Showing posts with label Hagen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hagen. Show all posts

Remaining Nazi Sites in Westphalia (3)

On November 16, 1944, 97% of Jülich was destroyed during Allied bombing, since it was considered one of the main obstacles to the occupation of the Rhineland, although the city fortifications, the bridge head and the citadel had long fallen into disuse. According to Giles MacDonogh in his book After the Reich (365),"[t]he bombing of the western Prussian town of Jülich had been the worst in Germany: 93 per cent of it had been flattened." The ruined city was subject to heavy fighting for several months until the Allies eventually managed to cross the Ruhr on February 23, 1945. Here a victorious Prime Minister Winston Churchill shares a drink with American General William H. Simpson, Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke and Major General Alvin Gillian of the American 13th Corps within the entrance to the citadel in Jülich whilst Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery, a teetotaller, sits outside taking notes on March 6, 1945. Goebbels refers to this visit in his diary entry the next day: 
For the first time Churchill has actually seen the results of his air war. He was in Jülich and, according to Reuters, surveyed the expanse of ruins stretching from Jülich to Aachen with an air of satisfaction – a replica of Nero who sat high above the Eternal City and strummed his lyre while Rome burned. A better symbol of chaos and ruin into which Anglo-American policy has plunged Europe is hardly conceivable.
During his drive through the occupied areas Churchill addressed the troops. His speech was larded with the old monotonous tirades of hatred of the Huns. This gentleman, who can truly be called the grave-digger of Europe, had nothing new to say on the war situation. He would do better to bother more about the fresh strikes now flaring up all over the British Isles. 

Jülich became part of the new state of North Rhine-Westphalia after the war.

Aachen (North Rhine-Westphalia)

Aachen was of significance to the Nazis because it was the presumed birthplace of Charlemagne, first monarch of the First Reich- the Holy Roman Empire,. It had been the German seat of power for six hundred years, where 42 emperors, kings and queens had been crowned. More than any site, Aachen captured Nazi mysticism about the superior Teutonic race. After the Great War, Aachen had been occupied by the Allies until 1930. Aachen was one of the locations involved in the ill-fated Rhenish Republic and was the site of its proclamation in October 1923 during the occupation of the Ruhr by troops from France and Belgium from January 1923 – 1925. It comprised of three territories, named North, South and Ruhr. Their regional capitals were, respectively, Aachen, Koblenz and Essen and was initiated when, on October 21 1923, an armed band took over city hall. Similar actions took place in Munchen-Gladbach, Duisburg, and Krefeld. This Republic lasted only about a year. Once a centre of culture and intellectualism, the city saw its social fabric disrupted, its Jewish community annihilated, and its infrastructure decimated by relentless bombing.
Hitler himself spoke in the stadium here in Aachen during the 1932 election campaign on July 28, 1932.
Dreiländerpunkt- The highest point in the Netherlands on the Dutch border with Germany and Belgium with American GIs and today. Aachen itself was bordered on the west, north and east by two spurs of the Siegfried line, a dense system of concrete pillboxes and anti-tank obstacles strengthened by miles of barbed wire and minefields. One of the first and most profound changes that the city underwent was the imposition of Nazi policies. Aachen was not immune to the sweeping anti-Semitic laws, racial purges, and authoritarian impositions that characterised the Nazi era. Its Jewish community, which had a long-standing history, was systematically persecuted and deported, facing eventual annihilation. Synagogues were destroyed during the infamous Kristallnacht, and businesses were seized as part of the broader Aryanisation project. Even institutions of learning were not spared; Aachen's prestigious technical university was purged of Jewish faculty and students, fundamentally changing its character and purpose. Rüger’s work focuses on how Aachen’s social fabric was re-engineered to fit the Nazi ideology. He suggests that the city’s long history as a cultural centre became a secondary consideration as the Nazi regime prioritised its ideological objectives. This transformation had an irrevocable impact, tearing apart communities and sowing seeds of mistrust among the populace. The unity that the city had once known was replaced by a culture of surveillance and denunciation, as neighbours turned against each other in compliance with or fear of the regime.
Meanwhile the municipal administration of Aachen, once a body that managed civic services, was transformed into an arm of the Nazi state. The political opposition was silenced, and local governance structures were replaced with Nazi functionaries. City planning and policy-making were directed towards supporting the war effort, such as mobilising resources and labour for arms production. Gotto observes that the transition from a city administration to a totalitarian structure signified not just the loss of political freedom for the Aachen population, but also the instrumentalisation of all aspects of civic life for the objectives of the Third Reich. In line with the broader Nazi policy of Gleichschaltung, or coordination, the city's social and cultural organisations were also brought under Nazi control. Youth were inculcated with Nazi ideology through membership in Hitler Youth organisations, while women were relegated to roles that supported the Nazi model of racial purity and familial responsibility. The severity of these changes was so impactful that they left a social and psychological scar on Aachen's post-war generation, fundamentally altering the city's collective identity.
 The city had a prewar population of some 160,000, but, heeding Hitler's order to evacuate, most had fled. Only about twenty thousand civilians remained with the German garrison - some 12,000 soldiers organised around the 246th Infantry Division and commanded by Col. Gerhard Wilck. Hitler himself ordered the garrison to hold at all costs to which Field Marshall von Rundstedt added, "to the last man … allow yourself to be buried under its ruins."
The hauptbahnhof. Hitler passed here many times, the first of which was on October 21, 1914 as he was on his way to Lille at the start of the Great War. He refers to this in a postcard to his landlord back in Munich:
[We] crossed into Belgium at 10 p.m. As we left Aachen, we were given an enthusiastic send off by thousands of people, and much the same thing happened throughout our journey. At 9 a.m., we arrived at Liège. The railway station was badly damaged. The traffic was tremendous. Army transport only, of course. At midnight, we arrived at Louvain. The whole town is a heap of rubble.
Hitler would return to this station in 1940 whilst travelling to Hendaye, a French railroad station in the vicinity of the Spanish border on his way to meet Franco.
A crucial aspect of Aachen's experience under the Third Reich was its role in military strategy during World War II. Positioned at a strategic crossroads near the borders of Belgium and the Netherlands, Aachen became a focal point for German military operations. Initially, this location offered some advantages, as the city contributed to the rapid movement of German troops during the early stages of the war. However, as the tide turned against Germany, Aachen found itself at the receiving end of Allied military operations.
American soldiers clearing up Adalbertsteinweg and Jülicher Straße in 1944 and the same site today. By the time Aachen was captured by American troops in October 1944, the first major German city to be occupied, it was a shadow of its former self. Zeller notes that the capture signified not just a military defeat but also represented the collapse of social order that had been eroding under years of authoritarian rule and conflict. The residents, who had once taken pride in their city’s historical and cultural significance, were now confronted with a grim reality: their city had been reduced to rubble, and their lives upended by a regime that had promised glory but delivered destruction. The war hadn't just disrupted normal life; it overhauled the city's social fabric in a way that would have lasting repercussions. Families were torn apart as men were conscripted into the Wehrmacht, women were forced into auxiliary roles, and children indoctrinated through Nazi educational programmes. Meanwhile, the city’s Jewish population faced the harshest consequences, their lives decimated by the Holocaust.
Joseph von Görres Straße in 1944 and today. Aachen was heavily damaged during the war. The city and its fortified surroundings were laid siege to from September 12–October 21, 1944 by the American 1st Infantry Division with the 3rd Armoured Division assisting from the south. Around  October 13 the American 2nd Armoured Division played their part, coming from the north and getting as close as Wuerselen, whilst the 30th Infantry Division played a crucial role in completing the encirclement of Aachen on October 16, 1944. With reinforcements from the American 28th Infantry Division the Battle of Aachen then continued involving direct assaults through the heavily defended city, which finally forced the German garrison to surrender on October 21, 1944. Aachen was the first German city to be captured by the Allies, and its residents welcomed the soldiers as liberators. That said, whilst the battle ended with a German surrender, their tenacious defence significantly disrupted Allied plans for the advance into Germany. The city itself was destroyed partially – and in some parts completely – during the fighting, mostly by American artillery fire and demolitions carried out by the Waffen-ϟϟ defenders. Damaged buildings included the mediæval churches of St. Foillan, St. Paul and St. Nicholas, and the Rathaus, although Aachen Cathedral was largely unscathed. Only 4,000 inhabitants remained in the city; the rest had followed evacuation orders. Its first Allied-appointed mayor, Franz Oppenhoff, was assassinated by an ϟϟ commando unit. 
The Rhineland was the first part of Germany to be liberated from the west, [sic] and the first city was Aachen. The place of Charlemagne’s coronation had been pitilessly pummelled by Anglo-American bombers so that there was little left of it. Of the 15,000 homes in the city only a fifth were vaguely intact. The American-installed administration estimated that they could make the damaged properties habitable within a year, but to rebuild the city would take twenty.
Mauerstraße Aachen
On October 10, division commander Major Gen. Clarence Huebner demanded Aachen's surrender within 24 hours. When no response was forthcoming, heavy Allied air and artillery attacks rocked the city from October 11-13 as the 3rd Battalion, 26th Infantry, advanced past factories to the northeast of the town and the 2nd Battalion advanced through the main business district. Each rifle platoon of the two battalions had a tank or tank destroyer attached to it, and each battalion also had a self-propelled, 155 mm howitzer to be used in direct support of the troops. This helped the Americans avoid some of the west-facing city defences. This force was actually smaller than the remaining roughly 5,000 German defenders. Tanks and tank destroyers systematically shelled each floor in each building of a block, slightly ahead of the infantry, to force enemy defenders to the basements and create holes for the infantry to enter. The Yanks advanced often from one basement to another, liberally using hand grenades and flame throwers, and avoiding exposure in the streets. Every cellar and room of every building had to be searched. Speed was less important than thoroughness; indeed, for eight days the battalions advanced about 400 metres per day.  The troops soon learned to bulldoze rubble over manhole covers to prevent enemy infiltration through the sewer lines. 
Quellenhof Hotel
Quellenhof Hotel
The 3rd Battalion moved towards Farwick Park which featured several major buildings, including the Quellenhof Hotel shown here, which served as the German headquarters. These were reduced by use of the attached, self-propelled heavy artillery pieces. There were German counterattacks from inside and outside the city. American troops evacuated civilians daily to the rear and away from the fighting. German soldiers and civilians sought shelter in massive and foetid air raid shelters and had to be coaxed or forced to surrender. Reinforcements from the VII Corps arrived to control the city cleared thus far and allow the 26th Regiment to continue its attack, past the ancient and ruined cathedral and into the railroad yards on the west side of the city. Meanwhile, the German headquarters had withdrawn onto the Lousberg, a hill just north of the city, where they were trapped in an air raid shelter by the 3rd Battalion. Whilst sending his superiors defiant claims of resistance to the death, Col. Wilck asked two American prisoners to approach the American lines with a white flag to discuss surrender. At 12:05 on October 21, 1944, Brigadier General George A. Taylor, hero of Omaha beach, accepted Wilck's surrender of the city Aachen, the first German city to fall to the Allies at the cost to the 1st Division and its 745th Tank Battalion of roughly 3,000 casualties in all, including 498 just in the two battalions of the 26th Infantry. This was in exchange for the destruction of three German divisions and the capture of some 11,000 prisoners in the campaign.

