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The ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, destroyed by Allied bombing and preserved as a memorial

Berlin, the capital of Nazi Germany, was subject to 363 air raids during the Second World War.[1] It was bombed by the RAF Bomber Command between 1940 and 1945, and by the USAAF Eighth Air Force between 1943 and 1945, as part of the Allied campaign of strategic bombing of Germany. It was also attacked by aircraft of the Red Air Force, especially in 1945 as Soviet forces closed on the city.


When the Second World War began in 1939, the President of the United States (then a neutral power), Franklin D. Roosevelt, issued a request to the major belligerents to confine their air raids to military targets.[2] The French and the British agreed to abide by the request, with the provision that this was "upon the understanding that these same rules of warfare will be scrupulously observed by all of their opponents".[3]

The United Kingdom had a policy of using aerial bombing only against military targets and against infrastructure such as ports and railways of direct military importance. While it was acknowledged that the aerial bombing of Germany would cause civilian casualties, the British government renounced the deliberate bombing of civilian property, outside combat zones, as a military tactic.[4] This policy was abandoned on 15 May 1940, two days after the German air attack on Rotterdam, when the RAF was given permission to attack targets in the Ruhr, including oil plants and other civilian industrial targets that aided the German war effort, such as blast furnaces that at night were self illuminating. The first RAF raid on the interior of Germany took place on the night of 15 – 16 May.[5]

Between 1939 and 1942, the policy of bombing only targets of direct military significance was gradually abandoned in favour of "area bombing"—large-scale bombing of German cities to destroy housing and civilian infrastructure. Although killing German civilians was never an explicit policy, it was obvious that area bombing must lead to large-scale civilian casualties.[6] Following the fall of France in 1940, Britain had no other means of carrying the war to Germany and after the entry of the Soviet Union into the war in 1941, bombing Germany was the only contribution Britain could make to meet Joseph Stalin's demands for action to open up a second front. With the technology available at the time, the precision bombing of military targets was possible only by daylight (and it was difficult even then). Daylight bombing raids conducted by Bomber Command involved unacceptably high losses of British aircraft, and bombing by night led to far lower British losses, but was of necessity indiscriminate due to the difficulties of noctural navigation and bomb aiming.[7]

1940 to 1942

Before 1941, Berlin, at 950 kilometres (590 miles) from London, was at the extreme range attainable by the British bombers then available to the RAF. It could be bombed only at night in summer when the days were longer and skies clear—which increased the risk to Allied bombers. The first RAF raid on Berlin took place on the night of 25 August 1940; 95 aircraft were dispatched to bomb Tempelhof Airport near the center of Berlin and Siemensstadt, of which 81 dropped their bombs in and around Berlin,[8][9] and while the damage was slight, the psychological effect on Hitler was greater. The bombing raids on Berlin prompted Hitler to order the shift of the Luftwaffe's target from British airfields and air defenses to British cities, at a time when the British air defenses were critically close to collapse. It has been argued that this action may actually have saved Britain from defeat.[10] In the following two weeks there were a further five raids of a similar size, all nominally precision raids at specific targets,[9] but with the difficulties of navigating at night the bombs that were dropped were widely dispersed.[11] During 1940 there were more raids on Berlin, all of which did little damage. The raids grew more frequent in 1941, but were ineffective in hitting important targets. The head of the Air Staff of the RAF, Sir Charles Portal, justified these raids by saying that to "get four million people out of bed and into the shelters" was worth the losses involved.[12][13]

The Soviet Union started a bombing campaign on Berlin on 8 August 1941 that extended into early September.

On 7 November 1941 Sir Richard Peirse, head of RAF Bomber Command, launched a large raid on Berlin, sending over 160 bombers to the capital. More than 20 were shot down or crashed, and again little damage was done. This failure led to the dismissal of Peirse and his replacement by Sir Arthur Harris, a man who believed in both the efficacy and necessity of area bombing. Harris said: "The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everyone else, and nobody was going to bomb them. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw, and half a hundred other places, they put their rather naïve theory into operation. They sowed the wind, and now they are going to reap the whirlwind."[14]

At the same time, new bombers with longer ranges were coming into service, particularly the Avro Lancaster, which became available in large numbers during 1942. During most of 1942, however, Bomber Command's priority was attacking Germany's U-boat ports as part of Britain's effort to win the Battle of the Atlantic. During the whole of 1942 there were only nine air alerts in Berlin, none of them serious.[15] Only in 1943 did Harris have both the means and the opportunity to put his belief in area bombing into practice.

