Correspondence concerning Laurence Larmer's regrets over the cities he bombed during the Second World War

MLarmerLO430037-151112-01.pdf

Title

Correspondence concerning Laurence Larmer's regrets over the cities he bombed during the Second World War
A decorated Australian World War II heavy bomber pilot has cleared his conscience after the war's end, by penning an apology to the German towns he bombed

Description

1 - news cutting concerning a 92 year old Second World War veteran penning an apology for bombing German cities. 2 - letter from Laurence Larmer while offering no apology, regretting that the operation he flew on 11 April 1945 resulted in the loss of innocent civilians. 3 - six letters between Laurence Larmer's daughter and the Germany Embassy in Canberra, Australia concerning establishing which cities were involved and passing on Mr Larmer's letters. 4 - letter from the mayor of Wangerooge thanking Mr Larmer's for his letter and describing that it was read to current school children as part of commemoration of the bombing. 5 - letter of thanks from mayor of Boizenburg. 6 - letter of thanks from lord mayor of Hagen. 7 - letter of thanks from the Oberbürgermeister of Dortmund. 8 - letter of thanks from the Oberbürgermeisterof of Homberg. 9 - letter from Mr Larmer to the German ambassador mentioning the replies from German cities and thanking him for help.

This item has been redacted in order to protect the privacy of the lender and third parties.

Date

2015-03
2015-04
2015-05
2015-06
2015-08

Temporal Coverage

Language

Format

One newspaper cutting and 13 letters

Conforms To

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Contributor

Identifier

MLarmerLO430037-151112-01

Transcription

Australian fighter jet carries out first air strike inside Syria.

– ABC News

A decorated Australian World War II heavy bomber pilot has cleared his conscience 70 years after the war’s end, by penning an apology to the German towns he bombed.

– ABC News

[Drawing]

[Page break]

[redacted]

My name is Lawrence Larmer. During World War 2 I served in the Royal Australian Air Force, for the last three months of the war I was with a British Squadron in Bomber Command.

I write to you today to tell you that on April 11th I was with a force that bombed your city. I cannot recall the military reason for the raid and I make no apologies for it. But I deeply and truly regret that we were responsible for the deaths and injuries of so many innocent civilians – men, women and children.

Unfortunately today’s wars are not just between military personnel, good people on both sides suffer and die.

As I am now in my 92nd year and, as this is the 70th anniversary of the end of that dreadful event I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere sympathy to your people for that was really a side effect of what happened that day.

Once again, my deepest sympathy.

Yours sincerely

[Signature]

[Page break]

Correspondence with the German Embassy

18 March, 2015

Dear Mrs. Larmer,

Thank you very much for your kind fathers letters, which were forwarded to me today through our Consular Office in Melbourne.

Please forgive my asking, but before we proceed any further I would require proof of authenticity of your father’s history. The dates and cities all match up (although I think that your father means HAMBURG instead of HOMBURG), but we would really appreciate if you could send us a scanned copy of your father’s service record.

Again, I hope you understand my request in light of many emails that we receive during these times.

With kind regards,

Carsten Knorr
OTL i.G / Lt Col (GS), German Air Force
Defence Attaché to Australia and New Zealand
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
119 Empire Circuit, Yarralumla, ACT 2600

[redacted]

19 March 2015

Dear Carstan

Please find attached the relevant pages from my father’s Flying Log Book and a page from [italics] Snaith Days [\italics] a book written by Keith S Ford which details 51 squadron missions from 1942 – 45. I hope this information is what you need.

Thank you again for your assistance in what is an important matter for my father.

Regards

[Page break]

23 March, 2015

Dear Margaret,

Thank you very much for the electronic copies of the log book and the mission book. Talking to the German Ambassador Dr. Mueller, he is very much willing to forward your father’s letters to the majors [sic] of the German cities including a short letter of himself. If you don’t mind, we would at the same time inform the Australian Ambassador to Germany about these letters. In addition, we would like to bring these letter [sic] to the attention of Dr. Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra.

Please let us know if you and your father approve of the suggested ways forward.

Will you send us the letters again with a signature of your father?

Kind regards,

Carsten Knorr
OTL i.G / Lt Col (GS), German Air Force
Defence Attaché to Australia and New Zealand
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
119 Empire Circuit, Yarralumla, ACT 2600

[redacted]

24 March, 2015

Dear Carsten

Thank you for following up on this matter my father is very grateful. He approves of the suggested way forward and is willing for you to contact the people you have listed.

