Showing posts with label Karlsruhe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Karlsruhe. Show all posts

Sites in Baden-Württemberg (1)

Cycling over the Rhine into Baden-Württemberg


As with all other German states, Württemberg lost its remaining sovereign rights to the German Reich under the Nazis. As early as 1933, the country was reduced the Nazis' Gleichschaltung policy to that of a German province. The old boundaries remained unchanged, although a constitutional union of areas between Württemberg and Hohenzollern created the Nazi Parteigaus Württemberg-Hohenzollern although this was not carried out until the end of the Nazi dictatorship. Support for Hitler grew steadily during his reign, reaching its height with the annexation of Austria in March 1938 and the victory over France in June 1940. Many Württembergers overlooked or accepted the persecution of the Nazis' political opponents through a compliant judiciary. The regime discriminated, abducted and abused unpopular people - especially the Jews - like everywhere in the kingdom and killed many in concentration or extermination camps.  The general euphoria of the Germans after the defeat of France gave way in the course of World War II to great disillusionment. From 1943 the major cities like Stuttgart Württemberg, Heilbronn and Ulm were largely destroyed in the air war.  In April 1945, American and French troops occupied Württemberg. After the war Württemberg was reconstituted into Württemberg-Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern.

Freiburg 

Once, in the Black Forest city of Freiburg, when his car was pelted with stones, he jumped down from the vehicle waving his whip, forcing his  astonished attackers to scatter.
Roger Moorhouse (15) Killing Hitler: The Third Reich and the Plots Against the Fuhrer 

Adolf-Hitler-Straße and the Martin Gate in Freiburg in the thirties, now Kaiser-Josef-Straße. Of Freiburg, Hitler described it as one "from which all joy is lacking" whose
women have addressed me in so ignoble a fashion that I cannot make up my mind to repeat their words. It's on such occasions that I become aware of the depth of human baseness. Clearly, one must not forget that these areas are still feeling the weight of several centuries of religious oppression.
"Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer": The Siegesdenkmal and Münsterturm in April, 1938; the memorial has since been moved:

A group of SA-men in front of the rathaus on March 6, 1933.

Gaukulturwoche in the Münsterplatz in October 1937.

Hitler's portrait has been removed from the walls of the dining room at the Hotel Oberkirch
 The Schwabentor before and soon after the war

Schoferstraße in 1935 and now 
 
The Bertoldsbrunnen in 1937. The Zähringerplatz Fountain was completely destroyed on 27 November 1944 during a British air raid. The offer of the Freiburg sculptor Hugo Knittel to create a free replica of the old figure was rejected by the authorities responsible for the reconstruction in favour of a cheap, "timeless" fountain.
Süddeutsche Disconto-Gesellschaft
 
Möslestadion; hard to believe that as many as 50,000 came to this site to attend a speech by Hitler on July 29, 1932. 

The Synagogue on Freiburger Werthmannplatz was destroyed like so many others on the Riechskristallnacht, November 8-9 1938.
The memorial on the left is beside the new synagogue whilst the 'stumbling blocks' remind passers-by of those killed by national socialism. During the war on 22 October 1940, the Nazi Gauleiter of Baden ordered the deportation of all of Baden's Jews, and 350 Jewish citizens of Freiburg were deported to the southern French internment camp of Camp Gurs in the Basses-Pyrénées. They remained there under poor conditions until 18 July 1942, when the majority of the survivors were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz. The cemetery for German Jews who died at Camp Gurs is maintained by the town of Freiburg and other cities of Baden. A memorial stands outside the modern synagogue in the town centre. The pavements of Freiburg carry memorials to individual victims in the form of brass plates outside their former residences, including that of Edith Stein, a German Jewish philosopher who converted to Catholicism, became a nun, and was canonised as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross in 1998.

