Bombing of Wieluń


Bombing of Wieluń

The bombing of Wieluń refers to the terror bombing of the Polish town of Wieluń by the German Luftwaffe on 1 September 1939. This air raid started about five minutes before the shelling of Westerplatte, which has traditionally been considered the beginning of World War II. The bombing of Wieluń is considered as one of the first terror bombings in history. [For an earlier terror bombing (from 1937), see bombing of Guernica (during Spanish Civil War).]

The bombing started at 4:40 AM. At 6:00 a.m. the German forces noted that "Wielun brennt" (Wieluń burns), but the raids continued until 2:00 PM. Three waves of attacks were carried out during the day. Among the German pilots were those from Condor Legion, which was involved in the bombing of Guernica two years prior. On their return home, four of the German Junkers Ju 87 bombers were shot down by the Polish 36 Academic Legion Infantry Regiment stationed nearby.

It is widely acknowledged that there were no military or industrial targets of note in the area, except for a small sugar factory in the outskirts of the town. German bombers destroyed 90% of the town center (including the historical gothic church) and killed approximately 1,200 civilians, about 8% of the town's population of 15,000. Approximately 75% of all the buildings in Wieluń were destroyed. Among the first targets bombed by the Germans was the hospital (despite a huge Red Cross sign painted on the roof). Some eyewitnesses claimed that the German planes strafed civilians who were fleeing through the streets.

The real purpose of the bombing remains unclear. There are claims that Polish military units were inside the town before the first air raid, a fact that would explain the choice of the city to be bombed. However, it's more likely that the only military units near Wielun were a cavalry column that arrived later in the day.

Notes

External links

* [http://www.historia.wielunia.webpark.pl/1wrzesnia2.html Wieluń, 1 września 1939 r.]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20070312051606/http://www.zdf.de/ZDFde/inhalt/10/0,1872,2185322,00.html Summary of a German TV report making the case for the bombing of Wielun as a war crime]
* [http://chrito.users1.50megs.com/1939/sep/1sept39luft.htm Reports of Luftwaffe pilots during September 1, including the attacks against WIELÚN]

Further reading

* Bekker, Cajus. (1994). [http://books.google.com/books?id=lXhnRJsXbGMC "The Luftwaffe War Diaries"] . pp. 31-3. OCLC|30353222
* Bojarska B., Zniszczenie miasta Wielunia w dniu 1 września 1939 r., „Przegląd Zachodni” 1962, nr 2.
* Kulesza W., Pierwszy był Wieluń, „Rzeczpospolita” 1999, nr 211, 9 IX 1999.
* Olejnik T., Wieluń – na pięć minut przed Westerplatte. Pierwsi zginęli cywile, „Tygodnik Powszechny” nr 35, 31 VIII 2003 r.
* Olejnik T., Wieluń. Zniszczenie miasta 1 IX 1939 r., Kępno 1979.
* Olejnik T., Wieluń – polska Guernica, das polnische Guernica, Wieluń 2004.
* Pięciak W., Wieluń 1 września 1939 r., „Tygodnik Powszechny” nr 2, 12 I 2003.


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