|Charlemagne took over the governing of Aachen in 768 AD. The imperial palace was located by the
source of warm springs and soon became Charlemagne's permanent residence. As years went by, the
town became more and more prosperous. Charlemagne was buried in the Cathedral of Aachen, the
construction of which he had personally overseen in 824. The town's ties with Charlemagne were
reflected in its numerous priceless architectural heirlooms carefully preserved for centuries.
During World War Two, Aachen was at grave risk. People were unprepared when 75 bombs hit the
cloister in the first large-scale attack by English bombers on January 15, 1941 which dumped 176
high explosives bombs and 3,000 incendiary bombs. The city could not be evacuated because the air
raid system broke down, and 145 people were killed or injured.
Because the fire-brigade was overtaxed, 18 boys and girls created a group to guard the cathedral
around the clock from then on. Light was forbidden during air raids, and in the dark of the cathedral
the children climbed the tower stairs, hanging on to swaying railings and listening to the thunderous
explosions echoing greatly because of the cathedral's acoustics. As the attacks became heavier, the
young guardians of the cathedral helped perform the dangerous jobs of cleaning up debris and
clearing duds. In the end, the cathedral survived, despite five fires and a direct hit by a heavy bomb.
Above is a contemporary wire photo showing the devastation to the old city center describing Aachen
as an "enemy stronghold".
During the next four years, there were repeated large attacks on the cathedral city: on July 14,1943
with 294 dead, on April 11,1944 with 1.525 dead, on May 25, 1944 with 198 dead and on May
28,1944 with 167 dead. On October 21,1944, 65% of all dwellings were demolished after six long
weeks of American bombing, and hundreds more civilians died. 64 smaller bomb attacks also took
place on Aachen, and its citizens took to the shelters 1,984 times during these years. By the time
Americans occupied ancient Aachen, it was 85% destroyed by bombing. The remains of
Charlemagne were hidden in the woods beforehand by Germans hoping to protect them. The
occupying Americans later ordered a G.I.to go and bring the remains of the Emperor back, and the
soldier supposedly asked upon his return with the sack of bones, "So, where do I dump this?”
Eschweiler, above, was colonized in the Neolithic period and it was first mentioned in 828 by
Charlemagne's biographer. Weisweiler is also now a municipality in the district of Aachen. They were
both bombed in a joint British-American operation called "Operation Queen" on November 16, 1944.
1,204 heavy bombers of the 8th U.S. Air Force hit the three towns of Eschweiler, Weisweiler and
Langerwehe with 4,120 bombs, devastating the central cores of cities and small towns alike.
|Another ancient city was Aschaffenburg, called Ascapha by the Romans, who had a settlement and
station there called the Castrum. Upon the these ruins, the Franks built a castle and St. Boniface
erected a chapel and founded a monastery nearby. A stone bridge over the Main was built by
Archbishop Willigis in 989, and Adalbert made the town prosper. By 1292, a synod was held, and an
imperial diet in 1474. This town suffered greatly during the Thirty Years War. Aschaffenburg formed
part of the electorate of the Archbishop of Mainz, and in 1806, it was annexed to the duchy of
Frankfurt, then transferred to Bavaria in 1814.
In an purported attempt to destroy rail lines, 50 bombs were initially dumped on Aschaffenburg
which caused damage but did not cut the main through-lines. However, many other bombs fell in the
center and north of the town, and about 500 houses were destroyed and 1,500 badly damaged. Many
old buildings were hit, including the local castle. Johannisburg Schloss, 1605–1614, one of the most
important castles of the Renaissance, was so badly injured that it has taken over 60 years to rebuild.
It was hit by 5 high explosive bombs, and a 4,000 pound 'blockbuster' burst near by, burning out the
roof and upper stories. In the end, the town was nearly completely destroyed and its landmarks all
lost. Aschaffenburg lost hundreds of people in numerous attacks of the war and 2,000 people were
left homeless from a raid on November 21, 1944.
|2,000 year old Augsburg was named after its founder, Caesar Augustus. The ancient Roman Empire
had left its traces from 15 B.C. in many parts of Augsburg before it was driven out by German tribes
in 3 A.D. In the Middle Ages, Augsburg stood at the center of crucial trade and travel routes and it
prospered. It was also important to the religious history of Germany.
