Geoff Walden

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Würzburg, Part 2

Würzburg During the War

  

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Some of the Würzburg wartime industry centered on manufacture of parts for U-boot submarines. This industry was located along the Main River, and the buildings were substantially destroyed during the 1945 bombings.  (Stadtarchiv Würzburg)

 

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On the left is an RAF reconnaissance photo, taken after the bombing on 16 March 1945. The burned-out shell of the Residenz can be seen near the lower left. Recovered phosphorus (incendiary) bombs that did not explode are displayed in the "Gedenkraum (Memorial Room) 16.März 1945" in the Rathaus.  (Royal Air Force photo / Stadtarchiv Würzburg)

 

Other bombs in the display include 250 to 500-pound high explosive types, and a huge British HC 4000-pound "Cookie" block-buster bomb.

 

These photos from the United States Strategic Bombing Survey show (left) the beginning of an 8th Air Force attack on 23 February 1945 - the bombs are not yet hitting, but the smoke markers have been dropped on the target of the rail yards (white trails). The Residenz is in the right-center of the photo, with the Main River at the bottom. On the right, Würzburg as it was seen in April 1945. The severely-damaged St. Kilian's Cathedral is in the center.  (National Archives, RG 342-FH, 3A22668, 3A22667)

 

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The Würzburg Hauptbahnhof (main train station) burns after a February 1945 bombing attack. The train station was later rebuilt, but in a more modern style.  (Stadtarchiv Würzburg)

 

Façade of the Würzburg Hauptbahnhof as seen in June 1945, after the destruction.  (author's collection)

 

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Soldiers of the U.S. 42nd Infantry Division cleared the rubble of Würzburg on 3-4 April 1945. These soldiers are moving out of the Dominikanerplatz on the narrow Innerer Graben street. Compare the street lamp seen in the distance in the period photo, just above the GIs' heads in the center, to those seen in the right foreground and the center distance in the modern view.  (U.S. Army photo / Stadtarchiv Würzburg)  Click here to visit a page concerning the fighting west of Würzburg, during the American advance from the Rhein.

 

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This GI has found a disabled German Jadgpz.38 tank destroyer "Hetzer" at the corner of Sanderring and Münzstraße. (Dr. Hans Oppelt, ed., "Würzburger Chronik," Würzburg, Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh, 1947 (published under American Military Government Information Control)

 

GIs drive their jeep down Sanderring, toward the Hetzer seen in the photo above. The original ornate building on the corner has been replaced, but the same courthouse building can still be seen in the distance.  (U.S. Army photo)

 

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This photo, taken by U.S. Army soldier Jerry Pinkowski, shows the burned out Würzburg Residenz.  (courtesy Scott Pinkowski, Lost Images of World War II - visit Scott's page for other then-and-now views of war torn Würzburg)

Same view today. The magnificent 18th century rococo palace of the Prince-Bishops of Würzburg has been wonderfully restored. (see also below)

 

The Residenz in July 1945, as seen through a GI's camera lens.  (author's collection)

 

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The Baroque mansion "Falkenhaus" is another example of the wonderful post-war rebuilding of Würzburg.  (Stadtarchiv Würzburg)

 

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The Baroque Bishops Palace (Hof Conti) was badly damaged during the bombing, and completely restored.  (Stadtarchiv Würzburg)

 

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The Gestapo headquarters building in Würzburg was located at Ludwigstraße 2. The building was badly damaged by bombs, and was not rebuilt in the same style.  (Stadtarchiv Würzburg)

 

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A GI guards the famous Alte Main Brücke (Old Main River Bridge) and the rubble of the Würzburg Altstadt (old city). His guard post is at the base of the statue of Saint Colonatus, one of 12 statues on the bridge (a headless Pat. Franconia appears at the left). The domeless spire of the Neubaukirche church, nearly obscured by post-war construction in the modern view, appears in the right distance.  (U.S. Army photo)

 

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Three views of the Alte Main Brücke and the Würzburg Altstadt (old city) - before the war (left), after the U.S. occupation in 1945 (center), and today (right). These photos were all taken from the outer works of the Marienberg Fortress.  (left - Dr. Hans Oppelt, ed., "Würzburger Chronik," Würzburg, Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh, 1947 (published under American Military Government Information Control); center - Stadtarchiv Würzburg)

