German forces occupied Arles when they took over all of France including its "free zone" administered by the Vichy Government in November 1942 as a precaution when the allies invaded North Africa. Within the the months before the allied landing in Southern France in August 1944 a large number of bombing raids were carried out by the allies in order to destroy railway lines and stations and cut the bridges across the Rhone to hinder the German retreat. Arles had endured eight raids between 25 June and 15 August which inflicted great damage to the buildings and a considerable number of civilian deaths. Van Gogh's Maison Jaune was destroyed (see below) as most of the bridges along the Rhone were bombed. The bombing was actually carried out by groups from the Free French Airforce - thus ironically by Frenchmen themselves - flying American B26 Marauder medium bombers. As the Germans retreated up the west bank of the Rhone this had been quite unnecessary.One such bridge in Arles which remains destroyed is the so-called Lion Bridge. The plaque on its facade reads
The bridge was built in 1868 to allow trains of the PLM company [Paris-Lyon Marseille] to link Arles to Lunel cross the Rhone river, which is already quite wide at this point. This line in particular was dedicated to dispatch the coal produced in the Cevennes mountains. The bridge was destroyed on the 6th of August 1944, during a bombing. All that remains of the bridge are its pillars and imposing sculptured lions. The lion sculptures are the work of Pierre Louis Rouillard (1820 - 1881)
Van Gogh's Trinquetaille Bridge 1888. Since replaced- note the tree in both
The Langlois Bridge at Arles with Road alongside the Canal, 1888
Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night
The Maison Jaune, also the subject of Van Gogh, didn't survive the bombing and no longer exists. The place without the house looks almost the same. Although Van Gogh's building is gone a placard on the scene commemorates its former existence.Marshal Petain and Admiral Darlan in front of the Town Hall with Petain's portrait on the façade when France was fighting the British and Americans in North Africa. By 1945 they had switched sides and Petain had been replaced with the portraits of Churchill, FDR, Stalin and, protecting national sensibilities, de Gaulle.
Place Kléber, renamed Karl-Roos-Platz by the Germans, then and now
The Metzig bedecked with swastikas and today
On the bridge at the Château de Kaysersberg with an American cavalryman
Beside the church
M4 Sherman Tank with soldiers of the CC5 in the Grand'Rue - Today Rue de General de Gaulle
La Tour de Fripons - Then and Now
The fountain before the war and today
A M4 Sherman next to the Catholic church
US M4 Sherman tank in today's rue de la 1ere Armee
German troops in front of the Obertor
German PoWs in today's Rue de la 1ere Armee
US Stuart tanks in today's rue de la 1ere Armee
The Altes Fachwerkhaus
German POWs marching along the Rue des Chevalieres in Bergheim, Jan. 1945
German PoWs in front of troops from Combat Command 6, Jan 1945
Bergheim German Cemetery
Rue principale with the Hôtel de Ville on the left
The town church with the plaque commemorating 51 of its citizens who were apparently press-ganged into the Wehrmacht
The Ziehbrunnen at Place Schwendi
Maison Rittimann then and now
The M4 Sherman "Renard" in 1950 in Kietzheim
The rue du 3eme Spahis Algeriens then and now
The liberation of Sigolsheim was particularly dramatic on December 19, 1944 when the village was conquered by the five tanks of 1st Platoon, 2nd Squadron of the RCA first under the command of Camille Girard. But the American infantry had not followed, three tanks were destroyed and 25 men, three were wounded, six captured and mortally wounding Girard.
The church of Sts. Peter and Paul after the battle and todayThe door after the battle, still displaying a rare version of the theme in which Christ holds keys out to St. Peter (Traditio Clavium) at the same time that He holds an open book out to St. Paul (Traditio Legis).
The bullet holes remain
Sigolsheim today as seen from Hill 351, known also as Bloody Hill
Atop Mont de Sigolsheim is this monument honouring the American soldiers who fought for the liberation of Alsace
For the Americans, the capture of Jebsheim was necessary to protect the north flank of the 3rd Division's advance. With the 3rd Division advancing ahead of the French 1 March Infantry Division on the 3rd Division's north flank, General O'Daniel committed the U.S. 254th Infantry Regiment (part of the U.S. 63rd Infantry Division but attached to the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division for the duration of operations in the Colmar Pocket) to capture Jebsheim. On 26–27 January, troops of the German 136th Mountain Infantry Regiment defended Jebsheim against the advance of the 254th Infantry. On 28–29 January, Jebsheim was taken by the 254th Infantry, French tanks of Combat Command 6 (French 5th Armoured Division), and a battalion of the French 1st Parachute Regiment.
St. Martin's church in Jebsheim January 1945
The intersection of Rue des Vosges and Grand Rue where the Germans had established a roadblock
A dead German soldier at that same roadblock
The residence at 7 Grand Rue further up the road that had served as the German Field Hospital.
The main road into town with many of the houses still recognisable today
A German anti-tank gun January 23, 1945 beside the river outside the town
World War II was disastrous for Ostheim. Located in the “Colmar Pocket” (“Poche de Colmar”) and shelled for almost two months, from November 1944 to January 1945 in order to free the passage over the River Fecht (bitterly defended by the Germans), Ostheim was totally destroyed and its inhabitants evacuated to the surrounding area. The village was awarded the 1939-1945 Military Cross (Croix de Guerre).
The houses built since the war now obscure the church, the ruins of which are shown behind the tank.
The ruins of the church serve as a memorial to the town's liberators. As with the next photo, a stork's nest continues to be enjoy the same location then and now.
A light tank of the 12th Armoured Division in what's now the Place de la République February 5, 1945 and today. The Witch Tower, built in the 13th to the 15th centuries to serve as a gaol sports a stork's nest in both photos. During the time of Nazi annexation, a Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalt (National Political Institute of Education, NEPA, popularly known as Napola) was housed in a former sanatorium of the city from October 1940.
President Raymond Poincaré visiting Munster, badly damaged during the Great War, on Tuesday August 19, 1919.
Temple de Diane
Le Théâtre Antique d'Orange
Triumphal Arch of Orange
Abbaye de Montmajour.