1945 - death of the city

1945 - DEAD CITY

Günter Grass described the death of city in "Blechtrommel" in following words:

"Rechtstadt (Main Town), Altstadt (Old Town), Pfefferstadt (Spicy Town), Vorstadt (Suburb), Jungstadt (Young Town), Neustadt (New Town) and Niederstadt (Lower Town), built together over seven hundred years, burnt down in three days. It was not the first fire of Danzig. Pommeranians, Brandenburgian, Teutonic Knights, Polish, Swedes and again Swedes, Frenchmen, Prussians and Russians, also Saxons already before, creating history, every couple decades acknowledged, that it is necessary to burn down this city - and now Russians, Polish, Germans and English together burnt the bricks of gothic buildings hundred time and they did not obtain the biscuits this way. The streets burnt, Häckergasse burnt, Langgasse, Breitgasse, Große and Kleine Wollwebergasse, Hundegasse burnt, Tobiasgasse, Vorstädischer Graben, Altstädischer Graben, Wallgasse and Lange Brücke burnt. Crane was built of trees and burnt especially beautiful. At Kleinen Hossenähergasse(Trousemakers street) fire took measure for many pairs of glaring red trousers. St Mary Church burnt from the inside and through ogival windows showed solemn light. The bells of St Katharinen, St Johann, St Brigitten, Barbara, Elisabeth, Peter and Paul, of Trinitatis and Corpus-Christi churches, that were not evacuated, melted in belfries and dropped down without murmur. In Great Mill the fire milled red wheat. At Fleischergasse (Butchers street) you could smell burnt Sunday roast. The world premiere of "Dreams of incendiary" - ambiguous one-act play was played in City Theatre. At town hall the authorities decided to increase after fire, with backwards validity, salaries of firemen. Street Heilige Geist Gasse (Saint Spirit) burnt in name of Saint Spirit, cloister of Franciscans merrily burnt in name Saint Francisco, who after all, loved and resounded the fire. Frauengasse burnt in the name of Father and Son. This is simply intelligible that Holzmarkt (Wooden Market), Kohlenmarkt (Coal Market), Heumarkt (Hay Market) burnt down. At Brotbänkergasse breads would not go out from the stove. At Milchkannengasse milk boiled in vats. Only the building of Westprussian Fire Insurances Company, from clearly symbolical regards, did not want to burn down. "

During the 2nd WW the destruction in Danzig was comparatively small, few allied air raids, did not bring large losses. In March 1945, Danzig was "liberated" by Red Army and Polish Army. Already during artillery fire many precious monuments were destroyed, and street fights brought the destruction for the other buildings.
Danzig was treated by Red Army as conquered city. After the end of German resistance "liberators" began city to rake, to plunder and to burn the houses. The brightness of fire and smoke rose over the city yet at the end of April.
Existing inhabitants of Danzig was driven out to Germany by new authorities and their property was stolen.
Later, the period of wearing away all German traces in Danzig began, official propaganda spoke about eternally Polish city. They removed all inscriptions in German language, destroyed old monuments and cemeteries.
Fortunately Danzig did not divide Königsberg fate, most precious monuments was rebuilt, tenements also was rebuilt, and especially their facades, which efficiently imitate real Old Town today. It cannot change the fact, that today Danzig is only shadow of the former city, and unrepeatable port - climate, which we can admire only on old pictures will never return.

See the unique, colour pictures taken in January 1946.

See virtual monument in memory of people died on Wilhelm Gustloff, Goya and von Steuben.

See movie from Danzig in 1946.

Danzig after the war, pictures were taken between 1945 and 1948:

Pictures on this page come from collections of Roland and the author