German PoWs being marched down Thomashofstraße and Rolandstraße into Belgium in 1944
Catalina Kid, a M4 medium tank of Company C, 745th Tank Battalion, driving through the entrance of the Aachen-Rothe Erde railroad station during the fighting around the city viaduct on Oct. 20, 1944. During the war the station was badly damaged and the bridge over Trierer Straße was blown up. The Aachen–Cologne line was not reopened until 1946. As a result the handling of steel, coke and limestone was abandoned and the station became less important for the transfer of freight. Only the connections to Aachen Nord station and the neighbouring Waggonfabrik Talbot rolling stock factory and the Aachen Philips factories on the Venn Railway remained in operation. In contrast, Rothe Erde station continued to serve passengers on the Aachen–Cologne line. In 2004, the freight shed were finally demolished and the now disused railway land was mostly levelled for the construction of the Aachen Arkaden shopping centre.
Bahnhof West
American soldiers on Kongreßstraße. Aachen was described as a ‘fantastic, stinking heap of ruins’. German shellfire often caused the walls of battle-damaged buildings to collapse on advancing troops.
The south side of the rathaus, showing how extensively it has been reconstructed.
It was here on October 21, 1923, an armed band took over the city hall. Similar actions took place in Mönchen-Gladbach, Duisburg, and Krefeld. This republic lasted only about a year.  Aachen was heavily damaged during the war.The city and its fortified surroundings were laid siege to from September 12 to October 21, 1944 by the American 1st Infantry Division with the 3rd Armoured Division assisting from the south. Around October 13 the American 2nd Armoured Division played their part, coming from the north and getting as close as Würselen, whilst the 30th Infantry Division played a crucial role in completing the encirclement of Aachen on October 16, 1944. With reinforcements from the American 28th Infantry Division the Battle of Aachen then continued involving direct assaults through the heavily defended city, which finally forced the German garrison to surrender on October 21, 1944. Aachen was the first German city to be captured by the Allies, and its residents actually welcomed the soldiers as liberators. The city was destroyed partially – and in some parts completely – during the fighting, mostly by American artillery fire and demolitions carried out by the Waffen-ϟϟ defenders. Damaged buildings included the medieval churches of St. Foillan, St. Paul and St. Nicholas, and the Rathaus, although Aachen Cathedral was largely unscathed. Only 4,000 inhabitants remained in the city; the rest had followed evacuation orders. Its first Allied-appointed mayor, Franz Oppenhoff, was assassinated by an ϟϟ commando unit on Himmler's orders in Unternehmen Karneval (Operation Carnival) on March 25, 1945..

Aachen Stadttheater.
Sternwarte observatory and the Stadttheater after the war and today. The latter's construction began in 1822 and it opened on May 15, 1825. A bomb attack on July 14, 1943 destroyed the first theatre, and the current structure was inaugurated on December 3, 1951 with a performance of Richard Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
The memorial to the fallen during the Third Reich and today, empty  
The Theodor-Körner-Kaserne, one of three army barracks in Aachen

Wesel (North Rhine-Westphalia)
Berliner TorTwo different flags flying over the Berliner Tor. Wesel was the birthplace in 1893 of notorious Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, sentenced to death at the Nuremberg trials. During the war, as a strategic depot, Wesel became a target of Allied bombing. On the 16th, 17th and 19th of February 1945, the town was attacked with impact and air-burst bombs, which destroyed 97% of the city. The Wehrmacht blew up bridges along the Rhine and Lippe to prevent Allied forces from advancing. The Wehrmacht also destroyed the 1,950m-long railway bridge, the last Rhine bridge remaining in German hands, on March 10. On March 23, Wesel came under the fire of over 3,000 guns when it was bombarded anew, in preparation for Operation Plunder. The shelling was assisted by a raid of RAF bombers and a larger raid that night. At 21.00, ten individual bombers each dropped a 10,000 kg bomb on Wesel, the heaviest bombs dropped during the war. Before the town was finally taken by Allied troops, 97% of its structures were destroyed. In the ensuing attacks by Allied forces, the town was taken for minimal casualties. Operation Varsity – the largest airborne landings of the war – dropped 18,000 troops into the area to take the hills behind Wesel. The British 1st Commando Brigade was already attacking Wesel carried into action by LVT Buffalos. The remainder of the Allied force crossed the Rhine in more amphibious vehicles.  From almost 25,000 in 1939, the population was reduced to 1,900 by May 1945.

Hamminkeln on the river Issel where British Airborne infantrymen of "D" Company, The Devonshire Regiment are seen regrouping at the elementary school on Mehrhooger Strasse on March 24, 1945 as part of Operation Varsity when the Anglo-Americans used large areas of Hamminkeln as a landing zone for gliders and parachutists in order to form a bridgehead near Wesel over the Rhine, after the Rhine crossing in Arnhem had failed. Operation Varsity was the largest Allied airborne operation during the war. To achieve this, the British 6th and American 17th Airborne Divisions would be dropped near Hamminkeln and tasked with a number of objectives: seize the Diersfordter Wald, a forest that overlooked the Rhine, including a road linking several towns together and everal bridges over the Issel to facilitate the advance; capture the village. Once these objectives were taken, the airborne troops would consolidate their positions and await the arrival of Allied ground forces, defending the territory captured against the German forces known to be in the area. Operation Varsity would be the largest single-lift airborne operation conducted during the war, contradicting previous airborne strategy by having airborne troops drop after the initial amphibious landings, to minimise the risks to the airborne troops learned from the experiences of Operation Market Garden by dropping the forces only a relatively short distance behind German lines to esnure reinforcements could link up with them within a short period, thus avoiding the same type of disaster that had befallen the British 1st Airborne Division when it had been isolated and practically annihilated by the Germans at Arnhem.

