The controversy surrounding the decision by Bomber Command to target German cities populated mainly with non-combatants rages even today. It has been said that these were decisions made in secret, so secret that not even the airmen who flew the missions knew what they were really striking. In his book Weapons and Hope, physicist Freeman Dyson states, “I was one of the very few people who knew what were the objectives of the campaign, how miserably we were failing to meet these objectives, and how expensive this was for us in money and lives,” and, “I felt deeply my responsibility, being in possession of all this information which was so carefully concealed.” His assertions formed the basis for material presented in the CBC production of The Valour and the Horror episode entitled “Death by Moonlight: Bomber Command,” which claimed:
British High Command knew how few bomber crews would survive and deliberately hid the truth. That’s not all that was concealed. The crews and the public were told that the bombing targets were German factories and military installations. In fact in 1942 a secret plan was adopted. Germany would be crushed through the deliberate annihilation of its civilians.
An examination of the popular press available in Canada during the height of the bombing campaign against German cities, July 1943–April 1944, strongly contradicts these assertions. Reports appeared in the daily newspapers and weekly newsmagazines which outlined both the physical destruction and the civilian losses of the designated cities. The press provided their own analysis of the significance of objectives, results achieved against both production plants and morale, and RAF/RCAF losses which were being incurred. Technological advances which improved Bomber Command’s ability to batter the enemy were explained to the lay reader. Newspapers graphically detailed the hardships suffered by the inhabitants of the stricken cities, and offered justification to the Canadian people explaining why war was being waged against non-combatants. The information on the bombing campaign was available to any who chose to read about it.
"A Conspiracy of Silence? The Popular Press and the Strategic Bombing Campaign in Europe,"
Canadian Military History: Vol. 3
, Article 3.
Available at: http://scholars.wlu.ca/cmh/vol3/iss2/3