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German History in Documents and Images
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Report on British Air Raids on German Cities (October 16, 1943)
In words and images, this report from the British magazine The Sphere from October 1943 describes British air raids on the cities of Emden (September 28, 1943) and Hanover (September 22, 1943). The report discusses the strategy behind the bombings, as well as the results thereof, and also talks about German anti-aircraft maneuvers. After the German Luftwaffe had inflicted severe damage and casualties on British cities like London and Coventry during its “Blitzkrieg” attacks of 1940-41, the Royal Air Force (RAF) started a counterattack under the leadership of Air Marshal Arthur Harris in 1942. Area bombings, which were mostly carried out at night and caused heavy collateral damage, were supposed to weaken the morale of the German population. This strategy, which had been approved by the British cabinet, did not work, however. The port city of Emden was bombed 94 times during the war and was almost completely destroyed during the heaviest attack in 1944. Hanover was targeted because of its industrial sites; it was bombed 88 times and 85% of its historic city center was destroyed. In terms of civilian death tolls, however, the most catastrophic air raids were those on Hamburg and Dresden.