The first World War Two air raid on the church city of Augsburg took place on April 17,1942 at a
great loss to the British. Of the twelve Lancasters that took part in the raid, only five returned. 37
men died with 12 more taken as prisoners. It was mostly a military raid on industries on the outskirts.
Several more attacks took place on Augsburg proper before a devastating bomb attack as part of
"Operation Clarion" on the night of February 25,1944 which nearly completely destroyed the historic
Augsburg city center. The series of attacks began first with an assault by 199 USAAF bombers
followed by a crude, devastating British attack using 594 aircraft. They later stated that it was
"marvelously accurate." Within 80 minutes of the two bomb attacks, 309,450 deadly incendiary
bombs were dropped into the heart of Augsburg starting more than 4,600 fires.
It was 20 degrees below zero, and the water in the fire hoses was all frozen. 2,000 civilians were
killed and injured, and nearly half of the population left the city afterwards. 90,000 of them had
become homeless. The "military" damage was inconsequential. Augsburg was above all a quiet city
and many churches were centuries old. Moritzkirche, built in 1019, was the oldest. 27 other
Augsburg churches spanned the years between 1051 and 1799. Most went up in smoke. It only took
about 80 minutes for the Allies to unnecessarily destroy 2,000 years of history in one of Europe's
oldest, most historic and most benign cities. Augsburg Ruins and Rathaus Hans Holbein
|Aachen, Allgäu, Anklam, Aschaffenburg, Attendom, Augsburg
|Anklam, home of German aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal, obtained German town status in 1244,
and in 1283 became a member of the Hanseatic League. Although the town was a rather small, the
association brought wealth and prosperity wealth to Anklam. Swedish and Imperial troops battled
almost twenty years for Anklam during the Thirty Years' War, after which the town became a part of
Swedish Pomerania until 1676, when it was absorbed by Prussia. In 1713, it was plundered by the
Russian Empire. The southern parts of the town were ceded to the Kingdom of Prussia in 1720,
while the smaller part north of the Peene River remained Swedish. Anklam was a divided town until
1815, when all of Western Pomerania became Prussian. Anklam in 1650 and 1945, click below
On October 9, 1943, 352 heavy bombers of the US 8th Air Force struck industrial objects at Anklam
and later, more than 1000 U.S. B-17s and B-24s attacked the nearby airfield but then honed in on
the city center, destroying eighty percent of the city. The civilian victims of the bomb attacks were
buried in three large collective graves. Anklam was subjected to further destruction during the last
days of war when the advancing Soviets burned and leveled most of the surviving town. By 1945,
the Red Army occupied Anklam. Of the wonderful, diverse historical buildings from gabled Gothic
brick houses to Baroque half-timbered buildings, almost nothing was spared. Anklam was then
sentenced to decades of communist slavery as part of the East German state of Mecklenburg-
Vorpommern, and the town was "re-erected" in the dreary, uniform socialist style. Native Sons
|The Allgäu is an enchantingly beautiful region in Bavaria surrounded by rivers, mountains and trees.
Several of its towns and villages were bombed, most at the tail end of the war. Sonthofen im Allgäu
is the most southerly town of Germany, located in the Oberallgäu region of the Bavarian Alps and
situated between two rivers, the Ostrach and the Iller. The town is small and surrounded by forests,
fields and lakes. Sonthofen was bombed to punish Germany for having a boys' training school here
(although the training building was left alone). On February 22, 1945, the church hospital and town
bank were destroyed, and on April 29, 1945, the Catholic parish church of St. Michael was hit.
Immenstadt im Allgäu had it railway facilities destroyed on February 22, 1945 along with the
Spitalstraße, much of its old Capuchin monastery, a brewery and the local museum. There was a
total of 14 deaths. Oberstdorf im Allgäu, left, is first mentioned in 1141. It was damaged by US
bombers at the end of war. Isny im Allgäu has a thousand year history and was bombed by the US
Kempten im Allgäu is the largest city in Allgäu. The area was possibly settled originally by Celts and
later by the Romans, who called the town Cambodunum. Kempten is considered one of the oldest
urban settlements in Germany. Around 747, the first missionary cell was founded by the Irish monks
Magnus and Theodore sent from the Abbey of St. Gall in Switzerland and in the following years, the
monastery Kempten Abbey was built, the first in the Allgäu. On July 19, 1944 bombs first fell here
and there were four more 5 attacks in the war, mostly on factories.
|Attendom (see Olpe)
|Click on image