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Keeling, Ralph Franklin, 1901- / Gruesome harvest
(1947)

Chapter I: War devastation,   pp. 3-6 PDF (1.3 MB)


Page 5

WAR DEVASTATION
An American writer, among the first group of correspond-
ents allowed to spend more than 24 hours in the smashed
metropolis, wrote:
"The capital of the third Reich is a heap of gaunt, burned-out,
flame-seared buildings. It is a desert of a hundred thousand dunes
made up of brick and powdered masonry. Over this hangs the
pungent stench of death. . . . It is impossible to exaggerate in de-
scribing the destruction.... Downtown Berlin looks like nothing
man could have contrived. Riding down the famous Frankfurter
Allee, I did not see a single building where you could have set
up a business of even selling apples."
All German cities above 50,000 population and many
smaller ones were from 50 to 80 per cent destroyed. Dresden,
as large as Pittsburg, was wiped out and nearly all of its 620,
000 inhabitants buried under the ruins.7 Cologne, with a
population of 750,000, was turned into a gigantic wasteland.
Hamburg, with its 1,150,000 people, was blasted by huge
attacks, in one of which the flames rolled a mile into the sky
and roasted alive hundreds of thousands of civilians in street
temperatures of a thousand degrees. Frankfurt-on-Main, a
city of 500,000, was reduced to a mass of rubble. All cities
and industrial areas, such as the Ruhr and Saar regions, were
laid waste.
The story of Kassel typifies the tragedy which befell the
others:
"Three hundred times the people of Kassel ran terrified to their
air-raid shelters as giant British and American planes dropped
their bombs. Nearly 10,000 were killed in the first terrible bomb-
ing, the night of October 22, 1943. That was largely an incendi-
ary attack, which set the whole center of the city afire. Thou-
sands were killed in their air-shelters by the gas fumes from great
piles of burning coal, never knowing why they felt sleepy, never
awakening.
"From that night on they never knew when; they just knew
they were doomed. Sometimes they got only a few bombs; often
raiding parties which couldn't reach objectives farther east around
Berlin picked Kassel on the way home.
"Occasionally swarms of planes went directly overhead and
nothing happened; other times they went overhead, and when the
people of Kassel thought they were going on eastward, they
wheeled and came back to drop their powerful tons of TNT.
"They got so they knew all the tricks, those that remained in
Kassel. Steadily their town was beaten down upon their heads.


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