15 Beautiful German Cities Not Destroyed That Survived WW2 Almost Untouched

Posted by Ra Moon

When traveling through Europe, it is still very easy to see in many places the trail left by the wounds of World War II.

The conflict wiped out centuries of art, treasures, and history, that time had gathered across the geography of the old continent.

German cities that survived WW2

Germany received its share and saw how most of its urban centers were reduced to a pile of rubble. Luckily, human stupidity didn't take it all. A handful of small cities were left standing, to remind everyone what we missed out on.

This list is a selection of the biggest and most important cities that were spared during the Second World War.

They were little or never bombed. A wise surrender on time, without a fight to advancing allied troops, left many of these fortunate towns untouched by the ravages of the war.

Also, it is not to be forgotten that once the peace was signed, the historic buildings still had to be fought for, so no one would tear them down and replace them with newer ones.

1 - Goslar, Lower Saxony
The nearly unscathed medieval center of Goslar is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the old mining industries of the area.

The city survived the conflict without major damage thanks to a capitulation that handed over the town intact to the Americans.
Image by Goslar Marketing GmbH / Stefan Schiefer

2 - Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg
German cities not damaged during WW2
With its historical monuments set in a romantic environment and the prestige of being considered as the German Cambridge, it is easy to see why Heidelberg is such a popular tourist destination.

The civilian population surrendered without resistance, one day after Wehrmacht's combat units retreated from the city.
Image by Till Meinhof

3 - Regensburg, Bavaria
Regensburg after WW2
Regensburg is the largest German city that survived WW2 without damage.

Its remarkably well-preserved medieval town is one of the oldest in the country and holds the UNESCO World Heritage Status.

The Bavarian city suffered comparatively little damage, almost only having to regret the loss of the old monastery of Obermünster in an air raid.
Image by Karsten Dörre

4 - Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg
Tubingen not destroyed in WW2
Tübingen is a vibrant university town with superb medieval architecture that remained practically undamaged.

On the initiative of the German garrison doctor, the city surrendered without a fight to the French troops.
Image by Marlene Bitzer

5 - Bamberg, Bavaria
Which German cities were not destroyed in WW2
Bamberg is a small town of beautiful timber-framed houses, also declared UNESCO World Heritage.

It experienced no heavy ground fighting when it was occupied by troops of the US Army.
Image by Bamberg Tourism and Congress Service

6 - Lüneburg, Lower Saxony
Lüneburg WWII surrender
During WWII, Lüneburg was almost completely spared by the allied bombings that destroyed many of its neighboring cities. Since then, the beautiful Altstadt has been gradually restored.

Historical fact: Nazi Germany signed the unconditional surrender that brought the war in Europe to an end in the outskirts of the city.
Image by Lena

7 - Göttingen, Lower Saxony
Göttingen is a university town in the very center of Germany. It was spared massive bombing as well, as it did not present a target of opportunity.

Only about 1% of the city was destroyed, including the Junkernschänke, a historic and popular house whose exterior facade was reconstructed according to the historical model in 1983.
Image by Göttingen Tourismus e.V.

8 - Celle, Lower Saxony
Celle palace
Celle is renowned for its magnificent ducal palace, and its well-preserved old town.

The city suffered only one serious bombardment in World War II that destroyed about 2.2% of the city.
Image by Celle Tourismus und Marketing GmbH

9 - Wolfenbüttel, Lower Saxony
Wolfenbüttel not bombed
Wolfenbüttel is home to the world-famous herbal liqueur Jägermeister.

This is an attractive and historic town, with half-timbered houses and buildings in the Renaissance style, that survived the conflict more or less intact.
Image by Stadt Wolfenbuettel H.D. König

10 - Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Schwerin palace
Seven lakes surround the historic old town of Schwerin and its romantic palace, which still has a whiff of aristocratic charm.

The damage suffered in World War II was relatively minor, as it only had to endure four air raids.

This is partly because almost no major war industry was established here. In total, 3% of Schwerin was destroyed.
Image by Harald Hoyer

11 - Marburg, Hesse
Deutsche städte die nicht bombardiert worden
Marburg was designated as a hospital city so that its ensemble of cobblestone streets packed with lovely traditional houses remained complete.

In this university town, you can enjoy splendid picture-postcard settings without the hassle of tourists.

12 - Ravensburg, Baden-Württemberg
Deutsche Städte nicht zerstört
The small city of Ravensburg succeeded in avoiding damage from bombs, as it was strategically irrelevant.

The fact is that it experienced economic stagnation for the last two centuries.

