On this day in 1945, 1,250 Fortresses and Liberators aircraft bombed Germany’s capital in its heaviest raid of the Second World War. It also became the heaviest daylight raid in the entire war. The American bombers, escorted by 670 fighters, dropped 3,000 tons of explosives on the city, causing widespread devastation. By the end of the month, half of all houses had been damaged and a third were uninhabitable, with 16km
² of the city reduced to rubble.
Throughout the war, Berlin was subject to 363 air raids as part of the Allied campaign of strategic bombing of Germany. British bombers dropped a total of 46,000 tons of bombs while American bombers contributed half this figure at 23,000 tons. By May 1945, 1.7 million people, or 40% of Berlin’s population, had fled. Estimates of the number of people killed from air raids alone ranges from 20,000 to 50,000.
Strategic bombing ended on 16 April as the objectives of the Casablanca directive had been achieved: throughout the Reich, oil production had ceased, and airplanes, tanks and trucks could hardly move. Railway transportation was grinding to a halt and industrial Germany had all but been destroyed.