Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
Aug. 27, 2017
On Planet Patriarchy, males dominate. Thus, our decisions and inventions impact all forms of life 24/7. This series of articles will explore some of the “creations” spawned by the hearts and minds of men. For starters, it’s firebombing.
“A new kind of weather”
It was early 1945 in war-torn Europe. With the Russians advancing rapidly towards Berlin, tens of thousands of German civilians fled into Dresden, believing it to be safe from attack. As a result, the city’s population swelled from its usual 600,000 to at least 1 million. Besides the stream of refugees, Dresden was also known for its china and its Baroque and Rococo architecture. Its galleries housed works by men like Vermeer, Rembrandt, Rubens, and Botticelli. On the evening of Feb. 13, none of this would matter to the Greatest (sic) Generation.
Following up a smaller raid on Hamburg in July 1943 that killed at least 48,000 civilians, uber-male Winston Churchill enlisted the aid of British scientists to cook up "a new kind of weather." The goal was not only maximum destruction and loss of life, but also to show their communist allies what a capitalist war machine could do... in case Stalin had any crazy ideas.
An internal Royal Air Force memo described the anti-communist plans as such:
"Dresden, the seventh largest city in Germany and not much smaller than Manchester, is also [by] far the largest unbombed built-up area the enemy has got. In the midst of winter, with refugees pouring westwards and troops to be rested, roofs are at a premium, not only to give shelter ... but to house the administrative services displaced from other areas ... The intentions of the attack are to hit the enemy where he will feel it most ... and to show the Russians when they arrive what Bomber Command can do."
There was never any doubt on the part of the Allies exactly who they would be bombing at Dresden. Brian S. Blades, a flight engineer in a Lancaster of 460 (Australian) Squadron, wrote that during briefings, he heard phrases like "Virgin target," and "Intelligence reports thousands of refugees streaming into the city from other bombed areas."
Using the Dresden soccer stadium as a reference point, more than 2,000 British Lancasters and American Flying Fortresses dropped loads of gasoline bombs every 50 square yards out from this marker. The enormous flame that resulted was eight-square-miles wide, shooting smoke three miles high. For the next 18 hours, regular bombs were dropped on top of this strange brew.
Take a few minutes to contemplate the sadistic precision with which this bombing was planned: the first wave of bombers dropped 500 tons of high explosives and 375 tons of incendiaries (200,000 in all). Some of the high-explosive bombs were two-ton "blockbusters," capable of devastating an entire street. They were carefully chosen for their ability to rupture water mains and blow off roofs, doors, and windows to create an air flow to feed the fires caused by the incendiaries that followed.
Read that again: They were carefully chosen for their ability to rupture water mains and blow off roofs, doors, and windows to create an air flow to feed the fires caused by the incendiaries that followed.
Twenty-five minutes after the bombing, winds reaching 150 miles-per-hour sucked everything into the heart of the storm. Because the air became superheated and rushed upward, the fire lost most of its oxygen, creating tornadoes of flame that can suck the air right out of human lungs.
Seventy percent of the Dresden dead either suffocated or died from poison gases that turned their bodies green and red. The intense heat melted some bodies into the pavement like bubblegum, or shrunk them into three-foot-long charred carcasses. Clean-up crews wore rubber boots to wade through the “human soup” found in nearby caves. In other cases, the superheated air propelled victims skyward only to come down in tiny pieces as far as 15 miles outside Dresden.
“The flames ate everything organic, everything that would burn,” wrote journalist Phillip Knightley. “People died by the thousands, cooked, incinerated, or suffocated. Then American planes came the next day to machine-gun survivors as they struggled to the banks of the Elbe.”
The Allied firebombing did more than shock and awe. The bombing campaign murdered more than 100,000 people -- mostly civilians -- but the exact number may never be known due to the high number of refugees in the area.
Within the Allied target zone was the Dresden Zoo, run by animal trainer Otto Sailer-Jackson under a standing Nazi order that if human life was endangered, all carnivores must be shot.
As the bombing commenced, Sailer-Jackson recalled the scene:
“The elephants gave spine-chilling screams. Their house was still standing but an explosive bomb of terrific force had landed behind it, lifted the dome of the house, turned it round, and put it back on again… The baby cow elephant was lying in the narrow barrier-moat on her back, her legs up to the sky. She had suffered severe stomach injuries and could not move.”
