Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin


april 29, 1944 air-raid b-14 and b-24 liberator over berlin urbanhafen seen

It is 11.11 AM in Berlin right now. Only 31 minutes earlier on April 29th, 1944 – exactly 72 years ago – Berlin heard the first Luftgefahr (Air-raid threat) signal, warning the city about an approaching attack.

It was to be the biggest and heaviest air-raid on Germany´s capital since the beginnign of WWII: out oft he 751 machines which started in England, 580 reached Berlin that day. The B-17 bombers accompanied by B-24 „Liberators“ carried a deadly cargo of almost 2,000 tonnes of explosives: 1000-pound GPs (General Purpose bombs), 500-pound and 100-pound IB (Incendiary Bomb Clusters) as well as plenty of so-called „nickels“ or bombs filled with propaganda leaflets to be dropped over the city as part of psychological war on the Nazis.

map fo the 29.04.44 air-raid on berlin american museum of

Map of the April 29th, 1944 air-raid on Berlin (image: American Air Museum)

Their MPI – Mean Point of Impact – was Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse. The aim was to bring the whole passenger railway traffic in Berlin to the halt: by preventing workers from reaching the factories supplying warfare, these would experience  great difficulties keeping up their production. The MPI was, however, particularly small: the size of 500 x 100 yards. Hitting it even in perfect weather conditions would have been a great challenge.

And the weather that day was less than good for flying: heavy clouds and sharp wind which turned out to be much stronger than expected, combined with powerful resistance shown by both German air force and their ground defence systems installed on top of flak bunkers outside and within Berlin, caused the mission to become a struggle.

But come they did: at 11.11AM Berliners heard the clear, sonorous sound of Fliegeralarm (Air-Raid Alarm). Whoever could, went into hiding: in bunkers, in shelters, in cellars and basements. As many as 580 planes reached the city by 11.20. The wind and the clouds caused the US navigators to lose orientation and the bombs mostly missed their target. However, they hit enough to cause havoc: they rained on the whole area between Hallesches Tor and Unter den Linden, making buildings explode or setting them on fire. That day Berlin´s Anhalter Bahnhof was left in ruins.

The result of the air-raid, which lasted around 50 minutes, until shortly after 12.00 – at 12.08 the alarm was called off – left behind 335 dead (34 of whom were slave workers from Eastern Europe), 510 wounded, 65 missing persons and 13,760 homeless or evacuated.

The USSAF (US Air Force) lost many of its best pilots as well as machines (some of which returned to England without reaching Berlin): 26 B-17s, 38 B-24s und 14 fighter airplanes.

It was the biggest air-raid on Berlin in five years of war. But worse was still to come.

Here is the original recording of an air-raid warning as well as the situation during the attack broadcasted by the field radio station of the 1st Flak Division in Berlin in 1944. A blood-curdling experience, showing the horror of such attacks, regardless of their target.



2 comments on “BOMBS ON BERLIN: APRIL 29th, 1944 AIR-RAID

  1. berlioz1935
    April 29, 2016

    Once again an interesting post. I was not in Berlin on that day but my mother wrote to me about the first American day air raids. Seeing the dark smoke clouds over the city, in that picture above, I understand when my mother wrote the day was turned into night. The sun was not able to penetrate the cloud.

    We had a radio like that, officially called “Volksempfänger (Peoples-receiver)” but unofficially, people called it “Goebbels Schnauze” (Goebbel’s big mouth) because of the propanda.

    The noises out of the broadcast are pretty right (the falling bombs, the explosions and the double sound (with echo) of the flak.

    I have never heard the word “Luftgefahr (Air-raid threat)” before. Usually, there was a “Voralarm” (pre-alarm) given.

    My mother worked at Hedemannstrasse and would have been in the midst of the air raid on that day.

    • notmsparker
      April 29, 2016

      “Goebbels Schnauze” sounds very Berlinerisch: cheeky and defiant:) I took the word “Luftgefahr” from Prof. Laurenz Demps´s book “Luftangriffe auf Berlin” – that is the category under which such warnings were listed. “Voralarm” sounds like a word which regular people would have used. Your mother, and then yourself after you´d returned from Silesia, must have gone through so many such horrid days. I have a list of all air-raids on Berlin from mid-1944 it must have been hell living here and hearing those sirens sometimes several times during the day and at night. Listening to those recordings – and I have found more – sends chills down my spine even today and from a safe distance of over 70 years. For people like you and your family it must have been hell on earth.


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This entry was posted on April 29, 2016 by in Kreuzberg.

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