View Full Version : For Jack and the Church of Latter day Cathars

Sam F
04-09-2004, 12:44 PM
From another thread that is already too far off topic:

Originally posted by Jack Heinlen:
This argument tires. Sam, even the Pope has made a mea culpa about past sins of the church re Jews. I'd like to see a similar mea culpa re the Cathari.
Really Jack? What feature did you find attractive about the Catharism?

Here are some of that religion’s salient characteristics:

The Cathars had a strict insistence on celibacy
The considered all sex a sin.
Conception was a trap for human souls caught in a world of carnal evil.
Marriage was considered prostitution and an abomination.
Cathars, in a doctrine that even Planned Parenthood could approve of, warned pregnant women that they carried a demon in their wombs. If they died in pregnancy they could of course not be saved.
They were strict vegetarians in their dietary requirements. Eating meat wasn’t permitted. Period.
They refused to take oaths of any kind – a decided inconvenience in any legal proceedings then as well as now.
They avoided violence at all costs. It’s not that they were exactly pacifists because those costs including hiring mercenaries to do their violence for them.
Only the elite “Perfect” were considered true members of their church and were themselves considered sinless.
The Perfect had all taken the one Cathar sacrament; the consolementum. Since this sacrament could only be delivered one time, subsequent sin would invalidate it and permanently cancel his ticket to heaven. Thus the credenti (common believers) only received the consolementum on their deathbeds. Naturally there was always the risk that a person might not die, so the Perfect always made sure that no further sins were possible. How? Those who did not die rapidly of natural causes had to undergo the “endura” Nowadays we’d call it euthanasia. It took two forms: If the credenti wanted to be a martyr he was suffocated. If he preferred to die as a confessor he was starved to death. The Perfect would stay in the credenti’s home and make sure the family didn’t smuggle in any food. Wonderfully up to date isn’t it?

Now tell me Jack, which of those Cathar (Albigensian) features you want the Church to apologize for stamping out? The euthanasia or perhaps sex being evil?
Would you like to live in a Cathar society? Not that you could live in one for long… Catharism, is a prescription for social suicide. The bit about condemning sex has that unfortunate side effect.

Like many of us clean-handed moderns you can safely condemn our ancestors for having bloody hands while enjoying the security of the society they built for us. If we stay fat dumb and happy we can afford the luxury of condemning those whose actions and context we neither understand nor empathize with having never faced the threats they did.

But the day is coming when we may all have to choose between having clean hands or getting them very dirty indeed to prevent our own destruction. I only hope there are enough people not so compromised by delicate scrupulosity to ensure our civilization’s survival.

04-09-2004, 01:15 PM
You got me curious Sam, so I did a web search and somehow came up with these kooks:


Looks like it leads to the aluminum foil hat, but it may be interesting reading. As with any mythology, who can say how much accuracy or truth there is in it.

And yes, I see what you mean about the cathars being no fun.


Keith Wilson
04-09-2004, 01:49 PM
Would you like to live in a Cathar society? Um - it would be kind of cathartic, no? :D

Keith Wilson
04-09-2004, 04:37 PM
I think that Jack's objection was to the manner of their supression, not because of any sympathy for the Cathars' theology. One does not have to agree with a doctrine to point out that burning alive over 200 of its followers in one day bears a certain passing resemblance to the practices in the temples at Tenoctitlán.

Ian McColgin
04-09-2004, 04:53 PM
The Bishop in charge, when faced with some doubt as to whether some children might be Cathar or Roman Catholic is reputed to have serenly said something like, "Burn them all. God will sort it out."

I understand that like the bishops who sanctioned buring Joan, a certain odium attaches to his reputation.

However, some days thinking of Sam I'm reminded of a remark Churchill said of deGaul during WWII: "We think of him as our own Joan of Arc. I'm looking for some bishops to burn him."

Dennis Marshall
04-09-2004, 05:07 PM
July of 1209 during the siege of Beziers, Arnauld-Almaric, in a quote attributed to him by Ceasar von Heisterbach, said, "Kill them all; God will look after his own." This is in Zoe Oldenbourg's "Massacre at Montsegur: A History of the Albigensian Crusade". A very interesting and good read.


