On this day: the bombing of Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg_ob_der_Tauber_Bomben_Zerstörung_Weltkrieg_1945 As the Second World War came closer to its end, German soldiers gathered at the Bavarian town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber on th

In ruins after the attack.

As the Second World War came closer to its end, German soldiers gathered to defend the Bavarian town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber on the 31st of March, 1945.

The town, considered a model of idyllic Nazi life and used as an example for people across Germany, was bombed by sixteen Allied planes that day. Thirty-seven people were killed, and there was significant damage to structures, including the loss of hundreds of homes, half a dozen public buildings, and hundreds of metres of the historic wall.

Even considering the extensive damage, the Allies were aware of Rothenburg’s historical significance and limited the attack in a way they did not with other targets.

Today the town has been carefully reconstructed, and is a popular tourist destination that makes up part of the famed Romantic Road.

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On this day: Two Rulers in Berlin

King Christian X of Denmark and the German Emperor Wilhelm II during a visit to Berlin in 1913.

On this day: Magdeburg in Ruins

This image of the German city of Magdeburg was taken on the 29th of May, 1952, seven years after the end of the Second World War.

Trapped behind the Iron Curtain, as the city was occupied by the Soviets at the end of the war (and the region turned into East Germany), very few of the city’s pre-war buildings were ever restored. Many were left in their bombed state or simply abandoned for years before being pulled down.

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Magdeburg, Blick auf die zerstörte Altstadt

On this day: Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses

The 24th of April, 1933 is considered to be the day Nazi Germany began their persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as it is the date the Bible Student headquarters in Magdeburg were seized by police. This came only a few months after Adolf Hitler came to power.

If Jehovah’s Witnesses were willing to renounce their religion they were promised freedom from persecution. Below is a Nazi renouncement document.

If Jehovah's Witnesses were willing to renounce their religion they were promised freedom from persecution. Nazi renouncement document.

From 1935 onwards, many people who kept their religion were sent to concentration camps.

The persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses continues today, with Russia outlawing the religion only days ago.

On this day: the premiere of Metropolis

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Iconic futuristic German film Metropolis premiered on the 10th of January, 1927.

Filmed in 1925 but set in the year 2026, the film is set in a city with ruling elites and poor workers living beneath them.

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The film’s New Tower of Babel. X

Containing ground-breaking special effects, the film’s initial budget was 1.5 million reichsmarks, but increased to 5.1 million. Stories of the director forcing long working hours in difficult conditions on the actors (including 500 children) emerged from the set.

Metropolis regularly makes film critics’ lists of history’s greatest movies.

On this day: the birth of “Axis Sally”

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American woman Mildred Gillars, nicknamed “Axis Sally” for the prominent role she played broadcasting Nazi propaganda during World War Two, was born on the 29th of November, 1900.

Born in Maine, but moving to Ohio as a child, Gillars moved to Germany to study in 1934, and then later obtained work as an English teacher in Berlin.

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As a young actress in America in the 1920s. X

By 1940, she was working as an announcer for Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft: German State Radio.

Along with an Italian-American woman by the name of Rita Zucca, who performed the same work for Mussolini in Fascist Italy, she was dubbed “Axis Sally” for her anti-American propaganda that was broadcast to US troops once her home country joined the war.

Gillars’ broadcasts told stories of wives and sweethearts at home who cheated with other men while the troops were away, and spread defeatist propaganda to try and destroy American morale.

At the end of the war “Wanted” posters for Gillars were put up around Berlin. Once she was found and arrested in 1946 she was returned to the United States, where she was put on trial for treason.

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The New York Times announces that Mildred Gillars is to stand trial for treason. X

She was eventually convicted of treason for a broadcast titled Vision Of Invasion, and spent twelve years in prison before being released on parole.

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The FBI escorts Gillars to her trial in 1949. X

Gillars went on to live in a convent and work as a schoolteacher, before dying of cancer in 1988.

Her fellow “Sally”, Rita Zucca, spent nine months in an Italian prison, and – having given up her American citizenship – was barred from the United States.