March 25, 2015

1943. Allied Bombing of Germany Threatens Morale

The Battle of the Ruhr
"Boeing B-17F radar bombing through clouds over Bremen, Germany, on Nov. 13, 1943" (source)
The parentheses indicate portions that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

May 30, 1943

There has been a change on this front during the past several months. A very obscure sort of change, but a very important one.

It's a change among the German troops, brought about by American and British boys operating out of England and North Africa.

It's based on the principle that, if you pull the Nazi war-dog's tail in Western Europe, his head will yelp in Russia. And that's what's happening here.

The Anglo-American bombing of Germany is having a very real effect on the German soldier, who has been given the impossible job of defeating Russia. When a Fortress or a Liberator or a Lancaster drops a bomb on Berlin or Duisburg or Essen, this bomb not only smashes Nazi war production, it also smashes just one more grain of confidence and resistance in the morale of the Fritz on the Russian front who sooner or later hears that his hometown has taken it in the neck again.

(Red Army intelligence officers for the past couple of months have reported that they are finding more and more letters from home on German prisoners in which the Deutschen home folks are complaining about Anglo-American bombing.)

When Frau Ruth Radke writes to her husband Sergeant Fritz Radke on the Russian front saying that Essen has taken another shellacking and the town is seriously damaged, Sergeant Radke is not going to be able to concentrate all his attention on killing Russians.

Russian officials report that this type of letter from home is being found in ever-greater numbers on prisoners and on the bodies of German soldiers left in the battlefields. It's a big change from the letters sent to the Russian front from Germany early in the war. Then the good wives and girlfriends of the Nazi soldiers begged them to send home booty taken from Russian civilians.

Russian officials are not overestimating the effects of this Anglo-American aerial attack on Germany. They don't believe that the German soldier on the Russian front is going to fold up and quit because of these attacks. However, they attach first-rank importance to the morale value on the Nazi troops here in Russia. No soldier can fight his best if he thinks the folks back home can't support the cause for which he is risking his life. American and British bombs are doing their bit in blasting this cause out by the roots, and the Fritz knows it.