why Allies did not bumb Wetzlar?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by dan d. chang, Mar 19, 2006.

  1. any clue? Thanks
     
  2. They didn't want to drive up collector prices.
     
  3. Maybe they didn't get to it in time? Maybe it was too far and not worth it? Maybe they tried and missed? Who knows?
     
  4. Perhaps because they couldn't focus on the target? :)
     
  5. SCL

    SCL

    Patton wanted to give them time to figure out how to cover two Leica bodies in mother-of-pearl to match his pistols?
     
  6. Don't confuse the Allies with the Japanese who had a "Three Alls Policy" (kill all, loot all, burn all) in their invasion of China.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Japanese_War_(1937-1945)
     
  7. Why didn't the Allies bomb Wetzlar?

    Because there was no strategic importance to that location and there was no known military production, at least of any significance. Otherwise, it would have been.
     
  8. "Patton wanted to give them time to figure out how to cover two Leica bodies in mother-of-pearl to match his pistols?"

    Only a Louisianna pimp would have two cameras covered with mother of pearl! Patton woulda used ivory! Get it right.
     
  9. Because it would be bad PR back home in the USA to bomb the transit camp at Wetzlar, where allied prisoner passed thru. It probably would sit too well in the UK, bombing RAF prisoners being processed either. Normally in war one avoids purposely killing ones own prisoners, it is bad for morale.
     
  10. It probably would'nt sit
     
  11. What I've always wondered is why we didn't bomb the tracks to Auschwitz and Dachau.
     
  12. >Fred C , mar 19, 2006; 08:35 p.m.

    >Don't confuse the Allies with the Japanese who had a "Three Alls Policy" (kill all, loot all,
    burn all) in their invasion of China.

    Somebody here is obviously confused.
     
  13. Maybe because their "bumbers" were bosted and thus couldn't droop any bumbs?...
     
  14. They needed E.Leitz manufactured optical bombsights to accurately bomb Wetzlar, but alas they couldn't get their hands on any, as there was a war going on.
     
  15. Yeah, but the socalled Jon is not confused, just dumb!
     
  16. I think Patton was too busy taking pictures with his Leica. There's a new book coming out with his Leica shots of the battlefield and more.
     
  17. They did, according to Wikki - the cathedral was damaged by aerial bombing

    As to the question of why the concentration camps were not bombed, Wikki has a brief
    summary which might be of interest
     
  18. I don't know what else was produced in Wetzlar. I would guess that when our strategic bombing really got underway, mid to late 43, that optical gear was not a big deal compared to steel, oil, transportation, and weapons's production, especially aircraft. The Brit's bombed at night and were lucky if bombs fell within a large city's limits. Not disparaging their courage and sacrifice. Bomber Command lost an inordinate numer of aircrews. The technology was not up to night all weather precision bombing. American daylight bombing was not much more accurate. Bombing became very effective when we concentrated on petroleum and transportation. As Speer said, the main effect of the bombing campaign was to tie up about a million German troops into anti-aircraft duties, when they could have been used in the army. The Allied bombing campaign also force the German fighter defenses into the sky where they became prey for the long range P-51 Mustangs. I am a retired Air Force officer who served in Korea, and often wonder about the morality of bombing civilian targets. Even General LeMay, my hero, felt that he would have been tried as a war criminal if the Allies had lost the war. On his own initiative, he lauched the fire bomb raids against Japanese cities, which were more deadly than the atomic bombs. He did so because the US had gone to great expense to design and build the B-29. Plus if his concept had failed, he was willing to take the fall to protect more senior officers like Hap Arnold. LeMay put his life on the line as the leader of many B-17 raids in Europe. A man who had the courage of his convictions. Which brings us to "W". No, I won't go there. You can't polish a turd.
     
  19. Sorry, my old age is showing. I served in Vietnam, not in Korea.
     
  20. Uh, Korea?

    --Lannie
     
  21. Oops, Kerry. MY old age is showing: I didn't read your earlier post.

    --Lannie
     
  22. Wikki has a brief summary which might be of interest
    I didn't find it.
     
  23. Don't confuse the Allies with the Japanese who had a "Three Alls Policy" (kill all, loot all, burn all) in their invasion of China.
    That's a hoot. I guess it explains the half a million incendiary bombs that were dropped on Tokyo at night, burning 100,000 civilians alive. One of the pilots said he could smell flesh burning at 5000 feet.
    The damage the Allies wrought on German and Japanese cities was completely unprecendented. Destruction of the entire infrastructure of these countries was central to the Allies' strategy. Curtis LeMay himself said that we had lost, he and other U.S. military leaders would have been tried as war criminals.
     
  24. Maybe Wetzlar should have been bombed.

    Zeiss plants were decimated but despite that and being split up they soon were able to introduce SLRs and IIAs and IIIAs. Took Leitz till 1954 to catch up on the rangefinders and the SLRs... well lets not go there. They eventually got it right. Ask Doug Herr.

    C.
     
  25. <What I've always wondered is why we didn't bomb the tracks to Auschwitz and Dachau.>

    Putting aside the question of whether Allied leaders knew the extent of what was happening in the camps, I believe a strategic decision was made that the best way to save the most lives, military and civilian alike, was to focus all available resources on winning the war as quickly as possible.

    This strategic decision may now be seen by some commentators as controversial, but it must have seemed like obvious common sense at the time. Diverting bombers from runs on high-value military targets in order to bomb the tracks, which were probably both hard to hit and easy to repair, would have had the effect of lengthening the war (or so the reasoning went). This, in turn, would likely have increased the total number of deaths, military and civilian alike -- not to mention that if the Nazis had been unable to transport their victims to the camps, they seemed to have a knack for finding other ways to kill them.

    We can argue about the justifiability of specific Allied acts during the war, but I think we can safely assign all the blame for what went on in the camps to the Nazi perpetrators. (And I'm not suggesting for a second that anyone on this forum believes otherwise.)
     
  26. Because from 1933 to 1938, Ernst Leitz III and his daughter helped the jewish peoples to go in USA, for escape from the nazi persecutions. In the Wetzlar factory, the jewish people learned the photographic technic and job. At the end of this period learning, the Jewish peoples and their family arrived in New York city by ship. In the Big Apple, the responasbles of the New York Leitz, helped the Jewish photo technicians to find a job in the american photo factories or laboratoires. In early 1939 the GESTAPO kidnapped the doughter of Ernst Leitz III, for ceasing the Jewish exodus. This epoch is wrote in a USA Rabin book.
    Another reason for save the Leitz factory is the strategic rule of the photographic industries for the civil reconstruction, after the war destroy (in Japan, too).
    Ciao.

    Vincenzo Maielli Bari Italy
     
  27. "Because there was no strategic importance to that location and there was no known military production, at least of any significance."

    Maybe no weapon production, but it is said that the Luftwaffe (German airforce) used to mount Leitz lenses on their Messerschmidt to map hostile territory. Leitz produced superb glass for that time and the Nazis were interested in it.
     
  28. Dear Leon Chang, you are wrong (i'm very sorry...).
    The Leitz Wetzlar factory, as the Dresden Zeiss Ikon or Jaghee factory too, was very important in the german military strategy, for the contruction of the shot systems pointers in the ships, aircrafts and tanks, or for the periscopes for terrestrial or naval use (U BOOT), as the Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) or Asahi Optical (Pentax) in Japan. The real reasons are other, last but not least the build of a new German country against the Soviet enemy in the Cod War years.
    Ciao.

    Vincenzo Maielli Bari Italy
     
  29. Perhaps they were worried about the after-market bottoming out rendering their investment worthless.
     
  30. Leitz escaped because W.Churchill in one of his long depressive bouts during the entire campaign and long after.
     
  31. "Because there was no strategic importance to that location and there was no known military production, at least of any significance"

    You mean other than Leitz being the primary contractor for the gunsight on the Panther tank? I'd call that significant and so would a lot of Sherman crews dodging 75mm shells.

    I'm sure that there were reasons why Wetzlar remained pretty much unscathed, but that wasn't one of them.
     
  32. Vincenzo, what you say is true but this was done also thanks to the previous experiences where Leitz glass was used on German planes to map Bolsjewik territory.
     
  33. Maybe because their targets were set by Peter Sellers.
     
  34. >>I am a retired Air Force officer who served in Korea, and often wonder about the morality of bombing civilian targets. Even General LeMay, my hero, felt that he would have been tried as a war criminal if the Allies had lost the war. On his own initiative, he lauched the fire bomb raids against Japanese cities, which were more deadly than the atomic bombs. He did so because the US had gone to great expense to design and build the B-29.<<

    And in fact, the Law of Armed Conflict as now taught to Air Force air crews and targeteers does, indeed, define the type of bombing done by the Allies during WWII as criminal (although not pointing specifically to them). One thing to keep in mind, though, is that with today's precision bombing, such deliberate targeting of civilian areas would be criminal.