[ 04-09-2004, 06:08 PM: Message edited by: Dennis Marshall ]

Andrew Craig-Bennett
04-09-2004, 05:17 PM
Generally given as "Neca eos omnes, Deus suos agnoscet!", but what the Papal Legate actually said at the end of the siege of Beziers, when confronted with several hundred prisoners who claimed to be good Catholics rather than Cathars, seems to have been "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius."

Same difference.

One is gobsmacked, to put it mildly, to find Sam defending the murder of the Albigensians.

Simple logic tells us that a sect which practised strict abstinence from sex posed no threat to one that did not, but that is the least of it. Since the Cathars were exterminated, and the history was written by the victors, it is a little difficult to be quite sure what the Cathars did believe.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
04-09-2004, 05:32 PM
Hey, I just Googled Arnaud-Amaury and found this rather good website -


Dennis Marshall
04-09-2004, 05:39 PM
ACB, of course, the history of the Albigensian Crusade is much more complex than that. It was not an auspicious beginning for the Cathars to murder a Papal legate, then add that particular event with regional ecclesial and political difficulties and you have quite a complex drama. I don't think that SamF is defending the reprehensible nature of the Crusade and its blood bath, but rather the heterodox beliefs of the Cathars which, in this day and age, seems renascent. Better look out! We Catholics have a hidden store of arms, like the Michigan Militia, and we are just waiting for orders from the Pope to open up a can of whoop-ass and herald the apocalypse! :eek: :D :eek:


PS SamF, have you got your secret decoder ring ready?

Andrew Craig-Bennett
04-09-2004, 05:58 PM
Dennis, the Manichean heresy does seem to pop up from time to time, but sexual abstinence seems less likely to commend itself to modern tastes!

(Personally, I'm an upper-middle Episcopalian ;) )

Jack Heinlen
04-09-2004, 06:41 PM
You fellows have covered it pretty well.

A hundred years ago, Catholic primitives believed that Jews ate Goyim(cattle), Gentile's children. They believed that because of Catholic propaganda.

It's difficult to look at the sins of one's fathers, but necessary. None are immune from the evil of power and projection. The Catholic Church took a huge step forward when the Pope went to Jerusalem and made a public mea culpa regarding the Church's treatment of the Jews. And John Sack(see my thread) made a huge step forward for Jews by admitting the same treatment by Jews of Germans in the later days of WWII.

Such behavior is not the heart or brain or hand of modern Catholicism, but the Church does have a problematic history, which has largely been told by the Church itself. The slaughter of thousands of Albigensiens, the brutal suppression of the Templars, are not its brighter chapters.

I say we all fess up, confess, weep, and embrace, as brothers and sisters. We are all guilty. Isn't that, in large part, the message of Jesus, on this anniversary of his crucifixion?

But it don't look like the world is listening.

[ 04-09-2004, 08:56 PM: Message edited by: Jack Heinlen ]

Dennis Marshall
04-09-2004, 07:41 PM
ACB said:
Dennis, the Manichean heresy does seem to pop up from time to time, but sexual abstinence seems less likely to commend itself to modern tastes!

(Personally, I'm an upper-middle Episcopalian ) I think you are right about Manichaeism. Hans Jonas wrote a pretty good book on Gnosticism of which Manichaeim is a subset -- much better than anything E. Pagels has produced. Interestingly, at the end of his study of ancient gnosis, he uses Gnosticism as a model to interpret modern history, especially political mass movements. It is quite a fascinating read and it is all the more so because Jonas admits that his study of the topic of Gnosticism was prompted by his attraction to it. By the end of his career, he was disabused of it. His book started a flurry of studies on Gnosticism throughout the 20th century and is foundational, I think, for any contemporary look at the question.

Upper-middle Episcopalian, eh? Well, be on the look-out. Rome is sending out agents to recruit you for collaboration, if not communion. ;)


Andrew Craig-Bennett
04-09-2004, 08:35 PM
I have a Singaporean friend of your persuasion (married, incidentally, to an Australian Buddhist!) who, when he first settled in this country, attended a very "high" Anglican church for almost a year before recognising his mistake!

My small town (pop, c.10,000) has two C of E churches within half a mile of each other - an upper-middle Church (the original parish church) which runs to bells and smells, but not to seven candlesticks, and a distinctly Evangelical Church which is an 1840s Commissioner's Church. Both are usually full on a Sunday morning, and this Sunday will of course be standing room only.

It is not unknown for visitors to mistake the Catholic Church and the Methodist one; they are adjacent but the Catholic church, built as the town's Assembly Room in the 1840's, looks as if it "ought" to be a nonconformist chapel!

Dennis Marshall
04-09-2004, 10:50 PM
Andrew, I'm not surprised by your friend's mistake. I bet he and his wife never have any arguments about God. That is a better, more peaceful match than say a Baptist and a Catholic. :D But, I'm afraid its only a matter of time before she's converted. Historicaly speaking, evangelism by "injection" has been quite effective.

Jack, clue me in on the source of your claim about "Catholic primitives". Heck, Catholicism made European civilization. What primitives -- where?


[ 04-09-2004, 11:53 PM: Message edited by: Dennis Marshall ]

Jack Heinlen
04-09-2004, 11:09 PM

Catholic(and Protestant) prejudice against Jews is well documented. I probably could find a reference specific to it, but I'm not going to.

When I was growing up a little wasp enclave on the shore of a lake in Michigan had a very difficult time when a man there took a black wife. My dearest friend was a very Mediteranian looking Jew. It was an object of discussion.

I want us to get over this. The Pope was right when he made that mea culpa to the Jews. And Jews are by no means without sin. Let's have a confession, an end to this confabulation.

I want, so much, the sacrifice of Jesus in this. Let's go there, I am your sacrifice, let your sins be healed.

Dennis Marshall
04-09-2004, 11:14 PM
Jack, I have no doubt about the prejudices of which you speak, it is a manifestation of sin, yes? I object to your use of such broad generalizations, however, in your attempt to make a point, especially when you use such obnoxious language as "Catholic Primitives". That smacks of the very stuff you are criticizing.


Jack Heinlen
04-09-2004, 11:35 PM
I meant it that way. The fact is that Catholic primitives(meaning people who are not learned), only one hundred years ago actully believed that Jews ate the children of Goy. Again, Goyim means cattle. The same think.

I'm too lax to find the references. They can't be hard to find, but I'm not up for it.

The mindsets are evil, that's the salient point.

Great Mysterious God, help we poor servants in the service of thy work. Your son died on the cross this day. May we take up our own crosses, in the name and memory of all who've made that walk. Amen.

Sam F
04-11-2004, 03:08 PM
Originally posted by Jack Heinlen:

Catholic(and Protestant) prejudice against Jews is well documented. I probably could
find a reference specific to it, but I'm not going to.
[and] I meant it that way. The fact is that Catholic primitives (meaning people who are not learned), only one hundred years ago actully believed that Jews ate the children of Goy.
Again, Goyim means cattle. The same thin[g].

I'm too lax to find the references. They can't be hard to find, but I'm not up for it.

The mindsets are evil, that's the salient point.
You’re right Jack it isn’t too hard to find the references. Here’s addressed to you from the
“Judge Roy Moore Booted” thread...

Originally posted by Sam F:

From an encyclial by Pope Gregory X, Year of our Lord 1272

"Gregory, bishop, servant of the servants of God, extends greetings and the apostolic benediction to the beloved sons in Christ, the faithful Christians, to those here now and to those in the future.

... Since it happens occasionally that some Christians lose their children, the Jews are accused by their enemies of secretly carrying off and killing these same Christian children and of making sacrifices of the heart and blood of these very children. It happens, too, that the parents of these very children, or some other Christian enemies of these Jews, secretly hide these very children in order that they may be able to injure these Jews, and in order that they may be able to extort from them a certain amount of money by redeeming them from their straits. [Following the lead of Innocent IV, 1247, Gregory attacks the ritual murder charge at length.]