The Synagogue in 1900 and looking at the same site today

Bertoldstrasse in 1875 and from the other direction from Fahnenbergplatz
Bertoldstrasse
Bertoldstrasse 8 and Haus Löwenstraße then and now, only slightly damaged in the war
 
Höhere Töchterschule, now the Goethegymnasium and the Bürgerhaus on the corner of Adelhauserstraße and Marienstraße
The Gasthaus zum Rössle  Niemenstraße  Kaiserstraße
The Gasthaus zum Rössle and Niemenstraße between Kaiserstraße and the university

Left showing Gasthaus zum Bären, the centre the Oberlindenbrunnen,  and the right branching off to Herrenstraße. 

Wartime damage. Freiburg was heavily bombed during the war. First, in May 1940, aircraft of the Luftwaffe mistakenly dropped approximately 60 bombs on Freiburg near the train station, killing 57 people. Later on, a raid by more than 300 bombers of the RAF Bomber Command on 27 November 1944 (Operation Tigerfish) destroyed a large portion of the city centre, with the notable exception of the Münster, which was only lightly damaged. After the war, the city was rebuilt on its medieval plan.  It was allowed by the British and Americans to be occupied by the French Army in 1945, and Freiburg was soon allotted to the French Zone of Occupation. In December 1945 Freiburg became the seat of government for the German state Badenia, which was merged into Baden-Württemberg in 1952.


Denazification at Freiburger Universität: 
The reichsadler has been scrubbed away completely from the main campus of St. Jerome University although the original legend above the entrance, Dem ewigen Deutschtum, is still legible.

The campus then and now
   
The rathaus originally housed the entire University of Freiburg. Following the move of the humanities in the former Jesuit College, the building was used only by the natural sciences and medicine before the city acquired the building and converted it in 1892 to the Town Hall. On the right is the Alte Universität in Bertoldstraße
The swastika remains on the grave of Wilhelm von Biberstein, as well as the Nazi legend "And You Have Won in the End."
 
South of Freiburg's Old Town, on the other side of the Dreisamstadion, is the Mütterbrunnen in the Die Wiehre. Representing the "Aryan and genetically healthy mother," the work of the sculptor Helmuth Hopp based on the sketchwork of Freiburg architect Carl Anton Meckel belongs to the racial theory of "blood and soil, will to expand, population policy, the natural destiny of the woman," the statue now has suffered her nose cut off by members of the local antifa movement. 
 
Münsterplatz
 
The Münster from above in 1944 and today

Konstanz am Bodensee
 
During the war and today, little changed. Because it almost lies within Switzerland, directly adjacent to the Swiss border, Konstanz was not bombed by the Allied Forces during the Second World War. The city left all its lights on at night, thus fooling the bombers into thinking it was actually part of Switzerland.


