Aerial Bombing of Civilian Targets

And yet, it appears to have been what the Allies did. They certainly could have just targeted the factories, with much the same effect: Bombs of the time weren’t really precise enough to get any better than “the right city”. But they actually made an effort to be especially effective at destroying homes.

Who’s going to enforce that on the winners? Might makes right even if disguised with civilized facades.

“Marshalling yards” was a euphemism for bombing cities in general.

What was learned in World War II was well appled in Korea, where the USAF did its best to kill as many North Koreans as possible and managed to kill at least two or three million of them, quite on purpose. It was a horrifying and brutal war crime no one remembers.

You’d think the USAAF would have come up with something significantly safer than daylight bombing if their goal was just to indiscriminately flatten German civilians. Something like say… the British did (they gave no fucks whatsoever), and bomb by radar or on flares dropped from pathfinder aircraft.

In Japan, it was pretty much city destruction with very minor nods to destroying actual industrial infrastructure or military targets. Not much defense there.

As far as WWII goes, to put it into perspective. 62% of the deaths were civilians, the vast majority (15:1) from the Allied side.

100% incorrect. Read The Fire by Jorg Friedrich. It explains the science and planning behind the bombing of Germany. It was essentially mass murder.

The allied bombing campaign against Germany, and in particular the attack on Dresden, are very much favourites of the neo-Nazi Hitler-apologist crowd. They do tend to be a little free and easy with the facts. They like being able to say “SEE? The western allies were JUST LIKE NAZI GERMANY therefore Hitler was really a cool guy and just misunderstood due to Communist propaganda and Jews.”

David Irving, who literally wrote the book on Dresden, was later convicted of holocaust denial in several countries and was, for instance, shown to have deliberately mistranslated documents so as to make Hitler look a bit less evil.

The problem is that it took a long time before Irving was discredited, and his distortions and lies have been accepted as fact by people who, for whatever reason, want to claim moral equivalence between the Nazis and the western allies. So there’s a lot of misinformation about the attack on Dresden, and you really need to triple-check any information about it, because the lies have, in many minds, become the truth. So much for history being written by the victors.

Don’t forget that bombing of civilians didn’t begin with even the Spanish Civil War, it had caused notable damage in some British cities in WW1, and was used by the RAF in Afghanistan and Iraq in post-WW1 local insurgencies

It is undoubtedly true that RAF Bomber Command believed that deliberate bombing of civilian populations in industrial centres would undermine German war production and morale. It was expected from the outset that the Germans would do as much to Britain, though the actual lived experience of the 1940/41 blitz might have given Bomber Command pause. For much of 1940-42 that was as much as Britain could do to hit at Germany, and the vast majority of people would have supported the idea, as said at the time “They have sown the wind and shall reap the whirlwind” - hence the deliberate creation of firestorms in Hamburg and other centres, long before Dresden. There was an almighty battle in Whitehall to get them to release bombers to support ground troops after D-Day. Towards the end of the war there was a rising political campaign in the UK against the continued mass bombing of civilians, and by the end every sign that there was a guilty conscience at the higher levels, with Bomber Command and its leaders significantly less celebrated and honoured than others.

The situation today probably takes a tougher line on targeting of civilians precisely because of that experience, though the fact that bombing can now - apparently - be much more precisely targeted must also be a major factor.

Just to be clear, I am not trying to draw any sort of equivalence between the Allies and Axis in WWII. The Allies did some bad things. The Nazis were far worse.

A book written by a German left-wing anti-war activist is hardly likely to be an unbiased source on the subject.

Like I was saying, the British gave up most pretense of attacking military targets early on when they went to night bombing. With the technology of the time, there wasn’t much ability to target much of anything specific, so huge formations of Lancasters and Stirlings basically flattened entire cities with the express intent of killing civilians. (Read about the “Area Bombing Directive” of 1942 for an example.)

The US 8th Air Force never really (with a couple of isolated exceptions) never went in for the indiscriminate area bombing of civilians as primary targets. There was massive collateral damage in nearby civilian areas, but the 8th Air Force deliberately intended to bomb military and industrial targets at every stage of the war.

Take for example, the famous 2nd Schweinfurt Raid. The ball-bearing factories that the US targeted were interspersed within the town and neighboring villages. Combine that with the fact that US bombing in that era was done in formation, and only the lead bombardier of the formation would actually sight their bombs on target, and the rest of the formation would merely hold formation and drop when the lead bombardier did. If they didn’t line up the squadrons in line-astern and drop one after the other on the target (probably the most accurate way they could have done it), they were probably doing a group drop, which was something like 75 planes in a particular box formation.

So unless the target was very large, and/or all the pilots were doing excellent formation flying within their individual squadron formations, and those were just-right within their group formations, and so on up to the wing formations, the spread of bombs both laterally and along the path of flight was pretty large, and would almost certainly destroy plenty of stuff outside of the target area.

Plus, there were fighters shooting at you, and flak coming up from the ground, and the pilots and bombardiers were expected to fly straight and level in formation during all that. The navigators were supposed to be accurate enough to get you to the right city every time. As you can imagine, it didn’t always work out that way; squadrons and groups got separated by a bit from the main formations, and sometimes whole squadrons flew off and accidentally bombed the wrong cities - see the Bombing of Prague in 1944 (some US bombers got confused and bombed Prague instead of nearby Dresden)

I’m not at all convinced that the US bomber forces intended to target civilians; they could have been MUCH more effective at doing so, had they chosen to do so.

The London Blitz, on the other hand, was precision bombing on only military targets, eh?:rolleyes::dubious: