The city center after the attack
The city center after the attack

Operation Tigerfish was the military code name in World War II for the air raid on Freiburg in the evening of 27 November 1944 by the Royal Air Force with about 2,800 dead.

The name Tigerfish goes back to Air Vice-Marshal Robert Saundby, an avid fisherman who codenamed all German cities "fitted" for carpet bombing with a Fish code.[1] Saundby was the deputy of Air Chief Marshal Arthur Harris, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of RAF Bomber Command.

Background

Date
of air raid[2]
Number
dropped bombs
10.05.1940 69
03.10.1943 12
07.10.1943 7
09.09.1944 only on-board-guns
10.09.1944 only on-board-guns
12.09.1944 2
29.09.1944 only on-board-guns
07.10.1944 only on-board-guns
08.10.1944 only on-board-guns
03.11.1944 8
04.11.1944 21
21.11.1944 15
27.11.1944 14.525[3]
02.12.1944 34
03.12.1944 49
17.12.1944 74
22.12.1944 5
25.12.1944 only on-board-guns
29.12.1944 13
30.12.1944 47
01.01.1945 32
04.01.1945 10
15.01.1945 59
08.02.1945 248
10.02.1945 44
13.02.1945 1
18.02.1945 18
21.02.1945 7
22.02.1945 36
24.02.1945 20
25.02.1945 1024
26.02.1945 79
28.02.1945 1861
04.03.1945 53
13.03.1945 24
16.03.1945 1801

After Freiburg was mistakenly bombed by the German Luftwaffe on 10 May 1940 when 57 people were killed, the city remained spared from attacks until October 1943.

For a long time, people in Freiburg had lived in the hope that they would not have to suffer a major attack. The city was classified only as air protection location category 2 in 1935.[4] As a consequence, Freiburg had to make arrangements for adequate protection of the population by the construction of shelters and bunkers without getting any financial resources from the state. The hope of being spared from bombing still existed, when air raids were made on nearby cities because Freiburg was not included in the target list of the Allies at the forefront.

In autumn 1943, the Allies dropped leaflets in northern Germany that homeless people from the Reich would be welcome in the city. The intention was to trigger a movement of refugees to Freiburg. This propaganda campaign remained, however, without consequences.[5]

From 3 October 1943, there was the first light bombing.[5] Thus, on 7 October 1943, when aircraft of the U.S. Air Force (USAAF, 1st Bomb Division) bombed rail facilities of the city.

On 1 April 1944 the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) flew an attack on Ludwigshafen. Then the aircraft turned off, however, to bomb the planned secondary target Freiburg. Instead, the bombers mistakenly attacked the Swiss city Schaffhausen.

On 3 November 1944, the freight railway station and the airfield of Freiburg were the target of 16 bombers of the 9th U.S. tactical fleet. On 21 November 1944, there was a further attack.[6]

Target

In the city there was hardly any enterprises of military importance. The Bomber's Baedeker listed in 1944 Mez AG, Deutsche Acetate Kunstseiden A.G. „Rhodiaceta" and Hellige & Co. as well as the Gasworks of Freiburg as goals of category 3. Only the railway junction appears in Category 2. Purely military targets were not mentioned.[7]

Freiburg came increasedly into the focus of the Allied Bomber Command when the front approached from the west to the frontier. Due to its convenient location on the Rhine Valley Railway and the Freiburg–Colmar railway via Breisach to the Alsace Freiburg played an increasingly important role for troop movements. The Allies assumed in 1943 that it would be possible for the Wehrmacht to move seven divisions from the Eastern to the Western Front within 12 to 14 days.[8] That is why General Eisenhower ordered on 22 November 1944 to attack railway and transportation hubs from the air. After a daylight attack of the Americans on Offenburg the British should bomb Freiburg the following day. Because the "transport connections bordered built-up areas",[9] Freiburg was considered particularly suitable for a carpet bombing according to the Area Bombing Directive, which aimed for the largescale destruction of residential areas. This is proven not least by the mission order that the target should be to destroy the city and the adjacent railway system.[10]