Karlsruhe 
Hitler spoke at Karlsruhe a number of times.  In 1937 the Heimat Guide to Baden listed the locations of the state’s ‘memorial sites of the National Socialist uprising’; a brochure issued by the Karlsruhe Tourism Society, Easter 1934 in Karlsruhe, proudly referred to the fact that, under the new regime, ‘the state, the communities and the police are [now] purified of enemies of the state.’ Five years later in January 1942, the Gestapo in Karlsruhe sent a letter to Baden’s district administrators, police presidents and police directors regarding the ‘fight against abuses in the tourism places’:      "In addition to the congestion in the spa and relaxation places ... the behaviour of the visitors has also given rise to complaints. The unbridled conduct of these persons (gluttony, regular drunken excesses, moral laxity) shows that they do not comprehend ... the seriousness of the time. Moreover, the unity of the home front is endangered through the disadvantageous effect on the mood of the working population if this activity is not brought to a stop. ... The chief of the Security Police and the Security Service has therefore ordered that this danger is to be opposed with all [their] energy."
Former site of the Adolf-Hitler-Haus on Ritterstraße 28/30. During the Third Reich this was the Nazi Party headquarters in Karlsruhe, known by locals as the "brown house". Moreover, in this building, a Gestapo was housed. According to research by Jürgen Schuhladen-Krämer, three members of the resistance organization BSW died from torture here. The BSW (Fraternal Cooperation) was an organisation of Soviet POWs and forced labourers, which sought to organise a national armed uprising with other anti-fascist forces.  It was here too on 5 February 1945 that the Gestapo served subpoenas to "shift"the remaining thirty Jews and "half-breeds" who were so far spared because of marriages with "Aryans". They were summoned on 9 February 1945 with a few managing to escape by fleeing or illness, or even suicide. The remaining seventeen persons were deported to Theresienstadt on 14 February 1945.  After 1945, the American military government established their offices here. A plaque on the façade briefly marks this history.
The Staatliche Kunsthalle in March 1941 showing an exhibition on Art from the Front. With the inauguration of the Gauleiter Robert Wagner in March 1933, the hunt was on to hunt so-called "degenerate art". On March 11, 1933 Lilli Fischel was, since 1927, acting head of the Kunsthalle but because of his Jewish descent, initially put on leave and then fired. Wagner prompted its replacement by Hans Adolf Bühler, a student of Hans Thoma. Buhler also held the post of director of the Academy. He was a member of the "Combat League for German Culture", an association that was already active in the 1920s.  Upon Buhler's initiative was the exhibition "Government Art 1918-1933" back in 1933. The aim was to uncover the alleged abuse of taxpayers' money and was one of the first of its kind in Germany.  The campaign saw the following artists fall prey: Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth, Max Slevogt, Edvard Munch, Carl Hofer, just to name a few.  Buhler himself was replaced after one year. In a second wave another series of purges works were made which were then shown at the 1937 "Degenerate Art" exhibition in Munich and then confiscated.
On March 9, 1933 Robert Wagner as Reich Commissioner of Baden sent about three thousand men of the SA and SS units to march in front of the Interior Ministry of Baden at the Karlsruhe Badisches Innenministerium at Schlossplatz 19. SA, SS and police units forced the seizure of power in the country within a few days.  The Badische home office on Schlossplatz 19 was the authoritative hub for the persecution of the Jews and also a headquarters of the persecution and extermination of the sick, disabled and "asocial".  With the "Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring" of 14 July 1933, the legal basis for forced sterilisation had been created. Dr. Theodor Pakheiser, the Special Commissioner for Health, ensured that the law was applied. Baden in 1934 exceeded all other countries with about three sterilisation applications for every thousand inhabitants; the "Erbgesundheitsgerichte" approved on average 94% of applications. Between 1934 and 1944, 11,412 people were forcibly sterilised in ten districts of Baden with 1.2 million inhabitants. These killings were organised in Baden by Secretary Dr. Ludwig Sprauer, director of the health department in Baden Ministry of Interior. Sprauer launched the 'Mordaktion' in Baden with a secret circular to the heads of hospitals and nursing homes. Enclosed with the letter dated 29.11.1939 reporting forms, the details of the person's nationality, diagnosis, type of employment and so on, including racial details. Based on this information was decided life and death. Today the site serves as the Hector School of Engineering and Management at the University of Karlsruhe.

Swastikas adorning the Hauptpost with the Grenadierdenkmal in front, then and now
Adolf-Hitler-Platz during the war and today. Karlsruhe was the birthplace both of Generalfeldmarschall Walter von Reichenau, born 1884, and of Dr. Hans Frank, born 1900, Reich Minister from 1934 to 1945 and Governor-General of Poland from 1939 to 1945; he was hanged in Nuremberg in 1946.
Hitler gave a speech here on March 3, 1928. In 1944 the Festhalle was destroyed in an air raid and left as a ruin until it was blown up on November 4 1952 to make way for a dispiriting new hall.
 