And most falsely do these Christians claim that the Jews have secretly and furtively carried away these children and killed them, and that the Jews offer sacrifices from the heart and the blood of these children, since their law in this matter precisely and expressly forbids Jews to sacrifice, eat, or drink the blood, or to eat the flesh of animals having claws. This has been demonstrated many times at our court by Jews converted to the Christian faith: nevertheless very many Jews are often seized and detained unjustly because of this.

We decree, therefore, that Christians need not be obeyed against Jews in a case or situation of this type, and we order that Jews seized under such a silly pretext be freed from imprisonment, and that they shall not be arrested henceforth on such a miserable pretext, unless -- which we do not believe -- they be caught in the commission of the crime. We decree that no Christian shall stir up anything new against them, but that they
should be maintained in that status and position in which they were in the time of our predecessors, from antiquity till now.

We decree in order to stop the wickedness and avarice of bad men, that no one shall dare to devastate or to destroy a cemetery of the Jews or to dig up human bodies for the sake of getting money. [The Jews had to pay a ransom before the bodies of their dead were restored to them.] Moreover, if any one, after having known the content of this decree, should -- which we hope will not happen -- attempt audaciously to act contrary to it, then let him suffer punishment in his rank and position, or let him be punished by the penalty of excommunication, unless he makes amends for his boldness by proper recompense.
Moreover, we wish that only those Jews who have not attempted to contrive anything toward the destruction of the Christian faith be fortified by support of such protection ...

Given at Orvieto by the hand of the Magister John Lectator, vice-chancellor of the Holy Roman Church, on the 7th of October, in the first indiction [cycle of fifteen years], in the year 1272 of the divine incarnation, in the first year of the pontificate of our master, the Pope Gregory X."If the Church were to deserve blame for anti-Semitism (and thus require confession) it would first be necessary to demonstrate that behavior was in some way connected with official doctrine. That un-Christian bias against Jews existed is not in doubt. The question is, was it officially sanctioned behavior? Remember that it is hardly unprecedented for Christians to engage in behavior that the Church disapproves of. After all, Christians have been known to commit robberies or even murder, but no one particularly blames Catholicism for that do they? In this case, Pope Gregory is clear: this behavior is a crime. Gregory explicitly condemned the Blood Libel following as he said “in the footsteps of our predecessors -- Calixtus, Eugene, Alexander, Clement, Innocent, and Honorius.” So what you said only holds for the unfaithful or ignorant - or as you say “primitives (... not learned)” Catholics. But this much could be said for all such people of any or no religion and at any time in history: That the unfaithful and unlearned tend to not follow doctrine or official policies of any kind very well. Thus their being nominally Catholic really has no particular bearing on the matter.

[ 04-11-2004, 06:39 PM: Message edited by: Sam F ]

Jack Heinlen
04-11-2004, 03:26 PM

It's Easter. Jesus has risen. Let's focus on that, just for a day.

Happy Easter Sam.



Sam F
04-11-2004, 05:07 PM
Originally posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett:

One is gobsmacked, to put it mildly, to find Sam defending the murder of the
Albigensians.That’s a good point Andrew but if you stop to think about it you’ve done as much
yourself. Take as an example (not that you don’t know this - I know you do!):
His Majesty’s government’s created (in 1936) the Bomber Command. From it’s inception
in concert with British strategic thinking (dating from the beginning of the RAF in 1918)
it had the express purpose of bombing an enemy’s cities as an indirect method of
destroying his armed forces. This doctrine eventually reached it’s fulfillment in the
person of Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris who helped fill Churchill’s prescription:

We shall bomb Germany by day as well as by night in ever-increasing measure, casting
upon them month by month a heavier discharge of bombs, and making the German
people taste and gulp each month a sharper dose of the miseries they have showered upon
Now it is true that the Church after trials and a refusal to recant, burned somes hundreds
of Albigensians but His Majesty’s government burned many tens of thousands as they
slept in their beds. And it was done with the expectation of no warning and with no
determination of guilt or innocence. It is not true that this was just the normal course of
warfare. Strategic bombing against civilian populations was different in character and
effect from almost anything seen in earlier wars. The number killed in such raids was
around 50,000 in Hamburg alone, and around 60,000 in a single day at Dresden. (Yes of
course we in the US had our own strategic bombing force to help and our own bomber -
Curtis LeMay who directed the fire bombing of Tokyo that killed even more.)

