The Bombardment is a difficult watch exposing us to the grim realities of war. While we might want to believe that militaries bear the casualties of war (which is a tragedy in itself), the truth is more harrowing: innocent civilians lose their lives in tragic circumstances.
Surprisingly, international laws providing for the protection of civilians didn’t exist before World War 2. The often indiscriminate bombing raids prevalent during the Second World War led to mass civilian casualties, prompting the international community to enact laws protecting civilians during wars.
As depicted in The Bombardment, one of those disastrous bombing raids happened in Copenhagen in 1945.
The British bombing of Copenhagen resulted in 125 civilian deaths
The Bombardment is based on the true story of a British bombing raid of Copenhagen in 1945. It focuses on the characters’ survival during and after the attack.
Germany encountered no resistance in its occupation of Denmark in 1940. The tiny nation figured it couldn’t keep out the German war machine and opted to save lives through surrender.
The Danish monarchy and government ruled Denmark until a retreating Germany occupied Denmark in 1943. Attempts by the Nazis to regain their advantage in the war failed, and by 1945, defeat appeared inevitable.
Nevertheless, the Germans still held Copenhagen and used it as an operations base. The Danish resistance battled the occupying force, but they needed help to liberate Denmark’s capital. The resistance worked with the Royal Air Force to target Gestapo headquarters.
The Gestapo placed prisoners of war on the roof of its headquarters to deter the British bombers. Nonetheless, the RAF dropped bombs to some degree of success: the bombs destroyed Gestapo headquarters, ground forces liberated 18 prisoners, and Nazi operations in the city collapsed.
Unfortunately, one British plane suffered wing damage, causing it to crash into a school. The second and third waves of bombers mistook the school for a target, dropping bombs on innocent civilians.
125 civilians, including 86 children, lost their lives that dark day.
The filmmakers have taken some creative freedoms in their portrayal of the bombardment. However, the movie mirrors a true event in history, reminding us that in the search for peace through war, civilians suffer unimaginable pain and loss.