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  #1  
Old 18 September 2008, 12:04 AM
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Shifty Eyes No bombing of university towns in WWII

Comment: Is it an Internet myth that there was a secret agreement between
the Axis and Allies, not to bomb university towns,? i.e., We won't bomb
Goettingen and Heidelberg if you don't bomb Oxford and Cambridge?

A statement made by Steven Hawking seems to have set off this rumor, but I
can find no other information to verify it. Everything seems to come back
to Hawking's statement.
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  #2  
Old 18 September 2008, 06:49 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
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It falls flat on a basic common sense test. They were fighting a world war, a war seen more or less as a war for survival. Both sides would happily level any enemy city if needed to shorten the war.

Example of university towns bombed:

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dresden..._of_Technology
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamburg_University
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_University
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athens_University
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leningrad_university
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vol...cal_University (Volgograd is newspeak for Stalingrad)
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_University
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Birmingham
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liverpool_University
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_university
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardiff_university
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchester_University
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheffield_University
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cracow_...y_of_Economics

Also, just about every major city (68 of the largest cities) in Japan was bombed with incendaries. Some of those must have held universities, but my knowledge about Japanese universities is not enough to list them. I think I've listed enough to make my point anyway.
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  #3  
Old 18 September 2008, 08:40 AM
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To add to that list, the town of Marburg has been bombed too, if only with 'minor' attacks on the railway tracks / train station and the pharma industrie plant Behringwerke. Other than the German cities named by Troberg, Marburg is a true "university village", not a big city that is home to a university as well as to industrie, commerce, transport and other potential targets.

Don "not born, but bred in Marburg" Enrico
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  #4  
Old 18 September 2008, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troberg View Post
Also, just about every major city (68 of the largest cities) in Japan was bombed with incendaries. Some of those must have held universities, but my knowledge about Japanese universities is not enough to list them. I think I've listed enough to make my point anyway.
The universities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were established only in 1949, but Nagasaki was home to an institute for medical studies established in 1857 before that.

Don Enrico
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  #5  
Old 18 September 2008, 09:37 AM
Jay Tea Jay Tea is offline
 
 
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I think Hitler did order the Luftwaffe to avoid the destruction of 'cultural heritage', but as has been stated this is one thing to state, another thing to practise. One of my favourite tasks with London newbies is pointing out all the shrapnel damage to some of the city's famous landmarks. London really did catch some, though compared to the allied bombing, it was mild.
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  #6  
Old 18 September 2008, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Tea View Post
I think Hitler did order the Luftwaffe to avoid the destruction of 'cultural heritage', but as has been stated this is one thing to state, another thing to practise. One of my favourite tasks with London newbies is pointing out all the shrapnel damage to some of the city's famous landmarks. London really did catch some, though compared to the allied bombing, it was mild.
You can't swing a cat in England without hitting "cultural heritage".
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  #7  
Old 18 September 2008, 10:49 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
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Quote:
You can't swing a cat in England without hitting "cultural heritage".
Especially if you include Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats in the term 'cultural heritage'.
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  #8  
Old 18 September 2008, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damian View Post
You can't swing a cat in England without hitting "cultural heritage".
You've never been to my home town, unless you count concrete buildings on stilts as heritage. Perhaps someone was expecting a flood.
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  #9  
Old 18 September 2008, 11:27 AM
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You're quite right damian. Every major English city, town and most villages will have cultural heritage sites. There was an agreement (albeit unwritten) between the Luftwaffe and the RAF not to bomb historic towns and cities - unless they were of military or industrial importance. Hence London was heavily bombed and that is one one of the world's most historic cities.

I wonder if it is that agreement that is being referred to in the OP?

By the way, Oxford was bombed in World War II. This article, although mainly about animal rights people setting off bombs in the city, also refers to the discovery of an unexploded Second World War bomb. However, it escaped serious damage. Cowley, a suburb of Oxford, had important motor works was targetted. These raids were well away from the centre of the city.

Hitler was intending to use Oxford as the capital of the UK once he had conquered it. The Bodleian Library recently discovered the plans in its archives. It is these plans which might account for the light bombing Oxford received.

