|Hameln, Hamich, Hamm, Hannover, Hanau, Hattingen, Heilbronn, Heinsberg, Heligoland, Herne,
Hildesheim, Homberg, Hückelhoven, Hürtgen, Immenstadt, Ingolstadt,
Innsbruck, Isny and Itzehoe
|Hameln (Hamelin) rests on the river Weser in Lower Saxony as the gateway to the surrounding
Weserbergland mountains. Around 851 AD, a monastery was founded here, which grew into a village and
then a town by the 12th century. Hameln was a minor member of the Hanseatic League and the town
became quite wealthy in the mid-17th century. Hameln's four fortresses made it the heaviest protected city
in the Kingdom of Hanover until the time of Napoleon. The medieval folk tale of "Der Rattenfänger von
Hameln" a.k.a. "The Pied Piper" originated here.
Several small airstrikes were directed at Hamelin in 1940 resulted in only minor property damage. The first
concentrated attack was on June, 1941 when a British bomber night attack hit residential houses and killed
24 people. In July of 1944, the RAF attacked again, hitting another few houses, killing 20 more civilians.
In March and April 1945, there were constant, increasing threats.
On Wednesday, March 14, 1945, the sky was beautifully blue at lunchtime. Many of the people coming
and going to work or shopping were at the railway station in hopes of catching the midday trains. They did
not know the trains has stopped running in the area because of bomber activity. When enemy bombers
were first spotted over the horizon, they flew in the direction of Hanover, and the people breathed a sigh
of relief, but 12 British bombers suddenly reappeared from the east, gunning for the crowded train station.
People had no time to react. Immediately, bombs rained their death on the station grounds, dropping 93
spring- loaded bombs and 1200 incendiaries.
Some 200 deaths were reported at the train station and 60 from the surrounding residential area. One
entire family, a mother with her six children, was killed and twelve other families lost two or more family
members in the attack. There was no colorful stranger to lead them out of town to safety. 700 people were
left homeless. The victims were laid in long rows of the dead on the pavement opposite the local hotel. For
3 years, suitcases, bags and personal belongings of the victims were unclaimed, and desperate relatives
searched them for clues as to the fates of their loved ones. Just after the war, Hameln prison was used by
the British Occupation Forces for the detention of German prisoners and more than 200 of whom,
including women, were hanged after quick, mock trials. Famed British hangman Albert Pierrepoint was
recruited for the messy job. The old prison is now a fancy hotel.
|Hamm is on the Lippe River. Founded in 1226, Hamm was once a member of the Hanseatic League as
well. It passed to Cleves in the 14th century and then to Brandenburg in 1614. Hamm's history is full of
sadness from plague, flooding, fire and the harshness inflicted by the French in Napoleonic times. It
rebounded in the 19th century with the railroad.
55 Allied air raids destroyed 60 % of the old part of Hamm, starting with devastating daylight air raids
from March 4 and 6, 1943 that killed 154 people. The first large-scale attack on the entire city followed in
the evening hours of April 22, 1944 by 750 bombers and 100 fighters dropping 8,000 high explosive
bombs and 3500 incendiary bombs. Within 45 minutes, the city was a sea flame and a desert of rubble.
While a marshaling yard was hit, so were the residential areas. 240 buildings were destroyed and 350
heavily damaged. 300 civilians died in this attack. On May 31, 1944 another large scale attack followed,
killing with 200 more civilians. Hamm lost 1,029 civilians to bombing.
|In 1170, medieval Hannover, on the banks of the river Leine, became a city and by the 14th century was a
member of the Hanseatic League. Its city walls, main gates and churches were built in the 14th century. It
was the capital of the Duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg from 1636. In 1692, the duke received the
additional title of elector and was thus known as the "Elector of Hanover." His descendants later became
not only Kings of Hannover, but Kings of England, the first of which was George 1, who ascended the
British throne in 1714. Three kings of Great Britain were at the same time Electoral Princes of Hannover.
From 1803, Hannover was controlled by France for ten years. Napoleon installed 30,000 French soldiers
in Hanover who looted and plundered the city and disbanded the Hannover army. As a result, a great
number of soldiers of Hannover eventually emigrated to England and joined the King's German Legion
which later played an important role in the victory at the Battle of Waterloo.
Since the beginning of the war, there were 428 raids on old Hannover. In October of 1943, the British
dropped 3,000 high- explosives bombs, 28,000 phosphorus bombs and 230,000 staff incendiary bombs,
destroying 4,000 houses and killing 1,245 humans in one night. Witnesses reported later that when the
scorching fire wind blew, people frantically fled on pavement which was actually on fire. Time fused
bombs from three of the attacking airplanes still released their deadly charges for up to 144 hours after the
attack. Ten days later, another 23,051 tons of bombs fell on Hannover, and left 6.3 million cubic meters of
rubble. The Ebstorfer map of the world was the largest and most contents-rich map of the Middle Ages,
created between 1230 and 1250 and was also the oldest map of Germany. It was destroyed along with the
federal state library in Hannover.
|The birthplace of the Brothers Grimm, Hanau, east of Frankfurt, was first mentioned in 1143 and grew
into a city by 1303. At the end of the 16th century, Count Philipp Ludwig II let in Walloons, Protestant
refugees from the Netherlands, who founded their own settlement, bringing jewellery making skills with
them which helped Hanau evolve in to a gold and silver makers' city.
