Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Auction - How Hitler mapped out blitz on city (Sheffield Blitz maps)

MAPS drawn up to show Hitler’s plans for a catastrophic bombing onslaught on Sheffield are to go under hammer this week.

The detailed maps show targets for the Luftwaffe as part of Hitler’s assault on Britain during World War Two.

Railways, waterways, industrial complexes, council buildings and even hospitals are all highlighted on the maps as intended targets.

They were produced for Hitler’s war machine as part of his plans - codenamed Operation Sea Lion - to invade the United Kingdom from 1940 onwards.

Following the Germans’ defeat in the Battle of Britain, however, Sea Lion was postponed indefinitely in September 1940 and it was never carried out.

Two months later, however, in December 1940, Sheffield was bombed over two nights by the Luftwaffe. Operation Crucible killed 660 people, injured 1,500 and made 40,000 homeless.

Bombs demolished 3,000 homes and a further 3,000 were badly damaged.

The maps for the raids will be auctioned in Ludlow, Shropshire, on Thursday.

Richard Westwood-Brookes, of Mullock’s Auctioneers, who will sell the maps at their next sale at Ludlow Racecourse, said: “The map shows how detailed the Germans’ plans for destruction of this country were.

“The maps of Sheffield are part of a pack covering the region, which contains several similarly detailed maps of the area including maps of Rotherham, Lincoln, Grimsby, Derby and Leicester.

“They are accompanied by a book of photographs showing particular targets such as bridges, factories, canals, and dockyards, so the Luftwaffe pilots could easily identify targets.

“It is certainly a chilling feeling looking at one of these maps and realising Hitler had it in for your town, your street, and your home.”

The Sheffield maps include one of the north of the city, with targets marked in purple including steelworks and rolling mills near Penistone Road, the main electricity station which stood near Parkwood Springs, Neepsend Gas Works, Neepsend Brick Works, and industrial units at Kelham Island.

Hillsborough Barracks and the Royal Infirmary are both marked in red.

“What is interesting about the maps, and one of the biggest questions for me, is were the Nazis planning on bombing Sheffield’s hospitals?” said Mr Westwood-Brookes.

“Some of these locations are highlighted on the maps in red, which you would perhaps think was code for places to avoid.

“But there are railway stations, army barracks and air spaces also highlighted in red, which would be prime targets during war.”

Mr Westwood-Brookes said the maps were found in the home of an RAF officer whose task at the end of the war had been to clear out Hitler’s geographical library, where all the detailed plans of attack were stored.

“The library was based in a castle in Austria,” said Mr Westwood-Brookes.

“To give an idea of how much was in there, he was told to commandeer a train with at least 10 five-tonne wagons and 500 other containers.”

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