Target Germany

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FROM FIVE MILES UP Target: Germany is the story of an experiment. That the experiment is concerned with destroy­ing the economic fabric of another nation is to be regretted. That it maybe a large factor in saving our own way of life should not be forgot­ten. For aerial bombing is now beginning to return dividends which surpass the expectations of its stanchest adherents. Bombs alone do not win battles— but bombs behind the fighting fronts may rob armies of their vital supplies and make war so terrible that civilian populations will refuse to support the armed forces in the field. During the past eight months scientific bomb­ing has changed the face of war. For the physical attrition of warfare is no longer limited to the fighting forces. Heretofore the home front has remained relatively secure armies fought, civil populations worked and waited. This conflict’s early air attacks were the first portents of a changing order. In its slashes at Warsaw, Rotter­ dam ,Plymouth, Coventry, and London, large- scale bombing showed its claws. The Germans had conceived a terrifying weapon. Fortunately, they had neither the imagination nor the physical resources to capitalize on their revolutionary conception. On the night of .March 5-6,1943, bombing came of age. On that date the RA F began the systematic, patterned devastation of the twelve cities of the German Ruhr. The ruins of the Ruhr, Cologne, and Hamburg, and the American- inflicted damage at the Hiils rubber plant, at the Heroya aluminum unit in Norway, and the Blohm & Voss shipyard at Kiel, have now clothed a German vision with reality. To borrow from Macbeth, it is the Nazis’ own “Bloody instructions which, being taught, returji Ito Hamburg Blitz. High over the smoke o f fires I started by the RAF the night before, Fortresses strike at key targets from five miles up. Black flak bursts hang in the air. A t lower right, Nazi I fighters rise to challenge the American invaders. plague the inventor.” The Ruhr, heart of Ger­ many’s heavy industry, has been crippled. In the first climactic four day-and-night Hamburg Blitz (the Germans even had a word for it), well over 2000 British and American aircraft dropped more than 7000 tons o f high explosive and incen­diaries on a city the size of Detroit. To quote an official report: “There is nothing in the world to which this concentrated devastation of Hamburg can be compared, for an inferno of this scale in a town of this size has never been experienced, hardly even imagined, before.” Here, then, we have terror and devastation carried to the core o f a warring nation. The implications of such destruction of public morale and economy are not yet clear. They soon will be —perhaps before this book is published. It maybe that, in forging so terrible a weapon, the United Nations have found the way to break any nation’s will to fight. That would mean not only victory in this conflict but also the answer to any threats of war in the foreseeable future. There are two kinds of bom bing—strategic and tactical. Strategic bombing strikes at the economy of the enemy it attempts to cripple its war potential by blows at industrial production, civilian morale, and communications. Tactical bombardment is immediate air support of move­ments of air, land, or sea forces. This record con­cerns itself only with strategic bombing. There are, in turn, two kinds of strategic bom­bardment. Area bombing is directed at the indus­trial district or the city as a whole. This is the method perfected by the British Bomber Com­mand in its night attacks. Precision bombing is directed at the specific industrial unit— the plant, the factory, or the railroad yards. This is day bombing on the American Plan. Neither force allows itself to be restricted by definition. The British Bomber Command occasionally employs precision bombing, though mostly at low alti­tudes the daylight raids of its fast Lancasters on the M.A.N. Diesel-engine plant at Augsburg in central Germany, on the Ruhr dams, and on 19
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