The Battle of Berlin

The Battle of Berlin was launched by Harris in November 1943, a concerted air campaign against the German capital, although other cities continued to be attacked to prevent the Germans concentrating their defences in Berlin. Harris believed this could be the blow that would break German resistance. "It will cost us between 400 and 500 aircraft," he said. "It will cost Germany the war."[16] By this time he could deploy over 800 long-range bombers on any given night, equipped with new and more sophisticated navigational devices such as H2S radar. Between November 1943 and March 1944, Bomber Command made 16 massed attacks on Berlin.

Prelude to the 1943 raids was made by De Havilland Mosquito, a famous aircraft that hit the capital on 30 January 1943. On that day both Göring and Goebbels were known to be giving big speeches. At precisely 11.00 am, Mosquitoes of No. 105 Squadron arrived over Berlin exactly on time to disrupt Göring’s speech. Later that day, No. 139 Squadron repeated the trick for Goebbels. These were great propaganda raids – they might not have done any damage to German industry, but they were a severe embarrassment for the German leadership.

20 April 1943 was Hitler’s 54th birthday. Bomber Command decided that they had to mark the occasion with a raid on Berlin, and it was decided that the Mosquito was the right aircraft for the job. Accordingly, No. 105 Squadron was dispatched to the German capital, successfully reaching the city for the loss of only one aircraft.

The first raid of the battle occurred on 18–19 November 1943. Berlin was the main target, and was attacked by 440 Avro Lancasters aided by four de Havilland Mosquitos. The city was under cloud and the damage was not severe. The second major raid was on the night of 22–23 November 1943. This was the most effective raid by the RAF on Berlin. The raid caused extensive damage to the residential areas west of the centre, Tiergarten and Charlottenburg, Schöneberg and Spandau. Because of the dry weather conditions, several firestorms ignited. The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was destroyed. Several other buildings of note were either damaged or destroyed, including the British, French, Italian and Japanese embassies, Charlottenburg Palace and Berlin Zoo, as were the Ministry of Munitions, the Waffen SS Administrative College, the barracks of the Imperial Guard at Spandau and several arms factories.[17]

On 17 December, extensive damage was done to the Berlin railway system. By this time cumulative effect of the bombing campaign had made more than a quarter of Berlin's total living accommodation unusable.[17] There was another major raid on 28–29 January 1944, when Berlin's western and southern districts were hit in the most concentrated attack of this period. On 15–16 February important war industries were hit, including the large Siemensstadt area, with the centre and south-western districts sustaining most of the damage. This was the largest raid by the RAF on Berlin. Raids continued until March 1944.[17][18][19]

US Air Force over Berlin, 19 May 1944

These raids caused immense devastation and loss of life in Berlin. The 22 November 1943 raid killed 2,000 Berliners and rendered 175,000 homeless. The following night 1,000 were killed and 100,000 made homeless. During December and January regular raids killed hundreds of people each night and rendered between 20,000 and 80,000 homeless each time.[20] Overall nearly 4,000 were killed, 10,000 injured and 450,000 made homeless.[21]

Despite the devastation they caused, however, these raids failed to achieve their objectives. German civilian morale did not break, the city's defences and essential services were maintained, and war production in greater Berlin did not fall: in fact German war production continued to rise until the end of 1944. Area bombing consistently failed to meet its stated objective, which was to win the war by bombing Germany until its economy and civilian morale collapsed.

