|Kiel, Kleve, Koblenz, Königsberg, Krefeld,
Landau/Pfalz, Landshut, Langerwehe and Leverkusen (click on images to enlarge)
|Kiel was founded in 1233 and granted rights in 1242. Kiel was a member of the Hanseatic League
from 1284 until it was evicted in 1518 for giving refuge to pirates. In 1431, Kiel became home to a
market for goods and money in Schleswig-Holstein, and was important until the 19th century. Kiel's
university was founded in 1665. From 1773-1864, the German town belonged to a Danish King, but
he ruled Holstein as a subject of the Holy Roman Empire through a personal union, so the town
remained independent of Denmark, and still belonged to Germany. Despite its rocky politics, Kiel
always had one true ruler: the Sea.
Because of its status as a naval port and submarine producer, Kiel was heavily bombed by the Allies
in WW Two, destroying not only 83% of the industrial areas, but the old center city itself by 80%
and the residential sector 72%. On August 17, 1944, 900 tons of bombs were dropped on the city,
and ten days later another 1,448 tons of bombs. At the very tail end of the war, on April 3, 1945,
700 bombers attacked the city again and dropped 2,200 tons of bombs on its remains. Altogether the
city had 90 air raids, which destroyed 36,000 (58%)dwellings and killed 3,000 civilians. There was
additionally an enormous inflow of refugees from the east, more than in any other European city,
and the pre-war population grew by eight times.
|Koblenz was one of the military posts established by Drusus around 9 B.C. Later, it was frequently
the residence of the Frankish kings. In 1018, after receiving a charter, Emperor Heinrich II. gave the
city to the Archbishop of Trier, and it remained in their possession. In 1249, it was surrounded by
new walls by Archbishop Arnold II and future Archbishops built and strengthened the fortress of
Ehrenbreitstein to dominate the city, a city always coveted by the French. Part of the League of
Rhenish cities, Koblenz gained wealth and prestige until the Thirty Years' War.
Philipp Christoph, elector of Trier, surrendered Ehrenbreitstein to the French, and in 1632, the town
received an imperial garrison, soon overrun by the Swedes who handed the city back over to the
French. In 1632, imperial forces succeeded in retaking Koblenz. In 1688, the city was again besieged
by the French, but they only managed to leave a trail of fire and destruction. In 1786, Clement
Wenceslaus of Saxony, elector of Trier, took up his residence and improved the city, which soon
drew in French victims of religious persecution. By the congress of Vienna it was assigned to Prussia
in 1822. Above: Koblenz in the 16th, 19th century and in 1945
Especially at the end of the war, Koblenz was attacked repeatedly for no valid military or strategic
reason. There were no important war industries and even during the attacks, the transportation
facilities of the city were not the priority targets, the civilian population was. The heavy air raids of
1944 and 1945 of both the US and British destroyed 87 % of the historic, 1,000 year-old inner city.
The bombardment of Koblenz left thousands of dead and wounded and 2 million cubic meters of
debris and rubble. Of the 94,417 inhabitants in 1943, only 9,000 remained in the city at the end of
war, living for weeks in large concrete shelters, having lost even rudimentary necessities. She was
assaulted until 1945 when the French occupied the city.
|Krefeld was part of the Holy Roman Empire in 69AD. Through the centuries, the town was
dominated by Franks, the Earl of Moers, Prussia and Napoleon. It owes it's modern name to the
Mennonites who came there as skilled weavers of silk and velvet from France in the 17th century. In
1683, thirteen mostly Quaker and Mennonites families from Krefeld were the first close group of
Germans who emigrated to America. They created Germantown, Philadelphia.
War met the small city of Krefeld on the night of June 21, 1943, when 700 RAF bombers dumped
enough incendiary bombs to destroy most of the historic city center.
|Landau in the Pfalz is first mentioned in 1268 and it was elevated to the rank of city in 1291. In
1324, Ludwig the Bavarian passed it to the Bishop of Speyer under whose control it remained until
1511. It was passed back and forth to various factions, and in brutality and misery of the Thirty
Years War The number of inhabitants dropped from 2,500 to 1,500
Since then, there was constant friction with the French. The city was rebuilt after it was burned
down in 1689, and new buildings and straight roads were designed around 1700. It went from France
to the Habsburgs, briefly, until it was put under Bavarian control in 1816.
