Everything is fair in love and war, they say. Two of the British plans envisioned during the Second World War cannot be considered fair even by the Hitlerite or Stalinist standards. But, Churchill’s government seriously thought about them and nearly implemented them – the first, to depopulate Germany completely, and the second, to make refugees fleeing from war front formal targets of attacks and use the civil population to choke the supply routes. But before blaming, we shouldn’t forget about the fact Hitler had this General Plan East and the Red Czar killed 40 million in total.
Operation Vegetarian: Envisioned in 1942 and to be implemented in 1944, the plan was to drop five million anthrax infused linseed cakes in German farms. Cattle will eat the cakes and will be in turn eaten by humans, there by depopulating large swathes of Germany, millions of people – either by people infected with anthrax or by those refusing to eat and starve. The impact of the operation can be gauged from the fact that Gruinard Island in Scotland where the tests were conducted was declared fit for habitation only in 1990. This, if implemented, would have depopulated large parts of Central Asia for good. The cakes were destroyed after the Second World War. This plan was dropped due to the success of Normandy invasions. The person responsible for this operation was Paul Fildes, director of the biology department at Porton Down near Salisbury. The cakes were to be delivered to Germany in cardboard containers holding 400 cakes each. The target selected was Oldenberg and ironically, Hanover. Churchill is reputed to have asked why the devil should have all the best weapons over this episode.
Operation Thunderclap: The aim of this operation is simple – bomb the hell out of German cities, people will be forced onto the roads, clogging the supply routes of German army fighting the Russians. The target was cities like Dresden, Chemnitz, Berlin and Liepzig, the population centres in the east. About to be implemented in 1944, it was shelved due to impracticality. This was again thought about in 1945, to be implemented in conjunction with the Russian advance after discussion with Russians at Yalta. America was to carry out the attacks on Dresden, a city with no strategic value whatsoever, but due to unfavourable weather conditions, Britain carried out the attack(796 Lancasters and 9 Mosquitoes dropping 1,478 tons of high explosive and 1,182 tons of incendiary bombs) on 13 Feb 1945 with Dresden almost completely destroyed in firestorms. The next day, another raid took place, this time, by the Americans(311 American B-17s dropping 771 tons of bombs) to complete the destruction.
Major attacks –
The same was attempted on the Western Front on 14 March with the destruction of Zweibrücken(230 planes) and Pforzheim(380 planes) on 23 Feb and Berlin was regularly pounded.
Dresden attacks alone caused at least 25000 accounted casualties and many more unaccounted – some simply melted away and some vapourized in the heat. Nazi propaganda gave the count as 500000, may be the number who turned shelterless because of the attacks. Pforzheim attacks killed 17600, with 83% of the city destroyed. 379 aircrafts were used in this raid.
Churchill has already written over the need of “absolutely devastating, exterminating attacks by very heavy bombers from this country upon the Nazi homeland“. But, a month and a half after the attacks, Churchill says, “It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land. The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing.” The same day, Arthur Harris, Air Chief Marshall wrote, “I do not personally regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British Grenadier. It therefore seems to me that there is one and only one valid argument on which a case for giving up strategic bombing could be based, namely that it has already completed its task and that nothing now remains for the Armies to do except to occupy Germany against unorganized resistance.”