The 16 raids on Berlin cost Bomber Command more than 500 aircraft, with their crews killed or captured, which was a loss rate of 5.8%, which was above the 5% threshold that was considered the maximum sustainable operational loss rate by the RAF.[22] Daniel Oakman makes the point that "Bomber Command lost 2,690 men over Berlin, and nearly 1,000 more became prisoners of war. Of Bomber Command’s total losses for the war, around seven per cent were incurred during the Berlin raids. In December 1943, for example, 11 crews from No. 460 Squadron RAAF alone were lost in operations against Berlin; and in January and February, another 14 crews were killed. Having 25 aircraft destroyed meant that the fighting force of the squadron had to be replaced in three months. At these rates Bomber Command would have been wiped out before Berlin."[23]

It is generally accepted that the Battle of Berlin was a failure for the RAF,[23] with the British official historians claiming that "in an operational sense the Battle of Berlin was more than a failure, it was a defeat".[24]

March 1944 to April 1945

Bombing victims laid out in an exhibition hall, Autumn 1944

In 1943, the Berlin architect Erich Mendelsohn collaborated with the U.S. Army and the Standard Oil company in order to build "German Village", a set of replicas of typical German working class housing estates, which would be of key importance in acquiring the know-how and experience necessary to carry out the firebombings on Berlin.[25]

Big Week (Sunday, 20–Friday, 25 February 1944) had bolstered the confidence of U.S. strategic bombing crews. Until that time, Allied bombers avoided contact with the Luftwaffe; now, the Americans used any method that would force the Luftwaffe into combat. Implementing this policy, the United States looked toward Berlin. Raiding the German capital, the USAAF reasoned, would force the Luftwaffe into battle. Consequently, on 4 March, the USSTAF launched the first of several attacks against Berlin.[26] Fierce battles raged and resulted in heavy losses for both sides; 69 B-17s were lost on March 6 but the Luftwaffe lost 160 aircraft. The Allies replaced their losses; the Luftwaffe could not.[27]

At the tail end of the Battle of Berlin the RAF made one last large raid on the city on the night of 24–25 March, losing 8.9% of the attacking force,[28] but due to the failure of the Battle of Berlin, and the switch to the tactical bombing of France during the summer months in support of the Allied invasion of France, RAF Bomber Command left Berlin alone for most of 1944. Nevertheless, regular nuisance raids by both the RAF and USAAF continued, including the Operation Whitebait diversion for the bombing of the Peenemünde Army Research Center.

During 1945 the Eighth Air Force launched a number of very large daytime raids on Berlin, and for 36 nights in succession scores of RAF Mosquitos bombed the German capital, ending on the night of 20/21 April 1945 just before the Soviets entered the city.[29]

Almost 1,000 B-17 bombers of the Eighth Air Force, protected by some 575 North American P-51 Mustangs, attacked the Berlin railway system on the forenoon of 3 February 1945 in the belief that the German Sixth Panzer Army was moving through Berlin by train on its way to the Eastern Front,[30] thinking that the Sixth Panzer Army would use the Tempelhof railyards for the move.[31] This was one of the few occasions on which the USAAF undertook a mass attack on a city centre. Lt-General James Doolittle, commander of the USAAF Eighth Air Force, objected to this tactic, but he was overruled by the USAAF commander, General Carl Spaatz, who was supported by the Allied commander General Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower and Spaatz made it clear that the attack on Berlin was of great political importance in that it was designed to assist the Soviet offensive on the Oder east of Berlin, and was essential for Allied unity.[32][33]

In the raid, led by highly decorated Jewish-American USAAF Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Rosenthal of the 100th Bombardment Group, Friedrichstadt (the newspaper district), and Luisenstadt (both divided between the boroughs of Kreuzberg and Mitte, the central area) and some other areas such as Friedrichshain were severely damaged. The bombs surprisingly consisted mostly of high explosive ordnance and not incendiary bombs for this particular raid. The area mostly hit did not include railway main lines, which were more northern (Stadtbahn) and southern (Ringbahn), but two terminal stations of Berlin (Anhalter and Potsdamer Bahnhof, the latter of which was already out of service since 1944 due to bomb destruction).

