By Edward B. Westermann
Air raid sirens wail, searchlight beams flash around the sky, and the evening is aflame with tracer hearth and aerial explosions, as Allied bombers and German anti-aircraft devices duel within the thundering darkness. Such "cinematic" scenes, performed out with expanding frequency as international conflict II flooring to an in depth, have been greater than mere inventory fabric for motion picture melodramas. As Edward Westermann unearths, they aspect to a key yet principally unappreciated element of the German battle attempt that has but to get its complete due.
Long the overlooked stepchild in experiences of worldwide struggle II air campaigns, German flak or anti-aircraft devices were usually pushed aside by way of American, British, and German historians (and via veterans of the eu air conflict) as useless guns that wasted invaluable fabric and body of workers assets desperately wanted in different places through the 3rd Reich. Westermann emphatically disagrees with that view and makes a resounding case for the numerous contributions made by way of the total variety of German anti-aircraft defenses.
During the Allied air campaigns opposed to the 3rd Reich, good over one million a whole lot bombs have been dropped upon the German fatherland, killing approximately 300,000 civilians, wounding one other 780,000, and destroying greater than 3,500,000 commercial and home constructions. now not unusually, that aerial Armageddon has encouraged numerous experiences of either the effective Allied bombing offensive and the eventually doomed Luftwaffe security of its personal skies. against this, flak devices have almost been neglected, although they hired greater than 1000000 women and men, have been liable for greater than 1/2 all Allied plane losses, compelled Allied bombers to fly a ways above high-accuracy altitudes, and hence allowed Germany to carry out a long way longer than it could actually have otherwise.
Westermann's definitive research sheds new mild on each side of the improvement and association of this very important protection arm, together with its artillery, radar, searchlight, barrage balloon, decoy websites, and command parts. Highlighting the convergence of expertise, technique, doctrine, politics, and economics, Flak additionally offers revealing insights into German strategic inspiration, Hitler's obsession with micromanaging the warfare, and the lives of the contributors of the flak devices themselves, together with the big variety of girls, manufacturing unit staff, or even POWs who participated.
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Extra resources for Flak: German Anti-Aircraft Defenses, 1914-1945
41 This war game scenario also assumed a significant German air defense capability, encompassing antiaircraft units with the Luftwaffe, the army, and the navy. In accordance with air defense doctrine, military planners divided flak and searchlight forces between the army and the air districts. The plan called for twenty-seven heavy flak batteries of between four and eight 88-mm guns and nine medium flak batteries of six 37-mm guns, as well as two searchlight batteries to support mobile army operations in the field.
Finally, Rüdel's remarks concerning the use of barrier fire procedures provided an unintended insight into the flak arm's absolute reliance on sound detectors for locating aircraft flying in or above the clouds. The reliance on aural detection procedures would prove to be a major weakness within the air defense force in the opening stages of the coming war. In the conclusion to his report, Rüdel declared that the commanders of the air defense units needed to master not only the regulations concerning their own systems but those of the fighter aircraft, as well.
Already in 1931, individual batteries participated in two-week-long training courses involving live fire exercises at the training range at Döberitz and Pillau. "104 Additionally, these batteries conducted firing exercises on the Schilling peninsula in the summer and fall of 1932. 105 The development plans assembled in 1932 by Felmy and Rüdel were important steps along the road to German rearmament. Germany's ground-based air defense forces admittedly were modest, but Rüdel and the members of his staff had sketched the broad outlines of the air defense force that would eventually enter the crucible of war in 1939.