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Bomb Sight – Mapping the World War 2 London Blitz Bomb Census (bombsight.org)
70 points by dmmalam 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 32 comments



That's a very graphic visualisation. You've got to wonder if every one saw and understood this whether there would be greater tolerance and understanding to avoid war...


I don't think that's how humans work. We know that bombing is awful, but we also "know" that the people we are bombing are the enemy and deserve to be blown up.

The thing to avoid is dehumanizing and vilifying groups of people.


I agree with that when it comes to starting a war as an aggressor --but not as a defensive war. I mean, if someone is coming to get you and they have vilified you or for whatever reason have decided to wage war against your group, it would be utter folly to say, well, it's wrong to dehumanize and vilify the enemy, unless you propose getting rolled over is an acceptable alternative.


That sort of thinking leads to "the ends justify the means".

Because we're on the defense, then any captured POWs don't deserve human rights.

Because we're on the defense, we can deploy nerve gas against them.

If all you do is see the enemy as the villain... You become one.


There is that possibility --and we saw that in WWii with German prisoners of war captured by Soviet forces. On the other side US forces were much kinder to German PoWs, but that's perhaps because it wasn't as personal a war to us.

Ethics and morality don't help win wars --but they are good PR post war, if you are the winner.

There is no clean answer to this problem because your enemy will by all means take advantage of your self-imposed constraints. Osama even admitted fighting the Soviets was very, very hard fought --and fighting the Americans would be a much easier task in his view. Here is one place I might agree with his assessment.


If I kept insisting that all of your property and goods were mine, your wife and children and family were mine(TBH I don't care about the children or old people, I'll just kill them when convenient), at what point would you just give up and say 'Okay, fine, it's yours'?


In a theoretical world of 2 people, sure. The assumption here is that we avoid it collectively, not individually. There's a non-technical, non-material, cultural component; the civil in civilization, the social in society. There's an underlying assumption that just as we strive for say better technology and transport, we strive for better civil and social relationships collectively.

Our ability to structure our relationships, cities, and fundamental interactions in non-destructive ways that avoid disaster is just as much a technology and science of an advanced people as a mastery of metallurgy or physics.

This was fundamentally understood after WW2 by baby boomers parents but we've somehow collectively forgotten the pursuit. I really hope we don't need to have planetary catastrophe in order to reacquaint ourselves with merits of such projects.


it came about because those in power did see the results and understood its effect and saw it as a means to get what they wanted.

it also was seen as about the only way to prevent another nation from actually getting their desired result in starting such a war. WW2 ended because allied forced destroyed both the people and means of production of their enemies. While the people were more mobile than means of production their spirit can be broken to where they are no longer productive which further undermines the regime.

hence we moved after WW2 into a generation where nuclear weapons could do the same but were so efficient at it that neither side dared to use them. both major powers are rational people led by rational people regardless of what the press would have you believe. why are they rational? because for the most part they want to protect their people and way of life instead of prioritizing their leadership.

it is the nations where the leadership is afraid of losing power to its own people than nuclear and biological weapons become dangerous to the world.


I’m not sure if your comment refers to the bombing or the war as a whole. The bombing didn’t hinder production and the people spirit was not broken (whatever that means). German production was rising consistently until the very end. Speer was instrumental in organising German industry to avoid pinch points that could be targeted and allied bombing was ludicrously inaccurate. Occupation, damage to transport and lack of fuel were far more of a problem for industry. There is a very good argument it be made that that bombing was was a colossal waste of time, lives and effort.

A very good source is Overys book https://www.google.co.nz/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/books/201...


The shocking thing to me is that this is the side that won. This is what victory looks like, even when the other side doesn't have nukes.


Yes, and that map shows the hits London took. Britain received something like 75,000 tons of German bombs. British and American bombers dropped something a bit short of 2 millions tons on Germany. It was on a whole different scale in Germany.

This book covers is well. https://www.google.co.nz/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/books/201...


