The photogallery we shared here show the damage inflicted by RAF Bomber Command air raid on the night of 28/29 August 1940 on Berlin, all captured in the Kottbusser Tor area within Berlin-Kreuzberg district. These pictures were taken on the following days of this second bombing, an air attack which we have already described on earlier posts (see our Britische Luftangriffe über Berlin).
No other raid on Berlin has so elevated number of related photographies apart of the 1945, February 3rd, massive air attack by US heavy bombers on the Third Reich’s capital.
War had come to the Reich’s capital and became part of everyday life; Berliners were so curious at least in those early days about how this new method of make war —the ‘Bombenkrieg’— was about. A large crowd ran the next morning to see the damage inflicted by Churchill’s bombers. Testimonies from those days described an extraordinary popular fascination to witness the damage and every raid’s aftermath as ‘a sensation’ which is confirmed by these pictures.
The calm with which its inhabitants have come to check in situ the damage caused by this second bombardment seems incredible. The novelty and the null sensation of danger, enhanced by Third Reich hierarchs, made this possible, far from the terrible images of destruction that the capital would experience a couple of years later every night when the British bombers visited Berlin again.
American correspondent William Shirer described the aftermath the next day on his radio broadcast from Berlin: ”About an hour after the raid, the Propaganda Ministry conducted the foreign correspondents around the city to observe the damage. In the Kottbusserstrasse, about a thousand yards from a railroad station in the south-east part of Berlin, two 110 pound bombs had landed in the street, torn off the leg of an air raid warden standing at the entrance to his house, and killed four men and two women who, unwisely, were standing in the doorway.” (This Is Berlin, Random House, 2013)
[A view of the dramatic ‘Bombenschäden’ (bomb damage) panorama after the RAF air raid, Kottbusser Straße 15-17 buildings.]
[A few metres away, a crowd gathers in front of the bomb crater which caused severe damage to the pavement and the tram lines at Kottbusser Straße in Kreuzberg is repair on the following day. Notice at extreme left the U-Bhf entrance (Kottbusser Tor) in front of street number 24-26, with nearly all windows smashed and facades shattered by bomb splinters.]
[These two newspaper clippings, keeped by the Landesarchiv Berlin, are part of the Berliner Morgenpost edition describing bomb damage in Mariannenstraße and Kottbusser Str. after the air raid]
[Here, window panes repair-work is done at Bahnhof Kottbusser Tor among curious Berliners with the elevated train station in the background.]
[Around the corner, the roof structure of Mariannenstraße number 26 apartment was thrown into the street by explosive bombs, we can see here the severe damage taken by the building’s last floor.]
After having a first taste of the air war on Berlin two nights before (25/26 August), Nazi-authorities didn’t release any image of the bomb destruction just describing it as ‘minor’ and without impact on the city. By contrast, after this second British air attack, the German press and neutral photojournalist were rushed the very next day to the Kreuzberg district to take pictures of the bomb damage to the streets and apartment buildings on that area, in what was a clearly policy change by the Nazis, now using them to denounce to the world that the RAF has attacked residential areas dropping bombs over civilians.
Berlin admitted minor damage to several districts of the capital the following morning: the myth of the Reichhauptstadt’s inviolability had been finally shattered.
Bibliography and sources:
- Berliner Morgenpost, Freitag, 30. Aug. 1940. Nr. 208.
- BRITISH BOMBING SURVEY UNIT (1998).The Strategic Air War Against Germany 1939 - 1945 - The Official Report of the British Bombing Survey Unit. Frank Cass.
- Demps, Laurenz. Luftangriffe auf Berlin. Die Berichte der Hauptluftschutzstelle. Ch. Links Verlag, 2014.
- Der Angriff, 30. Aug. 1940, Nr. 210
- Friedrich, Jörg. Der Brand Deutschland Im Bombenkrieg 1940-1945. Verlag Ullstein, 2005.
- Landesarchiv Berlin. Die Kriegschronik der Reichshauptstadt Berlin – Quelle zur Geschichte Berlins in der NS-Zeit.
- Landesarchiv Berlin. LAB, A Rep. 001-02, Nr. 700, Bl. 8 f.
- Moorhouse, Roger. Berlin at war. Life and death in Hitler’s capital, 1939-45. Vintage Books, 2011.
- Overy, Richard.The Bombing War: Europe, 1939-1945. Allen Lane, 2013.
- Shirer, William L. Berlin Diary: Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941. Galahad Books, 1997.
- Shirer, William L.This Is Berlin. Random House, 2013
- Wildt, Michael and Kreutzmueller, Christoph. Berlin 1933-1945 - Stadt und Gesellschaft im Nationalsozialismus. Siedler Verlag, 2013.