    And today's bombing is truly precise. 99 times out of 100, if we hit it, we were aiming at it; if we aimed at it, we hit it. If it was the wrong target, it was an error of target selection, not bomb precision. I was a targeteer, retired in 1999. Having started at the tail of the Vietnam war, I was utterly astounded by the precision of bombing in the Gulf War. There were some target selection errors. For one thing, we didn't realize immediately the deep extent to which Hussein's forces made dual use of military facilities.

    >>You mean other than Leitz being the primary contractor for the gunsight on the Panther tank? I'd call that significant and so would a lot of Sherman crews dodging 75mm shells. <<

    We can call everything and nearly anything strategic in some way.

    However other factors are also involved in target selection, such as current air defenses, proximity to home bases, proximity to other targets, chances of success based on the confidence of target identification, chances of success based on the probability of target reconstitution, likelihood of successfully destorying one target compared to another, and priority of destroying that particular element compared to the need to destroy other elements (Panthers need ball bearings just to roll--but you can aim a Panther by deadeye, if necessary).

    It may well have always been on the target list and just never rose to the top.
     
  35. Rene - a classic response :)
     
  36. My dad was a bombadier (sp) on the heavy, medium and final light bombers, his quote (we could hit a city but not much else). The only way they could guarantee hitting a target was put up a 100 planes flying in formataion and having everybody drop their load at the same time, the collateral damage was horrific. The fire bombing in Japan was very "effective" at wiping out the civilian population since they had virtually no bomb shelters.

    Back to Wetzlar, I recall that the shareholders/company within the last 5 years or so paid out a big sum of money to the jewish slave labor.

    Finally my guess as to why they were not bombed, priority was munitions, refineries, tank/aircraft production, fuel, troop concentrations and depots. You also need to remember that the bombers were grounded for months at a time due to BAD weather in England.

    Gerry
     
  37. Was Leitz part of IG Farben?
     
  38. For your information, Leica honored their guarantees and did repair work even during the war. Maybe that's way they didn't level Wetzler.
     
  39. Richard -

    The German's Panther and Tiger tanks had a variant of the 88mm gun as primary armament. The US Sherman M4-A3e8 tanks had 76mm guns, while the light tanks were equipped with 75mm guns.

    BTW: The Tiger gunsight has a spot (extremely small circle) for aiming up to 300 meters. The 88 gun tube was a "squeeze bore" design, and the 88 projectile was made with sabots to make full use of the squeeze bore. Muzzle velocity was well above the speed of sound - - a "hyper velocity" round.

    George (The Old Fud)
     
  40. craig hoehne Prolific Poster, mar 20, 2006; 08:37 a.m.
    "Was Leitz part of IG Farben?"

    I think it is well known by now that members of the Leitz family (and influential friends) were involved in getting many jewish people out of Germany before and during the war. Elsie Kuhn-Leitz was imprisoned by the Gestapo when it was discovered she had also been involved in smuggling jewish workers over the Swiss border and had fallen under suspicion when attempting to improve conditions for Ukrainian slave labourers that Leitz had allotted to them by the Nazi regime. Leitz family members and senior staff took great personal risk in these enterprises.

    This is well documented and published in various books and articles (and websites) over the years.

    http://www.zonezero.com/magazine/articles/leica/
     
  41. "The damage the Allies wrought on German and Japanese cities was completely unprecendented. Destruction of the entire infrastructure of these countries was central to the Allies' strategy."

    Compared to what! The final solution (9 million Jews, Catholics, and others gassed to death)?, the rape of Nanking?, the Bataan death march?, the annexation of most of Europe? the attack on Pearl Harbor?

    Stick to ocean physics. You obviously don't have the foggiest idea of what went on during WWII.
     
  42. "Eliot Rosen , mar 20, 2006; 02:22 p.m.
    "The damage the Allies wrought on German and Japanese cities was completely unprecendented. Destruction of the entire infrastructure of these countries was central to the Allies' strategy."
    Compared to what! The final solution (9 million Jews, Catholics, and others gassed to death)?, the rape of Nanking?, the Bataan death march?, the annexation of most of Europe? the attack on Pearl Harbor?

    Stick to ocean physics. You obviously don't have the foggiest idea of what went on during WWII."

    Enough time has passed that there is no need to be an apologist for the appalling level of civilian casualties in World War II on either side of the conflict. The Allies' hands are bloody as well, even if you believe that their cause was righteous. I'd suggest reading John Dower's "War Without Mercy" as a start for understanding the brutality of the Pacific War. Bataan and Pearl Harbor barely register as footnotes in terms of casualties (and certainly civilian casualties), compared to the Japanese occupation of China or the decimation of the populations of the Phillipines, Okinawa, and other islands.
     