The fact is that after the war it was determined that the “strategic” bombing had little
effect on the war’s outcome other than to kill mostly non-combatant civilians.
Does that make His (now Her) Majesty’s government subject to never ending censure?
Does that make it an intrinsically evil enterprise to be criticized at every opportunity? I
don’t think so - but then again I have some empathy for the problems that government
faced. See what I’m driving at?

By coincidence, I saw “The Fog of War” Friday night. This is a documentary consisting
of interviews with former Defense Secretary McNamara (under Kennedy and Johnson)
where he recounts his life and the lessons learned. (If it’s ever shown on your side of the
pond you may find it very interesting.) I found one of its themes resonated with my point
in this thread. One of McNamara’s lessons is that sometimes you have to do evil to do
good. I’d prefer to say that in defense of the good sometimes evil results. That’s what I
was getting at when I hinted that the attitude of delicate scrupulosity is so dangerous. One
can keep clean hands or survive - but not often do both.

Originally posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett:
Simple logic tells us that a sect which practised strict abstinence from sex posed no
threat to one that did not, but that is the least of it. Since the Cathars were exterminated,
and the history was written by the victors, it is a little difficult to be quite sure what the
Cathars did believe. I’m not so sure of that logic in either of those cases.
Remember that relations between Church and state didn’t exist in the sense we see today.
Each had it’s own sphere of authority and each sphere overlapped the other. Today we
might call it co-opetition. From the Church perspective, a sect that sent its members to
eternal damnation was a serious threat to those duped into joining. It is the Church’s
mission to stop that from happening - no matter if they are deluding themselves about the
existence of heaven or hell or not. The secular authorities viewed the prohibition against
oath taking as striking at the very fabric of medieval society since it was bound together
with oaths. (Incidentally you may remember that one of the most serious charges against
Harold by William was that he was an oath breaker.)
For something comparable imagine a sect that taught in a Capitalist society that one
could incur debts but never have to pay them back. How would MasterCard and Visa
react to that?

History is always written by the victors and the same can be and no doubt will be said
some years hence of WWII. Skeptical historians will imagine that the Nazis couldn’t
have possibly have been that bad - It must just be the victor’s propaganda and since they
were exterminated it is a little difficult to be sure what they really did believe. Right? ;)

Andrew Craig-Bennett
04-11-2004, 06:57 PM
Sam, I never suggested that the Catholic Church was " an intrinsically evil enterprise to be criticized at every opportunity"!

I was just rather struck by your defence of the Crusade against the Cathars, which the perhaps-mistaken historians I have glanced at and perhaps misunderstoond seem to think may have had something to do with Simon de Montfort's wish to gain land at the expense of Raymond of Toulouse in addition to purely religious motives.

Now, I hope that you will agree with me that "Kill them all - God will know his own!" is rather a long way from the message that our Lord gave us, as recorded in the Gospels, and yet this notorious pronouncement (allegedly adopted by some USMC units in Vietnam!) was made by a man who was not merely the Papal Legate but the Abbot of Citeaux, so he was, as I understand it, the head of the Cistercian Order. At all events, a man who most certainly was in the "mainstream" of the Catholic Church of the day.

I must beg to differ slightly in relation to the area bombing of cities.

As I have understood it, the pre-WW2 doctrine of the RAF in relation to strategic bombing was two fold. So far as figher defence was concerned, the assumption was that "the bomber will always get through", and so far as offensive matters were concerned the assumption was that aerial bombing would be highly accurate.

The course of events showed that both these assumptions, based on peace time exercises, were wrong.

The development of sector defence based on radar, which we associate with Dowding, did a very great deal to stop the bomber getting through, which is why Britain did not lose the War.

The assumption, on which Bomber Command was based, that targets could be hit with pinpoint accuracy proved absurdly wide of the mark; it was well into the war, and well into the large scale production of heavy bombers, before the awful truth, that bombs were often being dropped (at huge cost in aircrew lives) some ten or more miles from their targets, was realised. The result was a hiatus which was resolved bureaucratically in favour of "area" bombing of civilian targets, a policy justified, as in the Churchill speech you quote, by the equal inaccuracy of German bombing.

