It was early June 1945 when LIFE Magazine published an article titled the The Battered Face of Germany showing all the destruction caused by the Second World War in Germany. This article was published not long after the surrender of Germany where, today, we have the Russian German Museum in Karlshorst.
In this article you could see amazing pictures made from the air by Margaret Bourke-White who would later be accredited as the first american woman to photograph in the Second World War. Also, the first authorized to fly on combat missions. Her pictures showed the devastation of Germany and show the pattern of destruction caused by Allied air bombing.
On that LIFE Magazine issue from 1945 there is something that is not mentioned but that is worth mentioning nowadays and that we didn’t know existed. The Allied bombing of some German cities were controversial even at the time they were being carried out. Especially in renowned cultural centers like Dresden and Nuremberg.
These opinions even appeared in Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. classic novel Slaughterhouse-Five. There he writes about what he witnessed as a prisoner of war in Dresden after the Allied attacks that killed tens of thousands of civilians.
In the closing months of the war, chemical plants and oil refineries were hit hardest and most frequently. Although the Germans went right on producing planes and tanks, they were unable to supply them with enough fuel.
The heaviest destruction was wreaked on the centers of large German cities which are today only dunes of rubble surrounded by gaunt windowless walls. The smaller towns, villages, farm country and even the suburbs of the big cities were relatively undamaged.
When it comes to the bombing of German cities and German-occupied cities in France, the opinions are polarized since the Second World War. But, when you see the amazing pictures from Margaret Bourke-White it becomes hard to defend what was done so long ago. The bombings were made to cause maximum destruction and they manage to reach this goal without a problem.
If it is shocking to see what was done to those cities today, more than seventy years after the end of this war, I can only imagined how shocking these pictures were back then when you could still feels the screams and explosions echoing through the ruins.