The weather that July in Hamburg had been very hot, mostly dry. Two days before, a heavy thunderstorm had rumbled through, but the rain evaporated in the heat. On Saturday, July 24, 1943, the citizens of Hamburg were taking a rest from the heat and the backbreaking strain of World War II.
All across Germany’s leading seaport, Hamburg’s 1.75 million people enjoyed her cafes on the Alster and Elbe rivers, the huge zoo and the Ufa-Palast cinema, the Reich’s largest. Once again Hamburg was free of air raids. To the average citizen, it must have seemed unlikely that the city would ever be bombed.
But Hamburg was about to be destroyed.