Germany invaded Poland on 1st September 1939. Poland’s Air Force was well trained but lacked the numbers and quality of the German Luftwaffe and by 14th September the Luftwaffe had established air superiority. This gave German bombers a relatively free hand to bomb Polish cities. The Polish capital, Warsaw, was a primary target and was continuously bombed, receiving a very heavy raid by over 1,500 aircraft on 24th September.
The Polish invasion was over relatively quickly but civilian casualties had been heavy, numbering over 150,000, a lot of them due to indiscriminate attack by the Luftwaffe.
The Battle of France began on 10th May 1940 when German forces invaded France and the Low Countries. Once again the Luftwaffe employed intimidation to help force the Allies to surrender. On 14th May the Dutch city of Rotterdam was attacked. Around 100 tons of explosive was dropped causing massive fires and leaving about 1,000 dead and tens of thousands homeless.
|The attack virtually razed the centre of Rotterdam to the ground and when the Germans threatened to do the same to another city the Dutch government decided to submit. This encouraged the Germans to use force against civilian targets as a means to win a war.
Print of Rotterdam after the bombing in 1940