416th Bombardment Group (L)
Luftangriffe auf Lage im Frühjahr 1945
(Air Raids on Lage in the Spring of 1945)
By Konrad Soppa
Luftangriffe auf Lage im Frühjahr 1945 von Konrad Soppa
Lage Herbst 2015, 175 Seiten, ISBN 978-3-89918-043-5, 21 Euro
Air Raids on Lage in the Spring of 1945 by Konrad Soppa
Lage Autumn 2015, 175 pages, ISBN 978-3-89918-043-5, 21 Euro
In early 2014, Konrad Soppa contacted Carl Sgamboti (via his website) and Wayne Sayles requesting information
on the 416th Bomb Group for his research on WWII bombing missions against the
city of Lage, Lippe district, Germany made by bomb groups of the U.S. 9th Air Force on three dates:
February 21, 1945 - Target: railroad bridge by the 416th BG (Mission # 209)
February 22, 1945 - Target: rail passenger platform by the 323rd BG
March 19, 1945 - Target: railroad bridge by the 409th BG and 416th BG (Mission # 241)
Konrad already had access to official and private German resources detailing the results and local viewpoint on the devastating Lage raids.
However, through cooperative exchange of information between Konrad, Carl and the 416th Bomb Group Archive,
Konrad was able to gain and share entirely new and previously unknown perspectives, those of both the American
military efforts as well as personal lives of the individual 416th Bomb Group airmen flying these missions.
This 70th Anniversary publication demonstrates, in a concrete manner, the importance of and value provided by the 416th Bomb
Group Archive and web presence to the preservation of and accessibility to the history of the amazing WWII 416th Bomb Group.
Translation below from Air Raids on Lage.
This book is published in German but contains a summary in English.
Air Raids on Lage in the Spring of 1945
by Konrad Soppa
"Crashing and bursting - the earth seems to tremble"
With new documents from American and German archives
Lage 2015 175 pages, ISBN 978-3-89918-043-5, 21 Euro
The book was presented to the public on 17 November 2015.
You may order this book in hardcover format with photos printed in high quality from Germany by sending an e-mail to Dr. Hans Jacobs, or in "print on demand" paperback format with photos in mid quality from the United States via Amazon.com.
The air raids on Lage in the spring of 1945 mark the darkest chapter of recent history of the city of Lage, Germany. Dozens of deaths among the civilian population are equally unforgotten as the extent of destruction to this day.
Now for the first time evaluations of documents from US military archives, previously unpublished diaries and numerous personal experience reports today throw a new light on the events at that time.
Konrad Soppa answers the question of the bombing: "Why?" - 70 years after the events.
The book includes many new pictures from the American and German archives.
More information can be found on the Luftangriffe auf Lage im Frühjahr 1945 website.
Below is a more detailed English description, graciously provided by Dr. Hans Jacobs.
In the last days of the Second World War, on 21st and 22nd February and
19th March, there were airstrikes on Lage. Seemingly out of the blue, it
hailed death and ruin on the tranquil town which had about 8,000
inhabitants. Back then, Fritz Geise asked himself, as many others did,
the desperate question: Why? Why was Lage attacked? Why specifically the
Hermannstraße, the von-Cölln-Straße, and the other streets in the centre
of Lage? Why did so many people have to abandon their lives, the people
who – like everywhere in Lippe – "were so clueless in matters regarding
the war?" (1)
Or did they only seem to be so clueless? Were not Lage and its citizens part of the huge machinery responsible for war and destruction? And did the war not also reach the furthest, previously untouched regions of Germany?
Although this event was 70 years ago, it has not been forgotten. Until now it was not even known who even carried out the attacks. In as early as 1985 these attacks were commemorated upon their 40th anniversary in the form of an exhibition and a small book. Since then, no new findings have revealed themselves.
New material from the USA
Several American fighter units have their own archives and present their
material on the internet. After comprehensive research, Konrad Soppa was
able to contact them and to obtain access to the extensive material of
the US military archive. This has enabled us to get to know the
happenings of the time from the point of view of the Americans. The
extent of the detail to which this has been possible was never
considered feasible by anyone. At the end of the day, our view of things
and the perspective of the American air force describe the same
proceedings as on the ground, and come together in the overall picture.
1. We now have concrete information about:
* The airports at which the attacks were started,
* which strategic and tactical goals were pursued, and
* which units and airplanes were used.
Yes, the "Reida Rae", one of the airplanes that bombed Lage, still exists today in good condition and is now being restored in an American museum on the East Coast.
2. We now know why Lage, the small city of Lippe, became a target of the American air force: The railroad bridge and the bridge across the Werre near Pottenhausen and the railway platform were the goal! The dropping of bombs over Lage were only bad throws.
3. In addition – and most importantly – we even know the individual pilots, bombardiers, etc. We have photos of these soldiers in front of their airplanes, with their families, wives, and children. They appear as real people. We discover something about their flights, their successes, launches, emergency landings and accidents, about fear, injuries, and death. There were no robots in the airplanes, but people, who were victims of this terrible war just like the people on the ground, and who paid for it with their health and their lives.
4. Further to the documents from the USA, Konrad Soppa was able to find a range of material from Lage in the form of the diary of Ernst Rethmeyer, who was 16 years old at the time, as well as several new and heretofore unseen pictorial documentation.
The contacts in the USA were incredibly friendly. A few of the crew
members are even still alive today, and their descendants have
contributed much material to this project. Thanks to this, it is
possible to not only show the German but also the American side. The
people of Lage were the victims of the bomb attacks in the spring of
1945, which seemed to appear out of the blue. They did not, however,
appear out of the blue, but from American planes, whose crew were also
victims of this war.
So in the synopsis of numerous new documents, a new and differentiated picture of the airstrikes on Lage is revealing itself. The goal of the exhibition is to present the information with an aim of mutual reconciliation and international understanding. Let us hope that these attacks, which have often been described as the most serious on the city of Lippe, will serve us both today and in the future as a constant reminder of peace!
The exhibition is only intended to be the first step. The second step
involves Konrad Soppa presenting a myriad of information in the form of
a book, which will be released in autumn 2015.
The exhibition and book projects are not only new and innovative from a research perspective because they use a great deal of American material which enables a new view of the happenings of spring 1945 for the first time. The project’s speciality is the corresponding presentation and analysis of the happenings in the air and at the targeted place. As such, the investigation of the attack on Lage is becoming an exemplar for similarly structured airstrikes in the former territory of the Reich.
The financing of the book has not been ensured as of yet. The author and the publisher would be happy if the exhibition brought about opportunities for financing.
(1) Gisela Knoll: [Translation] We, in Detmold, were so clueless in matters regarding the war. In: Drechsler, Annette und Jürgen Spindler, Zwischen Angst und Befreiung: Zeitzeugen berichten über das Kriegsende in 1945 in Lippe, Detmold, 1995, P. 27-29, P.27
Dr. Hans Jacobs
info (at) lippe-verlag.de
Telefon: +49 05232/979043
Telefax: +49 05232/979045