The bombing was so dense that it caused a city fire spreading eastwards, driven by the wind, over the south of Friedrichstadt and the northwest of neighboured Luisenstadt. The fire lasted for four days until it had burnt everything combustible in its range to ashes and after it had reached waterways, large thoroughfares, and parks that the fire could not jump over. Due to the exhaustion of German supplies the German anti-aircraft defense was underequipped and weak so that out of the 1,600 US aircraft committed, only 36 were shot down and their crews – as far as they survived the crash of their planes – taken as prisoners-of-war.[34]

A number of monuments, such as French Luisenstadt Church, St. James Church, Jerusalem's Church, Luisenstadt Church, St. Michael's Church, St. Simeon Church, and the Protestant Consistory (today's entrance of Jewish Museum Berlin) as well as government and Nazi Party buildings were also hit, including the Reich Chancellery, the Party Chancellery, the Gestapo headquarters, and the People's Court.[33] The Unter den Linden, Wilhelmstrasse and Friedrichstrasse areas were turned into seas of ruins. Among the dead was Roland Freisler, the infamous head justice of the People's Court. The death-toll amounted to just 2,894, since the raid took place in daytime with so few incendiary bombs used, and not surprising the inhabitants in their sleep. The number of wounded amounted to 20,000 and 120,000 were "dehoused".[34]

Another big raid on 26 February 1945[35] left another 80,000 people homeless. Raids continued until April, when the Red Army was outside the city. In the last days of the war the Red Air Force also bombed Berlin, as well as using Ilyushin Il-2 and similar aircraft for low-level attacks from 28 March onwards. By this time Berlin's civil defences and infrastructure were on the point of collapse, but at no time did civilian morale break. After the capture of Berlin, Soviet General Nikolai Bersarin said, referring to the Red Army's artillery and rocket bombardment, that:

"the Western Allies had dropped 65,000 tons of explosives on the city in the course of more than two years; whereas the Red Army had expended 40,000 tons in merely two weeks".

Later, statisticians calculated that for every inhabitant of Berlin there were nearly 30 cubic meters (39 cubic yards) of rubble.[36]

Up to the end of March 1945 there had been a total of 314 air raids on Berlin, with 85 of those coming in the last twelve months[37] Half of all houses were damaged and around a third uninhabitable, as much as 16 km² of the city was simply rubble. Estimates of the total number of dead in Berlin from air raids range from 20,000 to 50,000; current German studies suggest the lower figure is more likely.[38] This compares to death tolls of between 25,000 and 35,000 in the single attack on Dresden on 14 February 1945, and the 40,000 killed at Hamburg in a single raid in 1943, with both the Hamburg and Dresden raids each having lower casualty totals than the 9/10 March 1945 Operation Meetinghouse single firebombing raid on Tokyo, causing the loss of at least 100,000 lives[39] in the Japanese capital. The relatively low casualty figure in Berlin is partly the result of the city's distance from airfields in Britain, which made big raids difficult before the liberation of France in late 1944, but also a testament to its superior air defences and shelters.[citation needed]

Berlin's defences

The Zoo flak tower, April 1942

The Nazi regime was acutely aware of the political necessity of protecting the Reich capital against devastation from the air. Even before the war, work had begun on an extensive system of public air-raid shelters, but by 1939 only 15% of the planned 2,000 shelters had been built. By 1941, however, the five huge public shelters (Zoo, Anhalt Station, Humboldthain, Friedrichshain and Kleistpark) were complete, offering shelter to 65,000 people. Other shelters were built under government buildings, the best-known being the so-called Führerbunker under the Reich Chancellery building. In addition, many U-Bahn stations were converted into shelters. The rest of the population had to make do with their own cellars.[40]

In 1943, the Germans decided to evacuate non-essential people from Berlin. By 1944 1.2 million people, 790,000 of them women and children, about a quarter of the city's population, had been evacuated to rural areas. An effort was made to evacuate all children from Berlin, but this was resisted by parents, and many evacuees soon made their way back to the city (as was also the case in London in 1940–41). The increasing shortage of manpower as the war dragged on meant that female labour was essential to keep Berlin's war industries going, so the evacuation of all women with children was not possible. At the end of 1944 the city's population began to grow again as refugees fleeing the Red Army's advance in the east began to pour into Berlin. The Ostvertriebene (refugees from the East) were officially denied permission to remain in Berlin for longer than two days and were housed in camps near to the city before being moved on westwards; it is estimated less than 50,000 managed to remain in Berlin. By January 1945 the population was around 2.9 million, although the demands of the German military were such that only 100,000 of these were males aged 18–30. Another 100,000 or so were forced labor, mainly French fremdarbeiter, "foreign workers", and Russian Ostarbeiter "eastern workers".