Attack

Approach and return flight, as well as mock attack on Mannheim.[11]
Approach and return flight, as well as mock attack on Mannheim.[11]

The preparation of the bombing on 27 November 1944 was made by 59 de Havilland Mosquito bombers of the No. 8 Pathfinder Group and was coordinated through a mobile oboe system in France.[12] The aim point was the intersection Habsburgerstrase / Bernhardstrase.[13] After the labeling of the target area with red markings the order had been given to mark the area with even larger amounts of red and green markings. The marking and bombing was coordinated by a master bomber. In the event that this would not have been audible by the bomber pilots, the mission order stipulated to drop as many bombs as possible. First bombs should be dropped on red, then red and green, then green and finally on yellow markings.[14]

Between 19.58 and 20.18 clock the Freiburg bombing was carried out by 292[15] Lancaster bombers of No. 1 Group RAF which dropped 3002 explosive (1,457 t) and 11,523 incendiary bombs and bombs mark (266 t) dropped.[16] Only one Lancaster bomber was lost. The cause for that could not be clarified definitely.[17]

Aftermath

Casualties

The death toll was 2,797, approximately 9,600 people were injured.[18] Among the dead were the theologian Johann Baptist Knebel, the artist Hermann Gehri and astrologer Elsbeth Ebertin.[19] After the bombing on 27 November 1944 many people left the city. On 31 December 1944, 63 962 people have been counted. In late April 1945, the low point of 57,974 people has been reached yet. It was only in early 1950 when the original population was reached again.[20]

Destruction

Damage map of the air raid on 27 November 1944
Damage map of the air raid on 27 November 1944
Air photograph shortly after the air raid with comments indicating landmarks
Air photograph shortly after the air raid with comments indicating landmarks

Almost completely destroyed were the historic old town, the suburbs of Neuburg, Betzenhausen and Mooswald and the northern part of the Stühlinger. All in all about 30% of homes were destroyed or severely damaged.[21] Whole industries such as Hüttinger Elektronik, Grether & Cie. and M. Welte & Söhne were destroyed. Numerous historical buildings where destroyed by the attack. Almost all have been reconstructed:

Only slightly damaged was the town's landmark, the Freiburg Minster.

Remembrance

The victims of 27 November 1944 are remembered in Freiburg by various memorials and regular commemorative events.[25]

Memorials

Tomb of 1664 victims of the air raid on Freiburg Main Cemetery
Tomb of 1664 victims of the air raid on Freiburg Main Cemetery
Commemorative plaque on the west tower of Freiburg Minster
Commemorative plaque on the west tower of Freiburg Minster

November 1965. It bears the inscription: "1965 built on the site of the Bertoldsbrunnen of 1807 which was destroyed in 1944."

Commemoration

Statue of the drake in the city park
Statue of the drake in the city park

The city of Freiburg commemorates the event with a wreath laying ceremony and other events. On the fiftieth anniversary an oratorio in Freiburg Minster, a commemoration ceremony as well as an exhibition of the City Archives took place.[27] [28] On Commemoration Day on 27 November 2004 the following events took place:[29]

Furthermore, the Hosanna bell of Freiburg Minster rings on each anniversary at the time of the air raid.

Other commemorations

On the fiftieth anniversary city government and the Sparkasse Freiburg issued a commemorative medal with an image of the statue of the drake in the city park on the reverse.

Reception

The composer Julius Weismann processed in his choral work with soloists and orchestra Op. 151 The Watchmen (1946–49) besides the "horrible event(s) of the last decade," the destruction of his home town of Freiburg.[30]

"All of Freiburg, which had once had been a flourishing and brilliant town, consisted mostly of ruins, burning flavor and chimney stumps. The city was burnt completely, just as once in the Thirty Years' War" - HORST KRÜGER (1945)[31]

"Was three days in Freiburg; three-quarters of the beautiful city, the whole city center, is a lump, the streets already (but not yet all) uncovered. - Churches, theaters, university, everything or almost everything lost. Gruesome sight of dead; among the ruins are often wreaths or more often crosses with inscriptions - people who are buried there. " - ALFRED DÖBLIN (1946)[32]