Cambridge was also bombed as this page fromm the BBC's People's War website shows. However, it was (and is) not as industrial as oxford so you would not expect it to be bombed heavily.

(By the way, several historic cities such as Exeter, York, Bath, Norwich and Canterbury were bombed in what are now known as the Baedeker Raids. These were in retaliation for the RAF bombing the mediaeval town of Lubeck. The RAF bombed the docks and an oil depot there, but also bombed the old city. This had a lot of wooden buildings and much of it was destroyed causing heavy loss of life.)
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Old 18 September 2008, 11:48 AM
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Interestingly, Lubeck was saved from destruction by the then president of the Red Cross, who maintained that the harbour was used to ship supplies to allied POWs.
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  #11  
Old 18 September 2008, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dactyl View Post
You've never been to my home town, unless you count concrete buildings on stilts as heritage. Perhaps someone was expecting a flood.
Your hometown being Hampshire? That's where Warnie played. That puts it amongst the most culturally historic placed in England!
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  #12  
Old 18 September 2008, 02:55 PM
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The Allies certainly destroyed sites of "cultural heritage" when they thought it would server a definite military objective. Monte Cassino Abbey was 700 years old, but it was purposely destroyed. I'm sure there are plenty of other similar examples.
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Old 18 September 2008, 03:18 PM
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Part of Monte Cassino dated back to the sixth century. However, as the Nazis were occupying it and using it to attack the allies from, then its destruction was not entirely surprising.

When I was in Florence I heard that Hitler ordered the destruction of the Ponte Vecchio by his retreating troops. but the German commander refused to carry out the order. However, he told Hitler that it had been destroyed. (I have no evidence for this, apart from a guide book I bought.)
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  #14  
Old 18 September 2008, 03:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damian View Post
Your hometown being Hampshire? That's where Warnie played. That puts it amongst the most culturally historic placed in England!
Hampshire is a county not a town, but I would be intrigued as to where Dactyl's home town is. I bet it has some heritage. Even one of the towns where I was brought up, Runcorn, has culture. (Mostly mould, however.)
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  #15  
Old 18 September 2008, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
(Volgograd is newspeak for Stalingrad)
Isn't Stalingrad newspeak?
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  #16  
Old 18 September 2008, 03:44 PM
Nick Theodorakis Nick Theodorakis is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
Quote:
(Volgograd is newspeak for Stalingrad)
Isn't Stalingrad newspeak?
"Volgograd" can't be very new, since Stalingrad was renamed as Volgograd by Kruschev in the '60s.

It was called Tsaritsyn from its founding until 1925.

Nick
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  #17  
Old 18 September 2008, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squirt View Post
The Allies certainly destroyed sites of "cultural heritage" when they thought it would server a definite military objective. Monte Cassino Abbey was 700 years old, but it was purposely destroyed. I'm sure there are plenty of other similar examples.
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo, in Genoa, has a British bomb on display that fell into the medieval cathedral, but did not explode.
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Old 18 September 2008, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chloe View Post
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo, in Genoa, has a British bomb on display that fell into the medieval cathedral, but did not explode.
St. Paul's Cathedral in London was hit several times (one destroyed the High Altar and all the stained glass windows were destroyed), but the dome and outer walls stood fast. (OK, I know St. Paul's is a modern cathedral, but it is still part of England's cultural heritage.)

Whilst doing a bit of reading on the Internet earlier in the day I came across a questions and answers site. Someone asked the question if the Luftwaffe deliberately avoided bombing the dome of St. Paul's because it was such a landmark it could be like a beacon. Anyone got any thoughts on this?
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  #19  
Old 18 September 2008, 05:51 PM
jimmy101_again jimmy101_again is offline
 
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I think it is highly unlikely that such an agreement ever existed.

Both sides would bomb any and all targets deemed militarily worthwhile. Neither side, at anytime during the war, had excess bombing capacity. Bombers were sent to targets that would actually have an affect on the outcome of the war. A small university town or cultural or historic site wouldn't get bombed because it did no good to bomb them. Why would you waste your bombing capacity on a target that didn't matter?
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  #20  
Old 18 September 2008, 06:02 PM
Gayle Gayle is offline
 
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I seem to recall a nice sized chunk of Heidelburg being laid waste.
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