Air raids on Nuremberg

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The air raids on Nuremberg by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) caused severe damage to the city between 1940 and 1945.

Nuremberg after 1900
Air war damage after January 2, 1945

During the Second World War , Nuremberg was one of the preferred targets of the Allied bombers, but due to its location in southern Germany it came into their range of action relatively late. Due to the strong industry and its function as a traffic junction, but also as a residential town and due to its symbolic meaning as the “city of the Nazi party rallies ”, it was an important destination for the Allies.

22 heavy and medium air strikes on Nuremberg were carried out by the RAF and USAAF. Over 7,800 heavy bombers were used. The greatest destruction was caused by the attack of January 2, 1945, when 521 RAF bombers dropped 6,000 explosive bombs and a million incendiary bombs within half an hour . The population suffered over 1,800 dead and 100,000 homeless in this attack, which was carried out in accordance with the British Area Bombing Directive . From 1941 to 1945 there were a total of over 6,000 aerial warfare deaths. The old town of Nuremberg was almost completely destroyed and the city as a whole was badly damaged. After Würzburg, Nuremberg was the second most destroyed city in the bombing war in Bavaria and is also one of the top places in Germany. The eastern side of Sebald (north of the Pegnitz) was called the "steppe" after the destruction and during the clearing of rubble.

The air raids ended on April 11, 1945. On April 20, after the Battle of Nuremberg , the city was occupied by units of the 7th US Army with artillery bombardment lasting several days .

Nuremberg as a target

British bombing targets in Germany, Nuremberg: from page 514
British Avro Lancaster dropping a "Blockbuster" mine bomb and stick incendiary bombs (1944)
American "Flying Fortress" Boeing B-17 over Nuremberg (1945)

Nuremberg was an important production location for armaments and the densely populated medieval old town was a well-suited destination for the purposes of the British Area bombing directive . Nuremberg was also officially given the nickname “City of the Nazi Party Rallies” under National Socialism, and was a target with considerable symbolic effect.

In relation to the total building mass, the city center had a high proportion of half-timbered houses, i.e. buildings that were easily combustible due to the high proportion of wood, and was therefore suitable for an effective attack with a combination of high explosive and incendiary bombs . The purpose was to ignite a firestorm to increase the effectiveness of the incendiary bombs. Day-to-day attacks on industrial and infrastructure targets with the aim of achieving a high level of accuracy from a technological point of view were mostly flown by the technically better equipped US Army Air Forces due to the division of labor between the Allied air fleets, while area bombings at night were mostly flown by the British RAF with their Pathfinder Force .

There were numerous militarily relevant targets in the city area, but not in the old town most severely affected by the attack on January 2, 1945: MAN in the southern part of the city built diesel engines for submarines and relevant components of the Panther tanks , among other things . Other important companies were the Siemens-Schuckertwerke , TEKADE , Nüral (Nürnberger Aluminumwerke, today Federal-Mogul ), the Nürnberger Schraubenfabrik (NSF) and Diehl . In addition, there was the Nuremberg motorcycle industry ( Zündapp / Neumeyer, Hercules , Triumph , Victoria ) and 120 other armaments and forced labor companies. Another goal was the facilities of the Deutsche Reichsbahn : the marshalling yard in the south of the city and the main railway lines running through Nuremberg.

Chronology of the air raids on Nuremberg and the surrounding area

Until 1942 there were only minor attacks. From 1942 to 1944 there was a fight for air supremacy over Germany. From 1944, the Allies had largely won this. From autumn 1944 the attackers' airfields were so close that low-flying planes also appeared. The table is based on the information from GW Schramm.

date Planes Bomb load (t) Description of the air strike Dead / injured / homeless
August 7th Bombs on Fürth / Burgfarrnbach
20./21. December Bombs on the March field
12./13. October 152 RAF bombers, v. a. Wellington and Whitley Only 20 explosive bombs and 14 incendiary canisters hit; minor damage in Nuremberg, but more severe damage in Schwabach 9 dead; 50 destroyed houses in Schwabach
28/29 August RAF bombers Southwest of the Stadtpark and Südstadt , the Alte Kongresshalle / Luitpoldhalle in the Luitpoldarena , the castle 136 dead; 152 destroyed houses, 220 fires
after that 4 air raids
25./26. February 337 four-engined RAF bombers Because of the cloud cover, most of the bombs fell in Knoblauchsland , others hit northern and northwestern parts of the city, the Dynamit AG plant in Stadeln / Fürth and the fortified church in Kraftshof 27 dead; 44 large, 8 medium and 10 small fires
8/9 March
from 11pm
335 four-engined RAF bombers 358 t high explosive and 412 t incendiary bombs Southern old town: roof structure of the toll hall ; also imperial castle, Siemens transformer works, marshalling yard 343 dead; 171 large, 339 medium and 1746 small fires; Time fuse bombs
10/11 August
653 four-engined RAF bombers: Lancaster , Stirling , Halifax 878 tons of high explosive and as many incendiary bombs North, southern old town, Wöhrd ; St. Sebald , St. Lorenz ; u. a. Germanisches Nationalmuseum , the last hop hall on the Kornmarkt. Also damage in Fürth , Fischbach and Feucht 585 dead; Houses destroyed in 1732, heavily damaged in 1156 and moderately damaged in 2,386
27./28. August 674 four-engine RAF bombers Darkness, strong flak and night fighters disrupted the target approach, and many bombs fell on southern suburbs. In Nuremberg: Maxfeld, Nordostbahnhof, southern old town, Laufamholz ; the Neumeyer and MAN companies 56 dead; 458 destroyed, 361 moderately severe and 1704 slightly damaged houses
February 25,
12:47 p.m.
172 Liberator of the USAAF The destination was the Bachmann aircraft factory in Fürth owned by Blumenthal & Co. 138 dead, 122 injured
March 31 795 RAF bombers: 572 Lancaster, 214 Halifax, 9 Mosquitos 910 t high explosive bombs and 1,176 t incendiary bombs The attackers suffered great losses: 95 bombers were shot down (see Cologne Hole ). In Nuremberg, the attack was classified as “moderate”, and further damage occurred in the neighboring towns to the east ( Röthenbach an der Pegnitz , Behringersdorf, Lauf an der Pegnitz ) In Nuremberg: 74 dead and 122 injured; 130 destroyed, 879 moderately severe and 2505 slightly damaged houses
April 10,
10:48 a.m.
233 B-17G and 241 USAAF escort fighters Fürth, Nuremberg armaments companies: MAN, TEKADE 82 dead, 366 injured; 211 residential buildings destroyed, 214 severely, 1365 moderately severe and 1800 slightly damaged houses
13 air raids
October 3,
11:15 a.m.
USAAF 454 B-17 The destination was the MAN, but due to the cloud cover no precise aiming was possible. The northern old town was also hit : Weinstadel , Viatishaus, 62 patrician houses 353 dead, 1,033 injured; 518 destroyed, 738 severely, 1097 moderately severely and 4109 slightly damaged houses
19./20. October 263 Lancaster and 7 RAF mosquitos South and old town. Gustav Adolf Church, MAN, Siemens, marshalling yard 237 dead, 10,383 homeless
62 air raids and public air warnings
25./26. November Mosquitos of the RAF Small disturbance attack, a train and several buildings were hit over 60 dead
until December 24th Mosquitos of the RAF More small nuisance attacks; called in England "Mosquitos on siren tours"
January 2nd, evening 514 Lancaster and 7 RAF mosquitos 1825 t high explosive and 479 t incendiary bombs Complete destruction of the old town of Nuremberg with irreplaceable damage to the historical structure. Armaments companies were also hit: MAN, TEKADE, Nüral, Nürnberger Schraubenfabrik 1,835 dead, more than 3,000 injured, 100,000 homeless; 4553 destroyed, 2047 severely, 2993 moderately severely and 7000 slightly damaged houses; Firestorm and 2 block fires, 1194 large, 851 medium and 1070 small fires
January and February Mosquitos of the RAF More small nuisance attacks
February 20,
12:30 p.m.
USAAF 831 B-17 and 360 B-24 Already on the approach the B-24 had to turn back due to bad weather. Because of the cloud cover over the target, the bombs were thrown blind and spread over the whole city; Accumulations at railway systems and in the southern part of the city s. u.
February 21,
10:40 a.m.
1205 USAAF bombers The targets were the main and marshalling yard, but Gostenhof and St. Johannis were also hit. Both attacks killed 1,356 people and left 70,000 homeless
February March 2 nuisance attacks
March 16
8:53 p.m.
301 Lancaster and 40 Mosquitos of the RAF Serious damage in the southern part of the city: Steinbühl and Galgenhof, St. Peter, Gostenhof; also Muggenhof, Thon , Schnepfenreuth and Poppenreuth 517 dead
19th March Nuisance attacks
April 5th USAAF 254 B-17 The goal was the main and the marshalling yard, mainly residential areas in the southern part of the city were hit s. u.
April 5th 72 USAAF B-17 Fürth and the Unterschlauersbach airfield Both attacks resulted in 197 deaths.
April 8th 89 USAAF B-24 The destination was again the Bachmann aircraft factory in Fürth owned by Blumenthal & Co.
5th – 10th April Low-flying aircraft Rail transport, flak position at Zollhaus, rail repair shop in Gostenhof
April 11, afternoon 143 RAF bombers Marshalling yard and neighboring residential areas 74 dead

14 heavy to moderate attacks were carried out on Nuremberg by the RAF and 8 by the USAAF. Over 7,800 heavy bombers were used, as well as Mosquito high-speed bombers and countless escort fighters. Adding up the victims from the table results in over 6,000 aerial warfare deaths.

