From the onset of WWII… Britan’s Royal Air Force senior officials where committed to the concept that carpet bombing on a wide scale could win the war. Though reluctant at first to unleash bombing runs for fear of reprisals, the UK’s defeat in continental Europe made bombing runs on Germany a viable way to stay in the war. Britain’s ineffectual war effort could do little else for three years after expulsion from France in 1940 and the radicalization of their bombing policy followed suit.
In February 1942 the Area Bombing Directive was issued to RAF Bomber Command. It gave the authority for unrestricted aerial bombing focused on the morale of the German civilian population in hopes of crumbling industry. The primary directive stated “You are accordingly authorized to use your forces without restriction.." with a list of primary target cities which included the Essen, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, and Köln. Secondary targets included Braunschweig, Lübeck, Rostock, Bremen, Kiel, Hanover, Frankfurt, Mannheim, Stuttgart, Schweinfurt, Würzburg, Darmstadt, Kassel, Pforzheim, Koblenz, Hellibron, Leipzig, Hannover and many other cities..
By the beginning of 1943, with the US quickly approaching the conflict on mainland Europe, the Combined Chiefs of Staff of the Western Allies issued the “Casblanca Directive.” This directive was a joint agreement between the nations that outlined a progressive destruction and dislocation of the military, industrial, and civilian population in hopes of undermining of the morale of the German people to a point where their capacity for armed resistance was non-existent. Every opportunity was to be taken to bomb Germany. The goal to wipe out major cities andpopulations in hopes of lowering morale. Berlin, Köln, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Wessel, and Dresden where some of the hardest hit out of the major cities that where targeted for saturation bombing.
As the war drew to a close.. the already dwindling Luftwaffe ceased to exist in any strength. Air superiority fell to American and British bombers and the demoralization campaign came to fruition with devastating losses. Civilian populations in the hundreds of thousands fell victim to round the clock saturated, non-strategic carpet bombing with incendiary and high explosive ordnance. The year-round bombing engulfed towns in firestorms reaching temperatures over °1,000 that wiped out major areas and millions of structures. The subsequent destruction was felt on an inhumanely large scale. Countless non-combatants, refugees, and civilian populations where utterly lost without a trace.
The campaign lasted the span of the war and brought Germany to it’s knees at a cost of 100,000 Allied Airmen, over one million German civilians, and the total destruction of many of Europe’s finest, most historical cities. The affects of the campaign are still visible to this day.