Allied 1943 Strategic Bombing Campaign: Kassel (October 1943)


Figure 1.--The primary targets in Kassel were the Fieseler air craft camp and the Hendchel works. The RAF had trouble finding Kassel, but when it finally succeeded, it struck Kassel with a vengence (October 23-24, 1943). About 10,000 people were killed and half the city made homeless. Notice the Hitler Youth boys.

Kassel was a medium sized German city with a population of only about 0.25 million, but by 1943 the Allied stratehic bombing campaign was beginning to reach even medium sized German cities. The primary targets in Kassel were the Fieseler air craft plant and the Hendchel works. Henschel was a major German industrial company manufacturing locomotives, engines, and trucks. A subcamp of Dachau was estanlished nearby to supply workers to Henschel. Kassel was primarily a RAF opperation. There were two raids in 1942, one in August was moderarely heavy and did some damage to the Hendchel works. The British returned a year latter and targetting Kassel in force. RAF bombers failed at first to find the city and then hit only the western suburbs and nearby villages (October 2-4). Targeting was a major problem when bomving at night. Finally the RAF struck the center of the city (October 22-23). Radio sopoofing as part of Operation Carona and a diversiojnary attack on Frankfurt were used to confuse the Luftwaffe night fighters. A force of 569 heavy bombers dropped 1,800 tons on the Kassel. This included Included nearly 0.5 million magnesium incenduary fire sticks designed to to ignite fires. Hiting specific targets at night was virtually impossible so the RAF set out to destroy the city ahnd largely suceeded. Damage to the city's water system made it difficult to fight the fires. Among the civilian casualties were large numbers of wounded soldiers recovering in several hospitals. About 10,000 people were killed. Estimates suggest that about half the city's population were made homeless. After the October raid, Kassel experiednced only minor raids in part because the Ango-American bomber forces were diverted to support the D-Day landings and Normandy breakout. The Allies after the liberation of France returned to the strategic bombing campaign in force (September 1944). At this time 243 U.S. 8th Airforce B-24 bombers attacked the Henschel works during the day (September 9, 1944). A series of small RAF raids using Mosquitos hit the city in late 1944 and early-1945). The last heavy raid was 176 RAF bombers (March 8-9, 1945). When American soldiers reached Kassel (late-March 1945), the city was in ruins and largely depopulated, only about 20 percent of the pre-War population remained. A reader writes, "Kassel is the city where my family ( the Stuecks), hails from. My father was also born there. My grandparents used to own a hotel there. I saw the ruins after the war. There indeed was not much left anymore." [Stueck]

Sources

Stueck, Rudi. E-mail, September 23, 2009.







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Created: 8:11 PM 9/22/2009
Last updated: 7:40 PM 9/23/2009