The main railway station, from Jewish citizens were sent to their deaths. On October 22, 1940 945 Jews were deported to Gurs. There, about 40 km north of the Spanish border and 60 km from the Atlantic coast, in marshy areas at the foot of the Pyrenees, was the detention centre, which was only a stopover of suffering on the way to Auschwitz for many. On February 14, 1945 seventeen of the last thirty remaining Jews were deported to Theresienstadt. They had thus been spared from deportation through mixed marriages or as "1st degree half-breeds." Among them were the children of Esther and Heino Hirsch, from the family of former national football player Julius Hirsch. Thanks to Józsa Tensi and Leopold Ransenberg, all survived. It was not until the liberation of the concentration camp that they were able, after an eight-day odyssey, to return to Karlsruhe.
A plaque on the façade reads:  "The banking house of Veit L. Homberger was founded in 1854 and became a well-known company. In 1901 it moved into this building, designed by Robert Curjel and Karl Moser. In 1939 the Nazi boycott led to the liquidation of this Jewish private bank" whilst a stolperstein outside his home reads simply: "Here lived Ferdinand Homberger, born 1860, deported 1940 to Gurs, died January 28, 1941."
 
On September 27, 1944 200 000 incendiary bombs and hundreds of other bombs fell on the city and destroyed the schloss, now extensively reconstructed.
Hitler travelling through Durlach, a borough of Karlsruhe with a population today of 30,000 on  September 14, 1933. On the right is what had been named Adolf-Hitler-Straße in his honour, looking towards the Turmberg
 
Adolf-Hitler-Straße, now Pfinztalstraße, looking the other way
Hitler had been travelling through Durlach to arrive at the village of Öschelbronn,where, four days earlier on September 14 1933, an ammunition factory exploded with catastrophic force destroying 203 homes from a cause unknown to this day. 


Heidelberg 
 SA marching over the alte brücke past Heidelberg schloss from the cigarette card album Kampf um's Dritte Reich (28), and the complex today. 
Heidelberg was a stronghold of the Nazis, the strongest party in the elections before 1933 (the NSDAP obtained 30% at the communal elections of 1930). The NSDAP received 45.9% of the votes in the German federal election of March 1933 (the national average was 43.9%). Non-Aryan university staff were discriminated against. By 1939, one-third of the university's teaching staff had been forced out for racial and political reasons. The non-Aryan professors were ejected in 1933, within one month of Hitler's rise to power. The lists of those to be deported were prepared beforehand. In 1934 and 1935, the Reichsarbeitsdienst (State Labour Service) and Heidelberg University students built the huge Thingstätte amphitheatre on the Heiligenberg north of the town (see below), for Nazi Party and ϟϟ events. A few months later, the inauguration of the huge Ehrenfriedhof memorial cemetery completed the second and last NSDAP project in Heidelberg. This cemetery is on the southern side of the old part of town, a little south of the Königstuhl hilltop. During WWII and after, Wehrmacht soldiers were buried there. Memorial stone marking the site of the synagogue in the Lauerstrasse  During the Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938, Nazis burned down synagogues at two locations in the city. The next day, they started the systematic deportation of Jews, sending 150 to Dachau concentration camp. On October 22, 1940, during the "Wagner Buerckel event", the Nazis deported 6000 local Jews, including 281 from Heidelberg, to Camp Gurs concentration camp in France. Within a few months, as many as 1000 of them (201 from Heidelberg) died of hunger and disease. Among the deportees from Heidelberg, the poet Alfred Mombert (1872–1942) left the camp in April 1941 thanks to the Swiss poet Hans Reinhart. From 1942, the deportees who had survived internment in Gurs were deported to Eastern Europe, where most of them were murdered.  On March 29, 1945, German troops left the city after destroying three arches of the old bridge, Heidelberg's treasured river crossing. They also destroyed the more modern bridge downstream. The U.S. Army (63rd Infantry, 7th Army) entered the town on March 30, 1945. The civilian population surrendered without resistance.
  A popular belief is that Heidelberg escaped bombing in WWII because the U.S. Army wanted to use the city as a garrison after the war. As Heidelberg was neither an industrial centre nor a transport hub, it did not present a target of opportunity. Other notable university towns, such as Tübingen and Göttingen, were spared bombing as well. Allied air raids focused extensively on the nearby industrial cities of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen.  The U.S. Army may have chosen Heidelberg as a garrison base because of its excellent infrastructure, including the Heidelberg-Mannheim Autobahn which connected to the Mannheim-Darmstadt-Frankfurt Autobahn, and the U.S. Army installations in Mannheim and Frankfurt. The intact rail infrastructure was more important in the late 1940s and early 1950s when most heavy loads were still carried by train, not by lorry. Heidelberg had the untouched Wehrmacht barracks, the "Grossdeutschland Kaserne" which the US Army occupied soon after, renaming it the Campbell Barracks.
 