It was unnecessarily destroyed by British airstrikes on March 19, 1945 a mere few days before it was
inevitably taken by the US Army. 85% of the city was blown up. The number of its inhabitants sank to
under 10,000. Hanau lost its most important monuments and the medieval section of the city was burned
into oblivion. The ancient city castle was ruined and the city theater were in pieces. The historical Walloon
church stands today as a ruin. More than 30% of the inhabitants are foreigners.
|It was in 1248 that the counties around the Brenner pass unified. Duke Friedrich IV built the castle Schloss
Tirol at Meran, and Innsbruck became the capital of all Tirol in 1429. Emperor Maximilian I turned the
city into a vibrant, thriving cultural and financial center in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Tirol line of the
Habsburgs died out in 1665, but Maria Theresa helped the old city retain its glory.
In 1919, the Allied victors at Versailles vindictively severed South Tirol from its homeland and gave it to
Italy. During the Second World War, all of the Austrian Tirol suffered massive damage from air attacks.
From 1943 until April, 1945, Innsbruck experienced 21 bomb attacks and suffered heavy damage. By May
1945, Innsbruck lost hundreds of civilians to the Allied bombing. The Innsbruck cathedral, with its domes
and Baroque interior featuring a high altar painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, the Bahnhof and
Maria-Theresienstrasse were destroyed. 20,000 tons of bombs were dropped on Vorarlberg and north and
South Tirol, killing 1500 civilians. Over 6,849 sorties were flown over targets from Verona to the Brenner
Pass with 10,267 tons of bombs dropped. The Allies made sure that South Tirol remained severed from
her cultural and historic roots with Austria.
Andreas Hofer The Manesse Codex and Walther von der Vogelweide Michael Gaismair
|Innsbruck (& Tirol)
|The events unleashed by the military force in just the first few months of War were strong enough to
change weather conditions in Northern Europe, resulting in the coldest winter for 110 years. Tens of
thousands of massive explosions from bombs and depth charges were employed since September 1, 1939
as well as a number of aerial bombs released over the sea, shelling, anti-aircraft fire and other activities that
confused the normal pattern of life at sea to such an extent that it quickly reacted by cooling out too early
for the forthcoming winter season. Arctic air was then allowed to penetrate Northern Europe without
resistance. The war at sea actually modified the weather, sending Europe into a temporary Ice Age. The
first British bomb in the war dropped on German soil was here.
To Kill an Island The Helgoland Light Pirates
|There are traces of stone age human settlement in and around Heilbronn on the fertile banks of the
Necker, sites of the Bronze age within the city and evidence that ancient Celts mined salt in the region.
The Romans then built villas and lived here until overtaken by the Alamanni in 260AD. The area became
part of the Frankish realm between the 4th and 7th centuries, and the present town grew. Heilbronn is first
mentioned in 741 and was incorporated into the Hohenstaufen Empire in 1225. In the 13th century most
of the town became part of the Deutsche Orden. City status was given to Heilbronn in the 13th century,
and by the 14th century it beckoned growth and prosperity. Heilbronn became an Imperial Free City in
1371, and was eyed by the house of Württemberg. The city prospered in the 15th century, and many of
the city's buildings were erected then. In 1528, the Augsburg Confession was accepted by the city council
and residents and the Heilbronn Catechism of 1536 is the second oldest catechism in the Protestant
Church. Heilbronn in the 16th century.
The city suffered terribly in the Thirty Years War, and was later reoccupied by the French for several
months in 1688 during the French Revolutionary Wars. Heilbronn grew again in the 18th century, and
played host to notables such as Schiller and Goethe. The Duke of Württemberg had lost his holdings on
the left bank of the Rhine to the French, but received the right bank in compensation, and Heilbronn
together with other formerly Imperial Free Cities became part of Württemberg in 1803. Heilbronn was
industrialized in the mid-19th century. It was the second largest city in Württemberg by the 1930's and its
citizens enjoyed industry and prosperity. Their port turned into an important transfer station on the Neckar
and one of the 10 largest interior ports in the country. This would unfortunately target the city for an
intentionally crafted firestorm: Heilbronn Fried
|Hildesheim (see under Featured Cities)
|Ingolstadt is an ancient university town located on the banks of the Danube in the center of Bavaria.
Spared bombing until the beginning of 1945, 650 people met their death from the first attacks in January by
the 640 long-range American bombers. 782 fighters dropping 480 spring loaded bombs and 330 fire bombs.
