Bombing of Stuttgart in World War II
The bombing of Stuttgart in World War II was a series of 53 air raids that formed part of the strategic air offensive of the Allies against Germany. The first bombing (by 20 aircraft of the Royal Air Force) occurred on August 25, 1940 and resulted in the destruction of 17 buildings. The city was repeatedly attacked over the next four and one-half years by both the RAF and the 8th Air Force as it had a significant industrial infrastructure (including the Daimler and Porsche automotive factories) and several military bases, and was also a center of rail transportation in southwestern Germany. The final bombing (by a lone aircraft) took place on April 19, 1945.
Southern Stuttgart was attacked by 191 aircraft on November 22, 1942. Previous large raids directed against the city had failed to reach the city in any strength.
On March 11, 1943, 279 aircraft bombed southern Stuttgart again. This raid was followed by one against eastern Stuttgart by 393 aircraft on April 15, 1943. A well-known raid was on September 6, 1943. 338 American heavy bombers took off but only about 150 reached and attacked the city. Losses were heavy (45 B-17's) and the results disappointed the Americans. Downtown Stuttgart was bombed on October 8, 1943 by 342 Lancasters of the RAF and the final large raid of 1943 saw eastern Stuttgart bombed by 162 aircraft on November 26.
552 aircraft struck the city on February 21, 1944, and this attack was followed by a raid of 557 aircraft on March 2. Stuttgart was heavily attacked by the RAF raid of March 15, 1944, in which 863 bombers dropped 3,000 tons of bombs. About 100 aircraft bombed the city on July 16, 1944. Subsequently, the Allied air forces struck Stuttgart four times between July 25 and July 29, dropping some 73,000 bombs on the city. On September 5, 10, and 12, the city was attacked by raids of over 200 aircraft. The September 12 raid resulted in a firestorm that caused extensive damage and 957 deaths. During the night of October 19–20, 1944, the city was bombed by 583 aircraft. This was followed on November 5 by two raids that totaled 165 bombers. The last large raid of 1944 was with 350 aircraft against eastern Stuttgart on December 9.
The final large raid of the war was on January 28, 1945, in which 539 aircraft bombed eastern Stuttgart. Subsequent raids consisted of less than 50 aircraft.
Despite the damage wrought in Stuttgart by the attacks, the RAF concluded that its attacks against Stuttgart were not as effective as they could have been:
Stuttgart's experience was not as severe as other German cities. Its location, spread out in a series of deep valleys, had consistently frustrated the Pathfinders and the shelters dug into the sides of the surrounding hills had saved many lives.
By 1944, Stuttgart was defended by 11 heavy (88 mm) and 38 light (20 mm to 40 mm) anti-aircraft gun batteries. There was also a Luftwaffe fighter base south of the city at Echterdingen. Some remnants from that time remain. The landmark Observation Tower Burgholzhof was used by anti-aircraft spotters during raids. The Pragstattel Flakturm stands just north of Stuttgart Mitte along a busy highway, decorated with signage.
Statistics of the attacks
- 15 million cubic meters of rubble was formed and later gathered on the Birkenkopf.
- Around 142,000 bombs were dropped on Stuttgart during the course of the war.
- Allied losses in the attacks on Stuttgart are estimated at 300 aircraft and 2,400 aircrew.
- 4,590 people were killed by the air attacks.
- 39,125 buildings were damaged or destroyed by the attacks.