Three hippopotamuses were drowned when iron debris pinned them to the bottom of their water basin. In the ape house, Sailer-Jackson found a gibbon that, when it reached out to the trainer, had no hands, only stumps. Nearly 40 rhesus monkeys escaped to the trees but were dead by the next day from drinking water polluted by the incendiary chemicals.
For those animals that made it to the next day, the assault was far from over. A U.S. aircraft pilot came in low, firing at anything he could see was still alive. “In this way,” Sailer-Jackson explained, “our last giraffe met her death. Many stags and others animals which we had managed to save became victims of this hero.”
“Properly kindled, Japanese cities will burn like autumn leaves”
On the night of March 9-10, 1945, General Curtis LeMay, head of the 21st U.S. Bomber Command, brought an all-American brand of hell into the Pacific theater as his bombardiers laid siege on Tokyo.
Tightly packed wooden buildings were assaulted by 1,665 tons of incendiaries. LeMay later recalled that a few explosives had been mixed in with the incendiaries to demoralize firefighters (96 fire engines burned to ashes, 88 firemen died).
One Japanese doctor recalled “countless bodies” floating in the Sumida River. These bodies were “as black as charcoal” and beyond identification. The total dead for one night was an estimated 85,000, with 40,000 injured and 1 million left homeless.
This was only the first strike in a firebombing campaign that dropped 250 tons of bombs per square mile, destroying 40 percent of the surface area in 66 death-list cities (including Hiroshima and Nagasaki).
By design, the Tokyo attack area was 87.4 percent residential and it is believed that more people died from fire in a six-hour time period than ever before in the history of mankind.
Read that again: By design, the Tokyo attack area was 87.4 percent residential.
At ground zero, the temperature reached 1,800° Fahrenheit. Flames from the ensuing inferno were visible for 200 miles. Due to the intense heat, canals boiled over, metals melted, and human beings burst spontaneously into flames.
By May 1945, 75 percent of the bombs being dropped on Japan were incendiaries. Cheered on by the likes of Time magazine -- who explained that “properly kindled, Japanese cities will burn like autumn leaves” -- the U.S. bombing campaign took an estimated 672,000 lives, mostly civilians.
Read that again: The U.S. bombing campaign took an estimated 672,000 lives, mostly civilians.
Radio Tokyo called such tactics “slaughter bombing” and the Japanese press declared that through the fire raids, “America has revealed her barbaric character … It was an attempt at mass murder of women and children … The action of the Americans is all the more despicable because of the noisy pretensions they constantly make about their humanity and idealism … No one expects war to be anything but a brutal business, but it remains for the Americans to make it systematically and unnecessarily a wholesale horror for innocent victims.”
Rather than denying this, a spokesman for the Fifth Air Force categorized “the entire population of Japan [as] a proper military target.”
Colonel Harry F. Cunningham explained the U.S. policy in no uncertain terms:
“We military men do not pull punches or put on Sunday School picnics. We are making War and making it in the all-out fashion, which saves American lives, shortens the agony which War is, and seeks to bring about an enduring Peace. We intend to seek out and destroy the enemy wherever he or she is, in the greatest possible numbers, in the shortest possible time. For us, THERE ARE NO CIVILIANS IN JAPAN.”
On the morning of August 6, 1945, before the Hiroshima story broke, a page-one headline in the Atlanta Constitution read: 580 B-29s RAIN FIRE ON 4 MORE DEATH-LIST CITIES.
Ironically, the success of Curtis LeMay’s firebombing raids had effectively eliminated Tokyo from the list of possible A-bomb targets. There was nothing left to bomb…
LeMay was later U.S. Air Force chief of staff from 1961 to 1965 when he immortalized himself by declaring his desire to “bomb [the North Vietnamese] back into the Stone Age” and he also served as vice presidential candidate on avowed segregationist George Wallace’s 1968 ticket.
When asked about his role in the 1945 Tokyo firebombing, LeMay remarked: “I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal. Fortunately, we were on the winning side.”
Name the problem.
Mickey Z. is the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on the streets of New York City. To help him grow this project, CLICK HERE and make a donation right now. And please spread the word!
From the hearts and minds of men: Firebombing by Mickey Z. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://worldnewstrust.com/from-the-hearts-and-minds-of-men-firebombing-mickey-z.