Further reading

Filmography

References

  1. ^ Data sheet Fishcodes Archived 13 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Walter Vetter (Hrsg.): Freiburg in Trümmern (in ruins) 1944–1952, Rombach, Freiburg. p. 171: „in accordance with a chart elaborated during the war with estimated numbers."
  3. ^ This number is based on: Gerd R. Ueberschär: Freiburg im Luftkrieg (during the air raids) 1939–1945. Freiburg im Breisgau/München, 1990, p. 242. ISBN 3-87640-332-4. Walter Vetter gives an estimated number of 50.000 bombs.
  4. ^ Heiko Haumann, Hans Schadek (Hrsg.): Geschichte der Stadt Freiburg. Band 3: Von der badischen Herrschaft bis zur Gegenwart. Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-8062-1635-5. S. 359.
  5. ^ a b Heiko Haumann, Hans Schadek (Hrsg.): Geschichte der Stadt Freiburg (History of Freiburg) Volume 3: Von der badischen Herrschaft bis zur Gegenwart (From the Badish rule to the present day) Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-8062-1635-5, p. 360
  6. ^ Gerd R. Ueberschär: Freiburg im Luftkrieg (during the air raids) 1939–1945. Freiburg im Breisgau/München, 1990. p. 181 et seqq. ISBN 3-87640-332-4.
  7. ^ cf. the extract from the so-called Bomber’s Baedeker in: Gerd R. Ueberschär: Freiburg im Luftkrieg (during the air raids) 1939–1945. Freiburg im Breisgau/Munich, 1990. P. 107. ISBN 3-87640-332-4.
  8. ^ The Casablanca Conference, III, P. 539. In: United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the UnitedStates. The Conferences at Washington, 1941–1942, and Casablanca, 1943. (1941–1943)
  9. ^ Gerd R. Ueberschär: Freiburg im Luftkrieg 1939–1945. Freiburg im Breisgau/Munich, 1990. P. 196 et seqq. ISBN 3-87640-332-4.
  10. ^ Gerd R. Ueberschär: Freiburg im Luftkrieg (during the air raids) 1939–1945. Freiburg im Breisgau/Munich, 1990. ISBN 3-87640-332-4.
  11. ^ Gerd R. Ueberschär: Freiburg im Luftkrieg 1939–1945. Freiburg im Breisgau/Munich, 1990. Abb. 127. ISBN 3-87640-332-4.
  12. ^ raf.mod.uk: RAF History - Bomber Command 60th Anniversary, Zugriff am 27. Januar 2010
  13. ^ Gerd R. Ueberschär: Freiburg im Luftkrieg 1939–1945. Freiburg im Breisgau/Munich, 1990. S. 225. ISBN 3-87640-332-4.
  14. ^ cf.: Gerd R. Ueberschär: Freiburg im Luftkrieg 1939–1945. Freiburg im Breisgau/Munich, 1990. S. 219, P. 398 Ill. 123. ISBN 3-87640-332-4.
  15. ^ Stadt Freiburg: Tausende Spreng- und Brandbomben verwüsteten am 27.11.1944 die Stadt (thousands of demolition bombs and firebombs destroyed the town on 27/11/1944) in: Amtsblatt (official gazette) of 29 November 2004 Archived 13 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Gerd R. Ueberschär: Freiburg im Luftkrieg (during the air raids) 1939–1945. Freiburg im Breisgau/Munich, 1990. S. 242. ISBN 3-87640-332-4.
  17. ^ Gerd R. Ueberschär: Freiburg im Luftkrieg (during the air raids) 1939–1945. Freiburg im Breisgau/Munich, 1990. P. 237. ISBN 3-87640-332-4.
  18. ^ Heiko Haumann, Hans Schadek (Hrsg.): Geschichte der Stadt Freiburg. Band 3: Von der badischen Herrschaft bis zur Gegenwart. P 361. Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-8062-1635-5
