WORLD FUTURE FUND
Also known as the LINDEMANN MEMORANDUM
ON THE BOMBING OF GERMAN CITIES IN WORLD WAR II
The following one-page memorandum written by Lord Cherwell (Professor Lindemann at the time) on March 30, 1942 was critical in reinforcing Winston Churchill's resolve to employ area bombing against German cities. This meant that rather trying hit specific military targets, entire cities would be considered targets for destruction.
In his meeting with Stalin on August 12, 1942 Churchill stated that "If need be, as the war went on, we hoped to shatter almost every dwelling in almost every German city."
This memo reveals the false hopes placed in the bombing campaign stating that "There seems little doubt that this would break the spirit of the people." It was assumed that bombing would eliminate the need for an invasion of Europe. For more on this subject see our report, The Bombing of Civilians in World War II.
The following seems a simple method of estimating what we could do by bombing Germany. Careful analysis of the effects of raids on Birmingham, Hull and elsewhere have shown that, on the average, one ton of bombs dropped on a built-up area demolishes 20-40 dwellings and turns 100-200 people out of house and home.
We know from our experience that we can count on nearly 14 operational sorties per bomber produced. The average lift of the bombers we are going to produce over the next fifteen months will be about three tons. It follows that each of these bombers will in its lifetime drop about forty tons of bombs. If these are dropped on built-up areas they will make 4,000-8,000 people homeless.
In 1938 over 22 million Germans lived in fifty-eight towns of over 100,000 inhabitants, which, with modern equipment, should be easy to find and hit. Our forecast output of heavy bombers (including Wellingtons) between now and the middle of 1943 is about 10,000. If even half the total load of 10,000 bombers were dropped on the built-up areas of these fifty-eight German towns, the great majority of their inhabitants (about one-third of the German population) would be turned out of house and home.
Investigation seems to show that having one's house demolished is most damaging to morale. People seem to mind it more than having their friends or even relatives killed. At Hull, signs of strain were evident, though only one-tenth of the houses were demolished. On the above figures we should be able to do ten times as much harm to each of the fifty-eight principal German towns. There seems little doubt that this would break the spirit of the people.
Our calculation assumes, of course, that we really get one-half of our bombs into built-up areas. On the other hand, no account is taken of the large promised American production (6,000 heavy bombers in the period in question). Nor has regard been paid to the inevitable damage to factories, communications, etc., in these towns and the damage by fire, probably accentuated by breakdown of public services."
Source: The "Cherwell Memorandum," reproduced in Max Hastings, Bomber Command: The Myths and Realities of the Strategic Bombing Offensive, 1939-1945 (NY: The Dial Press, 1979), pp. 127-128.