Some recent research (How the War Was Won by Phillips O’Brien) make the case that the USAAF had a large effect on the German war effort by both 1) destroying production, oil, and transportation and 2) making Germans spend to defend against these attacks. (By 1944 close to 50% of German war production were aircraft How the war was won | CEPR)
However, the discussion of it in your series is generally on the War Against Humanity Series. By doing so are you implying the main legacy of these attacks are the atrocities on civilans and not the war effort directly? If so, what do you think the US should have spent on instead to do more damage to Germany?
I can not answere your question. But here is the history who mutated Nazi Propaganda (and why it was done) into “Anti-Americanism”. And why I as a German are always alerted when Americans or Germans talk much about the “Dresden” or the “Rheinwiesenlager” story:
Hello, that research might be confusing. Others, including Albert Speer, claimed that bombing had no significant effect on war effort and production actually doubles in this time. But it really had effect on Germans, they were more determined than ever to fight to the bitter end…
Yea I saw that before. Interesting history on how Soviets used Dresden as anti west propaganda. I suppose I am more skeptical of the Dresden bombing having a large positive effect on the war than the daylight raids in 1944 by the USAAF (and English campaign against the Ruhr).
I think the research underscores the idea that the air war was more important than the casualties (in terms of of airmen) would suggest. Even if the strategic bombing campaign had no effect on production it shows that the Germans spent a large amount on the Luftwaffe defending against these attacks. By diverting resources away from eastern front it clearly had some effect on the war at large.
As to the idea that the bombing had no effect on production … that is a clearly an overstatement. The Germans spent additional resources to fix factories. While the Germans increased production (specifically aircraft fighters to defend against bombers) dramatically in 1944 it was mostly due to increases in efficiency and large use of slave labor (see Adam Tooze). The question to what degree, not if, the attacks decreased production. This direct impact may be relatively small but the attacks on oil and transportation clearly had an effect later in the war. The Luftwaffe was severely impaired after the middle of 1944 by lack of oil especially.
I agree to your point that the area bombing campaign on German moralle was ineffective and perhaps counterproductive. Thats why I focused on the Eigth Air Force campaign.
I have never made that point. This point is made by people who use NAZI propaganda as a fact about Germans. The NAZI terror became more and more severe against anybody who did not parrot the propaganda lines. After Stalingrad, Tunisgrad and the fall of Rome NAZI propaganda became an alternatine reality. At least the in end of 1944 there were not much strategic targets left in western Germany. An example of the results of strategic bombing is included in the history of a misunderstood piece of kit (sry. in German):
Yes that was in response to another commenter
What does the video say? I don’t speak German
Stop using Kraut as your fucking source.
The automatic translated English subtitels work. From min 10:00 Dr Raths explains the effects of the allied bombing campain on the “Kingtiger” production. In English (10:57) in the Video: " >The Allies< bombing campain had caused the loss in production of at least 657 Tiger II (940 originally paned versus 283 actually pruduced) during the period from September 1944 through March 1945."
So I look at the coverage as how it realistically affecting the war. For one thing, from week to week- it hardly changes- just constant bombing of targets.
As for the effect…
In terms of manufacturing- sure it has a pretty significant effect, since Germany was forced to distribute the manufacturing all over the country- and that clearly has an effect on the volume and speed that anything can be made. But on the other hand, manufacturing was never really crippled. Perhaps I’m missing something, but was any significant hardware of war shut down for 2 months or more? Hurt, altered, slowed, but not crippled, and bombing never delivered what was promised that it would, by itself, would end the war.
In terms of morale- considering the effect of German bombing on Britain more got the public mad than depressed- why can’t that same effect happen in Germany? Some have mentioned the idea that the bombing at home should effect the troops fighting on the front- and if they were told, sure. But when we see that bombing effects were regularly not reported in England, why would anyone expect that soldiers on the front would be informed that their home city was devastated?
So in the end, bombing killed more civilians than military and it’s wide effect on the war wasn’t nearly what was promised in the long run. Makes sense that it’s covered on WAH than the week to week coverage, at least to me.