  43. Some other comments: In Matanle's wonderful book on classic cameras, he shows posters that were used by the RAF to get British photographers to sell theis Leica's and Contax's to the RAF. In my year in Vietnam, 1966-67, the laser and TV guided weapons had not yet appeared. Fighter bomber pilots (F-105's, F-4's} were dependent on acquiring the target with their own eyeballs. They didn't want to in or above solid cloud cover: (1) can't find the target, (2) can't see the surface-to-air missiles coming at them. The Paul Doumer bridge in the north withstood many bombing attempts and created a lot of American POWs because it was hard to hit and well defended. The bridge came down on the first sortie to use laser guided weapons.

    The Tiger tank employed an 88 mm main gun. The Panther used a 75 mm main gun which may have even better. They had very long barrels which produce very high velocities. Our Sherman tank was joke: the Brits called it the "Tommy cooker" or the "Ronson" (Lights first time, every time. The armor and gun were ineffective. The Brits upgraded the gun by using their excellent 17 pounder, equivalent to the 88. Didn't do anything for the armor, though. Our best tank, the Pershing, arrived at the end of war in very low quantities. The best cannon shot were made of tungsten, but the Germans needed it for machine tools. Interesting that the Germans did not use high octane aviation fuel for whatever reason. May I recommend the book "Overlord" writtne by the British Historian Max Hastings in 1984. Very heavy of weapon comparisons. The second best book, also by Hastings, is called "armageddon". Came out about 2 years ago.
     
  44. It is hard to imagine the depravity and cruelty that sustained combat can produce under miserable conditions. I can't imagine it. I was an Air Force meteorologist. But as a very young lieutenant, I was stationed with an old warrant officer who had been a US Army grunt in New Guinea. He told tales of GI's taking Japanese scalps, and GI's using Japanese skins for wallets and belts. Recall Kipling:

    And if you should fall on Afghanistan's plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
    And go to your death like a soldier.

    Pretty grim. I much preferred this line from Kipling:

    Ship me somewhere's east of Suez,
    Where the best is like the worst,
    Where there ain't no ten commandments,
    And a man can raise a thirst.
     
  45. >>But as a very young lieutenant, I was stationed with an old warrant officer who had been a US Army grunt in New Guinea. He told tales of GI's taking Japanese scalps, and GI's using Japanese skins for wallets and belts. Recall Kipling: <<

    This why you hear civilians--not generals--talk of scrapping the Law of Armed Conflict. No general wants to command an army with no law at his disposal.
     
  46. Here is a page that shows estimates of deaths in various countries during WWII.
    Death Statistics for WWII.
    As an aside my father was captured and sent to Stalag XIIA in Limburg, Germany. This is just down the road from Wetzlar from what I see on the map. This was in September of 1944.
    I was stationed in Bitburg, Germany for the USAF from 1970 to 1972. We were able to get along better than the people on this forum.
     
  47. Well, yeah, sure, Marc, you were under the civilising influence of the Bitburg AB photo club.
     
  48. I recommend reading Manchester's long but engrossing history of the Krupp family to
    understand some of these issues. While not directly related to Leitz and our bombing
    raids, it does address the issues of the military industrial complex, and the intertwining of
    commerce, business and diplomacy with an unparalleled accuracy and thoroughness. It
    starts c. 1750 and goes through 1960's - and covers the dark side of German industry.
    Not to suggest that Leitz is like that - far from it. But it also addresses our role in the war,
    and how cumbersome it was to execute our initiatives.

    On the issue of what we bombed and why, there is some interesting material out there. A
    book was written some years ago on a small town of 100,000 people in Germany which
    just made the British bombing list cutoff, and was pretty much destroyed. Ironically, its
    strategic value was exagerated, as the industrial aspects were unfortunately mis-labelled
    by faulty intelligence. But these things do happen in war, and still do.

    Also, the Holocaust Museum in Washington has some pretty good documentation on the
    American decisions not to bomb the camps or related activities. Whether this was driven
    by resource allocation, concerns over bombing accuracy, or callousness will never really be
    known. All are valid points.

    However, between LeMay, Tokyo, Dresden, and our use of atomic bombs, there is enough
    fault to go around. War is never clean.

    Geoff
     
  49. OCULUS New York

    OCULUS New York Still shooting, but posting less here.

    I thought that, after the obvious heavy industries, there were two specialty targets: ball bearings and lenses. I think Dresden and Oberkocken/Jena (Zeiss) took their hits. Leica made equipment for US and Brits; so maybe there was some cross-interest, rather than cross-hairs.

