Dresden bombed (2-14-45)

The Pittsburgh Press (February 14, 1945)

Cities in path of Russians shattered by Yanks and RAF

Reds at Queis River, only 70 miles from Dresden rail center


LONDON, England – Marshal Stalin announced tonight that the Russians had captured Freystadt, 15 miles northeast of Sagan; Jauer, 11 miles south of Liegnitz; Neusalz, 19 miles northwest of Glogau, and a number of other Silesian towns.

Aiming for Dresden, Soviet forces on the Queis River were bolstered by U.S. and British raids on the Saxony capital. To the north, the Germans reported a Soviet bridgehead across the Oder River east of Berlin.

LONDON, England (UP) – Nearly 4,000 Allied planes blasted and burned German cities in the path of the great Russian flanking drive south of Berlin today.

Chief target of the U.S. and Royal Air Force heavy bombers was the Saxony capital of Dresden, now less than 70 miles from Red Army spearheads.

The attack was opened by night when some 1,400 RAF planes blasted Germany. Nearly 800 of them concentrated on Dresden, where they lighted vast fires visible to the advancing Red Army.

U.S. Flying Fortresses and Liberators took up the assault by day, sending some 2,250 planes over Germany, including 1,350 heavy bombers. One large U.S. formation dropped a new bomb load on Dresden while others hit Chemnitz, 38 miles to the southwest, and Magdeburg, 70 miles southwest of Berlin.

Marshal Ivan S. Konev’s First Ukrainian Army, meanwhile, pressed against the Queis River, third of the six barriers before Dresden, on a nine-mile front.

Hit rail network

The Anglo-American raids on Dresden struck the network of rail and highway arteries and depots upon which the German Army is dependent to supply its forces falling back on the city.

In addition to two “very heavy” and “highly concentrated” attacks on Dresden, the RAF targets announced by the Air Ministry were:

A synthetic oil plant at Bohlen, near Leipzig, 82 miles southwest of Berlin; Magdeburg, 75 miles west-southwest of the German capital; Nuremberg, 225 miles south of Berlin, and Bonn and Dortmund, in the Rhineland.

16 bombers missing

Sixteen British bombers were missing, but a communiqué said some may have landed in Allied territory on the continent.

The American targets in addition to Dresden were: Chemnitz, 38 miles to the southwest; Magdeburg, and a bridge across the Rhine at Wesel, in the area of the Canadian First Army offensive.

More than 900 Mustang and Thunderbolt fighters shepherded the U.S. heavy bombers over Germany.

The American bombardiers were able to fix their sights on the Dresden targets visually, and reported good results, The industrial section of the city was hit.

Many government offices in Berlin are known to have been evacuated to Dresden, which never before felt any great U.S. Eighth Air Force attack.

Dresden’s pre-war population of 640,000 has been swelled much above that figure by the tide of evacuees from other heavily-bombed German cities and from the regions of the east.

It is a great freight center and has extensive railroad shops. Chemnitz also has large freight yards capable of handling 3,500 cars daily.

First three-way attack

It was the first time in the war that the elements of all three of the major Allies had been coordinated in the blow at Germany. Whether the Anglo-American air support for the Red Army was a fruit of the Yalta conferences was not known.

In addition to the First Ukrainian Army’s drive against the Queis River, the Germans reported a Soviet advance to the north. Berlin said the Red Army had bypassed both the Queis and the Tschirne River barriers by reaching Sorau, eight miles west of Sagan, at the confluence of the Queis, Tschirne and Bober Rivers.

Set to drive south

From Sorau the Russians were in a position to strike 72 miles southwest to Dresden with only two river barriers, the Neisse and the Spree, to hurdle.

On the Berlin front, First White Russian Army forces have established a “major” bridgehead across the Oder at Reitwein, 35 miles east of the capital and five miles southwest of Kuestrin, Nazi broadcasts said.

The Germans also said street fighting was raging in Lebus, on the west bank of the Oder 33 miles east of Berlin and five miles north of Frankfurt. These forces presumably had cut the Kuestrin-Frankfurt railway at Lebus and were within a half mile of the west bank railway between the two cities.

Northeast of Berlin, Russian forces advanced to within five miles of the Danzig-Stettin-Berlin railway.

