This Day in History: 1945-03-16

1945: Ninety percent of the city Würzburg, Germany is destroyed in only 20 minutes by Allied firebombers, which deliberately target civilian homes, churches, and hospitals with over 300,000 incendiary bombs. The Allies intentionally create a firestorm in which the bodies of the innocent victims, including children, are swept up by the tens of thousands into a whirlwind of flame taller than the clouds, measuring over 3,000 degrees F, with velocities many times stronger than hurricane force. There is no escape from such an onslaught. Allied leaders openly brag of targeting civilians, saying the raid is intended to “break the spirit of the German people.” It takes until 1964 — almost twenty years — to  clear the 96 million cubic feet of rubble from the city. The Allies would later claim that only around 5,000 people died in the attack (despite more than 50,000 unaccounted for), which would mean that more than 98 out of every 100 bombs dropped killed no one.

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1945-03-16