You point on the effect of inhibiting oaths is well taken.

Sam F
04-12-2004, 01:53 PM
Originally posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett:

I was just rather struck by your defence of the Crusade against the Cathars, which the perhaps-mistaken historians I have glanced at and perhaps misunderstoond seem to think may have had something to do with Simon de Montfort's wish to gain land at the expense of Raymond of Toulouse in addition to purely religious motives. That’s probably correct. The secular authorities jumped on the bandwagon with more than a religious enthusiasm. The prospect for gain couldn’t fail to have been a motivating factor.

Originally posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett:
Now, I hope that you will agree with me that "Kill them all - God will know his own!" is rather a long way from the message that our Lord gave us…I certainly do agree. In war some individuals lose a sense of proportion and de-humanize the enemy to a horrible degree. My other point of course is that it is just as typical with us. Arguably we moderns have much worse tendencies. That’s why I used the Strategic Bombing campaign of Europe as an example:

Originally posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett:

I must beg to differ slightly in relation to the area bombing of cities.

As I have understood it, the pre-WW2 doctrine of the RAF in relation to strategic bombing was two fold. So far as figher defence was concerned, the assumption was that "the bomber will always get through", and so far as offensive matters were concerned the assumption was that aerial bombing would be highly accurate.
You are correct that the British Air doctrine was two-fold…. A bit more on that later.
But I must disagree on the operational rationale behind Strategic Bombing.

I first read of the Strategic Bombing campaign some 30 + years ago in a book called Bomber Offensive: the Devastation of Europe (1970) by Nobel Frankland. The author was a bomber navigator himself and former British Cabinet Office historian. This little book has shaped my thinking on the subject ever since. Frankland’s data has been reinforced by other reading on the subject over the years. The destruction of civilian populations was an inherent feature of all strategic bombing thinking from its very beginning. This was true in England and the US as well as others who happened to lack the technical ability to pull it off. In the view of what I called (for lack of a better term) “delicate scrupulosity” this is nothing but pre-meditated murder of the innocent. And indeed it is. But was this undoubted evil always the wrong approach to take? When national survival is at stake is it always better to avoid a questionable tactic even if it increases the risk of defeat? I can’t answer that for certain. I do know that inexcusable or not such tactics are responsible for our existence. And I can’t help but notice when this scrupulosity is applied selectively.

For anyone interested, here’s a brief (but still too long!) overview of Strategic bombing thinking from between the wars:
The basic rationale or some would say “vision” behind this version of air warfare was created by an Italian named Guilio Douhet (1869-1930) whose book “Command of the Air” was published in 1921 It was not published in England until 1942 but his ideas had become widespread via an American interest and some individual chapters were in wide circulation. A feature of his strategic theory (which your words echo) is that the “bomber will always get through” because it’s operation is inherently offensive in nature. The resulting civilian casualties and economic disruption would cause defeat because it would crush a country’s morale and capacity to fight. Unfortunately for the world’s civilians he was an advocate of the Total War concept where war was brought to the whole nation not just to its fighting forces. The near-truth that the bomber would always get through really had no practical effect in winning a war until the advent of atomic bombs – only then it really did count and brought the total war concept to its ultimate fruition.

Luckily for Britain, Douhet’s theories didn’t find complete acceptance. The fighters deployed in the Battle of Britain demonstrated that air power could be quite effective as a defensive force! It is thanks to that mixed force air power that Britain survived. But on the subject of the Bomber Command, which was separate, the thinking was different and characterized by Sir Hugh Trenchard (later Viscount)

Sir Hugh is considered more or less the father of the RAF. He was its commander for large periods between the wars. He believed that bombing’s primary target should be civilian morale. This was to be accomplished via non-stop bombing. Below is something I found that explains some of his thinking… (a note in [ ] and italics added)

