Schweinfurt became for the 8th Air Force for a fateful word as she suffered heavy losses here in August 1943.
"I learned firsthand that a man can accept the fact of the own death without panicking in panic."
Unknown of American airmen who survived the attack on Schweinfurt on August 17th, 1943
One wrote August 17th 1943. It was exactly a year that the 8th US Air Force had started with the bombing of the fortress Europe from their bases in Great Britain.
The sky over the American bases in east England was covered, and the crews of the Flying Fortress waited strained whether they would actually be used now or not - some from them to six hours. The tension was strengthened still by the high meaning, which measured out to everyone, from the general to the simple rank, this operation: It was the first, purely strategic bomb employment, which should meet the life veins of the German industry and shorten thus the cruel war.
"Okay, people", was called it in the briefing, "we the ball bearing factories in the city named Schweinfurt in Bavaria will attack. We will be forced to fly in the middle by Germany both when we coming and flying home. In the factories half of the German ball bearings is manufactured there, and if we destroy it, our attack will be a success.
We will fly at a value of 23.000 foot (approx. 7,000 m) and will try to split the forces up of the opponent. The 3rd Division will first start, Regensburg attacks (the second largest aircraft factory in the German Reich) and then to fly to North Africa. The two other divisions will attack Schweinfurt and will return then to England. If we hope that the thing folds, because if we cannot clean-put it, probably so three hundred or four hundred airplanes become... "
Propheti words. The plan did not function, the German air defense discovered it too early, and as consequence of it more than five hundred young Americans had to leave their life.