Bombing of Würzburg in World War II

Bombing of Würzburg in World War II

During World War II, on 16 March 1945, 89% of the Würzburg was laid to ruins by a British Royal Air Force bombing raid. Most of the main artistic highlights were destroyed, such as the episcopal palace, the historic fortress and the major churches. The baroque city center was irrecoverably damaged. During the next 20 years, the historically important buildings would be painstakingly re-constructed to the way they originally were. Today, many of the historical relics are, in fact, high-quality replicas; something many visitors to the city do not realise. The famous Würzburg Residence, which was badly damaged, has a piece of the original architecture from 1945. To this day, the blackened bomb damage can still be seen on it.

Two hundred and twenty five Lancaster and eleven Mosquito bombers from No. 5 Group arrived over the city at about 21.30 hours (CET). The Mosquito Pathfinders were used to target the town centre with markers. The Lancasters released 1,127 tons of bombs (including around 370,000 incendiaries) in seventeen minutes. [ [ Royal Air Force Bomber Command Campaign Diary March 1945] ] A firestorm developed, raising the temperature to around 1500°C and killing approximately five thousand people.

Detlef Siebert wrote in an article on "British Bombing Strategy in World War Two" for the BBC: "Some ... like Würzburg or Pforzheim were primarily selected because they were easy for the bombers to find and destroy. Because they had a medieval centre, they were expected to be particularly vulnerable to fire attack." [Detlef Siebert [ British Bombing Strategy in World War Two] Page 4 BBC 1 August 2001]

Würzburg was also the name of the German Würzburg radar system which formed part of the Kammhuber Line air defences. However the City of Würzburg had no direct connection to the radar system, the name being chosen simply because the project leader of the development team liked to use geographic names for the equipment his team developed.


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