|On May 30, 1968 at 11AM, the church, which had survived the vicious Allied
bombings of Leipzig, was destroyed. The communist leadership of Paul
Fröhlich and Walter Ulbricht had made the decision on "ideological" grounds
and left only seven days to prepare for the demolition and rescue of artifacts
from the church. A weeping crowd of Leipzigers gathered to watch one of their
most precious monuments be blown up off of the avenue which had been
renamed "Karl Marx Platz". The rubble was cleared and piled at the edge of the
city where it is now covered by a small hill with a small wooden cross which
reads, "Paulinerkirche 1968." (move mouse over image, left)
|Portions of a description of Leipzig from a 1913 Encyclopedia:
|Leipzig is one of the most enterprising and prosperous of German towns, and in point of trade and
industries ranks among German cities immediately after Berlin and Hamburg. It consists of the old,
or inner city, surrounded by a wide and pleasant promenade laid out on the site of the old
fortifications, and of the very much more extensive inner and outer suburbs.
|On the north-west the town is bordered by the fine public park and woods of the Rosenthal, and on
the west by the Johanna Park and by pleasant groves leading along the banks of the river Pleisse.
The old town, with its narrow streets and numerous houses of the 16th and 17th centuries, with their
high- pitched roofs, preserves much of its quaint medieval aspect. The market square, lying almost in
its centre, is of great interest. Behind the market square and the main street lie a labyrinth of narrow
streets inter- connected by covered courtyards and alleys, with extensive warehouses and cellars. The
whole, in the time of the great fairs, when every available place is packed with merchandise and
thronged with a motley crowd, presents the semblance of an oriental bazaar.
|Leipzig has some interesting monuments; on the market square, statues of Goethe, Leibnitz, Gellert,
J. Sebastian Bach, Schumann, Hahnemann, the homeopathist, and Bismarck.The city has a large
number of literary, scientific and artistic institutions.
|One of the most important is the museum, which contains about 400 modern paintings, a large
number of casts, pieces of original sculpture and a well-arranged collection of drawings and
engravings. The collection of the historical society and the ethnographical and industrial art
collections in Grassi Museum are also of considerable interest. The museum was erected with part of
the munificent bequest made to the city by Dominic Grassi in 1831. As a musical centre Leipzig is
known all over the world for its excellent conservatorium, founded in 1843. The series of concerts
given annually in the Gewandhaus is also of worldwide reputation, and the operatic stage of Leipzig
is deservedly ranked among the best (end)
|Close to the old Rathaus is Auerbachs Hof, built about 1530 and interesting as being immortalized in
Goethe's Faust. It has a curious old wine vault (Keller) which contains a series of mural paintings of
the 16th century, representing the legend on which the play is based.
|Between August, 1942 and April, 1945 altogether 24 air raids were flown against Leipzig, and they
cost over 5,000 civilian lives, yet a small number in comparison to most German cities. However,
this figure was probably grossly underestimated and it did not include thousands of refugees.
In the worst attack, the RAF opted to use the lethal mix of 50% high explosive and 50%
incendiaries. The “bomber stream” of over 500 aircraft menaced the sky, dropping 90,000 staff
incendiary bombs and over 1,000 liquid incendiary bombs. 5,000 fires erupted at once, mostly in the
city center and the historical old part of town, making it impossible to control. The major roads were
The entire historic city center burned. An attack by over 400 US bombers polished off what was left
of the city, any surviving cultural facilities as well as hospitals and science enterprises, the esteemed
Leipzig university and 78 clinic and hospital buildings, the oldest theatre Schauspielhaus, the famous
crystal palace, the municipal library as well as 17 Leipzig school buildings. The entire ancient book
center was lost. But it was not over yet. Even though the city was in its last gasps, 820 RAF
bombers decided to paw at the dead mouse of a city in another attack. Knowing that refugees from
the east had since fled there in panic and fear, the Americans joined in with 2,000 bombers. On
February 27,1945, over 700 American B-17 bombers attacked again, and yet again on April 6th and
The British then pounced again on the easy prey, on April 10,1945 with 230 bombers,and on April
11 with 95 bombers. One fifth of the native inhabitants, over 140,000 humans, were homeless and
shocked, and along with confused refugees were all ripe for the Soviet domination the Allies had
planned. Of 221,178 dwellings, 28,178 were completely destroyed and 93,000 were damaged, thus
20 per cent of the native Leipzig inhabitants had become homeless. Over 4,000 non residential
buildings were destroyed by the last attacks as well, among them fifty six schools, several hospitals,
nine churches, several theatres, the art museum, and the main building of the university. The city
hall and the historical museums were heavily damaged, the historic houses from the middle ages lost.
More than three quarters of the historic printing district with its printing and publishing houses,
bookshops and book and the book museum, were wholly obliterated. The city famous for its book
arts lay in ruins. Over 50,000 books and rare manuscripts burned. On April 18,1945, units of the
US army took over and "liberated" the city just long enough to hand it over to the Soviets, horrifying
the entrapped local citizens and the refugees who had just fled from the Soviet invasions in the east.
|The Last Chapter of the City of Books
|The Construction of the Paulinerkirche, a model of Gothic church architecture, began in 1228 and
the church stood for over 700 years with the University of Leipzig. It was extensively renovated in
1900 and contained many historic and artistic artifacts, including a favorite organ of Bach.