Looking towards the other direction from the schlossberg with the wife eight decades later showing little change
The American 289th Engineer Combat Battalion ferrying troops and vehicles over the Neckar River at Heidelberg until pontoon bridges were complete and damaged bridges repaired by the engineers on March 31, 1945
Hitler in front of the Europäischer Hof where he spent the night March 31 1935 before moving on to Stuttgart, and the hotel today.
 
The Thingstätte in Heidelberg was started in 1934 and finished the following year. Situated on the Heiligenberg (Holy Mountain), the amphitheatre covers 25 metres of sloping land and overlooks the city. The mountain is littered with ancient burial grounds and once hosted a Roman temple at the summit dedicated to the god Mercury. Designed by the architect H. Alker, who worked for the Reich Labour Service, the Heidelberg Thingstatte features two hexagonal towers constructed to hold flags, lighting, and sound. On the opening day, 20,000 people turned out to hear Goebbels himself. After the Thingstatte fell out of favour, this site was turned into a public park and remains one to this day.

Schwetzingen
Just west of Heidelberg, the castle of Schwetzingen can be seen behind the Wehrmacht marching through the town in 1944. Schloss Schwetzingen had been the summer residence of Prince-Elector Carl Theodor (1724–99).
Panzer Kaserne, later home to the American Army as Tompkins Kaserne

Stuttgart
Stadt der Auslandsdeutscher (City of the Abroad Germans)
 

Hitler visiting Stuttgart on April 1, 1938. Both photos show the end of Königstraße looking at Stuttgart Central Station then and now. On that day Hitler took advantage of the rejoicing due to the anschluss when he arrived at 3:00 p.m. on April 1, Hitler arrived in Stuttgart on a special train.
In the City Hall, the Mayor Dr. Stroelin greeted Hitler at a reception held in his honour. Hitler replied to this welcome in a short address, emphasizing that the concept of a Greater Germany was nowhere as lively and vibrant as in Stuttgart, “the city of Germans living abroad.” At 9:00 p.m., Hitler delivered another campaign speech at a mass rally in Stuttgart. Following the “party narrative,” he again turned to the events in Austria: “We have all forgotten what it means to be compelled to live outside of the German Volksgemeinschaft!”
Doramus (1079) The Complete Hitler
Under the Nazi regime, Stuttgart began the deportation of its Jewish inhabitants in 1939. Around sixty percent of the German Jewish population had fled by the time restrictions on their movement were imposed on 1 October 1941, at which point Jews living in Württemberg were forced to live in 'Jewish apartments' before being 'concentrated' on the former Trade Fair grounds in Killesberg. On 1 December 1941 the first deportation trains were organised to send them to Riga. Only 180 Jews from Württemberg held in concentration camps survived.  During the period of Nazi rule, Stuttgart held the "honorary title" Stadt der Auslandsdeutschen (City of the Germans living outside of the Reich).  
During World War II, the centre of Stuttgart was almost completely destroyed by Allied air raids. Some of the most severe bombing took place in 1944 carried out by British and American bombers. The heaviest raid took place on 12 September 1944 when the British Royal Air Force bombed the old town of Stuttgart dropping over 184,000 bombs including 75 blockbusters. More than 1000 people perished in the resulting firestorm. In total Stuttgart was subjected to 53 bombing raids, resulting in the destruction of 68% of all buildings and the deaths of 4477 people. 
videoFootage of Hitler in Stuttgart (1938).
 
People marching past the Stuttgarter Polizeipräsidium May 1, 1933. It would later become the Gestapo Headquarters from 1937 to 1945, even after being bombed in September 1944.  As late as 13 April 1945 four prisoners in the cellar were hanged by the Gestapo. The Allied ground advance into Germany had already reached Stuttgart. On April 22 at 11 o'clock the mayor, Karl Strölin, officially transferred the city to Karl Strölin to the French commanding general.
 Although the attack on the city was to be conducted by the US Seventh Army's 100th Infantry Division, General de Gaulle found this to be unacceptable, as he felt the capture of the region by Free French forces would increase French influence in post-war decisions. He treacherously directed General de Lattre to order the French 5th Armoured Division, 2nd Moroccan Infantry Division and 3rd Algerian Infantry Division to begin their drive on Stuttgart on 18 April 1945. Two days later, the French forces coordinated with the US Seventh Army for the employment of US VI Corps heavy artillery to barrage the city. The French 5th Armoured Division then captured Stuttgart on 21 April 1945, encountering little resistance. The circumstances of what became known as 'The Stuttgart Crisis' provoked political repercussions up to the White House. President Truman was unable to get De Gaulle to withdraw troops from Stuttgart until after the final boundaries of the zones of occupation were established. The French army occupied Stuttgart until they were forced to give it back to the American military occupation zone in 1946.
When French troops occupied Stuttgart – which was meant to form part of the American Zone as the capital of Württemberg – the Americans ordered them to leave. De Gaulle refused, saying he would stay put until the zones were finalised. The French were causing problems in the Levant too, and in an act of bravura against the Italians (who had taken back Haute Savoie and Nice during the war) they occupied the French- speaking Val d’Aosta. The American solution was to offer them some bits of Baden and Württemberg while keeping the lion’s share for themselves...French soldiers’ behaviour in Stuttgart, where perhaps 3,000 women and eight men were raped, was thought to have added to American fury at their overstepping their lines. [R. F. Keeling (Gruesome Harvest, Chicago 1947, 56–7) gives the official figure as 1,198, but the Germans thought it more like 5,000.]
MacDonogh After the Reich The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation
The French took a terrible toll in their zone, by forced seizure of food and housing, and by physical violence including mass rapes, in Stuttgart and elsewhere. The famine went on for years. The churches flew black flags. The children were too weak to play. The official ration in the French zone in January 1947 was 450 calories per day, half the ration of the Belsen concentration camp, according to the writer and theologian Prince zu Lцwenstein.
James Bacque (94) Crimes and Mercies
Königsbau in 1940 and today
Königsbau in 1940 and today
 
The Neues Schloss then and now
 
The Wilhelmspalais during the Third Reich (now serving as the Stadtmuseum) with its Grosser Saal festooned in swastikas in 1940   
The swastika over the Fruchtsäule in 1935 
 
The Tagblatt-Turm under construction in 1928 and then/now

The current Mercedes-Benz Arena was originally built in 1933 after designs by German architect Paul Bonatz and named the "Adolf-Hitler-Kampfbahn". From 1945 to 1949 it was called Century Stadium and later Kampfbahn and was used by US Troops to play baseball.The name Neckarstadion was used since 1949. It is currently home to VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga (and to the Stuttgarter Kickers when they played in the Bundesliga).  
 
