Before assessing the significance of Strategic Allied bombing of Germany during WWII, one must understand what is meant by the term ‘significance’. In this context, the word means how important strategic allied bombing was to the Allied victory; did it actively result in this outcome or was there another reason, but if this was the case, did it help aid the other reason. Those are the things that need to be examined intently to deduce a fair and justified answer to this question.
The Strategic Allied bombing of Germany was performed throughout WWII, being the primary means of offence between Blitzkrieg and D-Day with the Western Front destroyed. The significance of bombing intensified as the war went on with the introduction of new technologies, including radar and Mustang planes, which facilitated more accurate bombing carried out over a wider expanse. The Allies bombed Germany for numerous reasons, each significant, some more than others, in bringing the end of the war closer. Strategic Allied bombing was most significant in forming a front from air, which helped Russia withstand a German army, in pursuit of Lebensraum and led to relations growing between Britain and Russia, who until then were fighting against each other. It was quite significant in reducing German morale through area bombing, a tactic used in densely populated cities to kill innocent civilians. It was also very significant just through the sheer destructive power of bombing and how it impacted the economy to restore the damage caused. However, strategic Allied bombing did not win the war for the Allies; it was instead Russia capturing Berlin.
The strategic Allied bombing of Germany during WWII was significant to a great extent because of its impact on diplomacy between Britain and Russia and on the Eastern Front. Allied bombing had no significance on these factors until 1941 as Russia was allied with Germany as of the Nazi Soviet Pact, signed on 23rd August. This was possible because Chamberlain’s fear and hatred of communism and Stalin’s distrust towards capitalist countries, and alliance could not be negotiated, despite the fact the alliance would have been most beneficial as Russia played a huge role in the Allies’ pre-war Chamberlain’s strategy: to open Germany up to a two-front attack, which would have forced Germany to send troops to protect both sides, providing the Allies with a greater chance of overcoming the outnumbering German army, 13 million strong. The non-aggression pact meant that German could use all the men to attack the Allies on the Western Front, something the Allies could not cope with, evident in the Battle of France, an operation to capture France using the tactic Blitzkrieg. The battle lasted 46days in 1940, resulting in Germany victorious. This ended the Western front as Britain had no means to attack Germany on land with all mainland Europe under Nazi control. The fact that the Allies had been crushed with such ease by Germany showed how important an alliance with Russia was and would be if the Allies were to win the war. Therefore, Churchill tried to negotiate an alliance with Stalin with Russia’s importance realized. He did this after Germany invaded Russia, an inevitability, due to Hitler’s primary aim: to have Lebensraum in the East, where Russia was situated. Russia needed help to stop the German army which was pushing the Russians back into Moscow, the capital. Russia wanted Britain to form a second front, something Britain could not do by land with all mainland Europe under German occupation. Churchill instead offered Stalin a front from air, in which they would bomb Germany. To prevent mass damage to buildings and civilians, Germany had to divert their manufacturing toanti-aircraft guns from anti-tank guns, which were very effective against the German tanks. This kept Russia in the war when they were on the brink of collapse, something very significant to eventually expose Germany to a two-front attack after D-Day, Britain from the West, Russia from the East, which was necessary for an Allied victory. Germany was unable to stop either front and thus Russia captured Berlin on May 2nd 1945, marking the end to the war. Allied strategic bombing was therefore very significant as it helped Britain to prevent Russia from being captured by diverting German weapon manufacturing to combat the bombing and to form an alliance with Russia with bombing the only means possible for the establishment of a second front.
