Vor 80 Jahren: Der Tod an Möhne und Eder

Es war die Schlagzeile in der New York Times vor genau 80 Jahren: Die Bombardierung deutscher Talsperren und der Ertrinkungstod Tausender.New York Times


Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES. LONDON, May 17 — British bombers struck a crippling blow at German water power last night. Flying over the ramparts of Hitler’s fortress Europe, big Lancasters of the Royal Air Force penetrated deep into the Reich and dropped mines from an altitude of 100 feet and less against the Eder and Moehne dams, two of the biggest in Germany. They breached the dams and let loose floods that will hamper the Nazi war industry for months to come . The R. A. F. lost eight of its heavy bombers with their air crews, some fifty-six men; but it did a job that in earlier war  would have been considered well worth the loss of a division or two [At least 4,000 persons were dead, 120,000 were made home less and railroad traffic was crippled in the valleys of the eastern Ruhr as a consequence of the breaking of the Eder and Moehne dams by the R. A . F. , according to reports from Germany reaching Berne, Switzerland, last night. [A Stockholm dispatch to Reuter said a state of siege had been proclaimed throughout Westphalia, the province in which the Ruhr is situated, as a result of the blowing up of the dams.  Muelheim was said to be under water.] Special Air Crews for Task The operation was boldly and imaginatively conceived. Air  Marshal Sir Arthur T. Harris, chief of the R. A. F. Bomber Command, had ordered special crews trained for months. The moon, weather and season had to be just right, and last night they met all requirements.  Air Marshal Harris, who spent the Sunday afternoon with his wife and 3 1/2-year-old daughter and playing tennis with friends, left a dinner party for United States Assistant Secretary of War Robert A. Lovett early to „sweat out“ the long anxious hours until his crews returned, was overjoyed at the results. Today he studied pictures taken by reconnaissance planes, showing flood waters rising in the industrial Ruhr and Weser and Fulda Valleys, with power stations and bridges swept away, and pronounced the work of his men good. In a message congratulating Wing Commander G. P. Gibson, who led the raid, and the men who flew with this veteran of 172 sorties. Air Marshal Harris said they had „won a major victory“.

Ich selbst verbrachte meine Schulzeit in den fünfziger und sechziger Jahren in der Revierstadt Dortmund. Da war die Erinnerung an die todbringende Flut noch sehr gegenwärtig. Die alliierte Begründung für die Zerstörung der Talsperren war dürftig und unglaubwürdig: Angeblich wollte man die Industrie im Ruhrgebiet schädigen. Tatsächlich ging eher darum, möglichst effektiv eine große Zahl an Menschen zu töten. Daher auch die Namensgebung für die Operation: „Chastise“. Die deutsche Übersetzung lautet „Züchtigung“.

In manchen Medien wurde in diesen Tagen kurz und knapp an die damalige Tragödie erinnert: