Bombing of Königsberg in World War II


Bombing of Königsberg in World War II

In 1944 during World War II, the city of Königsberg was extensively bombed from the air by the British Royal Air Force and burned for several days.

Although the city was occasionally bombed by the Soviet Air Forces, Königsberg was first attacked by the British No. 5 Group, which had been free from deployment for most of the war, on the night of 26/27 August 1944. The raid was at the extreme range for the Avro Lancaster of which 174 flew 950 miles from their bases. This first raid was not particularly successful, most bombs falling on the eastern side of the town and four attacking aircraft were lost.

Three nights later on the 29/30 August, a further 189 Lancasters of No. 5 Group dropped 480 tons of bombs on the centre of the city. RAF Bomber Command estimated that 20% of all the industry and 41% of all the housing in Königsberg was destroyed. A heavy German night fighter defense downed fifteen of the attacking bombers (7.9% of the force). [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/aug44.html RAF Bomber Command: Campaign Diary. August 1944] ]

The historic city center, especially the original districts Altstadt, Löbenicht, and Kneiphof, was nearly destroyed, and 14th Century Cathedral was left a shell. The castle, all churches of the old city, the university, and the old shipping quarter were similarly gutted. The German-Jewish author and musician Michael Wieck, a native of Königsberg, wrote in "A Childhood Under Hitler and Stalin" that "the people of Königsberg shall never expunge these nights of terror from their memory."

In 1945, the prolonged Battle of Königsberg inflicted further damage. The Soviet occupation expelled the German citizens and rebuilt Königsberg as a Russian city of Kaliningrad.

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