Did the Allies really fake out a German city by not bombing it and then bombing it?

This came from the show Babylon 5. Sheridan was talking about WW2, when the Allies were bombing Germany, they deliberately left a city untouched so that refugees and stuff would trickle towards it, but in fact they had been waiting for that to happen. When enough people were at the city, the Allies flattened it.

What was this city and was this even done elsewhere in other wars?

It didn’t work out that way by design. Western German cities were subject to bombing due to their proximity to US & British airfields, so refugees flocked to eastern towns and cities. The Soviets didn’t practice strategic bombing. But as the Soviet army advanced west, Stalin demanded that the Allies soften up the areas they would be attacking. The most famous example was Dresden, a rail and industrial center that was full of refugee non-combatants. The Allies weren’t trying to be deliberate pricks, but they weren’t too concered about being nice to the Germans, either.

They were probably thinking of Dresden.

I don’t think the Allied commanders were intentionally sparing Dresden to sucker more refugees into it. Rather it was probably spared because it was a cultural center and, being in the east, hadn’t previously been within range of Allied bombers. But the fact that it was a major nexus for refugees did factor in its destruction since part of the strategy was to disrupt the orderly withdrawal from the eastern front.

The writers of Babylon 5 may also have been conflating Dresden with Hiroshima which was deliberately spared normal air raids so that the destructive effects of the atom bomb could more correctly be gauged.

Well, Dresden hadn’t been bombed until the big firebombing, and had been a refugee center, but I don’t know if that was really their motivation. But I’m sure Dresden was the city that the writers of Babylon 5 were referring to.

On a tactical level, much deception did take place. Training units would fly courses seeming to threaten one city, while operational units would smash another. In one case (and I have no cite at hand) false messages sent as if they were from official German radio stations, directed rescue teams to converge on the rail station to go to another city. The city center was then bombed.

Of course bombing cities while the rescue teams were still at work was simply standard practice.

Weren’t certain Japanese cities left untouched as possible targets for the atomic bombs?

Are you sure you’re not conflating WWII stories? They seemed to tell them enough times on that show. They mentioned Coventry being abandoned to it’s fate so that interception of Enigma messages could be kept secret, and in another episode talked about a general plan of not touching certain areas so that refugees stream towards it.

Yes, Hiroshima, specifically.

Also, Kyoto was mostly untouched – and kept of the nuclear target list – because Secretary of War Henry Stimson had honeymooned there decades before and admired its beauty and cultural attractions. (IIRC, he also felt that destruction of its temples and other sacred sites would enrage the Japanese population.)

But (IMHO) it’s a rare example of a top leader showing compassion and humanity in the midst of war.

Well, it was also a good strategic decision. Kyoto was and is not really a manufacturing or military center if I recall correctly. Bombing it woudl have been symbolically useful or not, but relatively useless.

Yes, but, as I said, he was under pressure to make it one of the nuclear targets, and he vetoed that idea.

It may be that if it had been more strategically valuable, he would have caved in to the pressure, but we’ll never know.

I may have, its been years since I’ve watch that show. But the bombing thing seems to stick out in my mind more, I don’t remember them discussing anything about breaking the Shadows’ code or anything like that

I don’t think it was code breaking, more about hiding important secrets in general.

I also remember the scene, I even think that Dresden and Hiroshima were mentioned as examples of where the tactic had been used.
Pushkin, what you remember about hiding secrets and Coventry was in a much earlier episode.

Actually, Hiroshima was not attacked before because it wasn’t a city vital to the Japanese war effort, not because we were saving it to demonstrate the power of the bomb.

However, it was later chosen as a bomb target because it was still relatively untouched and could demonstrate the power of the bomb.

The U.S. didn’t want to invade the main island of Japan. The bomb was a bluff. We were trying to convince the Japanese we could completely destroy Japan without landing on it, and therefore, they had to surrender, but we really didn’t have that many atomic bombs. if the Japanese didn’t surrender after Nagasaki, the U.S. would have been out of atomic weapons, and would have been forced to invade the main islands of Japan.

Dresden may have been the original city mentioned in this, but Dresden wasn’t bomb previously because it was not vital to the war effort and because it was too far from the British and American bases to bomb. Bombing a city required a cost/benefit analysis. Bombers would be attacked by German planes and artillery, so you simply didn’t attack a city unless it was worth the cost.

Later in the war, the cost of bombing cities for the allies was less, and secondary targets could be hit. Dresden was a rail hub, and one of the few functioning rail hubs still around in Germany. So the benefit of bombing Dresden increased because it would keep Germans from shuffling troops between East and West, and the cost was lower because German defenses were weaker too.

The question is why the saturation bombing. The bombs themselves caused minor damage compared to the firestorm that was created by the density of the bombing. Several military targets near the city were not hit, and roads that lead around the city through the suburbs were not destroyed. Why not do less saturation bombing and bomb other military targets. That’s the real question.

The possible answers vary. By causing a firestorm, it became impossible for the Germans to rebuild the railroads and the marshaling yards. There may have been a need to make sure that the marshaling yard was completely destroyed, so more bombs were dropped than needed, and the firestorm was not necessarily was the result of the plan. Some claim the result was to hurt German moral, but such a step could have also backfired. The Germans were considering abandoning the Geneva convention as a result of this bombing.

Eventually perhaps, but the shortage of atomic bombs wouldn’t have been a consideration. The Allies had no shortage of conventional bombs. The firebombing of Tokyo in 1945 was far more devastating and destructive of human life than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic raids.

Certainly the Allies used the atomic bomb to overawe the Japanese into surrender but had they not the US still had the means to flatten Japan from the air, even with no more nuclear bombs to hand.