Bonn – the City


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October 20, 2018

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A Balance of Horror


In 1933, the Nazis seize power also in Bonn, opening the darkest chapter in the town’s history: burning of books, the forced cooptation of institutions and organisations (‘Gleichschaltung’), Pogrom Night, deportations, bombing nights. The worst air-raid occurred on 18th October, 1944, with a death toll of over 300. The final balance of horror is depressing: 1,150 women and men were murdered by the Nazis, among them approximately 770 of Jewish descent and 50 Sinti. The overall figures of war victims are: 1,904 dead civilians, 3,662 disabled persons, 4,020 soldiers killed, 3,686 missing.

One third of Bonn is destroyed. The neighbouring towns of Beuel and Bad Godesberg are less afflicted. Town Hall, Minster Church, the university, Poppelsdorf Palace, the clinical centre, Beethoven Hall, the entire old part of town, are all in ruins. 2,647 dwellings are razed to the ground, 10,414 are damaged, part of them severely. The air raids leave 700,000 cubic metres (almost 2.5 million cubic feet) of debris. The survivors roll up their sleeves and buck up to rebuild their town. Temporary narrow-gauge railways for the removal of rubble, starvation and the black market characterise the first post-war years, first under American, subsequently under British occupation.

Last update: November 22, 2011



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