Thursday, January 6, 2011
The Frightening Hamburg Firestorm
The photograph above was taken shortly after the 1943 Hamburg firestorm, in the very heart of the area struck by the deadly inferno. The firestorm’s centers were in high-density residential areas approximately three-to-four miles Northeast of the very center of Hamburg.
The buried vehicles in the photograph are gutted fire trucks, either trapped by melting asphalt on city streets or abandoned because of heat ferocity.
The photograph below is a rare color photograph of the aftermath of the Hamburg firestorm. The deceased in the photograph was, ironically, a Hamburg fire warden, identifiable from headgear.
While virtually all of Hamburg was bombed, the deadly firestorm occurred in a fairly contained area from which very, very few survivors emerged. Most firestorm victims died of oxygen deprivation while occupying bomb shelters—and most victims would have become unconscious several minutes prior to their deaths.
The areas of Hamburg that suffered the firestorm were not rebuilt after the war in a manner comparable to their pre-war states. Whole new street patterns were created, as were new subway lines and new subway stations. Nothing from the past had survived to provide a suitable foundation for rebuilding the firestorm-struck areas, so city planners started from scratch.