to Autumn 1944. But "successes" like the horrid slaughter of civilians were just met with glee.
No, successes like the damage done to Hamburg were met with glee.
Lack of results as far as Germanies war capabilities were concerned, only resulted in the demanding of more and more bombings, it obviously was not enough.
There are 2 assumptions here. First, that the damage done was light, second that the British knew the damage was light. Both are pretty wide of the mark.
There was time change it. (A good time seemed to be summer 1944. With the invasion underway the decision had been made to win the war WITH ground troops. So why not concentrate on indutrial facilites with the bombings? But the eradiaction of cities continued.)
Industrial facilities are usually in cities, along with gasworks, electricty transformers, waterworks, gas mains, roads, railway lines, telephone exchanges, etc, etc, etc.
One could have decided to go another way. On every single day. But it was not done.
The way the RAF, and USAAF, went was to decide on suitable targets and bomb them. On every single day.
That included cities, marshalling yards, oil plants, steel plants, truck factories, tank factories, armaments works, explosive plants, etc.
It was not simply a policy of just bombing cities, about a third of RAF bombs in 1944 and 1945 went on German cities, the rest went on other targets (I don't have the breakdown of US bombs, but don't for one moment think they weren't are bombing German cities as well)
- Effective and efficient? It's nice to see that you have started to think about these terms. It was about time. An efficient strategy is one that wins about an enemy as fast as possible, with as less costs as possible, without many losses, without needless slaughter and destruction. The classic example how NOT to do it: the British bombing campaign.
As I pointed out earlier, every strategic bombing campaign in WW2 turned into an area bombing campaign against cities. And "area bombing" became post war doctrine with the adoption of MAD.
I am not so sure that this is true. In any case, I have read that the Bombing used up 20% to 30% of the ressources, not 40%. The 7% to 9% seem to be too low. Do you have a source for this?
A couple. Marshall of the RAF Sir John Slessor (Into the Blue, iirc) and prof Richard Overy (Why the Allies Won, again iirc) (not 100% on either title, but I am 100% on the authors and the 7-9%)
You can do a sanity check on the figure as well. The RAF in total had something under 1 million men, the RN about the same, the army over 4 million, making RAF manpower about 17% of total British forces. (and BC was only a portion of the RAF, with ADGB, 2nd TAF, Coastal, Training, Transport, Middle East, Far East etc taking up a very number)
So manpower wise, BC probably didn't reach more than 7%, probably less.
Equipment wise, the British built over 130,000 aircraft, about 30,000 of them heavy bombers and Wellingtons. So heavy bombers accounted for only a small proportion of aircraft production. Granted by weight and cost bombers cost more, but it would still be less than half of aircraft production. (If you assume 50% of aircraft production, you have to assume aircraft production was 40 - 60% of British output to get BC equalling 20 - 30% of British output)
And even in the case it would be true (I doubt it, for now), I am not sticking to the 1.5 million groundtroops number. Although, compared to bombers ground troops are quite cheap and it should be possible for a nation like Britain to train and equip that number of men (if one is in a total war condition that is, in which Britain was more or less since Summer 1940) and I am as yet not convinced that this number is completely off the mark.
Consider that by scrapping the RAF worldwide, you free up less than a million men, of whom only a portion are going to be front line troops.
Otherwise it should be possible to concentrate more on military targets fro bombings, instead of wasting bombs against civilians. Weren't the British claiming they were the good ones?
To quote Harris (I think) "The most immoral thing we could do would be to allow ourselves to lose"
Bear in mind that less than 1% of the total casualties in WW2 were German civilians killed by British bombing (and way over 10% were Jews killed by the Germans) and you should realise that the bombing campaign, for all the publicity it's got, was not one of the major killers of the war. Certainly more civilians died in the siege of Leningrad than by all the bombs dropped on Germany.
But which source is preferable? A British one? A German one?
An impartial one? ie not one carried out by one or other of the militaries involved immediately after the conflict, or by some anti war group, neo nazi group, political pressure group, etc.
I tend to credit historians more than anyone with an agenda.
All rivalries between Americans and British aside, the US forces participated in the bombing war.
The Americans were eager to claim, both during the war and after it, that they had carried out only "precision" attacks in Germany. In fact they carried out their share of area bombing.
From "American Bombardment Policy Against Europe", by Richard G Davis:
July 21, a date on which six separate groups of the
Eighth’s bombers attacked cities visually as targets
of opportunity, Anderson issued a new policy
memo. He pointed to Spaatz’s oft reiterated and
continuing intention to direct bombing toward
precision targets and categorically denied any
intention to area-bomb. But having denied the
intention, he proceeded to authorize the practice:
‘we will conduct bombing attacks through the
overcast where it is impossible to get precision targets.
Such attacks will include German marshalling
yards whether or not they are located in
This memo had a chilling effect on reported area
bombing. Three-quarters of such raids reported
appeared in the Eighth’s records before this memo.
However, an analysis using the profile of known
command city raids; always over 100 aircraft,
almost always carrying over 20% incendiaries, and
bombing by radar over 80% of the time, and
applying it to all Eighth Air Force raids, surfaces
82 more ‘area like’ raids. Seventy, or 85%, of those
raids occurred after Anderson’s memo. In August
the Eighth’s area bombing of Germany dropped to
a mere 401 tons. For the first three weeks in
September American area bombing followed the
same pattern. But by the last week of September
the Germans achieved a stalemate on the Western
Front. The Eighth returned to area attacks with a
total of 4,700 tons on Frankfurt, Cologne,
Magdeburg, and Munster.
In October 1944 the Eighth’s area bombing
increased as bad weather forced attacks on secondary
targets. At the end of the month the Eighth Air
Force issued a new SOP, ‘Attack of Secondary and
Last Resort Targets.’ It increased the likelihood of
area bombing by setting the following criteria:
1. No towns or cities in Germany will be attacked
as secondary or last resort targets, targets of
opportunity, or otherwise, unless such towns contain
or have immediately adjacent to them, one (1)
or more military objectives. Military objectives
include railway lines; junctions; marshalling yards;
railway or road bridges, or other communications
networks; any industrial plant; and such obvious
military objectives as oil storage tanks, military
camps and barracks, troop concentrations, motor
transport or AFV parks, ordnance or supply
depots, ammunition depots; airfields; etc.
It has been determined that towns and cities
large enough to produce an identifiable return on
the H2X scope generally contain a large proportion
of the military objectives listed above. These centers,
therefore, may be attacked as secondary or
last resort targets through the overcast bombing
The fact that so many will still claim the USAAF used "precsion" bombing in Europe is testament to how vehemently the USAAF denied area bombing, both during and after the war.
And they did similiar things in Japan. So, they are hardly biased completely AGAINST it.
There seems to have been less reluctance both to carry out area attacks against Japan, and to admit to them. I suspect that's because the Japanese were "not like us", whilst the Germans were (ie white Europeans)
I would say, from the reports and surveys available, it's the most believable one. Which may be a relative statement, but its the best we may have.
The very fact that the USSBS hardly mentions (at all?) USAAF area attacks should tell you where it's biases lie. Having said that, the bias colours it, it doesn't mean it's not a good source.