Eilenburg, Eisenach, Eisleben, Elbing, Ellingen, Elmshorn, Emden, Emmerich, Erfurt, Erkelenz, Esen, Eschweiler, Essen, Euskirchen and Flensburg


There is evidence of human settlement in Saxon Eilenburg from the middle paleolithic age. Beginning in the 10th Century, King Heinrich I replaced the Sorb castle with one of his own. The unbroken Saxon dynasty of Wettin that started with the Counts of Ilburg in the 11th century lasted until 1918, the longest a European house ever ruled a land. Antique Eilenburg flourished in the Middle Ages.

Eilenburg’s history reaches back over a thousand years and it can claim itself as one of Saxony’s ‘original cities,’ with a castle perched lazily on a hilltop. Eilenburg grew and thrived mainly due to the brewery industry. Even Martin Luther sojourned in this city extensively and frequently.

Approximately two weeks before the end of the War, the city was almost completely destroyed. It was choked with desperate refugees from the eastern regions fleeing communist murder. On April 17, 1945, many of these refugees joined the town’s citizens and fled this city, too. About 4,500 others looked for protection in the old mountain beer cellars. For three days and three nights, the city was under heavy artillery bombardment, in which 90 percent of the city center (65% of all buildings in the city) were destroyed. In vain, some people frantically hung white sheets and cloths from their windows and church steeples desperately signalling surrender. 200 people were killed, a great many of them young boys, while the American forces suffered no losses because Germany’s defenses were all but absent. Eilenburg was one of the most heavily damaged cities in Germany. The town was absolutely flattened before being handed over to the Red Army.       Franz Abt


In 1944 and 1945, there were several unnecessary cultural attacks on the old hamlet of Eisenach which caused severe damage. The house Luther stayed in 1498 was destroyed along with the birthplace of Bach, which has been rebuilt, left, before and after.


Eisleben, Saxony (Lutherstadt Eisleben) is one of the oldest towns between the Harz mountains and the river Elbe. Here, Martin Luther was born and died. Eisleben was first officially recorded in 994 AD and was granted a town charter in the 12th century. The town grew in importance in the 15th and 16th centuries, mainly due to the copper mining and smelting industry in the territories of the once powerful Counts of Mansfeld.

Eisleben, a city with about 24,000 inhabitants in 1945, was attacked with artillery fire and low-flying attacks, and while no major physical damage was caused to the city itself, three firefighters and fourteen people were killed in the shelling of the town and the surrounding mining and industrial enterprises were greatly impacted. By the end, in April 1945, every major school, several restaurants and the city hospital were being used as a hospital for casualties from the surrounding area.


Elbing’s Story


Ellingen is a small farming hamlet in Bavaria in the vicinity of Mad King Ludwig’s castle. It had 1,500 inhabitants, most of whom were farmers, and nothing of military value to attack. It was totally unprepared on February 23, 1945 when, for no good reason, 25 American bombers violently dumped 285 high explosive bombs on the small town in a surprise attack which left 120 bomb craters. The assault killed the town’s farm animals and 98 villagers.


Elmshorn in Schleswig-Holstein was first documented in 1141. There was a considerable shipping trade and in the surrounding areas were small farms before some industry located here.

Elmshorn became the secondary target for bombs that for some reason could not be dropped on Hamburg. A British bomb attack on August 3, 1943 killed 62 people killed and injured 150 because cloud formation obscured the primary objective of Hamburg. 250 buildings were destroyed, 220 heavily damaged. A British source noted that “A sizeable raid developed on the small town of Elmshorn, 12 miles from Hamburg. It is believed that a flash of lightning set a house on fire here and bomber crews saw this through a gap in the storm clouds and started to bomb the fire.” Again, on April 26, 1945, in connection with the thrust of British land forces to Schleswig-Holstein, a low-flying attack killed another 92 civilians. Another attack was slated for May 3, but due to poor visibility the bombs were instead dropped on a train, resulting in more deaths. At the end of the war, 13,000 refugees – almost as many refugees as residents – remained in the city, resulting in a housing crisis.

Emden and Esen

East Frisia was part of Holland during the Napoleonic era, and then was ceded to Hanover. Emden, a city in East Frisia , existed since before the 8th century. Emperor Maximilian I granted the city its rights in 1495. Dutch immigrants helped bring Emden prosperity, and during the 17th century it was a center of reformed Protestantism, producing the first Bible translation in Dutch.       Its Destruction

In the morning of September 27, 1943, all three bomber divisions of the heavy combat flier corps of the 8 USAAF were assigned with altogether 308 “flying fortresses” to attack the city of Emden after several previous strikes. At the same time 24 bombers were sent out as diversion over the channel. “Thunderbolts” from the 8th USAAF escorted the operation as protection for the heavy bombers. The air raid did not run well for the Americans, because only 180 combat aircraft were able to drop their bomb load on the city.