… Well-trained troops had already proved that they had the endurance to withstand protracted attack. Yet, civilians in cities had demonstrated the opposite. Trenchard claimed that civilians "are not disciplined and it can not be expected that they will stick stolidly to their lathes and benches." During the Gotha raids on London [Gothas were a large biplane that replaced the vulnerable bomber zeppelins late in WWI], the city had gone through a minor panic; many had fled to the countryside for safety, and the newspapers had run columns criticizing the government’s inability to protect the capital. In studying the effects of the Gotha raids, the prophets theorized that increased, intensified attacks, which included incendiary and gas bombs, would cause a populace to rise up against its government. This would result in chaos, with loss of productivity, riots, looting, and eventually a toppling of the government leading to surrender. The country that would emerge victorious from a bombing war would be the country whose populace could endure the bombings while delivering greater damage to the other side.

A bombing campaign would be as much a psychological as a physical battle. Trenchard studied the effects of British bombing attacks on towns in Germany and estimated that the psychological damage was twenty times greater than the material. And interestingly, living under the threat of an attack was as damaging to civilian morale as an actual attack. The German city of Trier experienced only seven raids, but underwent more than 100 air raid alarms--each one demanding that people leave their jobs or beds and hurry to shelters in fear. Workers who spent the night in shelters listening for the sound of bombs did not come to work the next day or were too tired to perform their jobs properly. In this way, bombing could destroy a nation’s production without destroying its factories.

Basing a military theory on targeting civilians posed wrenching moral and ethical questions. Douhet noted, "Humanity and civilization may avert their eyes" in thinking about bombing civilians. But the prophets knew that in the modern democratic world, a nation went to war on behalf of its citizens, not a king or emperor." Spaight defined the new target as "the sovereign people who war and it is their nerve and morale which must be broken." The greatest concentration of people was in the cities, and so they were the best targets.
That was from:
The Prophets: Advocates of Strategic Bombing (http://www.1903to2003.gov/essay/Air_Power/Prophets/AP11.htm)

A bit from a more pro- Douhet / Trenchard perspective:

Summary Report
(European War)
September 30, 1945

The Allied Strategic Plan

Early Air Operations -- City Area Raids

The pioneer in the air war against Germany was the RAF. The RAF experimented briefly in 1940 with daylight attacks on industrial targets in Germany but abandoned the effort when losses proved unbearably heavy. Thereafter, it attempted to find and attack such targets as oil, aluminum and aircraft plants at night. This effort too was abandoned; with available techniques it was not possible to locate the targets often enough. Then the RAF began its famous raids on German urban and industrial centers. On the night of May 30, 1942, it mounted its first "thousand plane" raid against Cologne and two nights later struck Essen with almost equal force. On three nights in late July and early August 1943 it struck Hamburg in perhaps the most devastating single city attack of the war -- about one third of the houses of the city were destroyed and German estimates show 60,000 to 100,000 people killed. No subsequent city raid shook Germany as did that on Hamburg; documents show that German officials were thoroughly alarmed and there is some indication from interrogation of high officials that Hitler himself thought that further attacks of similar weight might force Germany out of the war. The RAF proceeded to destroy one major urban center after another. Except in the extreme eastern part of the Reich, there is no major city that does not bear the mark of these attacks. However, no subsequent attack had the shock effect of the Hamburg raid.

"I reported for the first time orally to the Fuehrer that if these aerial attacks continued, a rapid end of the war might be the consequence."
Speer to Survey Interrogators on the Hamburg attacks.
In the latter half of 1944, aided by new navigational techniques, the RAF returned with part of its force to an attack on industrial targets. These attacks were notably successful but it is with the attacks on urban areas that the RAF is most prominently identified.

The city attacks of the RAF prior to the autumn of 1944, did not substantially affect the course of German war production. German war production as a whole continued to increase. This in itself is not conclusive, but the Survey has made detailed analysis of the course of production and trade in 10 German cities that were attacked during this
period and has made more general analyses in others. These show that while production received a moderate setback after a raid, it recovered substantially within a relatively few weeks. As a rule the industrial plants were located around the perimeter of German cities and characteristically these were relatively undamaged.