The key to the Flak area were three huge Flak towers (Flakturm), which provided enormously tough platforms for both searchlights and 128 mm anti-aircraft guns as well as shelters (Hochbunker) for civilians. These towers were at the Berlin Zoo in the Tiergarten, Humboldthain and Friedrichshain. The Flak guns were increasingly manned by the teenagers of the Hitler Youth as older men were drafted to the front. By 1945 the girls of the League of German Girls (BDM) were also operating Flak guns. After 1944 there was little fighter protection from the Luftwaffe, and the Flak defences were increasingly overwhelmed by the scale of the attacks.


Bombing of Berlin during World War II
Date Bomber Command Notes
1940-6-77 Jun 1940 – 8 Jun 1940 French Navy One Farman N.C.223.4 converted long-range transport. Flew from Bordeaux via Baltic Sea, approaching Berlin from the north.[41]
1940-8-2525 Aug 1940 – 26 Aug 1940 RAF 95 aircraft.[8][9]
1941-8-88 Aug 1941 Soviet Air Force Ilyushin Il-4 bombers, operating from Kuressaare airfield on Saaremaa island.
1941-8-1110 Aug 1941 – 11 Aug 1941 Soviet Air Force Fourteen Petlyakov Pe-8 heavy bombers from Pskov, eleven of which reached Berlin.[42]
1941-11-77 Nov 1941 – 8 Nov 1941 RAF 160 aircraft. 20 aircraft (12.5%) lost."[14]
1943-8-2323 Aug 1943 – 24 Aug 1943 RAF 727 Lancasters, Halifaxes, Stirlings and Mosquitos set out, with 70 turning back before reaching target. 57 aircraft (7.8%) lost.[43]
1943-8-3131 Aug 1943 – 1 Sep 1943 RAF 613 heavy bombers and 9 Mosquitos. 47 aircraft (7.6%) lost.[44]
1943-9-33 Sep 1943 – 4 Sep 1943 RAF 316 Lancasters dispatched with four Mosquitos carrying out diversionary laying of flares to distract defences.[45] 22 aircraft (6.9%) lost.[46]
1943-11-1818 Nov 1943 – 19 Nov 1943 RAF Berlin, the main target, was attacked by 440 Avro Lancasters and 4 de Havilland Mosquitos. They bombed the city, which was under cloud. Diversionary raids on Mannheim and Ludwigshafen by 395 other aircraft. Mosquitos attacked several other towns. In all 884 sorties. 32 aircraft (3.6%) lost.[47]
1943-11-2222 Nov 1943 – 23 Nov 1943 RAF Berlin the main target. 469 Lancasters, 234 Handley Page Halifaxes, 50 Short Stirlings, 11 Mosquitos. Total 764 aircraft. This was the most effective raid on Berlin of the war. Most of the damage was to the residential areas west of the centre, Tiergarten and Charlottenburg, Schöneberg and Spandau. Because of the dry weather conditions, several 'firestorms' ignited. 175,000 people were made homeless and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche) was destroyed. The ruins of the old church are now a monument to the horrors of war. Several other buildings of note were either damaged or destroyed, including the British, French, Italian and Japanese embassies, Charlottenburg Castle and Berlin Zoo. Also the Ministry of Weapons and Munitions, the Waffen SS Administrative College, the barracks of the Imperial Guard at Spandau, as well as several factories employed in the manufacture of material for the armed forces. 26 aircraft (3.4%) lost.[47]
1943-11-2323 Nov 1943 – 24 Nov 1943 RAF Berlin, the main target, was attacked by 365 Lancasters, 10 Halifaxes, 8 Mosquitos (383 aircraft).[47]
1943-11-2424 Nov 1943 – 25 Nov 1943 RAF Berlin, in a small raid, was attacked by 6 Mosquitos, 1 Mosquito lost