Please find attached the individual letters with my father’s signature on each. I will be happy to assist in any way so please contact me if you require any further information.

Thank you once again

Kind regards

[Page break]

16 April, 2015

Dear Margaret,

Thank you very much for the individual letters, which we are currently processing as well as drafting the according [sic] letters to the majors [sic] of the respective German cities. We will keep you updated on the developments.

With kind regards,

Carsten Knorr
OTL i.G / Lt Col (GS), German Air Force
Defence Attaché to Australia and New Zealand
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
119 Empire Circuit, Yarralumla, ACT 2600

[redacted]

24 April, 2015

Dear Margaret,

It is my pleasure to inform you that today your father’s letters together with the original draft have been sent via email to the Lord Mayors / the Mayors of the nine cities in Germany.

The emails were sent with a cover letter signed personally by German Ambassador Dr Christoph Mueller.

Warm regards,

Sabine

Sabine Stinn
PA to the Ambassador

German Embassy Canberra
119 Empire Circuit
Yarralumla ACT 2600

[redacted]

[Page break]

[Letterhead]

[redacted]

Dear Mr Larmer,

Thank you for your very personal words on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Wangerooge bombardment.

On April, 25th pupils of the 5th to the 10th form of our island school devoted themselves to the topic and also to their responsibility for keeping peace. At the hour of commemoration wartime witnesses reported on the dreadful 15minutes they experienced on Wangerooge when they were young. These emotional narratives touched our pupils deeply.

On my behalf, I was glad to read your letter to our youngsters and to old members of the population who were contemporary witnesses. Your letter made us comprehend that you, a member of the RAF and a young man of only 22 years at the time of the bombing, had been affected by the circumstances even after all these years. You still think about the evil you and your comrades brought upon this island. This raises hope that war must not happen again at any time. Your letter became part of this hope in the minds of our young people.

I wish that you were successful in conveying your experiences and sentiments to youngsters in your environment too. In this letter I include photos taken at our school on commemoration day. You will also find a brochure enclosed showing you the beauty and uniqueness of Wangerooge island.

Wholeheartedly I wish you all the best!

Kindest regards

[Signature]

Dirk Linder

Mayor.

Seite 1/1

[Page break]

[Letterhead]

[redacted]

Dear Mr Larmer,

many thanks for your letter. As the mayor of Boizenburg I was very surprised to receive it.

Boizenburg and every German has to be happy, that the allied forces defeated Hitler-Germany and freed the world from the horrible dictator. This is the reason, that my country and even the Europeans live in peace for more than 70 years now. And peace is the reason for our prosperity. In the last 70 years our country grew to one of the most respected countries in the world, and my generation, I am 59 years old, is very proud to live in this country.

I for myself would not like to live in a world that is not free, in a world where millions of people are pursued and killed because of their race, religion, color, political opinion or sexually preference. I and my generation are very glad that everybody nearly can do anything, except he hurts other people. This is only possible because you and people like you fought against the Nazis and won the war.

60 million people lost their lives because of the horrible ideology of some few persons that has been in responsibility for the cruel things that happen in the 30th and 40th of the last century. Figure what would have happened if the allied forces wouldn’t have won the war. This would be a terrible world.

You did right in bombing the German cities, and it is not your guilt that civilians died during your attacks. The commanders of the German

[Page break]

forces recruited children at the end of the war to stop the allied advance, they send them into death, knowing, they didn’t have any chance to win and survive. This is a big disgrace, and not your fight against dictatorship with the target to subdue Europe and the world.

I have to thank you for your fight, and I am very sad, that the world has not really learned from the cruel time of World War 2.

Hope to hear of you again,

Yours sincerely

[Signature]

Harald Jäschke

Mayor of the city of Boizenburg

[Footer]

[Page break]

[Letterhead]

[redacted]

Hagen, May 8, 2015

Dear Mr. Larmer,

on behalf of the citizens of our city Hagen I would like to thank you for your letter, which has been passed on to me by the German Embassy in Canberra. Your letter really has touched me deeply.