Fatalities, burial sites and memorials

The main burial place for the bomb victims was the Nuremberg South Cemetery . There you can read on the south tower: “AS A WARNING AND IN MEMORY OF 6,621 MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN, VICTIMS OF THE BOMB WAR AND THE BATTLES AT HOME IN THE YEARS 1941-1945”.


Nuremberg in ruins, summer 1945
Nuremberg old town summer 1945

Most of Nuremberg's old town was destroyed, to which the firestorm on January 2, 1945 contributed significantly. The Südstadt, St. Johannis and other parts of the city were also badly hit. After Cologne, Dortmund and Kassel, Nuremberg had the largest amount of rubble per inhabitant of the major German cities. The population of Nuremberg had gone back to war to 195,000, half of the apartments had been destroyed, the remaining often damaged.


In an urban planning competition in 1947, ideas for reconstruction were collected. The “Kuratorium for the Reconstruction of Nuremberg” advised the city administration on the issues of the reconstruction. A simplifying reconstruction was agreed.

By 1955, most of the reconstruction work had been completed, or at least started. From 1956 to 1960 the Nuremberg town hall (Wolffscher Bau, Rathaussaalbau) was rebuilt. The Sebalduskirche was repaired by 1957 . The largest restoration project was the city ​​fortification with its 4 km long double wall and moat.


The Katharinenkloster Nuremberg , which was completely destroyed in the air raids in 1945 , was not rebuilt, but was saved as a ruin in 1970/71 and since then has served as a war memorial and as an event location.

Bombs found after World War II

Even after the end of the Second World War, duds were (and still are) found in the city of Nuremberg. Often they are discovered by chance during construction work, more rarely they are searched for specifically. The ordnance disposal service is responsible for defusing and securing the bombs . Large-scale evacuations may be necessary.

See also


  • Georg W. Schramm: The Destruction . In: 3 x Nuremberg: a series of images from our century . 2nd Edition. Verlag A. Hofmann, Nuremberg 1990, ISBN 3-87191-124-0 .
  • Georg W. Schramm: Bombs on Nuremberg. Air raids 1940-1945 . Hugendubel Heinrich, Munich 1988, ISBN 978-3-88034-394-8 .
  • Michael Diefenbacher, Wiltrud Fischer-Pache (ed.): The air war against Nuremberg . City of Nuremberg, Nuremberg 2004, ISBN 3-87707-634-3 .
  • Michael Diefenbacher , Rudolf Endres (Hrsg.): Stadtlexikon Nürnberg . 2nd, improved edition. W. Tümmels Verlag, Nuremberg 2000, ISBN 3-921590-69-8 ( online ).
  • Martin Middlebrook: The night the bombers died. The attack on Nuremberg and its consequences for the aerial warfare (“The Nuremberg raid”), Ullstein Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1979, ISBN 3-548-33005-3 .
  • Peter Schneider: 30./31. March 1944. Death at Meisbach: Crash of the Lancaster ND441 near Dotzlar. In: Wittgenstein. Leaves of the Wittgensteiner Heimatverein , 2007, p. 130 ff.

Web links

Commons : Destruction of the Second World War in Nuremberg  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

City Lexicon

  1. ^ Georg Wolfgang Schramm, Udo Winkel: Armaments industry . S. 915 .
  2. Willy Prölß , Clemens Wachter : Reconstruction . S. 1178 f .

Individual evidence

  1. See Friedrich, Jörg, title: Der Brand, 2002, 11th edition. Ullstein Verlag, Munich. P. 113 ff.
  2. See Friedrich, Jörg, title: Der Brand, 2002, 11th edition. Ullstein Verlag, Munich. P. 113 ff.
  3. See Friedrich, Jörg, title: Der Brand, 2002, 11th edition. Ullstein Verlag, Munich. P. 115; ISBN 3549071655 .
  4. ^ GW Schramm: The Destruction , in 3 x Nuremberg, Verlag A. Hofmann, Nuremberg 1990, p. 66 ff.
  6. ^ GW Schramm: The Destruction , in 3 x Nuremberg, Verlag A. Hofmann, Nuremberg 1990, p. 85.
  7. ^ OP Görl: Der Wiederaufbau , in 3 x Nürnberg, Verlag A. Hofmann, Nürnberg 1990, p. 97 f.
  8. Nuremberg: The Katharinenruine is probably the most sublime and atmospheric open-air stage in the heart of the city. Retrieved March 27, 2019 .