Commencing in the autumn of 1944, the tonnage dropped on city areas, plus spill-overs from attacks on transportation and other specific targets, mounted greatly. In the course of these raids, Germany's steel industry was knocked out, its electric power industry was substantially impaired and industry generally in the areas attacked was disorganized. There were so many forces making for the collapse of production during this period, however, that it is not possible separately to assess the effect of these later area raids on war production. There is no doubt, however, that they were significant.

The Survey has made extensive studies of the reaction of the German people to the air attack and especially to city raids. These studies were carefully designed to cover a complete cross section of the German people in western and southern Germany and to reflect with a minimum of bias their attitude and behavior during the raids. These studies show that the morale of the German people deteriorated under aerial attack. The night raids were feared far more than daylight raids. The people lost faith in the prospect of victory, in their leaders and in the promises and propaganda to which they were subjected. Most of all, they wanted the war to end. They resorted increasingly to "black radio'' listening, to circulation of rumor and fact in opposition to the Regime; and there was some increase in active political dissidence -- in 1944 one German in every thousand was arrested for a political offense. If they had been at liberty to vote themselves out of the war, they would have done so well before the final surrender. In a determined police state, however, there is a wide difference between dissatisfaction and expressed opposition. Although examination of official records and those of individual plants shows that absenteeism increased and productivity diminished somewhat in the late stages of the war, by and large workers continued to work. However dissatisfied they were with the war, the German people lacked either the will or the means to make their dissatisfaction evident.

The city area raids have left their mark on the German people as well as on their cities. Far more than any other military action that preceded the actual occupation of Germany itself, these attacks left the German people with a solid lesson in the disadvantages of war. It was a terrible lesson; conceivably that lesson, both in Germany and abroad, could be the most lasting single effect of the air war. Contemplate that last sentence and reflect on the different effect the real pin-point precision attacks had on the morale of Iraqi people in the recent war. There may be a very disturbing conclusion in that for military planners.

More at:
THE UNITED STATES STRATEGIC BOMBING SURVEY (http://www.anesi.com/ussbs02.htm#tasp)

[ 04-12-2004, 03:09 PM: Message edited by: Sam F ]

Andrew Craig-Bennett
04-12-2004, 03:30 PM
Thank you very much, Sam, for that cogent and well evidenced response, which I certainly accept.

Sam F
04-12-2004, 04:22 PM
Originally posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett:
Thank you very much...I must say I didn’t take it very well when I found out that stuff. For me it amounted to a crisis of conscience to know that the allies had deliberately chosen such tactics. The more I found out, the worse it got. One of the interesting quotes attributed to Curtis Lemay by McNamara in The Fog of War was: (paraphrasing) "It's a good thing we won the war or we'd all have been tried as war criminals."
He knew what he was talking about!

Keith Wilson
04-12-2004, 04:29 PM
The bombing campaign in Japan was considerably worse, even before the atomic bombs. Perhaps we were just getting more efficient through more practice.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
04-13-2004, 04:03 AM
Strategic bombing may have seemed cruel, but for the prophets, a quick war with bombing cities was better than an extended war with the carnage and horrors of World War I.

Another quote from the first of Sam's citations, which also makes the excellent point that the doctrine of strategic bombing was used by seniors in the RAF and the USAAF to argue for the independence of air forces during the inter-War period.

Certainly the steps that the British government took in the run up to WW2 and in the "phoney war" period to protect civilians and to secure civilian morale seem to suggest that they were based on the assumption that large scale strategic bombing would take place. The building of air raid shelters, the distribution of gas masks, the evacuation of children from the cities to the countryside and the establishment of the Air Raid Patrol (ARP) are very well known but less attention is perhaps given to the Government's worries about civilian morale.

That the Government and its advisors were very worried indeed, there is no doubt. The establishment of Mass Observation in 1937 was a coincidence, but it is known that its reports, which mainly concerned civilian morale, were closely studied by the Government and the careful attention to propaganda by Churchill in particular, but also by all members of the Government, needs no comment. The celebrated remark by Queen Elizabeth about the bombing of Buckingham Palace ("Thank goodness we've been bombed; I can look the East Enders in the face!") illustrates this.