Most people living in Hagen have thankfully never experienced the horrors of war. Nonetheless are your words really touching. Especially the fact that you still think of the dreadful days way back in 1945. At that time you had to follow the orders of your commanders. No one in Hagen can or will ever blame you for the things you have done. War always means violence and harm – and very often the weak and the innocent belong to the victims.

Unfortunately we have to notice that not everybody learned the lesson from the devastating World War 2 and from following wars in different parts of the world. Therefore I consider your letter as a reminder to us and future generations, to do whatever is possible in order to preserve peace.

As a signal of peace and reconciliation and as a signal against the horrors of dictatorship and war, I consider also the vibrant city partnerships that Hagen has made in the past 50 years, with cities in particular in Russia, Israel and France. Former enemies have become friends here.

[Footer]

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- 2 -

Only yesterday we remembered the victims of the II. World War during our monthly meeting of the city council. I took the liberty to read out your letter in front of the politicians and citizens. This has been taken up by the council members and the citizens of our city with great gratitude and sympathy.

Personally and on behalf of the council and the administration of the City of Hagen I would like to wish all the best – especially, of course, health and inner satisfaction. You are a wonderful man!

Sincerely yours

[Signature]

Erik O. Schulz
Lord Mayor of Hagen

[Page break]

[Letterhead]

[redacted]

Dortmund, 11 June 2015

Dear Mr Larmer,

for your letter to the city of Dortmund, passed on to us through the German Ambassador to Australia, Dr. Müller, I wish to express my deepest respect and appreciation.

I find it very remarkable that you made the effort to express your regrets regarding casualties among civilians during the bombing of our city during WW II.

From today’s perspective we celebrate the end of WW II seventy years ago as the liberation of Germany from the Nazi dictatorship. Therefore the bombing of our city during those last months and weeks of war was part of this liberation, even though it was undoubtedly associated with huge losses and sacrifices among the civilian population. In fact, by the end of the war 93% of the centre of Dortmund was destroyed.

After the war we were given the opportunity to rebuild our city within a free and democratic country, which could not have happened if the Allied Forces had not defeated us. So your mission with the Bomber Command of the RAF served a good purpose even though it was unfortunately connected to civilian casualties. That’s the complexity of war that is hard to understand at times.

Today Dortmund is a thriving city with about 600,000 citizens and a very multicultural population. We had many memorial ceremonies across the city to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WW II and to remember the huge losses on both sides of the war parties involved and of course among the persecuted victims of the Nazi regime.

[Page break]

2

So your letter arrived at a time very fitting for a deeper look back at the events of those times. We appreciate your expression of sympathy and thank you for sharing your feelings on those events so openly with us.

It takes a very special person to be so considerate and compassionate, so again, thank you very much indeed for your message..

On behalf of the people of Dortmund I send you warm greetings and best wishes from Germany.

Yours sincerely

[Signature]

Ulrich Sierau
Lord Mayor of Dortmund

[Page break]

[Letterhead]

[redacted]

Homburg, 17.06.2015

Dear Mr. Larmer,

Thank you very much for your kind and very personal letter due to the 70th anniversary of the end of World War 2.

I definitely agree that war is always the worst and most expensive opportunity to solve problems and conflicts. Also, there is always the question about if it’s an “equitable” or criminal war. But always soldiers and innocent civilians in principle suffer from martial conflicts and die.

Thanks again for your condolences and your sympathy. Best wishes from Homburg – a city that after destruction has been built up again by its population and has become a booming community.

Yours sincerely

[Signature]

(Rüdiger Sehneidewind)
Oberbürgermeister

[Footer]

[Page break]

[redacted]

15 August 2015

Your Excellency

Some months ago I wrote to the leaders of various cities and towns in Germany that I had bombed while I was in Bomber Command in the Second World War. You were kind enough to forward them with a covering letter from yourself.

I have received replies from five of those cities (I enclose copies for your records).

I was overwhelmed by the spirit of appreciation and understanding expressed in each. I was honoured by the compliments and humbled by the generosity of them.

It is so obvious from the responses from people across such a vast area, that is how you are again one of the great countries of the world.

My purpose in writing was to express sorrow at what war had done. I am glad I did write those letters.

Thank you and your staff for your interest and help.

Yours sincerely

Lawrence Larmer

Collection

Citation

Laurence Larmer et al., “Correspondence concerning Laurence Larmer's regrets over the cities he bombed during the Second World War,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 16, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/9535.

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