Konstanz: the German city that avoided WWII bombing by pretending to be Switzerland3 min read
Europe, the old continent so rich in artistic, historical and architectural treasures, suffered incurable wounds especially during the World War II, in which centuries of history were swept away by bombing.
Cities and communities in England, Germany and around the world feared death from above in the shape of bombing raids.
Germany in particular suffered devastating air strikes which reduced most of its wonderful cities to a pile of rubble, like Dresden, or Munich (in Image below).
An incredible exception is represented by the beautiful city of Konstanz, in south Germany.
The city is over a thousand years old and located on Bodensee, or Lake Constance, surrounded by green hills where the woods give way to meadows and vineyards.
It was an important center during the war, where even war industries that produced parts of arms for the German army were based: the company Funkstrahl produced parts for the radar in submarines, the Schwarzwald Flugzeugbau GmbH was developing a flying torpedo and the company Dornier transfered a part of its production from the heavily bombarded Friedrichshafen to Konstanz.
A sensitive objective, which was instead neglected by the allied forces, and managed to avoid Allied planes through a combination of geography and sheer good luck.
The Old Town, with its cobbled streets, the imposing cathedral and the undeniable charm of centuries of history, has been inhabited since the late Stone Age, and the name is believed to come from Constantia, coined during the Roman Empire.
It is bordered with the Swiss city of Kreuzlingen, and the two cities, which established a twinning during the First World War, have always considered the border almost a formality rather than a real barrier.
The border with Switzerland goes right through the middle of the town. During the Second World War the inhabitants of Kreuzlingen left the lights on at night to avoid being bombed by the planes of the allied forces. The inhabitants of Konstanz did the same, to mislead the pilots of enemy planes, which from the top saw a single city, located in the neutral territory of Switzerland.
A geographically unstable border, a bit of luck (or perhaps of lightness on the part of the allies) today allow thousands of tourists to visit a beautiful city where the story is not told by buildings wounded or destroyed by war, but by an old city from the ancient charm, remained intact thanks to the cunning, perhaps also ancient, of its inhabitants.