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Battle of the Ruhr 1939-1945

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Bombed-out people in Duisburg after raid on 13/14 May 1943

The air offensive against the Rhine-Ruhr region had multiple repercussions. In the field of domestic affairs, the increased participation of the Nazi-party in the damage repair, in the care for the bombed-out people as well as in the public administrative work strengthened its position. Due to the great amount of damage an th lack of personnel, the municipal administrative authorities were no longer able to fulfill their task.

At the same time as the "Battle of the Ruhr" the Nazi-party started a new propaganda offensive. Through it Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi-minister of propaganda, attempted to soften the effects of the air raids on the morale of the civil population. Two visits by Dr. Goebbels to the Rhine-Ruhr region in April and June of 1943 served the same purpose.

In the summer of 1943 the increased air attacks on the cities particularly in the Rhine-Ruhr area made a mass evecuation of woman and children (Kinderlandverschickung) necessary, which was to become the largest inland migration in human history to date.

Large air defence in the Rhine-Ruhr area

Large parts of a crashed Halifax in Hagen, 22/23 October 1943

In the spring and summer 1943 the air defense of the Ruhr district was again strengthened. The area was divided in the 4 (Dorsten), 7 (Cologne) and 22 (Dortmund) Flak divisions. Several Flak groups and - sub-groups were subordinates. In July 1943 there were over 1000 heavy canons (88, 105, and 128 mm) and approximately 1500 light Flak canons (mainly 20, 37 mm) in the range of the Ruhr district, plus numerous searchlight batteries.

In the military field it became obvious that the German air defence and the nightfighters could no longer provide an effective protection. Since February 1943 the anti-aircraft batteries (Flak) were manned mostly by 15 and 16 year-old schoolboys as air force assistants (Luftwaffenhelfer).

Because of the strong air defense the bomber crews called the Ruhr district as "Happy Valley" and "Land of no return". Despite improved guns and a strengthening of the air defence system in the Rhine-Ruhr region, in the "Battle of the Ruhr" the success of flak batteries compared to the operational strength of the Bomber Command was very small.

Photographies of Anti-Aircraft batteries within the range of the 22. Flak division in the area Hagen, Bochum, and Dortmund in the Ruhr (G.E. Sollbach/R. Blank)

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1994 ff. Ralf Blank - all rights reserved.

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