Bombing of Hildesheim in World War II


Bombing of Hildesheim in World War II

The German city of Hildesheim, ca. 30 kilometres south of Hanover was target of several Allied air raids in 1945.

Hildesheim during World War II

For most of the war Hildesheim was regarded as a minor target by the British Bomber Command mainly because the military potential of the industry in and around Hildesheim was underestimated and classified as 'minor plants in major industries, or major plants in minor industries'. ["The Bomber's Baedeker", PRO London, AIR 14/2662 ] The Hildesheim branch of the Vereinigte Deutsche Metallwerke (United German Metalworks) produced aircraft parts and engines and jet-engines, other factories produced tank parts (Senking Werke), torpedoes (Ahlborn AG) and rubber products (Wetzell Gummiwerke AG). Outside the city the Robert Bosch GmbH manufactured engine components for the Tiger and Tiger II tanks. There was also a major marshalling yard in Hildesheim. [Zielpunkt 52092N 09571O]

Operation Clarion

As part of the Allied Operation Clarion (destruction of German traffic centres in smaller cities) the marshalling yard in Hildesheim was targeted in the afternoon of February 22nd, 1945. Due to good weather and clear sight the marshalling yard was heavily damaged, the city itself received only minor damage. About 250 people were killed. [Lagemeldung 1379 vom 25. 2. 1945, Chef der Ordungspolizei, Berlin, Bundesarchiv Koblenz R 19/341.]

March 14th, 1945

On March 14th, 1945 elements of the 1st Air Division bombed several targets in the area around Hanover. Among these were the Vereinigte Deutsche Metallwerke (VDM) and again the marshalling yard in Hildesheim. While the marshalling yard was hit hard again and disabled for several days, the bombers missed VDM and instead bombed the Senking metal works, completely destroying the factory. About 150 people were killed, including 60 POWs.

March 22nd, 1945

On March 22nd, 1945, Hildesheim is the key target of the Allied Bomber Command. British and Canadian bomber aircraft are ordered 'to destroy built up area with associated industries and railway facilities.' [Targets and A/P's for day 22nd, Mar 45, Air Historical Branch RAF, London.] At 2pm about 250 bomber aircraft started the attack. In the following 15 minutes, they dropped a total of 438.8 tons of high explosive and 624 tons of incendiary bombs. [Bomber Command Summary of Operations, 22nd Mar 45, Serial No. 1042, Air Historical Branch, London] 75% of the buildings in Hildesheim were destroyed during the attack, including the entire historical city centre. [Statistisches Jahrbuch für die Hauptstadt des Regierungsbezirks Hildesheim, Jg. 1960/61, 2. Band, Hildesheim, 1961.]

About 1,500 civilians were killed in the two attacks in March, of which about 500 could not be identified. [Zielpunkt 52092N 09571O]

References

*Hermann Meyer-Hartmann, "Zielpunkt 52092N 09571O: Der Raum Hildesheim im Luftkrieg 1939-1945". Hildesheim: Bernward Verlag, 1985, ISBN 3 87065 352 3.

Footnotes


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