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July 25, 1943, First day of Operation Gomorrah: Complete destruction of Hamburg together with its civilians


Mar 2, 2018

Operation Gomorrah is just as bloody and devastating as any nuclear attack. And for the same reason, just like the massacre of the Japanese people, this event is pushed into the background in popular history. Maybe that's why this massacre is called the Hiroshima of Europe.

The operation takes its name from the biblical explanation of the utter destruction of the corrupt cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by sulfur and fire. As its codename, there was such a great massacre that it is said that the crew of the bomber planes participating in the operation was affected by the smell of burnt flesh of thousands of people who died, coming from the smoke rising from the burning city.


In the darkest days of the second world war Stalin urged the British and the Americans to open a second front in the west. In the year of Soviet withdrawals, when Stalin did not see themselves as ready, he proposed mass bombing campaigns to paralyze military-industrial capabilities in Europe and Germany. The first strategic bombardments of German cities began at Hanseatic and Lübeck in March 1942, followed by Cologne on 30 May 1942 . After awhile, all major German cities began to be the target of more or less significant air raids.

The Battle of Hamburg, codenamed Operation Gomorrah, was a campaign of air raids which began on 24 July 1943 night and lasted for 8 days and 7 nights. It was at the time the heaviest assault in the history of aerial warfare and was later called the Hiroshima of Germany by British officials.

In the first week after the raid, about one million people evacuated the city. 60% of the housing stock was destroyed. Approximately 3,000 aircraft were employed, 9,000 tons of bombs were dropped and over 250,000 homes and houses were destroyed. Other losses included damage to or destruction of 580 industrial concerns and armaments works, 299 of which were important enough to be listed by name. Local transport systems were completely disrupted and did not return to normal for some time. Dwellings destroyed amounted to 214,350 out of 414,500. Hamburg was hit by air raids another 69 times before the end of World War II. In total, the RAF dropped 22,580 long tons of bombs on Hamburg.

The death toll from Operation Gomorrah will always be uncertain, but the most accepted single number is now at least 37,000. Most of the dead were unidentified. By 1 December 1943, there were 31,647 body found, but of these only 15,802 were based on the identification of a body. In some cases, the numbers of people who had perished in cellars converted into "air protection rooms" could only be estimated from the quantity of ash left on the floor.



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