75. Anniversary of the Air Raid on Halberstadt on April 8, 2020


1,5 millionen cubic metres of debris and rubble: On April 8, 1945, the German city of Halberstadt was heavily bombed by US-forces. The American bomber squadrons had been redirected to Halberstadt as their originally intended targets were hidden under cloud cover and it was too late for them to turn back to their base. And Halberstadt, which, as a mid-sized city without any special industry or any strategic importance, wouldn’t have been on the radar of the Allied Forces, had to bear the brunt of the final days of World War II.

Alexander Kluge, thirteen years of age at the time, was witness to the near total destruction of his hometown. In this account, he describes the destruction and the devastating repercussions he experienced. The Air Raid on Halberstadt on 8 April 1945 became one of the most important points of reference in that discussion which freed the air war on German cities and the civilian population from being anathema. 75 years later, Kluge’s portrayal of destruction and despair is as haunting and socially relevant as ever.

»Already contained within Kluge’s detailed description of the social organisation of misfortune is the conjecture that a proper understanding of those catastrophes we continuously stage presents the first condition for the social organisation of fortune.« W. G. Sebald


Praise for The Air Raid on Halberstadt on 8 April 1945:

»An extraordinary book by an extraordinary artist, The Air Raid on Halberstadt on 8 April 1945 might be seen less as a reckoning with the second world war as a manual for grappling with manufactured realities and media-filtered landscapes in the age of the drone.« Financial Times

»The book is part fiction and part reportage, but Kluge makes no effort to say which is which […] It’s an affecting puzzle about the destabilized narratives of war. The reader has to construct some semblance of a story from the rubble.« The Paris Review

»A small masterpiece of exploratory fiction.« Verso Books

»An accomplished filmmaker as well as a novelist, Kluge was trained as a lawyer and studied cultural theory with Theodor Adorno. An attorney’s reserve and gravitas are evident throughout his work. The harnessed energy is incorporated in various forms […] In The Air Raid on Halberstadt on 8 April 1945, one voice is followed by another – the testimonies of survivors, observations of reporters, explanations by American officers.« On the Seawall

»Excellently and integrally translated […] Exquisite […] This multimedia work was ahead of its time, and it’s still effective; as long as aerial militarism continues to rain misery on millions, The Air Raid on Halberstadt on 8 April 1945 remains timely.« Rain Taxi