The British came over in force again last night and for the first time killed Germans in the capital of the Reich. The official account is ten persons killed and twenty-nine wounded in Berlin. At the Kottbusserstrasse out towards Tempelhof (which the British were probably aiming at) and not far from the Görlitzer railroad station (which they might have been aiming at) two hundred-pound bombs landed in the street, tore off the leg of an air-raid warden standing at the entrance to his house, and killed four men and two women, who, unwisely, were watching the fireworks from a doorway.
I think the populace of Berlin is more affected by the fact that the British planes have been able to penetrate to the centre of Berlin without trouble than they are by the first casualties. For the first time the war has been brought home to them. If the British keep this up, it will have a tremendous effect upon the morale of the people here.
Goebbels today suddenly changed his tactics. His orders after the first big bombing were to play the story down in the press. Today he orders the newspapers to cry out at the "brutality" of the British fliers in attacking the defenceless women and children of Berlin. One must keep in mind that the people here have not yet been told of the murderous bombings of London by the Luftwaffe. The invariable headline today about last night's raid is : "COWARDLY BRITISH ATTACK." And the little Doktor makes the papers drum into the people that German planes attack only military objectives in Britain, whereas the "British pirates" attack "on the personal orders of Churchill" only non-military objectives. No doubt the German people will fall for this lie too. One paper achieves a nice degree of hysteria: it says that RAF has been ordered "to massacre the population of Berlin."
It's obvious from what we've seen here the last few nights - and Göring must have known it - that there is no defense against the night bombers. Neither on Sunday nor last night did the anti-aircraft defences of Berlin, which are probably the best in the world, even spot a British plane in the beam of a searchlight, let alone bring one down. The official communique, hesitating to tell the local people that any planes were brought down last night over the city when thousands of them probably saw that none were, announced today that one bomber was shot down on its way to Berlin and another after if left Berlin.
I had my own troubles at the radio last night. First, the censors announced that we could no longer mention a raid while it was on. (In London Ed Murrow not only mentions it, but describes it.) Secondly, I got into somewhat of a row with the German radio officials. As soon as I had finished my broadcast, they ordered me to the cellar. I tried to explain that I had come here as a war correspondent and that in ordering me to the cellar they were preventing me from exercising my profession. We exchanged some rather sharp words. Lord Haw-Haw, I notice, is the only other person around here except the very plucky girl secretaries who does not rush to the shelter after the siren sounds. I have avoided him for a year, but have been thinking lately it might be wise to get acquainted with the traitor. In the air-raids he has shown guts.
- William L. Shirer, August 29, 1940