    Cheers,
    Ray Hull
     
  50. How many Allied POW's were being processed thru the Wetzlar transit area? <BR><BR>What would the worth of zapping the Wetzlar optical production area be versus killing off 100 to 1000 POW's at the same time? <BR><BR>Would the later war in Vietnam be more favored in the USA if the USA bombed the POW camps? holding our own men?<BR><BR>Were the allied POW areas known to the USA public; if a sacrfice our own guys calculation was made? <BR><BR>How close was the Welzlar optical works to the allied POWs being processed?<BR><BR>Was the works bunched up; or spread all around the town, so not really one target?<BR><BR>It is interesting how most all above have ignored the negative impact on morale it is to bomb ones one soldiers as POW's being processed.
     
  51. Some of us were glad they dropped the damn atomic bomb, which stopped the war in the Pacific REAL quick. Folks were dancing in the streets in the USA that the damn war was over, THANKFULL for not another year of a huge Japanese Invasion. Today alot of whusses candy coat the big war. The firebombing of Tokyo radically killed off alot more folks than the two A bombs a dozen times over; folks like to ignore this. One gets tired of reading about all the local town kids being killed off during the war, seeing a neighbor in tears when their kid is gone. The Japanese were warned before the bombing. If there was no bomb the stubborn Emperior would have dragged out the bloody war along time. The Japanese should blame their Emperior for the bomb; he could have stopped the mess way earlier, but choose to kill off more of his own. War is never a clean thing. Having a stubborn man in control that doesnt care about his own ; or the power of others who want to end a war is going to create problems.
     
  52. WWII was a holy war to the Japanese with the emperor a living god and the victims all racially inferior beings. Idealogically they were really perfect allies to the Nazis. With modern re-examination of history the Japanese feel they are the victims of the war else why do their leaders worship at Yasukune? Imagine if modern German leaders visit on a regular basis a memorial for Nazi criminals.
     
  53. The Germans and the Japanese weren't referred to as "allies" during WW-II. That term was reserved for us good guys. They were called "co-beligerants" at the time.
     
  54. "... That term was reserved for us good guys. ..."
    Are these good guys the ones who:
    - had a segregated army
    - had segregated policies at home
    - killed and tortured thousands of Algerians in a colonial war
    - colonized Hong Kong until 1997
    - colonized Asian and African countries until the late 1960'and 1970's
    - continue to colonize parts of the globe that have no geographical or ethnic relation to the colonizer. e.g., Malvinas, Puerto Rico, Guantanamo, Diego Garcia, etc.
    - carpet bombed Vietnam (they could have bought the place for less money)
    - engaged in chemical warfare (Agent Orange)
    Has anything changed? Have we learned anything from the spilt blood of our ancestors?
    OK, relatively speaking they are the good guys, but "relatively good" is not a high moral position.
     
  55. The Japanese had been making entreaties toward a surrender before the A bombs were
    dropped. Unfortunately for them, the only western country they still had diplomatic
    relations with at the time was the Soviet Union. The Soviets were more interested in
    prolonging the war in the east so as to grab more territory from a weakened Japan when
    the war ended. Thus, japanese efforts at reaching a negotiated surrender were stymied in
    the Kremlin. Would they have surrendered in time to stop the bombing of Hiroshima?
    Who knows?.
    As to why Wetzlar wasn't bombed, since German industrial production remained almost at
    full capacity unitl the war ended, I would say that the allies were not very good at or very
    interested in identifying and destroying such industries.
     
  56. I am sure it was not due to this, but here is as good a place as any to tell people about it again. (It has been published on this board before.)

    Before the war the Leitz family was instrumental in moving many Jewish families to safety out of Germany. They kept it secret right up to recent times. Here is a link: http://www.firemark.net/lft.html

    I recently re watched Schidlers List and was just as moved then as I was the first time. I know there were good people in Germany who opposed Hitler (I know one such old chap whos family came from east Prussia and who had to go into hiding during the war becasue he had been citical of the regime. Before the war he was wealthy as a result of his family inheritance, including property in Dresden. He lost his wife, child and that inheretance in the notorious fire bombing of that city. God war is stupid.)

    But now I knew there was a reason I liked Leicas!
     
  57. They did bomb Wetzlar, several times. The Americans bombed it 5 times in 1994 alone: May 28, July 20, September 19 and 22 and November 21, 1944.
     
  58. Sorry, I meant 1944, not 1994.
     

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