Bombing of Hanau in World War II

Summary: During the late period of the war, in order to meet the ground offensive, the Allies bombed German city Hanau, which is the birthplace of the famous Brothers Grimm. British troops deployed nearly 300 bombers and destroyed 85 percent of the city’s buildings. A few days later, the Allied ground forces captured the city. It is worth mentioning that, in the latter part of World War II, the Allied strategic bombing destroyed a large number of German and Japanese cities, Hanau is only one of many cities destroyed.

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Hanau during an air raid on the morning of the 19th March 1945 was the city of Hanau in the context of moral bombing strategy of units of the RAF Bomber Command was largely destroyed. This air attack had been preceded by several smaller raids.

The attacker

The attack was followed by a firestorm at the command of Air Marshal Arthur Harris of the no.5 Bomber Group of the Royal Air Force carried out, which represented a company specializing in the systematic destruction of civilian targets unit area. The no.5 Bomber Group was responsible for the area’s bombing of Dresden, Kassel, Braunschweig, Pforzheim, Hamburg and Darmstadt. The unit turned to a combination of explosive and incendiary bomb n. This combination resulted in the best case to a military firestorm. The fire multiplied while the damage as the cause of the used explosive and incendiary bombs.

The preparation

The exact selection of the bombarding neighborhoods was made ​​on the basis of aerial photographs, fire insurance maps and population density cadastral maps. The cadastral maps were deposited by German fire insurance in British reinsurance companies before the war. The historic old town Hanauer was selected as the core area of ​​the attack, as was the wooden portion of the total building mass is highest here. So they turned to ignite a firestorm in Hanau, the optimal target core single division

From the bombardment of the target area was Mosquito – fast bomber n by red and green marker as defined (so-called Christmas trees). This was monitored by a master bomber flying at high altitude, which was connected by radio with the tag planes. After this was finished, the master bomber checked on a lower trajectory once the Hanau target area, defined the exact approach heights and gave the attack-free.

The bombardment

The target area of ​​the attack on Hanau presented essentially the densely populated city center – especially the historic center – dar. The bombardment began at 4:24 and ended at 4:43 clock clock. It took 19 minutes. 227 Lancasters and 8 Mosquito aircraft continued the Royal Air Force a while.

First, thousands of bombs and mines had been dropped several hundred air. By the pressure waves of explosions, the roofs were torn. After thousands of electron-Thermitstäbe were dropped on the city, which now fell into the rafters of houses torn and this offset within the shortest possible time in full blaze. Within an hour, thousands of smaller building fires spread from a major fire. A total of 525 tons of high explosive bombs and 656.6 tons of incendiary bombs were dropped on Hanau.

Damage and victims

The majority of the searching in the basement shelter people – if they were not killed during the attack by rubble – burned or suffocated in the cellars. An escape from the cellars of the roads was rarely possible because the heat was too big and had also partially ignited the tar of the road surface. The attack on the densely populated city fell up to 2,500 people died. There were 90 percent of the Old town and the center, the actual city center, destroyed a total of 80 percent of the buildings Hanau. Especially the city was almost completely destroyed, as much as any other city in Hesse. Only seven houses were still standing. The population of the city dropped below 10,000. Hanau had lost many of its most important monuments, the old town completely lost their medieval face.

The reconstruction of the city the ruins of the City Palace, the commandant of the arsenal and the city theater were against great resistance from the local population and relevant associations, such as the Hanau Historical Society, demolished, as well as most preserved remains of medieval fortifications. The enclosing half of the Walloon Walloon Double Dutch church stands in ruins as a memorial to this day. Hanau town image has radically altered.


•Richard Schaffer-Hartmann: The night Hanau went down.19th March 1945 (= German cities by allied bombing). Wartberg-Verlag, Gudensberg-equals 2004, ISBN 3-8313-1471-3.

•James Stern: The invisible debris.A journey in occupied Germany in 1945. Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-8218-0749-0.

•Jörg Friedrich: The fire.Germany in the bombing war from 1940 to 1945 11. Edition. Propylaea, Munich, etc. 2002, ISBN 3-549-07165-5.

History of Hanau


Air warfare operation of the Royal Air Force in World War II


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