For the small town of Esens (not to be confused with Essen), it would be a bad day when 36 disappointed American bombers, having failed to finish off Emden, saw the small town below and angrily unloaded their destruction and death upon it. Within minutes, one third of all houses of Esens were destroyed or damaged and 490 humans left shelterless at the end of the day. Far worse, 165 unprepared civilians were dead, among them 108 children whose bodies were found along with their dead teachers in the rubble of the local orphanage.


Emmerich, on the lower part of the River Rhine in North Rhine-Westphalia, received city rights in 1233 and the city wall and moat were completed in 1238. The city seal is the oldest on German soil. Before the end of the 14th Century, Emmerich was a member of the Hanseatic League. The city’s nickname was Embrica decora, which means magnificent Emmerich and it highlighted the splendor of the city’s ecclesiastical and secular buildings.

The British left behind 680,000 cubic meters of rubble in their place on October 7, 1944, destroying 97% of the ancient city and its 9th century churches.


Erfurt took its name from “Erpha,” which meant “brown water” and was the river’s name until modern times. The Gera River Valley has been inhabited for at least 100,000 years. Erfurt’s earliest written records date from 742 A.D., when a diocese was established. Erfurt grew into an important trading center over the next few centuries. Religion and education always played an important role in the city’s history, and at its height, Erfurt had 90 churches, monasteries, chapels and convents. Its university, founded in 1362, was the fourth oldest in Germany. Martinus Ludher came to Erfurt in 1502 to study and he received his master’s degree in 1505 and was ordained as a priest in the Mariendom, Erfurt’s Cathedral, in 1507. Erfurt was occupied by the Swedes after the 30 Years’ War, then turned over to the Prussians, then seized by Napoleon and then handed back to the Prussians.

From 1940, historically priceless Erfurt was bombed at least 14 times. On February 25, 1945, British bombers destroyed 74% of the medieval center and killed 8,800 civilians, or 21% of its population.       More on Erfurt


Erkelenz is another old Rhine town and the largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia. It has a history going back to 5100 BC. and also contains many Roman artifacts. In 966 AD, it is named as Herculentiacum. The town was part of ancient dukedoms and survived being in the pathways of foreign soldiers in several wars throughout the ages. It was industrialized in the late 19th century.

After World War One, the Ruhr region was occupied by the French and Belgians and both tried to attach the Rhineland to their countries. Under the terms of Versailles, the citizens engaged in mining and other industries had to work for them almost as slaves as they watched German coal and steel leaving for France and Belgium. It was a bitter occupation and the people were subjected to much abuse from the occupiers.

The city was first bombed on October 8, 1944. The second bomb attack on December 6, 1944 killed 44 civilians. It was then carpet bombed almost from morning till late at night. Since December, 1944, the city was also within range of Allied grenade attacks. In another bomb attack on January 16, 1945, 31 more people were killed, 16 in a bunker. The fourth and heaviest air raid on the now abandoned town was on February 23, 1945. About 90 bombers flew in two waves and focused on bombing the churches, the town hall, the public baths, the hospital, schools and kindergarten. The only surviving tower of the bombed Catholic parish church was severely damaged. 1209 Erkelenz houses were destroyed and 536 damaged. Only two buildings survived the war undamaged. Bombing killed 312 people and wounded 974. As many other towns in the region, it witnessed in the midst of the chaos and carnage, the long flow of refugees passing by with nowhere to go but Hell. But the fun was just starting for the weary residents. A concentration camp was waiting.


Essen, founded about 845, remained an insignificant agricultural town until the 19th century when cargo shipping developed and the Ruhr became the busiest river in Europe. Coal and ore mining led to industrial growth of the city and of the entire Ruhr.       Battle of the Ruhr

Eschweiler (see under Aachen)
Euskirchen (see under Trier)


Flensburg is the third largest town in Schleswig-Holstein. Founded around 1200 by Danish settlers, its town rights were confirmed in 1284 and the town quickly rose to become one of the most important in the Duchy of Schleswig.

During the Second World War, the town was left almost unscathed by the raids that laid other German cities waste. However, in 1943, 20 children died when their nursery school was suddenly bombarded.

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