The strategic Allied bombing of Germany during WWII was significant to a great extent because of the impact it had on the German economy. Prior to the Butt report, the impact on the economy was limited due to the initial targets of the bombing being factories. The reason the Allies tried to bomb the factories was to slow down military production to weaken the German army and thus provide the Allies with an advantage which they hoped would win them the war. However, this strategy failed because of the way in which German industry was set up. The Germans, instead of having massive factories where all the weapon manufacturing taking place in one location, had lots of small workshops where individual parts of the weapons were made; there were buildings that made wings, plane bodies, bombs, ball bearings. It was therefore very difficult for the Allies to successfully hit these very small targets with their poor navigational technology. With only 10% of bombs hitting within 5miles of the target in the Ruhr, the major industrial region in Germany, the significance of Allied bombing on the economy was small. However, the Butt report led to the introduction of the tactic of area bombing, which was very successful in destroying production in Germany. This was because it involved dropping bombs over densely populated cities that could cause damage over a wide radius. This worked as some bombs were lucky and destroyed some factories, but most resulted in a lot of casualties, being as it was in a heavily built up area. There was a good chance that many industrial workers were severely injured or killed as a result of the bombing and this heavily impacted the rate of production. It also affected the economy as it cost lots of money to repair the destroyed buildings and to care for the casualties.
Slowing down the production of weaponry allowed Russia to stay in the war whilst they were struggling due to the impressive anti-tank guns being very effective against the Russian tanks. Moreover, the devastating impacts of area bombing on the economy and the population led the Germans to manufacture more anti-aircraft guns in preference to the anti-tank guns as the German army could not allow their people and their land to be destroyed, not just to prevent this but this damage could potentially demotivate people to fight against the Allies, too worried about the safety of their families back home. Therefore, strategic Allied bombing was significant to a great extent because it helped to slow weapon production and make them prioritize air defense; both of which helped to keep Russia in the war, something crucial for the conclusion to it.
The strategic Allied bombing of Germany during WWII was quite significant because of the positive impact it had on British morale, and the contrary on German. It was important for the allies to have good morale as it would reassure generals that their army was together as one unit and fully devoted to serving their country. It was equally important to reduce the morale of the German army so that they would not be as committed, making mutinies and soldiers surrendering much more common, occurrences which would bolster the allies’ war campaigns by hindering the Germans’; and this was achieved through strategic allied bombing, although unsuccessfully from 1939-41. The reason for this was the poor accuracy of the British planes. The first bombing raids were launched during daylight, but this made it easier for the planes to be seen and shot down by the anti-air craft guns as a result. 58% of bombers were shot down in these day raids, which was a number too high for it to be sustainable. The Allies did not have enough men to essentially sacrifice as cannon fodder nor the resources or time to repeatedly manufacture more planes as replacements for those destroyed. This prompted the allies to raid at night to reduce the number of casualties, although subsequently lowering the bombing accuracy. With very primitive radar technology — known as Range and Direction Finding, sight was the main way used to locate bombing targets. That tactic became impossible with the switch tonight raids. Due to how basic the radar system was, it didn’t provide the accuracy required to hit small, specific targets, at the time solely military: places where weapons were made, and this was made evident in the Butt report of 1941, in which it stated that “just one in five aircrafts put bombs within five miles of its target”. The initial targets of the bombing were solely military targets: places where weaponry was made. The Allies rationale behind hitting these locations was to slow down production of tanks, planes, and arms. The fact that the bombs were so inaccurate confused the German army as they were what the Allies strategy was. The inaccuracy of the bombing showed the inferiority of the Allies which actually raised German morale as it made them more hopeful that they could beat the Allies. Bomber command changed their tactics upon reading the Butt report, deciding to bomb civilian targets, cities, where many people lived in quite a small area, which would allow a greater infliction of damage. This tactic became known as area bombing. The bombing of Hamburg, a large, industrial city in July 1943 was a notable example of the success of this tactic. Hamburg was bombed relentlessly for a week, creating a massive firestorm, 460 meters tall, and resulted in 80,000 casualties. Bomber command hoped it would cause a morale collapse within the German army, knowing that innocent civilians, including their loved ones, were getting injured or dying. Despite this, Germany did not surrender which clearly limited the significance of strategic Allied bombing on German morale. Therefore, although strategic Allied bombing definitely lowered German morale, it was not to a great enough extent to compel German to surrender.
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