1943-11-2525 Nov 1943 – 26 Nov 1943 RAF 3 Mosquitos to Berlin.[47]
1943-11-2626 Nov 1943 – 27 Nov 1943 RAF Berlin, the main target, was attacked by 443 Lancasters and 7 Mosquitos. Most of the damage in Berlin was in the semi-industrial suburb of Reinickendorf. Stuttgart was a diversion, attacked by 84 aircraft. The total sorties for the night was 666. 34 aircraft (5.1%) lost.[47]
1943-12-022 Dec 1943 – 3 Dec 1943 RAF Berlin, the main target, was attacked by 425 Lancasters, 18 Mosquitos, 15 Halifaxes. The Germans correctly identified that Berlin was the target. Unexpected cross winds had scattered the bomber formations and so German fighters found the bombers easier targets. 37 Lancasters, 2 Halifaxes, 1 Mosquito (8.7% of the force). Due to the cross winds the bombing was inaccurate and to the south of the city, but two more of the Siemens factories, a ball-bearing factory and several railway installations were damaged.[17]
1943-12-1616 Dec 1943 – 17 Dec 1943 RAF Berlin was the main target. It was attacked by 483 Lancasters and 15 Mosquitos. German night fighters were successfully directed to intercept the bombers. The damage to the Berlin railway system was extensive. 1,000 wagon-loads of war material destined for the Eastern Front were held up for 6 days. The National Theatre and the building housing Germany's military and political archives were both destroyed. The cumulative effect of the bombing campaign had now made more than a quarter of Berlin's total living accommodation unusable. Two Bristol Beaufighters and 2 Mosquitos of No. 100 Group equipped with Serrate radar detector patrolled the route for German nightfighters. A Bf 110 was damaged, the first time these hunter killers had been on a successful Serrate patrol. 25 Lancasters, 5.2% of the Lancaster force, were lost over enemy occupied territory, with a further 29 aircraft lost on landing in England due to very low cloud.[17]
1943-12-2323 Dec 1943 – 24 Dec 1943 RAF Berlin was attacked by 364 Lancasters, 8 Mosquitos and 7 Halifaxes. German fighters encountered difficulty with the weather and were able to shoot down only 16 Lancasters, 4.2% of the force. Damage to Berlin was relatively small.[17]
1943-12-2829 Dec 1943 – 30 Dec 1943 RAF Berlin was the main target. 457 Lancasters, 252 Halifaxes and 3 Mosquitos (712 aircraft), RAF losses were light, at 2.8% of the force. Heavy cloud cover frustrated the RAF and damage was light.[17]
1944-01-101 Jan 1944 – 2 Jan 1944 RAF Berlin was the main target. 421 Lancasters despatched to Berlin. German night fighters were effective and 6.7% of the bombers were shot down. A small raid on Hamburg by 15 Mosquitos and smaller raids on other towns did not divert the night fighrers.[18]
1944-01-022 Jan 1944 – 3 Jan 1944 RAF Berlin was the main target. 362 Lancasters, 12 Mosquitos, 9 Halifaxes (383 aircraft). The night fighters did not catch up to the bombers until they were over Berlin and managed to shoot down 27 Lancasters, 10% of the force.
1944-01-055 Jan 1944 – 6 Jan 1944 RAF A diversionary raid by 13 Mosquitos on Berlin.[18]
1944-01-1010 Jan 1944 – 11 Jan 1944 RAF Small raids on Berlin, Solingen, Koblenz and Krefeld by 20 Mosquitos. No aircraft were lost.[18]
