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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Land Of Confusion

The Man From IG Farben. by Arnold Trachtman, 1987

Looking through some old posts on Military Photos dot net, I came across this little bit:
All german occupied states had to produce arms and supply the 3rd Reich with ressources. Even the "free" switzerland had to produce and deliver arms, ammunition, cars and even planes, tanks. - Volhv
Well, that certainly upsets my pastoral view of Switzerland. A little checking turns up this incident in the Wikipedia article about Switzerland During World War 2:
Switzerland, surrounded by Axis-controlled territory, also suffered from Allied bombings during the war; most notably from the accidental bombing of Schaffhausen by American planes on April 1, 1944. It was mistaken for Ludwigshafen am Rhein, a German town 284 kilometres away, 40 people were killed and over 50 buildings destroyed, among them a group of small factories producing anti-aircraft shells, ball-bearings, and Bf-109 parts for Germany.
The two places are 120 miles apart. It could have been a mistake, fog of war and all that, but I'm thinking, no, it was too accurate to be an accident. One raid destroyed that small group of factories? I suspect Switzerland's anti-aircraft defenses (guns) were non-existent, so the bombers could come in lower and be more accurate with their bombs. Germany had extensive and powerful anti-aircraft guns, so bombing raids over Germany were done at high altitude, which necessarily impacts your accuracy.

In Switzerland's defense I will say that they were kind of in a bad situation as they were completely surrounded by the Axis.

The allies didn't make that mistake very often. They hit Ludwigshafen considerably harder:
During the Oil Campaign of World War II, the Allies conducted bombing of Ludwigshafen and Oppau. Thirteen thousand Allied bombers hit the city in 121 separate raids during the war, of which 56 succeeded in hitting the Farben plant. . . . By December 1944, so much damage had been done to vital utilities that output dropped to nearly zero. Follow-up raids every week ended production permanently. By war's end most dwellings were destroyed or damaged; 1,800 people had died, and 3,000 were injured.
Now why was the Farben plant targeted?
IG Farben was a German chemical industry conglomerate, notorious for its role in the Holocaust. . . . Following the Nazi takeover of Germany, IG Farben became involved in numerous war crimes during World War II. Most notoriously, the firm's pro-Nazi leadership openly and knowingly collaborated with the Nazi government to produce the large quantities of Zyklon B necessary to gas to death millions of Jews and other "undesirables" at various extermination camps during the Holocaust.
Oh. Don't know how much of that was known during the war, and how much came out after the fact, but Farben was a big chemical company and the modern industrial war machine needs all kinds of chemicals, so they were a logical target, regardless of the poison gas issue.

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