Mainz Daily Photo

The tower that saved a city – #1429

Alzey is a smallish (17,000 inhabitants) city about 30 minutes south of Mainz with a fair bit of history.

One of the Nibelungen cities, first settled in the Neolithic…

Not new.

Annual ceramic market , too. (I do their website and a bit of marketing consultancy. Pro bono stuff)

About 2km south of the city and standing 100m above it, you’ll find the Wartberg tower, a military lookout (28m high) dating back to 1420.

On 8 January 1945, the US Air Force had Alzey marked down as the “target for tonight”.

You can just hear the briefing – “Pathfinders will mark the city with flares, using the church tower as a reference point and then we’ll knock the crap out of those god-damn Krauts”

8 January 1945 was foggy with a waning moon.

The only thing the American pathfinders saw was the Wartberg, which – thinking it was the church steeple in the middle of the city – they marked accurately with flares and which the following waves of aircraft comprehensively flattened.

The usual bombing creepback occurred and Alzey suffered some peripheral damage from errant bombs, but nothing like the devastation it would have endured had the bomb aiming  been accurate.

The Wartberg was rebuilt in 1962 (blew over in a storm after 9 years…) and was replaced by a more robust structure in 1989.

One of my favourite stories.

This entry was published on 23 August, 2011 at 08:00. It’s filed under Away, History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “The tower that saved a city – #1429

  1. Gorgeous photo and always enjoy the German lore you throw in.

  2. Great story indeed ! Great photo (sunrise or sunset? – considering your ability to get up in the wee hours of the morning I imagine it could be either..)

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