The part that always surprised me about the blitz is only 28k killed and 25k wounded. How is that even possible?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blitz

> Civilian casualties on London throughout the Blitz amounted to 28,556 killed, and 25,578 wounded.


That seems a lot of dead to me, but it is a lot less than later bombing caused and the lack of firestorms is the reason. The allies put a lot of effort into optimising conditions for causing them.


Thats a very good point - it seems the war is still being fought, ideologically - or else there'd be a balancing act and we'd be seeing the tragedy on the German side too.


I don't understand your comment; I can see the tragedy on "The German" side... I think that it's horrible that a nation of normal people got hijacked by a mad gang and then herded, bullied and tricked into an absolute catastrophe. The actual end of Prussia... millions dead.. all major cities flattened.. a sizable percentage of survivors raped.. how can anyone not understand the tragedy of that? Germany was partitioned for fifty years, it's still occupied. It's mind boggling.


I'm just saying that it'd be more interesting to see the entire dataset for the war, not just one side ...


And then came the Vietnam war...


That was somewhat different, just because it was a great power waging war on a small and (comparatively) powerless country, rather than a great power waging war on another great power.


War is hell


Unbelievable how many bombs dropped. Two within a few metres of my house!


My partner's mother was a little girl during World War 2, and told me that she remembers being at school with her gas mask nearby at all times. She told me how a bomb fell near her house in Dorking blew out all the windows, while another destroyed the railway bridge, presumably the one on Pixham Lane in Dorking.

She remembers the V1 bombs, the Doodlebugs, and explained that you were alright as long as you could hear the engine but if the noise stopped, you were in trouble.

My history teacher at high school also lived through the Blitz, being just a little older. I remember him telling the class about the bomb that fell near his house, and when he ran out looking for his parents he accidentally kicked a helmet which, he discovered, contained a head. He still had nightmares about it 40 years later, understandably.

I find personal histories fascinating, I wish I was able to hear them all, and visualize them to a degree. (Maybe not that last one.)


Solly Zuckerman's work (O/R I thing) on the efficacy of bombing, and how it was politically expedient to supress or white-ant it is worth reflecting on (its in his biography "From Apes to Warlords")


It would be nice if you could make the dots transparent. There appears to be a pattern of right to left lines across the city, but it is not easily visible as is.


I was going to suggest changing the opacity attribute of the marker elements using your browser's developer tools, but the markers are provided as a layer of pre-generated image tiles (e.g. [1]), so while you can make these images more transparent (which lets you see place names on the underlying map) you can't make the individual markers more transparent.

[1]: http://geoserver.bombsight.org/geoserver/gwc/service/tms/1.0...


does this mean that the layers are merged into tiles and cached beforehand? is this better than having a separate layer for markers?

edit: asking because this map is blazing fast, esp given the amount of points to map


All of the markers are merged into tiles and cached, and it is more efficent for the browser to just load these than it would be to create a separate circle or image for each marker. At zoom level 15 and higher actual individual markers are drawn (each one as a separate png image).

There are still two layers, but both just contain image tiles: one contains the base map, and the other contains red circles on a transparent background.


Wow! I didn’t realize there were that many!


In Kassel, the allies dropped 2 bombs per m^2 on average in a couple hours.

http://www.kassel.de/stadt/geschichte/zerstoerung/


I lived in Stuttgart for 10 years (I’m British) and the post-bombing photos of the city filled me with sorrow. 21000 long tonnes dropped on that beautiful provincial city.

Sadly reconstruction was not as kind as it was in Munich (less money presumably).

I love that place and miss it dearly.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Stuttgart_in_Worl...


Startup Idea: Improve the unexploded ordinance detection & removal process


Are there any maps that show German cities? E.g. Kassel or Dresden.


It wouldn’t be possible I don’t think. The number dropped was vastly greater and firestorms were the specific goal. Fires are large as those caused would obliterate a lot of the evidence. There were specific recipes made to cause major fires, with roofs opened up with explosives, incendiaries to follow into the roof spaces. All done in nice dry weather. The British spent a lot of effort on this.




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