The old fortress was reinforced. In 1789, the French Revolution spread into Landau, and a Liberty
column and Guillotine were erected at the parade ground, renamed “place de légalité.” It went from
France to the Habsburgs, briefly, until it was put under Bavarian control in 1816.
Heavy bombing by the Allies in 1944 and 1945 destroyed 40 per cent of the old town. Thomas Nast
|The Duchy of Kleve, which from late Carolingian times spread to both sides of the lower Rhine
bordering on the Netherlands. In 1521, Anne of Kleve's father, Duke Johann III of Kleve, inherited
the duchies of Jülich and Berg and the county of Ravensberg. Kleve means ‘cliff ’ and its 11th
century castle, Die Schwanenburg, set atop the cliff.
The story of Percival’s son, Lohengrin, was centered here according to local legend. In 1609, the
male line of Kleve became extinct, and in 1614, Kleve was aquired by Brandenburg along with Mark
and Ravensberg; the Palatinate-Neuburg line of the Bavarian house of Wittelsbach took Jülich and
Berg. Kleve was held by France during the French Revolutiona and in 1815 was returned to Prussia.
Although Kleve provided Henry the 8th of England one of his many wives, there was no
sentimentality during World War 2 when British Bomber Command instructed 285 of its aircraft to
plaster 1,384 tons of high explosive on the ancient and historic town, destroying over 90% of its
medieval buildings. Nothing substantial of the medieval city remains today. Kleve claimed to be the
most completely destroyed town in Germany of its size.
|Leverkusen is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia on the eastern bank of the Rhine, half way between
Cologne and Düsseldorf. First mentioned in 1145, it belonged to the Duchy of Berg since the Middle
On the night of June 5, 1940, the first air attack took place, but on the railway and factories. The city
was then subjected to repeated bombing throughout the war. Finally, in August and November 1943,
Leverkusen was carpet bombed. The worst attack was on October 26,1944, when a total of 1,017
Spring loaded bombs and about 12,000 fire bombs fell, killing 124 people and causing enormous
material damage. Between December 1944 and March 1945, many more lives were lost and greater
|The Bavarian city of Landshut and Trausnitz castle were founded in 1204 by Duke Ludwig I.
Landshut was already a Wittelsbach residence by 1231, and in 1255, Landshut also became the
capital of Lower Bavaria. Duke Heinrich XVI was the first of three famous rich dukes who reigned
Bayern-Landshut in the 15th century. The others were Duke Ludwig and Duke Georg, whose
wedding with Royal Polish Princess Jadwiga Jagiellon in 1475 was celebrated in one of the most
splendid festivals of the Middle Ages. In the 16th century, Landshut was a center of arts and culture
and home to famous craftsmen, printers, scuptors and artists. The city has always been of national
importance because of its predominantly Gothic architecture within the historic city center. Peter
Apian (mathematician, geographer, astronomer & cartographer) created the astronomical data for the
sundial on the Trausnitz.
Landshut was almost spared destruction until the tail end of war when, like so many others, it met
needless ruination. Fortunately, most of the downtown historic district was not destroyed, but there
were several attacks on the outskirts, including a severe bombing raid on March 19, 1945 which
destroyed the railway station and its surrounding residential neighborhood, churches and farms.
|Langerwehe ( see under Düren )
|The RAF first attacked the city on the night of August 26/27, 1944. The 174 Avro Lancasters flew
950 miles from their bases to bomb the city. Three nights later on August 29/30, 189 Lancasters of
No. 5 Group struck again, dropping 480 tons of bombs on the center of the city. Bomber Command
estimated that 20% of all the industry and 41% of all the housing in Königsberg was destroyed in the
attack. Further destruction was brought about during the 3 month siege of Königsberg by the Soviet
Red Army in early 1945 which ended on April 9 with the surrender of the local German army. The
city was almost completely destroyed. What wasn't bombed was bulldozed. Königsberg