  19. ^ For a name liste of the victims see: Kriegsopfer der Stadt (war victims of the city) Freiburg i. Br. 1939–1945, Freiburg 1954
  20. ^ Gerd R. Ueberschär: Freiburg im Luftkrieg (during the air raids) 1939–1945. Freiburg im Breisgau/Munich, 1990. S. 380. ISBN 3-87640-332-4.
  21. ^ Ueberschär, p. 381.
  22. ^ Werner Wolf-Holzäpfel: Der Architekt Max Meckel 1847–1910. Studien zur Architektur und zum Kirchenbau des Historismus in Deutschland., Josef Fink, Lindenberg 2000, ISBN 3-933784-62-X, S. 257 f.
  23. ^ Stadt Freiburg: Der neue Hauptbahnhof Freiburg, Presse und Informationsamt/Stadtplanungsamt, Freiburg Juli 2001, S. 55
  24. ^ Hans-Wolfgang Scharf, Burkhard Wollny: Die Höllentalbahn. Von Freiburg in den Schwarzwald. Eisenbahn-Kurier-Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 1987, ISBN 3-88255-780-X, S. 128
  25. ^ Ute Scherb: Wir bekommen die Denkmäler, die wir verdienen (we receive the monuments we deserve). Freiburger Monumente im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (monuments of Freiburg of the 19th and 20th centuries). Stadtarchiv (town archive) Freiburg im Breisgau 2005. ISBN 3-923272-31-6. S. 196ff.
  26. ^ Keystone plaque of the cathedral platform. Font design by Reinhold Schneider Circulating text: WRITTEN TEN MONTHS BEFORE THE AIR RAID ON FREIBURG * ON 27 NOVEMBER 1944 FREIBURG WAS DESTROYED. BUT THE MINSTER WAS SAVED. Text on the plaque: STAND INDESTRUCTIBLE IN THE MIND/ YOU BIG PRAYER FAITH POWERFUL TIME/ HOW YOU ARE TRANSFORMED BY THE GLORY OF THE DAY/ WHEN THE GLORY OF THE DAY HAS LONG DIED DOWN// HOW WILL I ASK THAT I FAITHFULLY WATCH/ THE SACRED YOU RADIATE IN THE LINING/ AND WILL BE A TOWER IN THE DARK/ THE BEARER OF THE LIGHT WHICH/ BLOOMED TO THE WORLD/ AND SHOULD I FALL IN THE GREAT STORM/ BE IT AS AN OFFERING THAT TOWERS STILL WILL RISE/ AND THAT MY PEOPLE BE THE TRUTH'S TORCH/ YOU WILL NOT FALL MY BELOVED TOWER/ BUT IF THE JUDGE'S FLASHES BURST YOU/ RISE IN PRAYERS BOLDER FROM THE EARTH// </poem> REINHOLD SCHNEIDER * THE TOWER OF THE MINSTER
  27. ^ Beschluss-Vorlage des Gemeinderates Freiburg, DRUCKSACHE G-93/047
  28. ^ Beschluss zur Vorlage DRUCKSACHE G-93/047
  29. ^ Amtsblatt Freiburg, 29. November 2004 Archived 13 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine (PDF).
  30. ^ Program of debut performance, Duisburg 11 January 1950
  31. ^ Horst Krüger: Freiburger Anfänge In: Dietrich Kayer (Hrsg.): Ortsbeschreibung – Autoren sehen Freiburg Rombach, Freiburg im Breisgau 1980, ISBN 978-3-7930-0359-5; quoted from Maria Rayers: Freiburg in alten und neuen Reisebeschreibungen (in old and new travelogues), Droste, Düsseldorf 1991, ISBN 978-3-7700-0932-9
  32. ^ Alfred Döblin: Briefe (letters), Walter-Verlag, Olten and Freiburg im Breisgau 1970, ISBN 978-3-423-02444-0, quoted from Maria Rayers: Freiburg in alten und neuen Reisebeschreibungen (in old and new travelogues), Droste, Düsseldorf 1991, ISBN 978-3-7700-0932-9

Coordinates: 48°00′10″N 7°51′12″E / 48.0027°N 7.8534°E / 48.0027; 7.8534