1944-01-1414 Jan 1944 – 15 Jan 1944 RAF 17 Mosquitos launched small raids on Magdeburg and Berlin.[18]
1944-01-2020 Jan 1944 – 21 Jan 1944 RAF Berlin was the main target. 495 Lancasters, 264 Halifaxes, 10 Mosquitos (769 aircraft) despatched to Berlin. Night fighter attacks were pressed home successfully; 22 Halifaxes and 13 Lancasters were lost, 4.6% of the force. The damage could not be assessed due to low cloud cover the next day.[18]
1944-01-2727 Jan 1944 – 28 Jan 1944 RAF Berlin was the main target. 515 Lancasters and 15 Mosquitos (530 aircraft) despatched to Berlin. The RAF records state that the bombing appeared to have been spread well up- and down-wind. The diversionary raids were only partially successful in diverting German night fighters. 33 Lancasters were lost, which was 6.4 per cent of the heavy force. A further 167 sorties were flown against other targets, with one aircraft lost.[18]
1944-01-2828 Jan 1944 – 29 Jan 1944 RAF Berlin was the main target. 432 Lancasters, 241 Halifaxes, 4 Mosquitos (677 aircraft) despatched to Berlin. Western and Southern districts, covered by partial cloud, were hit in what the RAF records state was the most concentrated attack of this period. German records do not fully support this mentioning that were 77 places outside the city were hit. Deception raids and routing over Northern Denmark did not prevent the German air defences from reacting. 46 aircraft, 6.8 per cent of the force. Just over 100 other aircraft attacked a number of other targets.[18]
1944-01-3030 Jan 1944 – 31 Jan 1944 RAF Berlin was the main target. 440 Lancasters, 82 Halifaxes, 12 Mosquitos (534 aircraft), despatched to Berlin. RAF losses were 33 aircraft, 6.2% of the total.[18]
1944-02-15 15 Feb 1944 – 16 Feb 1944 RAF Berlin main target. 561 Lancasters, 314 Halifaxes, 16 Mosquitos (891 aircraft), despatched to Berlin. Despite cloud cover most important war industries were hit, including the large Siemensstadt area, with the centre and south-western districts substaining most of the damage. This was the largest raid by the RAF on Berlin. A diversionary raid by 24 Lancasters of No. 8 Group on Frankfurt-on-the-Oder failed to confuse the Germans. RAF lost 43 aircraft – 26 Lancasters, 17 Halifaxes, which was 4.8 per cent of the force. A further 155 sorties were flown against other targets.[19]
1944-03-044 Mar 1944 VIII Target: Berlin. Attempted raids had been halted by bad weather on 3 March. A maximum effort raid by 730 (504 B-17s and 226 B-24s) bombers and 644 fighters of the Eighth Air Force. Resulted in 37 losses.[48][49]
1944-03-066 Mar 1944 US VIII, IX 69 US bombers were lost. 11 P-51 Mustangs were also lost. The Bomber loss rate stood at 10.2 percent. The Luftwaffe lost 64 fighters, including 16 Bf 110 and Me 410 heavy fighters.[50]
1944-03-088 Mar 1944 US VIII Raid against Berlin by 623 bombers. 37 US bombers were lost and 18 fighters were also lost. The Luftwaffe lost 42 fighters, with 3 killed, 26 missing and 9 wounded (includes the Me 410 and Bf 110 multiple manned aircraft)[51]
1944-03-2424 Mar 1944 – 25 Mar 1944 RAF Berlin main target. The bomber stream was scattered and those that reached Berlin bombed well out to the south-west of the city. The RAF lost 72 aircraft, 8.9% of the attacking force.[28]


