"The firestorm was so strong that it turned streets into wind tunnels. I saw roofs flying through the sky; it was like a film, like science fiction, but real."

Bombing of Hamburg: Guardian report on devastation of city

At least 61 more German fighters were destroyed in fierce air battles over the continent yesterday as the British and American air forces carried on the air offensive for the seventh successive day. Kassel, in central Germany, was for the second time this week raided in daylight by the Americans, whose chief target was an aircraft works, and British and Americans bombed many enemy airfields.

In bombing and fighter sweeps over northern France and the low countries, fighter command sent out nearly 500 aircraft, and the day saw some of the greatest fighter engagements fought since the Battle of Britain.

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The previous night Hamburg had had another destructive raid by RAF bombers, who went there again in "great strength" and gave Germany's biggest port and U-boat building centre its eighth battering in 120 hours, dropping more than 2,000 tonnes. Hamburg is now the most heavily bombed city in the world. Up to dawn yesterday, Hamburg had been bombed eight times in 124 hours:

1. Saturday (night), RAF, 2,300 tonnes

2. Sunday (day), US Fortresses

3. Sunday (night) RAF Mosquitoes

4. Monday (day) US Fortresses

5. Monday (night) RAF Mosquitoes

6. Tuesday (night) RAF, more than 2,300 tonnes

7. Wednesday (night) RAF Mosquitoes

8. Thursday (night), RAF, 2,300 tonnes

With the American day raids, the total weight of bombs dropped on Hamburg must be about 8,000 tonnes.

Manchester Guardian, 31 July 1943

Hamburg's firestorm

The firestorm was so strong that it turned streets into wind tunnels. I saw roofs flying through the sky; it was like a film, like science fiction, but real. Wherever there was asphalt, it was burning and melting. I saw two women, a younger and an older one, running across the asphalt and their shoes getting stuck in the boiling asphalt. They pulled their feet out of their shoes – which turned out to be impractical, however, as they now had to walk across the boiling asphalt barefoot. They collapsed and just lay there. Like flies in hot candle wax.

Interview with Wolf Biermann from Der Spiegel, 25 July 2003


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