 

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Soldiers of the U.S. 42nd Infantry Division (the "Rainbow" Division), which had captured Würzburg on 4 April 1945, cross a temporary iron trestle erected on the Löwenbrücke bridge to span a portion that was blown up by retreating Germans. Not visible at this scale, but seen on the original photo above, is painted graffiti in white letters on the lower portion of the Marienberg Fortress, closest to the river - "Heil Hitler!"
In the second photo below, men of the 431st Anti-Aircraft Battalion guard the river crossings with quad-50 caliber machineguns. The "Heil Hitler!" on the Marienberg Fortress has been replaced with "42nd RAINBOW INFANTRY DIVISION."  (42nd "Rainbow" Infantry Division. Baton Rouge, LA, Army & Navy Publishing Co., 1946)

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This photo shows a closer view of the iron span put in place by U.S. Army engineers,
to replace part of the Alte Main Brücke that had been blown by the Nazis during their retreat.  (U.S. Army)

 

German POWs march to the rear, guarded by the crew of a Sherman tank. The blown span of the Löwenbrücke can be seen in the background, with the Marienberg Fortress on the hill behind. The original parts of the bridge still show several marks from projectiles fired in 1945.  (U.S. Army photo)

 

The Löwenbrücke (now called the Ludwigsbrücke) was named for the bronze lion statues at each corner. Some of these also show the remains of war damage - the lion seen from behind, with several nicks and holes from bullets, is the one on the left in the first photo. (Thanks to Randy Waldron for pointing this out to me!)

 

The bombed and burned Festung Marienberg in July 1945.  (author's collection)

 

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Most of the bombing casualties were buried in mass graves in the city cemetery, near the military monument. The 1945 wooden markers were eventually replaced by a single large memorial monument, seen in the photo below. This memorial was by Würzburg sculptor Fried Heuler, who also designed the Würzburg war memorial. (These photos were taken on the 60 anniversary of the bombing of Würzburg, 16 March 2005.)  (Stadtarchiv Würzburg)

 

   This sculpture "Death by Bombing" in front of the St. Johannis Church honors the memory of the bombing victims.

   The work was a gift to Würzburg from the Russian artist Vadim Sigur.

 

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  This 1946 view of the Marktplatz shows the rebuilding in progress. The fallen rubble has been cleared from the streets, and is being hauled away by a Trommelzug (rubble train), a common sight in most German postwar cities.  (Stadtarchiv Würzburg)

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Under new management - a Bundeswehr parade in the Residenzplatz in 1965. Most of the Residenz exterior had been rebuilt by that time, but a large pile of rubble can still be seen in the courtyard, behind the Franconia fountain. (Compare to the 1945 photo by Jerry Pinkowski, above.)  (Stadtarchiv Würzburg)

 

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One of the M-47 tanks "on guard" at the Residenzplatz. The photo in the first group above was shot from the balcony of the bank building in the background of these photos.  (Stadtarchiv Würzburg)

 

 

Links

Bloody Battle for Wuerzburg  --  http://www.military.com/Content/MoreContent?file=PRwurzburg

Würzburg Digital - page about the US Army in Würzburg  --  http://www.wuerzburg-photos.de/barracks.html 

National Socialist Buildings in Würzburg - guide with maps and photos (in German)  --  
http://www.fkg-wuerzburg.de/schule/faecher/geschichte/facharb/kiesel/data/index.htm

Click here for a MapQuest map link to Würzburg.

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All contents copyright © 2000-2014, Geoffrey R. Walden; all rights reserved.  All photos taken by or 
from the collection of Geoffrey R. Walden, except where specifically noted.  Please respect my property rights,
and the rights of others who have graciously allowed me to use their photos on this page,
and do not copy these photos or reproduce them in any other way.

This page is intended for historical research only, and no political or philosophical aims should be assumed. 
Nothing on this page should be construed as advice or directions to trespass on private or posted property.

This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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