German bombing of Rotterdam
The German bombing of Rotterdam, also known as the Rotterdam Blitz, was the aerial bombardment of Rotterdam by the Luftwaffe on 14 May 1940, during the German invasion of the Netherlands in World War II. The objective was to support the German troops fighting in the city and force the Dutch to surrender the city. However, the bombing had been postponed due to negotiations, but the abort order came too late.
The bombing, and a fire during the following days that was worsened by the weather, destroyed almost the entire historic city centre, killing nearly 900 people and making 85,000 others homeless. The number of casualties was relatively small, because thousands of civilians had fled to safer parts of Rotterdam, or to other cities.
When Germany threatened to bomb the city of Utrecht, the Dutch government capitulated.
The German weekly Die Mühle (The Windmill) stated that the Dutch government was to blame for turning Rotterdam into a fortress, despite multiple summons to evacuate. It also claimed that the old city was ignited by Dutch bombs and incendiary devices.
Dutch and British sources stated to the public through Allied and international news media that the raid on Rotterdam had been on an open city in which 30,000 civilians were killed (the real number was around 900) "and character[ised] the German demolition of the old city as an act of unmitigated barbarism".
Later, the Allies themselves bombed Rotterdam and surrounding areas scores of times. About half the raids were within the city limits, the others were clustered around shipyards, petrochemical industries, and fuel storage tanks. During the 128 raids, casualties amounted to 884 killed and a further 631 wounded. In one bombing, between 326 and 401 people were killed. Until the 1990s, this raid, which took place on 31 March 1943, was not mentioned in local school history lessons about the region's war time experiences.