Rotterdam Blitz

The bombing of Rotterdam refers to the strategic bombing of Rotterdam by the Luftwaffe, during the Battle of the Netherlands during the Second World War. The objective was to support the German armies fighting in the city to break the Dutch resistance and push to capitulate. Although negotiations were successful, the miscommunication on the German side caused the unnecessary destruction of a large part of downtown.

Historical Context: The Battle of the Netherlands

May 14 at 09:00 a German messenger crossed the Willemsbrug to carry an ultimatum General Schmidt to Colonel Pieter Scharroo, Dutch commander in Rotterdam, demanding surrender of the city if a positive response was not received within two hours “means the most severe destruction” would be used. However, Scharroo has not received the message before 10:00. Not feeling ready to go in itself, he asked Winkelman instructions, the latter learned that the document had not been signed, did not contain the name of the sender, Scharroo instructed to send a Dutch envoy for clarity and save time.

At 24:15, a Dutch officer, Captain Bakker, presented this request to von Choltitz. The return of the German sent at 12:00, Schmidt had radioed that the bombing was postponed because negotiations had begun. Immediately after, the Dutch sent received a second ultimatum, now signed by Schmidt and with a new expiration time for 16.20.

Conduct of bombing

Around 13:20, two formations of He 111 Kampfgeschwader 54 came, not having received the recall order. This was later justified by the Germans that they had already dismantled and stored in the trailers their antennae. Schmidt ordered to shoot red lights to indicate that the bombing was halted, but only the squadron was about to drop his bombs from the south-west, abandoned his attack after dropping their bombs by three first aircraft. The remaining 54 Heinkel, having approached from the east, continued to drop theirs for a grand total of 1308 bombs, destroying the city and killing thousands of civilians.

The fire that followed the bombing of Rotterdam, destroyed approximately houses, leaving nearly inhabitants homeless. At 3:50 p.m., Scharroo capitulated to Schmidt in person. Meanwhile, Goering ordered a second bombing of the city – a Heinkel group had already taken off – to achieve at least a message has been received that the entire Rotterdam is busy. When Schmidt heard of the order, he immediately sent an uncoded at 17:15 stating that the city was taken, although this has not yet occurred message. The bombers were recalled just in time.


The bombing forced the Netherlands to surrender, ending the Battle of the Netherlands and initiating a period of occupation until the liberation by the Allies in 1944-1945.

Fight or flight operation of the Second World War


May 1940

May 14


History of the Netherlands during the Second World War

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