As a major
industrial and commercial city of the German Reich, it
was bombed quite often.
Through the western
location of Cologne the raids began very early and were
extremely violent, particularly on
2 March 1941,
12 August 1941,
12 December 1941,
14 February 1942,
14 March 1942,
6 April 1942,
30/31 May 1942,
3 February 1943,
15 February 1943,
27 February 1943,
16/17 June 1943,
29 June 1943,
4 July 1943,
9 July 1943,
5 October 1944,
14 October 1944,
27 October 1944,
30 October 1944,
6 January 1945,
2 March 1945.
were the attacks on 30 and 31 May 1942. With 1,000
bombers the British Air Force tried for the first time
its new strategy of large-area bombardment.
864 high explosive
bombs, 11,000 incendiary bombs, 20 air mines and more
than 1,000 phosphorus incendiary bombs and phosphorus
canisters were dropped. This huge blazing fire started
12,000 individual fires which united in 1,700 major
fires. The heat burned the tubes of the firemen before
they reached the fires. The pilots of the next bombing
wave could see the volcano-like glow of Cologne already
from the North Sea.
Nearly 500 people
fell victim to this attack, many dead still had the
greenish phosphorus track on the burnt bodies. Whole
neighborhoods were reduced to rubble and ashes. 14,000
residential and commercial buildings, mainly in the
inner city, were destroyed.
On the night of 28
to 29 June, the day of Peter and Paul, the civilian
population of Cologne experienced the next annihilating
blow. Again, a huge torch was lit on Cologne. The
firestorm was so intense that the hot air flown upward
sucked the oxygen out of the mouth. 4,377 victims were
burned, suffocated or were ripped apart by the bombs.
The Town Hall, the Walraff-Richartz-Museum, the
Decorative Arts Museum and the Gürzenich were destroyed.
The number of homeless people rose to 230,000.
Although the inner
city and suburbs were nothing but ruins and ashes, the
ordeal was not over for the Cologne population. In 1944,
a further 88 air strikes were launched against the city.
In autumn and winter, in the so-called transport
offensive, ports, railway stations and bridges were
Report of a U.S.
As a transportation
hub with major bridges, Cologne was repeatedly heavily
bombed. The Mülheim Bridge was on 14 October 1944, the
Rodenkirchen Bridge on 14 January 1945 and the
Hindenburg Bridge on 28 February 1945 destroyed.
On 2 March 1945,
shortly before the marching in of the U.S. forces, the
ruins and rubble were plowed a last time, for safety's
sake. During this attack they succeeded in annihilating
the last remaining old church of St. George.
In summary, the
attacks on the almost two thousand years old city killed
20,000 people, mostly civilians. They included about
2,000 children under 14 years and nearly 9,000 women.
about the destruction of the Cologne Cathedral