The German historian and lawyer Gerfried Horst writes:
In November 1943, at a conference in Tehran, the US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill agreed with Joseph Stalin‘s demand to transfer Konigsberg to the Soviet Union. Why ten months later, in August 1944, British bombers destroyed by bombing a city that they knew would be given to the Soviet Union in several months? Such a question was raised by the Polish writer Andrzej Mencwel, and in his book “Kaliningrad, My Love” he answered as follows:
It was terrorist absurdity or a costly anti-Russian attack, because for a long time it was known that this coast will depart to Russia.
To the question “who benefits?” there is only one answer: the bombing of Konigsberg was aimed not so much against Germany as it was against the Soviet Union. At that time the United Kingdom acted as the ally of the Stalin’s USSR, but London was thinking in the long-term and was already thinking about who would be the next enemy.
After the attack of Germany on the Soviet Russia in 1941, Lord Brabazon, the Minister of Transport in Churchill’s government, had the imprudence to openly say:
For the western powers, the best thing to do would be to wait until the strength of the Germans and Russians are absolutely exhausted.
This statement was heard in 1942 when Great Britain officially was an ally of the Soviet Union in the war against Germany, so the minister was soon forced to resign. But these views in many respects explain the strategy of the British bombing war against Germany and also the nature of actions in relation to the USSR. Since 1942 Stalin demanded from western allies to open a second front in Northwestern Europe to facilitate battles in favour of Soviet soldiers. Churchill constantly opposed this and in turn pointed to Stalin that the British Air Force bombs German cities. At a conference in Casablanca on January 14th-26th 1943, the primary goal of Churchill was still to keep Roosevelt from agreeing to Stalin’s demands and to open a second front in Western Europe. Instead the British Prime Minister proposed to intensify aerial attacks.
Yes, military facilities were also subjected to bombing. However, it is noteworthy that the most significant were untouched — obviously deliberately. For example, in Konigsberg it was barracks and stations. An exception was also made for oil refineries.
The German historian Olaf Groehler explains that it was in the interests of western allies that the tanks on the Eastern front had enough fuel and didn’t allow the Russians to enter the territory of the Reich for as long as possible, at least until Anglo-American conquerors had advanced enough to be able to limit communist influence in post-war Europe.
This suspicion arose in April 1944 among the Supreme command of the German Air Force: the enemy obviously spared the hydrotreating and oil refining plants in order to not deprive Germany possibilities to continue the war against Russia, since the exhaustion of German and Soviet forces was in its interests. The Reich’s Minister of Armaments of that time Albert Speer also considered that western allies pursued this aim. After war, being in captivity, he said: “We had the impression, and I often spoke about it to my people, that they (western allies) so slowed down the rate of destruction of Germany that it had coincided with their advance and plans for an offensive, i.e., so that our resistance in the East remained until they advanced to their positions in the West… It seemed to me that it was also important for them that in the event of our sudden collapse, the Russians with their advance squads of tank units didn’t advance to the extremely important area on the Rhine”.
The NKVD had already reached the same conclusion as the high command of the German air force and the Minister of Armaments Speer. Pavel Sudoplatov, a Soviet intelligence agent and employee of the Joint State Political Directorate, analysing the British classified reports about the offensive planned by the German Wehrmacht in Russia in the spring of 1943, established:
… the British transfer information to us in doses, but at the same time they want us to thwart the German offensive. From this we drew the conclusion that they are interested not so much in our victory as they are in prolonging the fighting, which would lead to the exhaustion of forces of both parties.
There is an additional question: why did the British Air Force, after the disembarkation of the United States Army and Great Britain in Normandy on June 6th 1944, choose Konigsberg – a large German city far to the East – as the first target? The biographer of the 5th bombing aviation regiment indirectly pointed to the true target of these raids, having described two bombings of Konigsberg by the British Air Force: “Each bombing is a flight distance of 1900 miles, and this is a remarkable result, as if the Russian air force at the same time bombed Aachen”.
The destruction of Konigsberg was a demonstration of British force and power, and it was aimed at the USSR. London wanted to show that the RAF can completely destroy by bombing a city that enters into the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union. In the same way, the destruction of Dresden on February 13th-14th 1945 had to show Stalin that western allies won’t stop before anything in order to achieve their goals.
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