The Bismarckturm outside the city 



Bad Cannstatt
 
The Rosensteinbunker outside Stuttgart then and now

 Hechingen 
Adolf-Hitler-Platz, now Obertorplatz
Located 37 miles south of Stuttgart, during the start of Nazi rule most of the businesses in Hechingen were in Jewish hands and were closed or 'aryanised'. Much of the architecture of the city was destroyed or damaged by Nazi attempts to build air raid shelters in public buildings. Here is St. Johnnes Kirche, from an 1880 engraving and today.

The rathaus, shown here in 1940 and today, was so damaged that it had to be destroyed.  
 
Marktplatz then and now
Many industries, including DEHOMAG, a predecessor of IBM, were relocated to Hechingen from damaged areas of Germany, such as Berlin. Parts of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society were also relocated there.  In April 1945, American troops entered Hechingen and took over the atomic research laboratory and nuclear reactor. Many of the physicists were interned in Farm Hall in England and tried over the following years. Many of the scientists went on to have successful postwar careers for instance; on 15 November 1945 the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that Otto Hahn had been awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for his discovery of the fission of heavy atomic nuclei." 
The town has completely restored its nineteenth-century synagogue, shown here in 1937 and today. 

Heilbronn
The town hall sporting swastikas and today
Richard Drauz, who had been born into a respected Heilbronn family, became Heilbronn's NSDAP Kreisleiter (District Leader) in 1932 . He was also elected to the Reichstag from 1933 on and pushed hard for the Gleichschaltung of the Heilbronn clubs and press in Nazi Germany.  
On July 28, 1935, the port was opened in a canal off the Neckar, and 1936 saw the Autobahn between Heilbronn and Stuttgart completed. Economy and infrastructure were booming in Württemberg, and Heilbronn was at the logistic centre of it all. As the result of a district reform on October 1, 1938, Heilbronn became the seat of the newly created Heilbronn County and regained independent city status. At the same time the previously independent communities of Böckingen, Sontheim, and Neckargartach were annexed, and with 72,000 residents Heilbronn then was the second largest city in Württemberg. The port turned into an important transfer station on the Neckar and one of the ten largest interior ports in the country.  On November 10, 1938, the Heilbronn synagogue was destroyed during the Kristallnacht. Soon thereafter the Jewish community was all but eliminated.  Starting in 1942 during World War II, the salt mines in and around Heilbronn were used to store art and artefacts from Germany, France, and Italy. Similarly, important producers of the war industry were moved into the mine shafts. The expansion of the shafts was undertaken by labour brigades of the concentration camp branches in Kochendorf and Neckargartach. From Heilbronn all the way to Neckarelz numerous subterraneous complexes, some of them gigantic, were constructed; on November 20, 1942, the Heilbronn Bureau of Labour had 8,000 forced labourers registered in its district.  
In 1940 allied air raids began, and the city and its surrounding area were hit about 20 times with minor damage. On September 10, 1944, a raid by the allies targeted the city specifically, in particular the Böckingen train transfer station. As a result of 1,168 bombs dropped that day, 281 residents died. The city was carpet-bombed from the southern quarter all the way to the Kilianskirche in the centre of town. The church was burnt out.  The catastrophe for Heilbronn was the bombing raid on December 4, 1944. During that raid the city centre was completely destroyed and the surrounding boroughs heavily damaged. Within one half hour 6,500 residents perished, most incinerated beyond recognition. Of those, 5,000 were later buried in mass graves in the Ehrenfriedhof (cemetery of honour) in the valley of the Köpfer creek close to the city. A memorial continues to be held annually in memory of those that died that day. As a result of the war Heilbronn's population shrank to 46,350.  After a ten-day battle, with the allies advancing over the strategically important Neckar crossings, the war ended for the destroyed city, and it was occupied by the U.S. Army on April 12, 1945. Local NSDAP leader Drauz became a fugitive because of executions of American prisoners of war he had ordered in March 1945. He was eventually arrested, tried, and hanged by the Allies in Landsberg on December 4, 1946.