Another Anniversary

Every so often my wife and I walk over the hills to the Black Forest town of Staufen. There’s a cafe there she likes, and the five kilometre walk is a healthy one.IMG_20171224_1252477 (1)

Whenever we walk down the main street I see signs commemorating the date Allied forces bombed Staufen during World War II and the damage caused that night. I meant to take a photo of the signs so that you can see the pictures of the damage, but every time I am in Staufen I forget.

Visiting memorials for the Battle of Colmar recently, I was struck by the overlap in the dates. Staufen was bombed 74 years ago today, February 8, 1945. The Colmar battle ran from January 20-February 9. Coincidence?

A quick look online doesn’t tell me much about the bombing. Staufen is a tourist town today, and I doubt it was a strategic military target in 1945, though given the lack of information I suppose it could have been. Politicians tend to hide military targets in the most unlikely places. I know there was a pharmaceutical company there back then – maybe it was the target.IMG_20171224_1259016 (1)

I am wondering if maybe Staufen was bombed by accident. The distance between Staufen and Colmar is probably about 30 kilometres as the B-26 flies, maybe less. Call it five minutes travel time for a plane. Navigational systems weren’t as advanced in 1945 as they are today. I think it is quite possible the bombers got lost and unloaded their bombs on the first target they saw. Or perhaps didn’t see too clearly.

If I was a military historian with access to records I might go looking for the answers. Of course, if I was a military historian I might not need to go looking; I would already know the answer.

The internet is a great place to find information – until the information you are looking for doesn’t turn up in a simple search. Then the whole thing seems somewhat frustrating.

Being somewhat limited for time these days (major project at work) I’m going to toss the ball in your court. Can you find out any more information about the bombing of Staufen? If so, please post your research in the comments section.

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4 comments

  1. It appears that the Black Forest provided some form of protection for the retreating Germans.

    1. Tough to find people in the dense woods. Tough also to drive tanks through it.

  2. Per a forum I found, the Southern German town of Staufen im Breisgau was bombed on this date by 12 P47s from the fighter group 1/5 Champagne…. Staufen had two train lines and a bridge, not to mention several intersections… eyewitnesses of the bombing of Staufen all report the presence of troops and war material on the day of the attack. 1/3 of the victims there were soldiers. The German forces were retreating from the Rhine in great number.

    1. I saw the same forum piece – one source, no documentation. I’m sure Staufen did have a bridge, maybe several and mostly pedestrian. In my younger days I could probably have jumped across the water there. Staufen’s train line today is a spur from the main line, probably was then too. Not militarily significant.

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