70% of the buildings were damaged and 22 people dead. On March 1, the Americans struck again and
dumped 603.3 tons of explosives and fire bombs in just 4 minutes from a height of about 5,500 meters in
three successive waves, killing 133 more people and wounding hundreds. By now, large parts of the
historic city were in ruins. Yet, on March 4, 1945, they struck again... and then on April 5th again,
dropping 1,575 Spring loaded bombs with a total load of 621.4 tons as well as numerous propaganda
pamphlets. 92 more civilians were killed, 56 seriously injured and 170 left homeless.
On April 9, 1945, no allied air attack on Ingolstadt was planned, but as 212 American "Flying Fortresses"
were returning from another mission, ten of them made a surprise u-turn and decided to dump their loads
on Ingolstadt. From an altitude of about 7000 meters, they dumped 29 tons of explosives and fire bombs
on the antique Augustinian church with its adjoining Franciscan monastery. 73 bodies were later pulled
from its ruins, mostly refugees from Pomerania who had fled to the church for protection. Only one young
woman, after ten hours of being trapped, could be saved. 100 elderly people taking refuge in their home
also died. This attack destroyed the municipal theater, the Rathaus square and numerous other residential
and commercial buildings.
Attack after attack then followed: on April 10, 11, 16 and 20th, each successively bigger, more violent and
destructive. The residents were no more than trapped rats in a cage, unable to change their fates. On the
21st, 30 U.S.bombers attacked in B-17s in five waves over the surviving urban area, dropping firebombs
and more high-explosives on the defenseless city and even its rural surroundings. 2,000 people were now
homeless .Yet, even then, U.S. low flying bombers picked off any moving life forms below and at least 28
deaths by their shelling were recorded.
|Herne, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia in the Ruhr area directly between the cities of Bochum and
Gelsenkirchen, was like most other cities in the region, a tiny village until the 19th century.
The villages of the Ruhr area were targeted by the RAF on June 4, 1940, early in World War II. Three
high-explosive bombs were dropped and one house was damaged
|Hattingen, at the south bank of River Ruhr in the southern of the Ruhr Area, was first mentioned in 1396
when the Duke of Mark granted permission to build a city wall. It has a picturesque Old Town with
half-timbered houses originating from the 14th to 16th century, but it was not spared bombing.
On February 13, 1945, Hattinger station was the target Allied bombers, and it was later occupied by
French troops. The war did not end for Hattingen, Germany: a Second World War bomb exploded in
September of 2008, injuring 60 people.
|Homberg is a small town in northern Hesse with about 15,000 inhabitants, and it was founded by the
Hessian-Thuringian Landgraves. It's first documented mention as a town was in 1231.The town's name
comes from the Hohenburg, the castle above Homberg. The well is Germany's third deepest castle well.
Allied bombing killed 70 civilians.
|Itzehoe is the oldest town in Holstein. Its nucleus was a castle, built in 809 by Egbert, one of
Charlemagne's counts, to protect them from marauding Danes. In October, 1941, nine Allied bombs were
dropped on Itzehoe. From July 1943, after the attacks on Hamburg and Kiel, homeless people streamed
into the pristine area and the population of the city climbed. Then in 1944, refugees from the East flooded
in. In May 1945, almost 12,000 more people lived in the city than in May 1943, resulting in an extreme
|Heinsberg in the west of North Rhine-Westphalia is another victim of bombing. Until World War II, a
medieval mill stream flowed through the town. Following bomb attacks, the creek bed was destroyed and
has never been repaired. The grave of the Dukes of Heinsberg from the early 15th century were
destroyed as well. Heinsberg and Geilenkirchen merged in 1932.
The 8th U.S. Air Force was to bomb the fortifications around Eschweiler and Aldenhoven, while the
medium bombers of the 9th U.S. Air Force were assigned to the second line of defense around Jülich and
Langerwehe. At the same time the RAF Bomber Command was to hit the traffic centres of Jülich and
Düren hard; the smaller towns of Heinsberg, Erkelenz and Hückelhoven were designated as secondary
targets. The offensive began on November 16, 1944. 1,204 heavy bombers of the 8th U.S. Air Force hit
Eschweiler, Weisweiler and Langerwehe with 4,120 bombs, while 339 fighter bombers of the 9th U.S. Air
Force attacked Hamich, Hürtgen and Gey with 200 tons of bombs. At the same time 467 Halifax and
Lancaster Bombers attacked Düren and Jülich; 180 British bombers hit Heinsberg.
Hückelhoven is today a town in the district Heinsberg, named for its village founder Reinhard von
Huckilhoven in the 13th century. There was a wonderful old castle first mentioned in 1248, Schloß
Rurich. The town was bombed on November 16, 1944 during Operation Queen, a joint British-American
bomb operation carried out between Aachen and the Rur river in November 1944.The castle above
survived the immense destruction caused by "Operation Queen" only to be hit by a grenade attack on
Christmas of 1944, which caused immense, and in part irreparable damage. The valuable castle library of
over 18,000 volumes was thoroughly looted by American GIs.
|Isny (see under Allgäu)
|Immenstadt (see under Allgäu)
|Hückelhoven ( see under Heinsburg )
|Hamich ( see under Düren )
|Hürtgen ( see under Düren )