The Second and Third Ukrainian Armies, meantime, regrouped in Hungary under 73 generals for resumption of offensives aimed at Vienna, Bratislava and Bohemia after completing the liberation of encircled Budapest.

Budapest, ruined capital of Hungary, finally fell yesterday to the two armies following a 50-day siege in which 49,000 enemy troops were killed and 110,000 captured. The Nazi commander, Col. Gen. Pfeffer-Wildenbruch, and his staff were captured in their headquarters in an underground sewer.

Eighth to be freed

Budapest was the eighth European capital to be liberated by the Red Army. How many of its pre-war population of 1,116,000 remained in the city was not disclosed immediately.

Marshal Konev’s First Army drove to within 70 miles northeast of Dresden with the capture of Klitschdorf, on the Queis River 26 miles from the border of Saxony.

The Russians also reached the Queis at Neuhammer, nine miles north of Klitschdorf, in an advance of 9½ miles from the Bober River, a tributary to the Oder.

Threaten Sagan

Sagan, site of the three big American and British war prisoner camps eight miles northeast of Neuhammer, was threatened by the breakthrough. Johnsdorf, seven miles east of Sagan, and Ruekersdorf, nine miles northeast, were also captured.

The Germans were believed to have moved most Allied prisoners from the Sagan camps, but it was possible the Red Army would overtake and rescue some of them.

Deep in a German salient east of Sagan, Marshal Konev’s forces began a battle of annihilation against the encircled German garrison of Glogau, on the Oder 119 miles southeast of Berlin.

Glogau was formerly chief supply base for Nazi troops holding a bridgehead on the east bank of the Oder midway between Berlin and Breslau, but German broadcasts indicated the bridgehead may have been abandoned.

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The Pittsburgh Press (February 15, 1945)

U.S. fliers blast path for Red drive

LONDON, England (UP) – U.S. Flying Fortresses and Liberators, more than 1,100 strong, smashed today at targets only a dozen miles ahead of the advancing Red Army. The raid brought to more than 11,250 the number of planes that have blasted the Reich in 36 hours.

The heavy bombers had an escort of more than 450 Mustang fighters, bringing the total air force hurled at Germany today to 1,530 planes.

Their targets chiefly were Dresden and Cottbus. Cottbus lies only 12 miles west of the Red Army spearheads at Forst and the attack was the closest direct support operation yet carried out by the U.S. Air Force for the Red Army.

Hit oil plant

The heavy bombers also struck at the synthetic oil plant near Magdeburg.

Dresden has been under almost continuous assault by British and American air forces for two days and nights. This vital German rail and supply center, which is only about 45 miles distant from the most advanced Red Army columns, has had one of the heaviest plasterings of the war.

Cottbus, 53 miles southeast of Berlin, is a target of almost equal importance. It is a big rail junction point from which highways radiate in all directions.

The American assault followed a double blow by 1,300 RAF four-engined bombers at Chemnitz, 38 miles southwest of Dresen, and smaller-scaled raids on Berlin and other targets during the night.

The RAF also heavily attacked a synthetic oil plant at Rositz, south of Leipzig, and made smaller-scale raids on Berlin, Duisburg, Mainz, Nuremberg and Dessau. Night fighters and intruders supported the bombers with attacks on airfields in which four enemy planes were destroyed.

Twenty-two RAF planes were missing from the night operations, but some may have landed at Allied bases on the continent.

The Pittsburgh Press (February 16, 1945)

Reds driving on suburban Berlin villas

Spearheads striking at heart of Germany

LONDON, England (UP) – The Russian Army newspaper Red Star reported today, that Russian spearheads “striking at the very heart of Germany” were nearing Berlin’s suburban villas and the river Spree.

Two Red Armies were grinding away the defenses east and southeast of Berlin in a concerted assault that appeared to be the first phase of the showdown battle for the capital.

The Nazis reported that they had blocked a thrust against Cottbus, turntable of the defense network southeast of Berlin only 48 miles from the capital. Marshal Ivan S. Konev’s army was closing on Cottbus in a lightning drive that had turned the Oder River line before the capital.

