principal seaport and major industrial location, the
second largest city of the German Reich was target of
multiple bomb attacks that began quite early, in the
summer of 1940.
They were carried
18 June 1940,
16 November 1940,
9 May 1941,
11 May 1941,
3 August 1941,
30 September 1941,
1 November 1941,
10 November 1941,
1 December 1941,
16 January 1942,
9 April 1942,
18 April 1942,
31 January 1943,
4 February 1943,
3/4 March 1943,
3 August 1943,
13 December 1943,
20 June 1944,
12 November 1944
By the summer of
1943, the Hanseatic city suffered 137 air strikes.
Although the attacks claimed nearly 1500 lives, the
damage, in comparison to the size of the city, was still
That could not last.
The commander of the Bomber Command, Arthur Harris, on
27 May 1943 issued the operation order No. 173 which
proved fatal to Hamburg. Among other things, it included
the following instructions for the bomber crews: "The
old Hanseatic city of Hamburg must be completely
destroyed by all means available."
Daily paper of the U.S. Army about attack on Hamburg
The code name of the
operation suggested in a cynical way that the population
of Hamburg had to be wiped out in a biblical doomsday
scenario equated to the sinful inhabitants of Sodom and
Under the "Operation
Gomorrah" more than 2,300 bombers dropped about 9,000
tons of bombs on the city.
In the red-hot fire
storm triggered by the bomb inferno around 30,000 people
burned or choked to death, including 7,000 children and
This little boy died
clinging to a firefighter
Insidious was the
strategic choice of the bombing sequence that guaranteed
the maximum number of victims and the highest level of
destruction. The first wave of explosive bombs
destroying the roofs were followed by incendiary bombs.
To prevent the rescue work of ambulances and
firefighters, in the intervals between the dropping of
incendiary bombs, explosive bombs were dropped again.
This devilish interplay transformed whole neighborhoods
into a sea of flames.
The scorching heat
was so strong that it liquefied the asphalt of the roads,
the fleeing citizens and those trying to help them were
stuck and burned to death.
Charred body of a
messenger boy beside his bicycle
277,000 houses and
apartments were destroyed, along with many industrial
enterprises 24 hospitals, 277 schools, 58 churches, 12
bridges and numerous historic buildings including the
City Library with 650,000 volumes.
In the bombing of
Hamburg more than 50,000 people died.
The Turkish Ambassador to Berlin reports on the annihilation of Hamburg: