blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pforzheim, then and now

We're off to Germany again and while Chris is working with some company customers, we'll be staying in a town we haven't been in before. Pforzheim is known for its jewelry and watch-making industry, for which it was nicknamed Goldstadt. Once, further back in time, it was a centre for the lumber trade which transported timber from the Black Forest via the Würm, Nagold, Enz rivers and thence down the Neckar and the Rhine to the Netherlands for shipbuilding, and the construction of Amsterdam "on poles in a swamp," as the Wikipedia puts it. 

 Here follows some more information from the Wikipedia, a horrific story:
In the 2nd world war, Pforzheim suffered many raids in 1944 and 1945, because of its production of precision instruments for military use. The largest raid occurred on the evening of February 23, 1945, bombs falling for 22 minutes. This attack on "Yellowfin", the RAF's code name for Pforzheim, included 379 aircraft. The post-war British Bombing Survey Unit estimated that 83 per cent of the town's built-up area was destroyed, "probably the greatest proportion in one raid during the war". In the town centre, almost 90% of the buildings were reduced to rubble. 17,600 citizens were officially counted as dead and thousands were injured. People died from the immediate impact of explosions, from burns due to burning incendiary materials that seeped through basement windows into the cellars of houses where they hid, from lack of oxygen and poisonous gases, and from collapsing walls of houses. Some of them drowned in the Enz or Nagold rivers into which they had jumped while trying to escape from the burning incendiary materials in the streets, but even the rivers were burning as the phosphorus floated on the water. 
After the attack, about 30,000 people had to be fed by makeshift public kitchens because their housing had been destroyed. Many Pforzheim citizens were buried in common graves at Pforzheim's main cemetery because they could not be identified. There are many graves of complete families. Rather than rebuild the centre of Pforzheim on the old street plan, the main thoroughfares were widened after the war. The rubble from the destruction was heaped into a large, high mound on the outskirts of the town and covered with soil and vegetation, officially named the "Wallberg".
We are going to stay in the centre of the town next week, at a hotel beside the River Enz. The photos indicate an attractive town with grassy walks and flowery public squares. A wine festival will be taking place there.

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