Set for payoff drive

His flank shielded by Marshal Konev’s push into Brandenburg Province southeast of Berlin, Marshal Gregory K. Zhukov now was ready for the payoff drive against the city from his Oder Valley positions 30-odd miles to the east.

The signal for the two-way attack on Berlin’s near defenses was suggested by a Red Star dispatch which said:

Only a little distance is left to the banks of the Spree and Berlin’s suburban villas. The air is saturated with the odor of hot gunpowder. The German land is burning and smoking. The smoke from fires and explosions darkens the horizon. The terrain and weather favor the enemy, who never fought so stubbornly or so desperately as now that our spearheads are striking at the very heart of Germany.

Yanks impede Nazis

Moscow dispatches said that smashing blows by U.S. and British planes at Dresden. Cottbus and other key points behind the German lines had impeded frantic efforts by the Nazis to rush up reinforcements to face Marshal Konev’s troops.

Soviet newspapers published Allied communiqués on the bombing in support of the Red Army, and today the official TASS News Agency carried a dispatch from London summarizing them.

Moscow advices said that behind Marshal Konev’s forward positions dozens of isolated or partly isolated German groups battled desperately against tightening Soviet rings or to escape the closing jaws of Red Army pincers.

The German High Command claimed that resistance in Lower Silesia had stiffened. In the same communiqué, however, it said Marshal Konev “was able to enlarge his breach area yesterday.”

The Berlin communiqué said that in Southern Pomerania the Germans had reestablished contact with the “temporarily” encircled bases of Arnswalde and Bahn, the latter 22 miles south of Stettin.

Advancing at the same breakneck speed that marked the opening days of the Russian winter offensive five weeks ago. Marshal Konev’s First Ukrainian Army broke across the Silesian border and plunged 24 miles or more into Berlin’s home province of Brandenburg.

Gain 25 miles

Marshal Konev’s tanks and armored troop carriers drove ahead 25 miles in two days and were closing in swiftly on the twin German strongholds of Cottbus and Guben, covering Berlin’s southern approaches.

U.S. heavy bombers came through with another smashing blow at Cottbus yesterday in direct support of the advancing Russians – last reported only 12 miles from the city.

The spectacular breakthrough threatened to drive an armored wedge between Berlin and the bomb-blasted Saxony capital of Dresden, barely 48 miles east of the Red Army.

Reach Neisse River

Moscow dispatches said Marshal Konev’s troops had reached the Neisse River, the last important water barrier before Dresden. The river fortress of Goerlitz, 48 miles east of the Saxony capital, was believed already under assault.

German military spokesmen indicated the Neisse already had been breached at some points. They reported that Marshal Konev’s troops had joined forces with Marshal Zhukov’s First White Russian Army massed along the Oder River directly east of Berlin.

The Nazis said units of the First Ukrainian Army pushed six miles north of captured Gruenberg to link up with Marshal Zhukov’s troops on the Oder.

Capture Sommerfeld

At the center of Marshal Konev’s offensive front, the Russians captured Sommerfeld, 66 miles southeast of Berlin, and Sorau, 12 miles farther southeast. The fall of Sorau outflanked the Nazi prisoner-of-war center of Sagan, seven miles to the west. There was no immediate indication that any Allied captives still were being held in that area.

German reports, still unconfirmed in Moscow, said the Russians pushed on a dozen miles or more beyond Sommerfeld to the area northwest of Forst, where they were only 12 miles from Cottbus and 10 miles from the Spree River which, farther north, flows through Berlin.

The fall of Cottbus would put the Russians on a military superhighway leading straight to Berlin, 48 miles to the northwest. Guben, a highway center of almost equal importance, was only 14 miles northwest of Marshal Konev’s forces at Sommerfeld.

Editorial: Not even Dresden escapes

When the Russians started moving on Dresden, we breathed a sigh of relief because here, at last, was a name that the radio announcers would have to pronounce so that American listeners could understand it. But we were too fast. Some of the weisenheimers of the airwaves are struggling to give even Dresden a high-falutin’ pronunciation.

It may be Dresden china to you – but it’s Drai-ess-dain to the ether experts. Probably even “china” wouldn’t sound that way if one of those behind-the-scenes-inside-information lads got hold of it.

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Hope, nobody in the future starts calling this a war crime. That would be pretty stupid.