German tragedy of destiny

Heilbronn

 

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As the former imperial city, Heilbronn had a wealth of architectural history from the Renaissance, the Late Gothic and the Rococo era.

 

The first attack took place on 10 September 1944 - not as a result of direct planning but as a weather-conditioned alternative target for the aircraft plants in GŁnzburg. Here, the railway yard and part of the inner city were hard hit. But that was only the prelude to a much worse catastrophe.

 

The second major strike met the people of Heilbronn on 4 December 1944. The small town had no considerable industry but only agriculture and viticulture. Maybe the sole purpose was the murdering of as many people as possible.

 

Therefore, there was no air shelter but only the weak basement of the historic half-timbered houses.

 

The incendiary bombs ignited a huge sea of flame in the narrow streets that annihilated five square kilometers of the old medieval town.

 

6,500 dead

 

The heat and smoke compiled a murderous mixture. Thousands burned beyond recognition. Many died in their basements poisoned by carbon monoxide.

 

80 percent of the city were completely destroyed. Compared to the proportion of the population Heilbronn was the second among the war-ravaged cities with the greatest lost of lives: 91 people in a thousand died owing to the air strikes.