In terms of manufacturing you’re right in that it did not cripple armaments production (at least until near the end). But the Germans were forced to spend a lot of resources on either repairing or defending against these attacks. While the former is hard to get good estimates for in terms of how much they effected the war we see by the original statistics I linked to that the Germans spent about half of their war effort on the air war (which was primarily against USAAF daylight attacks). By forcing the Germans to manufacture planes and it was successful in taking the brunt of the German economy.
However one extremely successful operation was against the oil production. Once this took effect the Luftwaffe basically couldn’t fly any more after mid 1944. This is one example where production was crippled. I did an analysis on it here sweissblaug: From Blood to Oil: A techies perspective on how the USAAF's pragmatism destroyed the Luftwaffe, dropped the A, and yet failed on it's Grandest Ambitions
As to the morale bombing I think that was mostly by the English not the USAAF. I can see English bombing campaign being in WAH series but wondering on the decision for the USAAF to be lumped in with that.
But if the creators still believe that the USAAF should be in the WAH series than I’d be curious in what they think the US should have spent resources on to be more effective against Germans in the war.
So one raid out of the thousands had a real significant impact on running the war. Others had an effect that was at least mitigated but used resources to deal with.
And many others ended up bombing the population that had debatable impact on the fighting morale.
I really don’t see it going into every single week saying the same thing for the attacks on manufacturing that had nominal results- perhaps that could be an “On the Home Front” episode. But the ones that just ended up killing civilians- WAH seems like the most logical episode. As an American, I can’t deny that the US did some questionable things WRT non-combatants. Given the effort in recent wars to focus on specific targets even in highly populated areas, it almost seems that the people who run wars have also recognized that. Certainly not perfectly, but significantly better than WWII.
The oil campaign was a clear instance of the bombing campaign crippling a major branch of the German army and hindering movements due to lack of fuel. It was a clear success that had a large effect.
Other impacts were not as obvious but no less important. If the above statistic is correct then that means that about half of the German economy was spent on mostly single engine fighters to defend against these attacks. It probably wasn’t the initial goal of the campaign but it clearly had a large impact. Arguably it had a similar effect as reducing German output by half (eg they would have spent more on tanks and other armaments).
The goal of the USAAF wasn’t morale or dehousing like the English. That’s why I consider the English campaign generally separate.
Sure, the goal was to cripple the system. What was the outcome of most of the missions?
Again, WAH is appropriate given the actual outcome for much of the bombing- intention or not. And On the Home Front would be better for the economic shifts or outcome due to the goals being achieved. At least how I see it.
The thing about WAH that is good is that it illustrates how good intentions can result in bad outcomes. Some of which can arguably be counter productive to the overall effort. You are not going to get German citizens to raise up against the leadership if you are bombing them- intentional or not.
The outcome of the USAAF campaign was stated above. It was a large effect and reduced German fighting abilities dramatically relative to what they would have been without the campaign.
The evidence provided above does not appear to convince you. Fine. What should the US have spent on instead?
As I have posted in the past, developing more accurate bombing. Harris gave up on that because they couldn’t do it, and somehow justified killing civilians. And he had full knowledge that of the effect of German bombing on his citizens- so he knew how effective that would be.
Still, the question was about bombing on the weekly episodes. It’s impact would be better covered on “On the Home Front” for the main goals and WAH for the side effects. Just like how all side troop action against civilians is being covered on WAH.
Another factor is the lose in men and material. By the end of 1943 American bomber loses were so bad that strategic daylight missions were cancelled until they could recover. Big Week was meant to get the Americans back in the game and lure German fighters into the fight. While it did help gain improve allied air superiority, the Allies still took heavy loses and as far as bombing success all it really did was knock out some factories for a few weeks and kill a lot of civilians. I really don’t see much of a difference in the goals and objectives between the British Commonwealth Air Forces and the US.
Terror bombing by the English was most likely counter productive. Could you imagine the Germans fighting harder than they did if the English didn’t bomb cities?