At the time the Bombing Campaign against Germany was the single most important method of ‘hitting back’ that the Government could point to.
Nevertheless great attention was paid the effectiveness of the strategy, both in terms of the damage caused to German industry and war production, and to the impact raids were having on people in Germany. An intelligence paper was circulated to the War Cabinet:
German Reactions to Bombing Raids.
A Prague paper :— ” British bombers carried bombs of a size which had until now seemed impossible. The German population are able to judge exactly and unmistakably the terrific effect of these new British weapons.”
A letter from Dortmund :— ” The Tommies are doing what they like again. At night we go to bed filled with terror.”
A letter from Altenstadt (near Kassel) :— ” I am completely exhausted. I cannot stand it any longer.”
Letters from Bremen :— ” I am crying from fear. I am surprised I have not gone out of my mind.” ” The attacks are ghastly and our poor Bremen is like a ruin.” ” The worry over whether one can retain one’s goods and chattels through this murderous destruction is nerve-racking.”
Other extracts from intercepted letters :— ” Hamburg is unrecognisable. It looks as if an earthquake has taken place.” ” Very soon there won’t be even ruins in our Duisburg.” ” If the Tommies keep on bombing us like this Western Germany will soon cease to exist.” ” I cannot understand what you are doing at the front that we should be bombed four nights in succession.”
This is the sort of personal news which is spreading among the German troops in Russia and Egypt.
October 13, 1942.
From the fortnightly report on Bomber Command Operations as submitted to the War Cabinet see TNA CAB 66/29/44
Ten days later a more detailed report The Effects Of Air Raids On German Civilian Morale was to consider the benefits in more detail:
Heavy raids concentrated in time and space have a disproportionately greater effect on morale than less heavy raids. Such concentrated attacks have so far been delivered on comparatively few German towns; but there is evidence to show that in at least some of the areas affected they have caused in varying degrees temporary panic, breakdown in administration and even anti-Nazi reactions, including one authenticated case of anti-Nazi rioting in Duisburg.
In certain towns where the A.R.P. organisation has been overwhelmed, a feeling of complete helplessness has been induced and the tendency in such circumstances had been for the victims to throw much of the blame for the disaster on the regime. There have also been isolated cases of subversive activity and this development is known to be causing increasing concern to the authorities.
From the British War Cabinet Minutes and Discussion Papers see TNA CAB 66/30/12.
What the British authorities were unable evaluate at the time was the tenacious grip on power that the Nazi regime had. The system of policing and concentration camps had been developed at the very beginning of Nazi rule to stamp out any form of dissent from German citizens.
Almost everyone knew how dangerous it was to say anything critical at all about the the progress of the war, let alone about the Nazis themselves. It was a system that proved capable of withstanding any latent opposition to the regime right up to the end of the war, by which time the effects of bombing were far more devastating.