Wilhelmshaven is a relatively young city founded by Prussian king Wilhelm I in 1869. There was once a castle here in the 14th century which was owned by pirates and destroyed in 1433 by the Hanseatic League.
The area had been an operating base for the German navy, but the US wire service photo, above, didn’t mention that it was the city center which was destroying by two thirds in the bombings.
In April 1945, considerable damage was done to the historic Old Town center by Allied bombing raids. Its elegant cruciform church of St George (St Georgen Kirche) dating from the first half of the 13th century was destroyed and the Gothic district beside the St.-Marienkirche was completely destroyed.
Numerous bombing attacks took place on the city, causing immense damage and killing hundreds of civilians. One Allied attack on March 18, 1945 by 324 RAF aircraft dropped 1,081 tons of bombs and destroyed 129 acres, 62 percent of the residential area. After the bombing, low-flying aircraft hunted and shot at everything that moved, and in this manner 8 running women and one child met their doom.
Luther’s Land is sadly “reformed.” As World War Two bombing raids increased, desperate people fled the city of Worms. On February 22, 1945, she was bombed by British and American bombers, reducing her to ash, corpses and rubble within twenty minutes. 340 British bombers unloaded 361.7 tons of high-explosive bombs and 575.5 tons of incendiary bombs over the ancient cathedral city. 235 additional bombs followed with enormous explosive effect. 2,000 years of history was destroyed in those 20 minutes as the Medieval city center caught fire and burned. Many civilians were wounded and killed and two thirds of all houses were destroyed. For hundreds of miles, the bloody red glow of an incinerating ancient city was visible, yet even while it was burning to its death, the British bombed it again within 2 hours of the main attack.
March 18th and 20th, the USA began another deadly, destructive assault on the beleaguered medieval city center in 11 separate raids, dropping 1,100 more incendiary bombs and 100,000 more incendiary compounds over Worms to polish off the job, only afterward bombarding any actual remaining military targets, such as railway facilities, bridges and traffic junctions. Martinskirche, Friedrichskirche, Andreaskirche and Pauluskirche were all completely or nearly completely destroyed. The Wormser Dom, above, was heavily damaged. The 1,100 year-old Magnuskirche where Luther came to defend his doctrines at the Diet of Worms was also destroyed. Built in the 8th to 9th centuries, it was the site of the first Protestant sermon in Germany and it is the oldest Protestant Church of Southwest German Lands. It was painstakingly rebuilt and reopened in 1952.
The Italian Renaissance style Haugerstifts church was built in 1670, the Neumunster church in the 11th century, the church of St Burkhard was built in 1033-1042 in the Romanesque style and restored in 1168 with a Late Gothic choir dating from 1494-1497. The Neubaukirche, or university church, and the Protestant church of St Stephen also lent their beauty to the city. The most conspicuous building in Wurzberg was the palace, built in 1720-1744 in imitation of Versailles, and formerly the residence of the bishops and grand-dukes of Wurzburg. There was the Julius hospital, founded in 1576 and the old Rathaus, in part dating from 1456, and the buildings of government, offices, courts, theater, plus the Maxschule, observatory and the various university buildings founded by Bishop Julius in 1582.Tilman Riemenschneider Würzburg Before and After
The attacks by Allied bombers levelled many houses in the city before it was thrown into Communist slavery in the GDR-era.
On March 14-15, 1945, World War Two was all but over. Nonetheless the Baroque gem of Zweibrucken was completely destroyed when the Allies chose as their target the historic city center. Although the weary city had suffered over 230 air raids, 812 sortees and continual harassment, this early spring evening was to bring destruction. A sortie of 98 Halifaxes joined by 98 Lancasters flew for the attack at Zweibrucken. The crews released their deadly high explosives. In minutes the place was obliterated. The whole center and the residential areas were gone in a million flashes, another old castle was almost levelled, and the ancient churches in ruins.
200 Canadian Air Force bombers flew over the groaning city in several waves, dropping nearly 1,000 bombs, with a weight of 815 tons and 97 aerial mines of which 20 were “hundredweights” (4,000 English Pounds). Approximately 30 “block busters” fell into the center of the old city. The American had already had their go at it in their Thunderbirds. The original historic stud farm was demolished in the bombing of Zweibrücken. “Zwei” became an Allied military base.