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Firestorm Hamburg (Paperback)

The Facts Surrounding The Destruction of a German City 1943

Military WWII

By Martin Middlebrook
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 432
Illustrations: 24pp B & W plates
ISBN: 9781399013512
Published: 6th October 2021



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In July 1943 a series of heavy bombing raids virtually destroyed the port city of Hamburg, home of the main German U-boat shipbuilding yards. In one night alone an unprecedented 40,000 people perished largely as a result of the terrible ‘firestorms’ phenomenon. To this day controversy rages as to the morality of these attacks and their consequences.

With trademark thoroughness and objectivity, Martin Middlebrook has delved deep into the archives to uncover the facts. As ever, he draws on copious eyewitnesses and participants – a total of 547 British, American and German. The harrowing testimonies of the Hamburg survivors reveal what it was like to be subjected to prolonged and intense air attack. The author does not shirk the moral dilemma.

Paradoxically, while Hamburg was arguably Bomber Command’s greatest achievement, it remains its – and Air Marshal Harris’ – most criticised. Often overlooked was the USAAF’s role and this together with the reaction of the Luftwaffe night-fighter force to Bomber Command’s new Window device are fully covered.

Firestorm Hamburg is a masterly account of the most controversial Allied bombing offensive of the Second World War that can
only result in a better understanding of the background, the conduct of the operation and its outcome.

"Firestorm Hamburg is a highly commendable addition to any bookshelf."

Roger Coleman, The Wessex Branch of the Western Front Association

This is a very detailed account in 424 pages from a wide variety of witnesses from both sides. The first use of Window threw the German air defences into confusion while Oboe and H2S concentrated the bomber streams losses dropped considerably. The author points out in the introduction that he is an Englishman but tries to be impartial. He acknowledges the part that Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders played in Bomber Command.


A thorough account of the heavy bombing raids that virtually destroyed the city of Hamburg. It draws on copious eyewitness and participant accounts, along with the testimonies of survivors.


In July 1943 Bomber Command and the USAAF launched a series of heavy bombing raids on the port city of hamburg. This is without doubt one of the best accounts of what happened.

Britain at War

About Martin Middlebrook

Martin Middlebrook has written many other books that deal with important turning-points in the two world wars, including The First Day on the Somme, Kaisers Battle, The Peenemnde Raid, The Somme Battlefields (with Mary Middlebrook), The Nuremberg Raid 30-21st March 1944 and Arnhem 1944 (all republished and in print with Pen and Sword).
Martin Middlebrook is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and lives in Lincolnshire.

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