  1. Taylor, Chapter "Thunderclap and Yalta" Page 216
  2. President Franklin D. Roosevelt Appeal against aerial bombardment of civilian populations, 1 September 1939
  3. Taylor, Chapter "Call Me Meier", Page 105
  4. A.C. Grayling, Among the Dead Cities (Bloomsbury 2006), Page 24.
  5. Taylor, Chapter "Call Me Meier", Page 111
  6. Hastings 1981, p. 114.
  7. Hastings 1981, pp. 111–115.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Moss, p. 295
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Quester p. 115
  11. Quester p.116
  12. Grayling, 47
  13. Taylor, Chapter "Call Me Meier", Page 114
  14. 14.0 14.1 Robin Cross, Fallen Eagle (London, John Wiley and Sons 1995), 78
  15. Reinhard Rürup, Berlin 1945: A Documentation (Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel 1995), 11
  16. Grayling, 62
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 "December 1943". RAF Bomber Command Campaign Diary. Royal Air Force. 6 April 2005. Retrieved 17 June 2009.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Bomber-Command-Dec-43" defined multiple times with different content
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 18.7 18.8 RAF Bomber Command Campaign Diary January 1944. Royal Air Force. 6 April 2005. Retrieved 17 June 2009. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Bomber-Command-Jan-44" defined multiple times with different content
  19. 19.0 19.1 RAF Bomber Command Campaign Diary February 1944. Royal Air Force. 6 April 2005. Retrieved 17 June 2009. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Bomber-Command-Feb-44" defined multiple times with different content
  20. Grayling, 309–310
  21. Rürup, 11
  22. Grayling, Page 332, footnote 58
  23. 23.0 23.1 Daniel Oakman Wartime Magazine: The battle of Berlin on the Australian War Memorial website
  24. Webster & Frankland 1961, p. 193.
  25. Quoted by Mike Davis in Chapter 3 of his work Dead Cities. The original reference, according to this online version of the chapter, is "Design and Construction of Typical German and Japanese Test Structures at Dugway Proving Grounds, Utah" 27 May 1943, by the Standard Oil Development Company.
  26. "Video: Blast Berlin By Daylight, 1944/03/20 (1944)". Universal Newsreel. 1944. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  27. *Russell, Edward T. (1999). The U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II: Leaping the Atlantic Wall Army Air Forces Campaigns in Western Europe, 1942–1945, Big Week Air Force history and museums program 1999, Federal Depository Library Program Electronic Collection (backup site)
  28. 28.0 28.1 RAF Campaign Diary March 1944
  29. McInnis 1946, p. 115.
  30. Taylor, Page 215
  31. "Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces — February 1945". Retrieved August 28, 2013. 
  32. Addison p. 102, gives the political background to the raid
  33. 33.0 33.1 Beevor, p. 74. claims 3,000
  34. 34.0 34.1 Erik Smit, Evthalia Staikos and Dirk Thormann, 3. Februar 1945: Die Zerstörung Kreuzbergs aus der Luft, Martin Düspohl (ed.) on behalf of the Kunstamt Kreuzberg / Kreuzberg-Museum für Stadtentwicklung und Sozialgeschichte in co-operation with the Verein zur Erforschung und Darstellung der Geschichte Kreuzbergs e.V., Berlin: Kunstamt Kreuzberg, 1995, pp. 12seq. ISBN 3-9804686-0-7.
  35. Davis p. 511
  36. Joachim Fest (2002, English translation 2004). Inside Hitler’s Bunker. Picador, New York. p. 88. ISBN 0-312-42392-6. 
  37. Bahm, Karl. Berlin 1945: The Final Reckoning, (MBI Publishing/Amber Books, 2001). ISBN 0-7603-1240-0. Page 47.
  38. Rürup, 13
  39. Mark Selden. A Forgotten Holocaust: US Bombing Strategy, the Destruction of Japanese Cities and the American Way of War from the Pacific War to Iraq. Japan Focus, 2 May 2007.
  40. This section is based on Rürup, chapter 1
  41. Green 1968, p. 19.
  42. Esko Sipiläinen (2007) (in Finnish). Pommituslento Berliiniin : pakkolasku Lapinjärvelle. ISBN 952-92-2915-1. 
  43. Richards 1994, pp.268—269.
  44. Richards 1994, p.269.
  45. Richards 1994, pp.270.
  46. RAF Campaign Diary September 1943. Royal Air Force. 6 April 2005. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  47. 47.0 47.1 47.2 47.3 47.4 RAF Campaign Diary November 1943. Royal Air Force. 6 April 2005. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  48. Hess 1994, p. 80 – 84.[verification needed]
  49. Caldwell & Muller 2007, p. 168.
  50. Caldwell & Muller 2007, p. 172-173.
  51. Caldwell & Muller 2007, p. 173-174.


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