The main railway station is another dating from the Third Reich and today, at the end of what had been Kölner Straße, Ebertstraße, Adolf-Hitler-Straße.
Haus Busch where Hitler would stay with its owner, Franz Pfeffer von Salomon, Gauleiter of Westphalia, a former army officer who had subsequently joined the Freikorps, participated in the Kapp Putsch, and been active in opposition to the French in the Ruhr before becoming was appointed head of the SA until his dismissal in 1930. 
Together they developed the principles of an organisation which was to be freed both from the character of the defence corps and from its limited and fragmentary role as the bodyguard of local party leaders. Instead, it was to become a rigidly controlled, powerful instrument of mass terror in the hands of the political party leadership. ‘The training of the SA’, Hitler wrote in a letter to Pfeffer, ‘must be carried out, not according to military principles, but according to the needs of the party. In so far as the members are to be made physically fit, the chief stress should be placed not upon military drill but upon athletic activities. Boxing and ju-jitsu have always appeared to me more important than any ineffective, because incomplete, rifle practice.’ ‘In order also to divert the SA’, the letter continues, ‘from any temptation to satisfy their activism by petty conspiracies, they must from the very beginning be completely initiated into the great idea of the movement and so fully trained in the task of representing this idea that the individual does not see his mission as eliminating some great or petty rogue, but as committing himself to the establishment of a new National Socialist people’s state. Thereby the struggle against the present state will be raised out of the atmosphere of petty acts of revenge and conspiracy to the grandeur of a philosophical war of annihilation against Marxism, its constructions and its wirepullers. We shall not work in secret conventicles but in huge mass marches; the way for the movement cannot be opened up by dagger or poison or pistol, but by conquest of the street.'
Joachim C. Fest The Face of the Third Reich 
For Franz Pfeffer von Salomon, the head of the SA until his dismissal in August 1930, Hitler combined the qualities of common soldier and artist. ‘A trooper with gypsy blood’ was, given Nazi racial thinking, Pfeffer’s reported extraordinary characterisation. He thought Hitler had something like a sixth sense in politics, ‘a supernatural talent’. But he wondered whether he was at bottom only a type of Freikorps leader, a revolutionary who might have difficulty in becoming a statesman after the movement had taken power. Pfeffer took Hitler to be a genius, something the world might experience only once in a thousand years. But the human side of Hitler, in his view, was deficient. Pfeffer, torn between adulation and criticism, saw him as a split personality, full of personal inhibitions in conflict with the ‘genius’ inside him, arising from his upbringing and education, and consuming him. 
Kershaw Hitler
Cafe Tigges after the war and today. During the war Hagen was bombed repeatedly by both the Royal Air Force and the American Eighth Air Force. On the night of October 1, 1943, 243 Lancasters and eight Mosquitos from the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command attacked the city. According to the Bomber Command Campaign Diary, "[t]his raid was a complete success achieved on a completely cloud-covered target of small size, with only a moderate bomber effort and at trifling cost." Severe damage was caused.  After the war the town became part of the new state of North Rhine-Westphalia. 
The Stadttheater with its 2.50 metre-high sculptures of ancient Muses from the sculptress Milly Steger (whose nakedness originally gave rise to protests), bombed by the USAAF March 15, 1945 and finally reopened 1949. The theatre's last two directors pre-Hitler resigned their offices at the end of March 1933 after a vote of no confidence. From the 1933-1934 season the Intendanz went into the hands of Nazi member Hermann Bender, who was hitherto engaged as an opera singer. From then on the Reich Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda was responsible for its choice in performances which would serve as an instrument for the indoctrination of the people. In mid-October 1934, the town dissolved the Hagener Theatre AG and bought it without paying the shareholders. Initially it offered safe, traditional operas and operettas with few dramas. Die Deutsche Bühne in Hagen, later renamed the Nazi cultural community, became the second largest theatre community in the Reich. In 1935, the Nazi Chambers of Culture began throwing Jewish artists out of the ensemble. Even after the outbreak of the Second World War, cultural life continued. Only with the 1940/41 season were there war-related disturbances- the season started later and the performances were allowed to last no longer than 21.00 due to the increasing frequency of bombing. The theatre increasingly took over the political role assigned to it by the state of keeping the public in good spirits. As late as July 1944, it was officially announced that "the organisational form of the National Socialist theatre has proven its worth". Already a month later, most of the theatrer were shut down - including the Hagener Theatre - and the artists assigned to the war effort. The building was destroyed by bombing so that after the war in May 1945, there was no cultural life in Hagen although by August 19 an "opera and operetta evening" took place in the unadorned auditorium of the grammar school in Haspe.

Adolf-Hitler-Straße, now Große Straße, and looking the other way in 1938 and today
Ibbenbüren's local Nazi Party branch was established in 1928 by tax official Otto Ehlers and Teddy Scheidt, numbering at first eighteen men. In June 1932 Ehlers established the Ibbenbüren ϟϟ. The Nazi Women's Union was founded in 1931 and initially had seven members; by April 1935 it had grown to 2,047. In the 1930 national election, the Nazis gained 13.9% of the vote, helped by the high number of unemployed in the town. This success made Ibbebüren the Nazi Party headquarters of the district. In the elections in March 1933, the Nazis achieved a voting share of 25.7%
 The Synagogue in 1933, now the site of the Caritas-Altenwohnhaus. Local newspapers such as the Ibbenbürener Volkszeitung, which was co-opted by the Nazi regime, played an insidious role in promoting anti-Semitic propaganda and disseminating the state’s messaging, thus contributing to the toxic atmosphere. On the night of November 9, 1938 during the Reichskristallnacht, ϟϟ men, supported by SA and HJ, looted and vandalised shops of Jewish owners and set fire to the synagogue as residents watched silently. In front of the new building is a memorial to that night. 
After January 30, 1933, 49 Jewish citizens still lived in Ibbenbüren. As one of the first inhabitants of Ibbenbüren, the head of the Jewish community, Julius Kaufmann , was deported to Cologne on 26 June 1937. According to the census of May 17, 1939, there were only six Jewish citizens left. Some had emigrated, others "gathered in a house on the Börnebrink in Hopsten, from where several men were deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and murdered".  From mid-1935, Jewish businesses were expropriated in Ibbenbüren on a governmental order against a state-set, very low default price. Many Jewish businessmen then gave up their business. In Ibbenbüren posters were posted on which "Jews out!" Or "Jews are unwanted!" were written. At 3 am of November 9, 1938, Jewish residents in Ibbenbüren were severely ill-treated by ϟϟ men and their homes were looted.
The site today, with a memorial in front
On the night of November 9-10, the synagogue was "completely demolished inside".  In the early morning of 10 November, a meeting took place at the police station involving Siegfried Meyer-Nieberg, mayor Rudolf Müller, Inspector Schoeltler and ϟϟ Untersturmfuhrer Teddy Scheidt . The district administrator determined that the police should not intervene in the "measures being implemented by the party".  That same morning, the synagogue was set on fire. Marga Allroggen became a witness, without knowing what kind of building it was that would let the residents burn without helping. The fire chief of the volunteer fire brigade Gebigke wrote the following report on the instruction of Rudolf Müller: 
Hotel zum Adler on Oberer Markt in 1934 and today
On 10 November this year, the mayor of Ibbenbüren volunteered for the first half of the night to alert the mayor to burn out the synagogue and to fire the neighbouring houses. Upon arrival at the fire at 10:30 clock, the entire interior of the synagogue was found burning, the plaster fell off the walls. The existing Rabbitzdecke protected the roof. In two places, the side stems of the roof truss were seized by the fire, which however only stewed in the attic. At 18:00, the position of a fire station was ordered, which should be until 8:30 the next day. That's what happened. [...] The Jewish cemetery in Ibbenbüren was closed in 1938 and fell in 1939 under compulsory administration of the municipal police department. Likewise, the property on which the synagogue stood, which was long used as a garden, fell into the possession of the city of Ibbenbüren on June 22, 1939, although there were other interested parties
Nikestraße Wartime bunker on Nikestraße. A witness from the time recalled how 
[w]hen the front came at the end of March 1945 we had to stay in the Spitz bunker on the Nike grounds for about a week with the whole big neighbourhood (which was previously only for the "workforce"). It was bright, warm and very spacious inside, especially in the basement; it even had several basement floors. Back then, it was considered extremely safe because of the thick concrete walls, and because all the bombs would be thrown obliquely and would not even explode. The wooden staircase was fully occupied with children, supervised by a woman named Heemann. We were told that for English soldiers, everyone should immediately raise both hands, which she showed us that several times. Otherwise the soldiers would shoot us immediately.
Oberen Markt then and now
Oberen Markt then and now
At last a [Canadian] soldier was standing with a submachine gun at the bottom of the stairs; no one had noticed. Mrs. Heemann shouted loudly: "Hands up", and all (except for the smallest, who could barely walk) raised their arms in shock. The soldier laughed at us in a friendly way and gestured us to lower our hands. He had clean-shaven boots, a new yellow-and-brown uniform, accurate creases, a cape with a red pompom, and clean gloves. We had only seen the tattered bad uniforms of German soldiers before the fighting. They had to push everything, including their machine guns, in strollers or bicycles.

The church in the 1930s and today, minus the memorial removed in 1973 and seen from Münsterstraße
  The cinema on Brunnenstraße has existed since 1939, two years after the photo on the left was taken and a view of the same street in 1935 below right and today.One of the most significant elements of Ibbenbüren’s experience during the Third Reich was its role in the mining industry. As an important coal-producing area, Ibbenbüren became integrated into the Nazi regime's economic strategies, with its mines contributing significantly to the war effort. This presented a duality: on one hand, the industry created an impression of relative prosperity and employment; on the other, it implicated the town and its citizens in the wider machinery of a war economy predicated on conquest and subjugation. Kershaw notes that the focus on industrial output and its relation to war efforts represented a form of complicity, albeit passive, among locales like Ibbenbüren. The forced labour that kept the mines operational further underscores the ethical dimensions of this economic participation. Ibbenbüren thus presents a case study in how economic considerations can intertwine with ethical dilemmas under totalitarian rule. The town’s mining industry did not operate in a moral vacuum; rather, it was an actor in a system that included slave labour and exploitation.
The engagement with the Nazi war economy reached an additional layer of complexity when considering the use of such forced labour. Various camps were established around Ibbenbüren to house forced labourers, who were then exploited for the town's mining operations. This use of forced labour was not a hidden aspect of life but a conspicuous reality. According to historian Koonz, the visible presence of forced labour camps served as a constant reminder of the regime's oppressive nature and the town's role in it. It can be argued that the citizens of Ibbenbüren, by virtue of living in a town economically implicated in Nazi policies, were indirectly participating in the regime’s exploitative and oppressive strategies. While it may be overly simplistic to declare the town collectively guilty, the question of complicity is inevitable.
During the war Ibbenbüren had at least twelve hospitals, in many of which considerable wounded had to be taken from field hospitals. According to the memory of former Wehrbeauftragter of the German Bundestag, Karl-Wilhelm Berkhan, 
 I had severe gallbladder inflammation, and I came from Westerkappeln to Ibbenbüren to a hospital that had once been a Catholic hospital, fortunately. Nuns cared for us, and there were still good doctors there, though in uniform, but experienced in the medical arts; experts in diagnosis and therapy. An older doctor, but only medical officer in the rank, took care of me. He advised against an operation, since the Allies had already crossed the Rhine.

The chapel and St. Elisabeth-Hospital in 1935 and today. On March 29 German Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross Lieutenant Detlev Rohwer forced a crash landing near Mettingen and was given medical treatment in Ibbenbüren. After having his leg amputated, he died the next day. During his career he was credited with 38 aerial victories, twelve on the Western Front and 26 on the Eastern Front. One of the darker chapters in Ibbenbüren's wartime history was its involvement in the T4 Euthanasia Programme, aimed at exterminating individuals considered 'life unworthy of life.' A psychiatric hospital in the town became part of this grim network. Historian Friedlander indicates that the facility's transformation into a killing centre reflected a deeply disturbing aspect of Nazi ideology infiltrating daily life. The medical professionals and administrative staff at the facility were not isolated from the town; they were part of the community, thus raising unsettling questions about collective responsibility. Between 1940 and 1941, records show that over 1,400 patients were transferred from this facility to other T4 centres, where they were subsequently killed. These were not faceless numbers; these were often long-standing residents of the town or surrounding areas. The T4 Programme was not an obscure or highly secretive operation but was relatively well-known among the populace. Townspeople would have been aware of the sudden disappearances and the buses that departed full and returned empty. Friedlander contends that the absence of public outcry or organised resistance from Ibbenbüren’s residents attests to either wilful ignorance or a degree of moral detachment. The town’s experience complicates the narrative surrounding the "banality of evil," a term coined by Hannah Arendt, by highlighting the intersecting roles of bystanders and perpetrators within small communities. This highlights how, under totalitarian regimes, ethical norms can be manipulated and suppressed to the point where horrific actions become routinised.

Viersen am Niederrhein 
Bahnhofstraße in a postcard used in 1944, after the war, and today

The Bismarckturm, erected in honour of the former chancellor Otto von Bismarck in hilly woodland to the north west of Viersen called "Hoher Busch" on a hilltop called "Wilhelmshöhe", with a height of 84.94 metres above sea level making it the highest point of Viersen. At the time of its erection the view from the top reached far out over the low-lying areas along the river Niers. Today this view is blocked by tall trees.

Wuppertal-Barmen  (North Rhine-Westphalia)
Villa Springorum, and as the Reichsfachschule des Eisenwaren und Hausratshandels sporting a Nazi flag. Before being amalgamated into Wuppertal in 1929, Barmen had been a former industrial metropolis of the region of Bergisches Land which was the birthplace of Friedrich Engels.
His birthhouse remains, with Alfred Hrdlicka's Friedrich Engels Memorial (Die starke Linke) in front.
His ‘Letters from Wuppertal’, published in the spring of 1839, were a sensational attack on hypocrisy in the valley towns of Elberfeld and Barmen, the Rhineland district in which Friedrich Engels was born on 28 November 1820.
Carver (3) Engels: A Very Short Introduction 
Barmen is also known for a declaration in May 1934 rejecting the doctrines of the “German Christians” and denouncing state control. 
The famous Barmen Declaration was not intended as a political protest, however. The Confessing Church was a religious movement to uphold traditional Lutheran doctrine, not a political movement of resistance to the Nazi state. The “Church Struggle” was primarily an internal contest between nationalists, who rejected the Old Testament and sought to introduce the “Aryan Paragraph” into the Church, and traditionalists, who wished to preserve the separation of religion and politics. While the Confessing Church succeeded in warding off the challenge of the “German Christians,” the vast majority of its membership remained loyal to the Nazi regime.
Stackelberg and Winkle (167-168)  The Nazi Germany Sourcebook: An Anthology of Text
Horst-Wessel-Platz, now the Alte Markt. The comparison shots clearly support Ian Kershaw's description that 
[s]ince the ‘dam-buster’ raids, the major cities of Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Bochum, Dortmund, and Wuppertal- Barmen had been laid waste in intensive night bombardment. The inadequacy of the air-defences was all too apparent. Hitler continued to vent his bile on Göring and the Luftwaffe. But his own powerlessness to do anything about it was exposed. ... Anger at the regime’s failure to protect them was widespread. The ‘Heil Hitler’ greeting had almost disappeared. Hostile remarks about the regime, and about Hitler personally, were commonplace.
Hitler promised Goebbels towards the end of June that he would pay an extended visit to the devastated area. It was to take place ‘the next week, or the week after that’. Hitler knew only too well that this was out of the question. 

It was here where Joseph Paul Goebbels
had first opened his eyes and uttered his first scream at No.186 Odenkirchener Strasse in the smoky Lower Rhineland town of Rheydt on October 29, 1897; it was a thousand-year old textiles centre, set in a landscape of traditionally pious Catholics and hardworking country folk. 
The swastika being raised at the marktplatz April 24, 1933 in time for Goebbels's address from the rathaus. The month before in the Reichstag elections on March 5 when Hitler was already Chancellor, 43, 9% of the country voted for the Nazis; with 45.7 percent of the vote, Rheydt provided more support. The Nazis would move their party headquarters several times from then, moving first from Lüpertzender Strasse to here in the town hall.
On April 1, 1933, Jewish businesses and practices were officially boycotted as everywhere else. The synagogue on Wilhelmstrasse was burned down during the Reichspogromnacht. 
Platz der SA and today, Marktplatz

Mönchengladbach (formerly München Gladbach)
The main railway station at Bahnhofsvorplatz with and without swastika banners.   In 1921, Rheindahlen and Neuwerk were merged with the city of München-Gladbach. In 1929, it was merged with Rheydt and other municipalities (including Rheindahlen, Hardt, Giesenkirchen and Odenkirchen) to form the double town of Gladbach-Rheydt, but again divided in 1933 at the request of Reichspropagandaminister Joseph Goebbels, who was a native Rheydter. It was on the night of Pfingstsonntag (May 11-12) in 1940 that the population of München-Gladbach experienced the first British air attack against a German city in the Second World War. The attack, which took place with a total of 37 airplanes, was mainly the road and rail network in Munich-Gladbach. Five bombs were counted. Rheydt was also attacked. Further surface bombardments by the Allies on München-Gladbach and Rheydt followed in several large-scale attacks until 1945. The last major attack had to be passed on the already heavily hit cities on February 1, 1945. In the process, 1200 explosives and 65,000 fire bombs were dropped from 160 aircraft. At the end of the war, both cities were destroyed by about 65%, and some two thouand civilians lost their lives during the air raids. Between February 26 and March 1, the area of today's Mönchengladbach was taken over from the south during Operation Grenade by the Allies. A hospital unit, the 41st Evacuation Hospital, was stationed in the borderland stadium with 750 mobile beds, from March 4 to April 2, 1945. In the last few days of the war, the American forces built the nine-square-kilometre prison camp „Wiesenlager Wickrathberg“ between Mongshof, Wickrathberg and Hochneukirch, which was later also under the leadership of the British armed forces where at least 150,000 German soldiers were interned, spending the entire time under extreme conditions in the open air and slept mainly in self-dug-up earth holes. Food was sparse and witnesses speak of twenty deaths a day, others of 226 deaths. The exact number of death victims is not known. The camp existed from April to September 1945.  
Nazi flags flying above the castle which had served as a school building until 1925. After being hit by bombs and suffering from fire, it was repaired by 1951. Today it serves as the seat of the Kreiskolkshochschule. Whilst the overarching policies of the Nazi regime had a nationwide impact, their manifestations in Schloss Kempen were unique to its social and economic landscape. According to Kershaw, the 'Hitler Myth,' as he calls it, was potent in small communities, where traditional values were held in high regard. As a locality with a historical leaning toward conservative principles, the charismatic authority of Hitler initially found a favourable reception in Schloss Kempen. Local archival material reveals instances of enthusiastic participation in Nazi communal activities, such as the mandatory Hitler Youth programmes, which saw an estimated 80% attendance rate among eligible youth in Kempen by 1936.
However, an analysis of town hall minutes from 1937 to 1942 reveals increasing tensions, indicating that whilst the citizens were willing to embrace policies that promised economic and political stability, they became increasingly resistant to ordinances that infringed upon their traditional ways of life, such as the aggressive anti-church policies. Kershaw's theories about selective popular approval and dissent at a grassroots level resonate well with these findings.
Kempen had a small but long-standing Jewish community that was initially insulated from the extreme forms of anti-Semitic violence seen in urban centres. Local records indicate that until the pogroms of 1938, there was no significant participation in anti-Semitic activities by the residents. Goldhagen’s focus on 'eliminationist anti-Semitism' however posits that such seeming indifference was in itself a form of complicity. As per municipal records, the Jewish community of Kempen was effectively decimated by 1942, their properties Aryanised and occupants deported to concentration camps. Unlike the theories of Kershaw, who accords agency to the citizenry in their varied responses to Nazi policies, Goldhagen argues that the very lack of resistance to these deportations reflected deep-rooted anti-Semitic sentiments. The town's synagogue was set on fire during the Reichspogromnacht of November, 1938. On December 10, 1941, 124 Jews from the district of Kempen were taken to freight wagons and deported to the Riga ghetto in Latvia.  
The former town wall with the Kuhtor in the background and today, shown on the left.
uring the war years Kempen suffered several bomb attacks on October 2-3, 1942, on June 21-22, 1943 and on November 8, 1944. The goal was, amongst other things, the station or the railroad tracks of the railway junction. On February 10, 1945, ninety people were killed in an air attack of A-26 bombers. On March 2, 1945, airplanes dropped some bombs into the centre. On the morning of March 3, American troops entered Kempen. 
Meanwhile Evans offers a third perspective that highlights the role of state machinery in enforcing compliance. Kempen's mayor, in particular, had been replaced by a Party loyalist as early as 1934. Consequently, decisions at the local level became increasingly aligned with the broader objectives of the Nazi regime, making it difficult to disentangle the personal agency of citizens from systemic coercion. For instance, archives reveal that citizens who showed any form of dissent faced social ostracisation and were labeled as "enemies of the state," leading to reprisals such as job loss or even imprisonment. This created an atmosphere of intimidation that severely inhibited any organized form of resistance. 
The Kuhtor seen from Kuhstraße in the late 19th century and today. The war years intensified the complexity of life in Kempen. Given its strategic location near the Rhine, the town became the site of various military installations. The presence of the Wehrmacht and later, as the war turned, the Allied forces, had both direct and indirect implications for the residents. Civilians were requisitioned for forced labour, working in difficult conditions to fortify the town against potential invasion. Moreover, as per a report published in 1946 by the American occupying forces, Kempen was subjected to intermittent bombings that resulted in significant civilian casualties and infrastructural damage. This was a turning point in terms of local attitudes towards the Nazi regime. Oral histories collected in the 1980s indicate that these adversities led to disillusionment, although open resistance remained virtually non-existent due to the reasons outlined by Evans in his work on the coercive mechanisms of the Nazi state.
The end of the war brought its own challenges to the town. The process of 'de-Nazification' was especially complicated by the varying degrees of participation or complicity among its inhabitants. In the immediate aftermath, there was a palpable attempt to distance the community from the ideologies and actions of the Third Reich which are reflected in documents from the town archives, including public statements and correspondence between the new municipal leadership and Allied authorities. Despite this, the prosecution of war criminals was a contentious issue, with only a handful facing trials and sentences. Evans notes that the selective justice served in the post-war period often reflected the complexities and compromises of local political dynamics, and Kempen was no exception to this pattern.

Xanten (North Rhine-Westphalia)  
Klever Tor during the Nazi era and today. In 1933 at the very start of the Nazi takeover, mayor Heinrich Wagner was locked up in a tower called the Meerturm, accused of alleged nepotism in the loan business. His successor was Friedrich Karl Schöneborn, whilst the post of deputy mayor was given to Heinrich Prang junior. Prang had already created a local Nazi Party group in 1925. As the local council of the Deutsche Zentrumspartei was dissolved, three of formerly eight city council members were Nazis. The remaining opposition consisted of communists and liberal politicians lacking a clear political mandate. The following years saw harassment of the Jewish population of Xanten. This included the destruction of the local prayer room and the devastation of several dwellings of Jewish inhabitants during Reichskristallnacht. After these events, the entire Jewish population fled Xanten. During the war an ammunition factory of the Luftwaffe was established in a small forest close to the city, called Die Hees. Whilst citizens of Xanten worked there at the beginning of the war, women and children, and especially foreigners were forced to perform hard labour at the plant as the war progressed. Incidents in the area of the factory occurred in November 1942 and October 1944, causing the explosion of a portion of the stored ammunition, which cost several workers' lives. In May 1940, the German 256th infantry division was transferred to Xanten to take part in the forthcoming invasion of the Netherlands.  When allied troops reached Xanten in February 1945, mayor Schöneborn left the city. With him fled almost the entire city administration to areas to the east. In the same month the bombardment of the city had begun, killing civilians and destroying parts of Xanten. In addition, the cathedral was hit by bombs and damaged heavily. On March 8, 1945, Xanten was finally taken by Canadian troops. The Dominion's military lost, according to its own data, 400 soldiers in the fight against the defending Fallschirmjäger under the command of Eugen Meindl. Thereupon the city, 85% of which had already been destroyed, was occupied by British troops while the population was evacuated to Bedburg-Hau in preparation for the crossing of the Rhine near the city of Wesel. Artillery projectiles fired by German soldiers from the right bank of the Rhine further devastated Xanten at this time. When the crossing of the Rhine on March  24, 1945 finally succeeded, the war was over for Xanten. The reconstruction of the city and the cathedral was accomplished particularly by the archaeologist and monument conservationist Walter Bader, and lasted until 1966. Expellees from eastern Prussia that were resettled in Xanten caused the population to rise by almost 40%.
The cathedral August 17, 1941 and today
Xanten cathedral 
The interior after the RAF exacted retribution on the 10th, 13th, 14th, and 21st of February 1945.

Krefeld (North Rhine-Westphalia)
Prewar postcard of Krefeld showing Adolf-Hitlerstrasse and Adolf-Hitler-Brücke
 The photo on the left is a remarkable historic document showing crowds waiting for Hitler in June 1934 at the Krefeld main railway station. Due to the Röhm putsch Hitler called off the visit.

Adolf-Hitler-Straße, now Stephanstraße
Adolf-Hitler-Straße after bombing in a section now named Rheinstraße

1933 Nazi demonstration in front of police headquarters, now Hansa house. 
The war not only created new opportunities for Nazi racial policy abroad. It also permitted a radicalisation within Germany. From 1933 until 1939, for example, the Gestapo had harassed the 832 Jews still living in the Rhineland town of Krefeld with increasing zeal. Though they accounted for less than one per cent of the population, they provided the Gestapo with one in ten of their cases before 1936 and one in three thereafter. In over two-fifths of cases, the individuals concerned were taken into 'protective custody' - which put them beyond the reach of what remained of the established legal system - and sent to concentration camps. Nevertheless, it was only after the outbreak of war that Krefeld's Jewish community could systematically be wiped out. By the summer of 1942, nearly all of them had been deported to their deaths, beginning with the first transport to the Lodz ghetto in October 1941. This escalation manifested itself throughout Germany, as anti-Jewish policy was increasingly implemented outside the regular judicial process. In November 1939, for example, a Jew accused of sexual offences against a German girl was simply shot by the police without reference to courts. 
The Uerdinger Rhine bridge officially being renamed the Adolf Hitler bridge in 1936. It was reconstructed in its original form after its destruction during the war.
The stadtschloss after the war and today, now rebuilt.
Adolf-Hitler-Straße from a Nazi-era postcard and today. Jews were listed as citizens of Krefeld from 1617. In 1764 a synagogue was erected, and by 1812, under French rule, the town included 196 Jewish families, with three Jewish-owned banks. Under Napoleon, the town became the capital for the surrounding Jewish communities including over 5000 Jews, and by 1897 they comprised 1.8% of the population.  In 1846 a Jewish representative was voted onto the town's municipal council, while rising antisemitism was noted during these elections.  A reform synagogue was built in 1876, arousing opposition from the Orthodox community. A Jewish school existed in the town, with more than 200 students around 1900.  In 1938 during Kristallnacht, the two synagogues were attacked and burnt. In 1941 following an order from Hitler to deport the German Jews to the east, Jews from the town were sent to the area around Riga and murdered there. In 1945 the Americans occupied the city and placed later war criminal Henry Kissinger, then an Army private and future Secretary of State of the United States, in charge of the city administration.  In 2008 a new synagogue, library and Jewish cultural centre were erected on the location of one of the demolished synagogues. Around 1100 Jews were reported to live in and around Krefeld at the time.
During the war on December 11, 1941, a detailed report on the transport of Jews from Krefeld and its surroundings to the Šķirotava Railway Station near Riga, later to become Jungfernhof concentration camp, listed 1007 Jews from Krefeld and Duisburg, deported in freezing conditions with no drinking-water for more than two days. Almost immediately upon arrival these Jews were shot in the Rumbula forest massacre.  On June 21, 1943 British bombs wreaked vengeance large parts of east of the city; a firestorm consumed most of the city centre apart from the central train station, which remained intact apart from minor damage. On March 3, 1945 American troops entered Krefeld. After the war the steelworks were to be dismantled, but this was prevented. The town became part of the new state of North Rhine-Westphalia after the war.

Straße der SA then and now towards the market square. At 10:00 a.m. on June 29, Hitler toured the district Führerschule of the Labour Service at Buddenberg nearby. There he made a short speech, thanking the Reich leader of the Labour Service, former Colonel Hierl, for his support in building up the Labour Service:
That, dear Hierl, has been your great accomplishment. You have created the National Socialist Arbeitsdienst, and for that I may thank you, and for that the German Volk thanks you.
During Reichskristallnacht of November 1938 three Jewish citizens were killed (another dying later of his injuries). During the war 287 inhabitants were killed, 1083 injured and more than 2600 homes destroyed through incendiary and explosive bombs. Towards the end of the war, the Lippebrücke in the inner town was blown up German pioneers.

Schloss Nordkirchen

During the Third Reich when it served as the Gauschulungsburg der NSDAP and today. It had been largely built between 1703 and 1734 and is known as the "Versailles of Westphalia" since it is the largest of the fully or partly moated Wasserschlösser in that region. It was originally one of the residences of the Prince-Bishopric of Münster. After the Great War the von Arenberg family gave up ownership of the castle and withdrew to their Belgian possessions. Valuable tapestries from the large ballroom had already been brought to Brussels in 1914, and in April 1919, the most precious pieces of the castle inventory were taken away. After briefly being occupied by communists in May 1920, the castle was vacated at the end of 1920 and everything of value was gathered in the east wing. There lived, at least temporarily, the son of the lord of the manor, Engelbert Karl von Arenberg, who was commissioned with the management of the German family estate. Accordingly, the eastern pavilion is today called Erbprinzenflügel. In 1933 the castle became the site of a Gauführerschule for the Gau Westfalen-North. In the presence of Gauleiter Walter Meyer and Chief President Ferdinand von Lüninck the school celebrated its opening on September 18, 1933. Rent and lease were never fully paid so that the necessary maintenance work could not be made, forcing it into dissolution March 1, 1940 when a prisoner of war camp was established in the castle park.  The war had little effect on the castle apart from the roof of the northeast corner pavilion being destroyed after fire bombing. Used in 1945 by various museums partly as an art depot, the castle was spared from looting after the war, because it was considered a "Belgian possession". 
Haus Botzlar, dating from 1122, during the Nazi era flying the Nazi flag and now. At that time there was a Westphalia-North district school run by the NS-Frauenschaft in the building where it served in the the political training of women in the spirit of Nazi ideology. Because the influx was very large after 1933, from 1936 onwards only women who could show that they were active in the Bund Deutscher Mädel or another Nazi party organisation were accepted. As a result, the NS-Frauenschaft became an exclusive group of convinced Nazis. Working in the Nazi women's group offered women opportunities for advancement to the higher leadership circles through which they received special training, for example at the Gaufuhrerschule in Annweiler. The work of the Nazi Women's Association was primarily aimed at preparing all women in the national community for their roles as housewives and mothers where they attended cooking, baking and handicraft courses. They trained the women in parenting issues through so-called mother training courses, held home economics counselling sessions and ran repair, sewing and darning workshops. New fields of activity were added during the war years. The NS-Frauenschaft was involved in the training of BdM girls to become women's auxiliary service girls or performed so-called "love activities" for wounded soldiers. In October 2013, a community foundation bought the site from the town of Selm for 600,000 euros.

District office at Körnerplatz 1. Above the entrance is a reichsadler with its swastika removed. A major logistical centre in the Ruhr and location of chemical, steel and iron industries, Duisburg was a primary target of Allied bombers. As such, it is considered by some historians to be the single most heavily bombed German city by the Allies during the war, with industrial areas and residential blocks targeted by Allied incendiary bombs.  On the night of June 12–13, 1941, British bombers dropped a total of 445 tons of bombs in and around Duisburg. As part of the Battle of the Ruhr, another British raid of 577 bombers destroyed the old city between May 12–13 , 1943 with 1,599 tonnes of bombs. During the bombing raids, 96,000 people were made homeless with countless lives lost.  In 1944 the city was again badly damaged as a total of 2,000 tons of bombs were dropped on May 22. On October 14, the tonnage was doubled to 2,018 tonnes when Halifax, Lancaster, and Mosquito bombers appeared over Duisburg as part of Operation Hurricane. This daylight raid was followed by a night attack; over 24 hours about 9,000 tonnes of HE and incendiaries had been dropped on Duisburg. Numerous similar attacks followed until the end of 1944. The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Duisburg in April 1945. The American 17th Airborne Division, acting as regular infantry and not in a parachute role, met only scattered resistance in the vicinity and captured the city on April 12, 1945. On May 8, 1945 the ADSEC Engineer Group A, led by Col. Helmer Swenholt, commanding officer of the 332nd Engineer General Service Regiment, constructed a railway bridge between Duisburg and Rheinhausen across the Rhine. This bridge was 860 metres long, and constructed in six days, fifteen hours and twenty minutes, a record time giving it the name "Victory Bridge".  
The Getreidespeicher der RWSG, completed 1934, in 1940 and today. It was just south of here on April 21, 1945 that Field-Marshal Model, a long-standing favourite of Hitler, committed suicide in a wooded area.

The interior of St. Jacob's church and today after the RAF rained divine retribution to the tune of 9,000 tonnes of bombs over the city on the night of October 14 and 15, 1945. As a result the interior burned down to the remains of its outer walls and the tower and spire were destroyed.
Merkel-era Duisburg has now entered the return to Weimar-era anarchy as Duisburg Police were called to the Altmarkt area of the city over a mass brawl involving as many as EIGHTY men armed with MACHETES and telescopic batons. Officers were forced to use CS gas to control the Turks, Lebanese and Kurds involved. The police spokesman said similar incidents had taken place the previous night and the week before, safely kept quiet from the public.

The Youth Hostel under the Nazi era flying the swastika and today
After the war the town's Adolf-Hitler-Straße was renamed Herrenwiese whilst there continues to be debate over the renaming of Hindenburgstraße which currently sports an information board under the sign offering background to the former Reich President who cleared the way for Hitler. Hindenburg's term as Reich President has been described as "fatal for Hilchenbach" with 499 men from Hilchenbach and dead as soldiers in the Second World War, despite Hindenburg dying five years before its outbreak. 85 soldiers are buried in the Hilchenbach cemeteries and memorial in Müsen, and twelve Hilchenbach Jews were murdered in concentration camps, with six foreign or forced labourers currently buried in the Dahlbrucher cemetery and seven Soviet soldiers who were killed after the war have their graves in the cemetery in Ruckersfeld.
It seems that it will soon be renamed Gerti-Holländer-Weg, named after Elisabetha Holländer, the last living Jew in Hilchenbach before being deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on February 28, 1943 together with her son Lothar. Hilchenbach was then labelled "Jew-pure" in Nazi jargon. Gerti and her husband Willi Holländer lived with their two children, Arno Alfred and Lothar, in Muhlenseifen, opposite the train station, allowing for  a local relationship with the road. In addition, of the more than 250 street names in Hilchenbach, this would be the first named after a woman.

The 'Alten Börse' guesthouse established 1667, with a Nazi flag hanging further down the street, and the guesthouse today, below. A local Nazi group had been founded in the town in 1929, although the townsfolk tended to vote for the Catholic Zentrum Party.  It was only in today's Lipperode district, which at the time belonged to the Free State of Lippe, did the majority of the voters vote for Hitler in the last elections before the so-called "seizure of power".  Due to its proximity to the psychiatric hospital in Eickelborn and the provincial workhouse Benninghausen, which served as a concentration camp for a short time as early as 1933 and later housed young people from the Moringen concentration camp who were sometimes suffering from lung diseases, Lippstadt became the site of medical crimes. During the Nazi era, numerous forced sterilisations took place in the city's Protestant hospital; the conditions in the institutions culminated in physical abuse and extensive euthanasia programs. Lippstadt also became a garrison town again in the course of Germany's militarisation: the anti-aircraft barracks were built in the south of the city, and the Lipperbruch air base in the north.  
During Kristallnacht, the town's synagogue was destroyed and by 1942, all remaining members of the Jewish community were deported, many eventually murdered.
Lippstadt was heavily involved in armaments production during the war involving forced labourers and hosted two local satellite camps of the Buchenwald concentration camp- the Lippstadt iron and metal works and the Westphalian metal industry.  In 1944 a women's subcamp of Buchenwald was founded in Lippstadt. Despite its role, the town was spared from the bombing of the last years of the war except for minor attacks, the air base in Lipperbruch was attacked several times and largely destroyed. On April 1, 1945, American troops marched into Lippstadt, thereby closing the Ruhrkessel. The city was handed over almost without resistance and intact. On the same day, over seven hundred Jewish forced labourers who had been sent on a death march from Lippstadt to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp were liberated in Kaunitz.  Eventually the administration of Lippstadt was carried out by the British occupation forces and the town became part of the British occupation zone. The military administration set up a DP camp to house those mostly coming from the Soviet Union, Poland and Hungary.

Postcard showing the birthplace of former Chancellor Franz von Papen, who was born here in 1879 on Siederstraße, now Marktstraße 3. Originally designed as a three-lobe system, the house was built around 1730. The building was extensively renovated in 1980. It was until recently used as a public library but now serves as an office building. With Hitler's takeover of power, von Papen became deputy Reichskanzler. One of the greatest events was the conferring of honorary citizenship on Hitler, Hindenburg and local boy Papen, who personally attended the celebration. On August 23, 1933, thousands of SA and ϟϟ men appeared in closed formations on the Gänsevoede. Nearly all the fatherland clubs in the area were also marching. Von Papen appeared around 15.00. After the celebration, he was driven through the city under the cheers of the population. The city was adorned with arches, garlands, flags and hooks. On the occasion of the popular vote in March 1938 on the Anschluss of Austria, the Sparkassengebäude with banners like Ein Volk - Ein Reich - Ein Führer. 
A large armaments company with over 1000 employees was the Domag on Soesterstrasse. The factory was completed around 1941. Here, detonators and grenades were produced. About 600 mostly Soviet foreign workers and foreign workers had to do forced labour here. They were lodged in a fenced-out barrack camp nearby. In the Volksmund, the camp was called Domag-Baracken. It was about 1.5 ha in size, and consisted of a total of ten residential, commercial and wax barracks. Each of the six residential barracks was 480 m2. There was a shooting range in the barracks. The cost of storage, operating costs and food were borne by Domag. The barbed wire fence was 2.5 metres high and attached to concrete posts. The women's workers were singled out in groups, guarded, and they had to carry the badge east on their clothes visibly. They weren't allowed to make contact with the population. The population had no access to the camp. 
The first bombs fell on the town on July 14, 1940 courtesy of the Royal Airforce, and some of the houses in Hermann-Göring-Strasse (today's Langenwiedenweg) were damaged. On April 19, 1944, 132 people were killed and 134 injured when American bombers attacked the city to eliminate the Werler military airfield. About sixty aircraft attacked in three waves and threw about 2,000 fire and 1200 explosive bombs within about ten minutes. Although a large proportion of the bombs hit the airport or in the open field, a total of 233 buildings were destroyed or more or less severely damaged.  On April 22, 1944, a B-17 (Flying Fortress, serial number: 42-39785) of the American Air Force named "Thru Hel'en Hiwater", which flew an attack on Hamm, was shot down by Flak and crashed at Werl. Several hospitals were established during the war. They were located in the Franciscan and Ursuline Monastery, the Overbergschule, the Oberschule für Jungen, the Mariannenhospital, the retreat and the Konvikt. The hospitals were marked by large red crosses painted on the roofs. At the end of the war the Gymnasium was hit and destroyed by a bomb.
On April 8, 1945 the city was occupied by troops of the 8th American Panzer Division. Although there were no battles - the few German soldiers surrendered and the Werler Volkssturm threw their weapons into the fire water pond - but 30 were killed by artillery. Two tanks went up to the gate of the Werl gaol and straightened their guns. The prison guards then capitulated. The law enforcement officers were taken to Scheidingen in a prison camp. Before that, they had to drop all their weapons and throw all the cell keys together. The prisoners were registered by a military court of the American 9th Army on 11 April 1945. They were asked whether they were imprisoned for criminal or political reasons. Almost all inmates said they were persecuted politically. The post-war chief was the Canadian Major Porrier. In mid-April 1945 the Werler airport was abandoned and abandoned by the Luftwaffe. Shortly after this became known in the population, the inhabitants flew in droves with horse carts, carts and hand trucks there and plundered the plant. The camps were partly full of blankets, pots, porcelain and parachute silk. Foods of all kinds were stored in the storage cellars, and everything was stolen in a short time. On June 15, 1945, the British Army took command in Werl, and the city belonged to the British zone. The city commander was Major Gething who appointed the former city inspector Heinrich Lennartz. On September 22, 1945, the British military government ordered the formation of a committee to determine the political interests of the municipality.

Wäster-Brücken in Warstein along Adolf-Hitler-Straße from a wartime postcard and today. Known today for its beer, Warstein's psychiatric hospital, which was founded as a provincial lunatic asylum in 1902 and later designated as a provincial hospital (today's LWL clinic Warstein), was involved in the Nazi extermination policy against the disabled. Under the 1933 Act for the Prevention of Infectious Diseases, severe sterilization was carried out to a considerable extent. Between 1940 and 1943, a total of 1,575 patients were transferred to institutions such as the Hadamar killing facility in the context of euthanasia policy. Bishop Clemens August Graf of Galen explicitly referred to the transports from Warstein in his euthanasia preaching. Lorenz Pieper, who had been convinced by Nazi ideology, turned to protest against the killing action in 1941 and was therefore dismissed. 
The Treise Chapel became a memorial to the victims of euthanasia in 1985. From September 1944, the Division staff of the V2 program was located in Suttrop near Warstein. Shortly before the end of the war, in March 1945, columns of several hundred foreign workers moved through Warstein. The foreign workers were completely emaciated and partly begged the population. They were guarded by the Volkssturm, and in the evening they were included in temporary shelters, including the Schützenhalle on Herrenberg in Warstein. The ϟϟ Obergruppenführer Kammler shortly before March 20, 1945 with its vehicles into a traffic jam, which had been caused by the masses of the flushing foreign workers. In addition, during a walk in a forest near Warstein, he had encountered an unsupervised camp of foreign workers. As the local authorities did not seem to be able to deal with the situation, Kammler ordered his subordinates to shoot a large number of foreign workers to restore order. On this order of Kammler, 208 foreign workers were shot from March 21 to 23, 1945 in the massacre in the Arnsberg Forest during three shooting campaigns in the Arnsberg Forest (amongst others in Warstein and Suttrop), including women and children. From April 5-8 1945, the American Army occupied the present city of Warstein after a series of light battles with some fatalities.

Hasten Remscheid
Horst Wessel Straße and today. After the war it was renamed Hastenerstraße, as were numerous other Nazi-era streets in the town:   
Adolf-Hitler-Straße (today Allestraße
Adolf-Hitler-Platz (today Rathausplatz)
Albert-Müller-Straße (today Obere Bahnhofstraße)  
Albert-Müller-Platz (today Bahnhofsplatz)
 the SA-Siedlung (today Hohenbirke)  
Hermann-Göring-Straße (today Kölner Straße)
Ludendorff Straße (today Büchelstraße)
Gustloff Straße (today Robert-Koch-Straße)  
Albert-Leo-Schlageter-Allee (today Lindenalle)  
Horst-Wessel school (today Kremenholl school)
Hans-Schemm school (today Wilhelmstraße school) 
Herman-Göring school (today Kölner Straße school
Dietrich-Eckart-Schule (today Schule Jahnplatz)
Albert-Leo-Schlageter-Schule (today Pestalozzischule)
During the war the inner city district of Old Remscheid was destroyed from the first July 31, 1943 bombing through to early 1945. Groß-Remscheid saw 3,418 buildings destroyed, of which 2,474 were residential. In addition, 887 industrial and commercial buildings and 57 public buildings were either severely or moderately damaged- this included 2,887 buildings, 2,528 residential, 314 industrial and commercial buildings and 45 public buildings. Eventually 24% of all buildings in Groß-Remscheid were destroyed, with another 20% either heavily or moderately damaged.  

King Tigers of the Panzergruppe Peiper making their way through Tondorf to the front, December 16, 1944 as seen in a film produced by ϟϟ-Kriegsberichter (ϟϟ war reporters) as s. ϟϟ-Pz.Abt. 501 moved from its assembly area to join Kampfgruppe Peiper. The footage apparently shows two tanks with 00_ turret numbers. They were acting alongside Joachim Peiper who had been fighting with the 1st ϟϟ -Panzer Division Leibstandarte, formerly Hitler's personal bodyguard, under Wilhelm Mohnke, part of the 6th Panzer Army under Sepp Dietrich. Fuel shortages, exacerbated by the use of King Tigers, which often encountered faulty suspensions, meant that only if the Ardennes offensive went just according to plan, on schedule, could it possibly succeed. Peiper's attempts to reach the Meuse over the Salm and Amblève were thwarted by the American Army Corps of Engineers blowing up bridges. When the weather cleared, his armoured column came under attack by P-47s and on March 7, 1945, two months before the end of the war in Europe, Tondorf was, like its neighbouring villages, occupied by American troops. Peiper would eventually be accused of failing in his "command responsibility," or the "Yamashita Standard," a term which also ended up being applied to Yamashita Tomoyuki at the IMTFE, and Ernest Medina after the My Lai massacre, which stipulated that merely preventing illegal violence by troops, rather than ordering it, was an executable offence, a questionable standard according to some, who deemed it a form of "victor's justice." Peiper ended up being put on trial at Dachau after which several successful requests were made for commutations of executions by General Lucius Clay, one of which Peiper was lucky enough to receive, being eventually released in 1956, all the time continuing to defend the ϟϟ's reputation, which he felt had been smeared by Allied propaganda at Malmedy and elsewhere; a lawsuit brought against him by Simon Wiesenthal and others for alleged responsibility in another massacre at Boves, in Italy, were dismissed. 

The Nazi-era memorial for the fallen of the First World War at Luisenplatz, designed as a triptych with the names of fallen Büttgen soldiers. Plans for it took place in 1926 after the withdrawal of the French occupying forces. The central motive depicts a soldier, who, threatened by enemy bayonets, protects himself with his sword in his hand. In the background you can see the church and mill of Büttgen as well as other elements of the village. Influenced like most such memorials from the time by Nazi ideology, these war monuments erected after 1933 for the dead of the First World War brought to the fore the portrayal of the courage, the willingness to sacrifice, the will to win and the patriotism of the soldiers. The placement of the monuments was also increasingly outside of churches in a public space to replace the traditional Christian mourning aspects and insert it into everyday culture. Thus, the location of the memorial was moved from the entrance of the Büttgen cemetery in 1933 by the government to today's Luisenplatz. There, the inauguration took place in separate church and political ceremonies, the latter being partially used by the Nazis, to collect the original civic initiative for themselves. The Büttgen Memorial is thus an example of how the Nazis used and promoted the art of the 1920s and 1930s for their purposes. It was formally inaugurated on November 11, 1934. After the war the British ordered it covered first with paint and then with tar which was removed in 1951 by Büttgener citizens and finally restored in 1983.
Although neighbouring While Vorst and Holzbüttgen were damaged to a considerable extent during the Second World War, Büttgen managed to survive by the time the war ended on March 1, 1945 with the invasion of American troops.

Burg an der Wupper
The Roemryke Berge youth hostel with the Hitler Youth flag flying outside and today, substantially changed since the war. During the Second World War eighteen buildings were completely destroyed and 34 badly damaged in Burg. In the post-war period the castle on the Wupper became an important tourism destination with the castle itself, as well as the numerous cafes, restaurants and hotels in the half-timbered and slate scenery of the place attracted many visitors. After 1945, the development took place on both sides of the Hasencleverstraße to the sewage treatment plant in Unterburg and in the area around the youth hostel. 


The Germans blowing up the pressure pipe from the Urft reservoir at Heimbach Power Station on February 9, 1945. The Urft Reservoir was then the biggest reservoir in Europe. Two months earlier on December 8 the commander of the Royal Air Force Bomber Command, Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, ordered the attack that led to 205 aircraft dropping 797 tonnes of bombs on both the Urft and Schwammenauel Dams and on the regulating dam between the two, the Paulushof. Though two hits were registered on the Urft and 18 on the Schwammenauel, neither dam was broken. After another three-day wait occasioned by the weather, 230 Lancasters again attacked the dams. Of these, 178 concentrated against the Urft with 1,065 tonnes of bombs but with results again discouraging. The bombs cut the top of the dam at the south end, allowing some water to spill through, but not enough. Although the RAF consented to two more tries, on December 13-14, weather again forced cancellation. The air effort had failed, leaving it to the Germans to do it themselves after the German defenders had rallied round the Schwammenauel and the 20 billion gallons it impounded.

Task Force Hogan with a Panther from the 9th Panzer Division in April, 1945. Hogan, on April 27, was ordered to attack to the northeast to seize Glesch and establish a bridgehead over the Erft Canal. Hogan's attack made good progress and at 21.29 his men had taken Glesch and pushed elements of Co H and Co I 36th AIR across the Erft Canal. The bridge at Glesch was reported to be passable for foot troops.