German tragedy of destiny







One may hardly believe today that Dortmund also had an inner city with a long historical past. Its location along the old military road elevated the town to a powerful imperial and trading center with Roman and Gothic churches. These included the oldest City Hall in Germany from around 1240.


The largest city of Westphalia with about 540,000 inhabitants formed an industrial agglomeration based on coal and steel.


The city was thus a preferred bombing target.


The most serious attacks were made on:

15 April 1942 = 215 bombers

5 May 1943 = 596 bombers, 693 dead

24 May 1943 = 826 bombers, 654 dead


More bomb attacks took place on:

7 October 1944, 7 November 1944, 1,148 dead and 2,451 wounded,

12 November 1944, 29 November 1944 and 12 March 1945, shortly  before the end of the war, with 1,107 fighters and nearly 5,000 tons of bombs. An area of one kilometer wide and five kilometer long was razed to the ground. The dead were not carried away, ostensibly because there were too many.





Report of a British newspaper


Not only the bombers brought death and destruction to the inner city; the fleeing people were hunted down from low-flying aircraft by cannon fire. On 3 March 1945 the "Thunderbolt" fighter planes killed 40 passengers of a crowded tram.


Two-thirds of Dortmund was destroyed.



Special mention must be made of the

bomb attack on the Möhne Dam:


In addition to the Operation "Gomorrah", the complete destruction of Hamburg by fire, the British borber force envisaged also another model of biblical destruction: the deluge.


To disrupt the water supply of the Ruhr and to inflict as many casualties as possible by large floods, the Royal Air Force targeted also large dams, namely beside the dam of the river Möhne also the Eder and Sorpe dams.


For the destruction of the barrages special bombs have been designes and special dropping techniques practiced.


The strike was carried out on the night of 16/17 May 1943. Only the 5th approach succeeded in destroying the barrage.


Several million cubic meters of water poured in a huge tidal wave into the valley.


While the walls of the Sorpe Dam remained in place, the waterflood at the Möhne Dam inflicted heavy losses among the civilian population. An estimated 1,200 people drowned in the raging waters, including more than 800 residents of the small town Neheim-Hüsten and hundreds of foreign workers.