As a result, many of its older buildings got through the Industrial Revolution and later, the war without much change.
Image by Thomas Keller

13 - Wiesbaden, Hesse
Deutsch Städte überlebt Zweiten Weltkrieg
Wiesbaden, with a higher destruction rate of around 18% of its buildings, was almost excluded from this list.

The good news is that the only serious bombing that caused most of the damage, didn't touch the downtown area.

As it was in a much better condition than its bigger neighbor Frankfurt, the U.S. Air Force established its headquarters here.
Image by Martin Fisch

14 - Konstanz, Baden-Württemberg
Konstanz was not bombed
During World War II, Konstanz was an important industrial center, but it was never bombed by the Allied Forces.

The city of Kreuzlingen in Switzerland is just on the other side of the Rhein River, and it left all its lights on at night.

In Konstanz, they just did the same, blurring further the non-obvious boundary between both towns. Thus they fooled the bombers into thinking it was actually part of the neutral country.

Today, Lake Constance is home to the world-famous opera Bregenz Festival.
Image by LenDog64

15 - Görlitz, Saxony
Görlitz not damaged
Lastly, there is Görlitz, the jewel of the crown. With scarcely a scratch on this medieval old town, surrounded by gorgeous 19th-century architecture, it is truly unique.

The story of a mysterious anonymous donor that gives a large sum of cash every year is quite interesting. They have only two conditions: their identity has to remain secret, and the money has to be spent on renovation work of the historical heritage.

Several movies have been filmed here in the last few years (including wonderful filming locations for Grand Budapest Hotel), so now the town is also known as Görliwood.
Image by Atlas of Wonders

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  1. Quedlinburg should be added to the ist of German cities unscathed in WW2.

  2. Thanks John, it's a good one. But Quedlinburg is maybe to small to be considered a city. We want to highlight the biggest places that survived the conflict, otherwise many other towns could join this list. Maybe for a new post?

  3. You missed out the three biggest ones: Erfurt, Halle, Wiesbaden. From the smaller ones, have a look at Stralsund (pop. 58.000) and my hometown Ravensburg (50.000).

  4. Thanks a lot Andreas for your suggestions. We may consider including Ravensburg and Wiesbaden, although this last one endured a raid that destroyed up to the 18% of the buildings, maybe a bit too much for this compilation. The same for Stralsund; we had considered this beautiful Hanseatic city, but even though if the historical center has been restored, it was seriously damaged by Alliend bombing in 1944.
    About Erfurt and Halle, both suffered too much destruction to be part of a list of "almost untouched" survivors.

  5. Thanks, but Volkach doesn't qualify: it's too small.

  6. Are you sure about Erfurt? According to the Erfurt Tourism Office, the city only suffered about a 5% destruction rate.

    Some other suggestions could be Wismar and Stralsund. They're both UNESCO World Heritage listed cities so I'm sure they didn't suffer too much damage. Maybe Lübeck too, which is also UNESCO, but it suffered more (about 20%).

  7. Thanks, but according to the German Wikipedia, https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erfurt#20._Jahrhundert (translated from German):
    "Erfurt experienced 27 British and American air raids [...] 1100 tons of bombs were dropped. [...] 530 buildings were totally destroyed, 2550 heavily damaged. 17% of the houses were completely destroyed, many others were badly damaged. The historic old town of Erfurt was especially affected. [...] Valuable secular and sacred buildings were lost, like the Collegium Maius of the old University, and the library of the Augustinian monastery. All the churches in the inner city were hit more or less heavily by bombs and artillery fire. The ruins of the Barfüßerkirche, which was destroyed by an airmine on 26 November 1944, still stand today as a memorial."

    About Wismar (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wismar#Modern_times): "In World War II Wismar was heavily damaged by Allied air raids."
    And from https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wismar#1945_bis_heute: "Some historic buildings were heavily damaged or destroyed, such as the Georgenkirche, the Marienkirche and the surrounding Gothic quarter."

    1. Erfurt has a largely intact old town. And some damage to german towns happened after world war II, because there wasn´t a sufficient protection of monuments til into the 1970s.

  8. I'm unsure as to what percentage bombing these cities received, but Passau, Flensburg and Esslingen all survived damage to their centres.

    1. Thanks Jim, these are very interesting suggestions!

  9. Hey, I think you missed Out Wetzlar. It's a beautiful old town with a bridge from the 12th century. I would really recommmend you to visit it!

    1. Thanks Daniel, Wetzlar is a really interesting one. We'll have a look at it!

  10. Perhaps Speyer? Also historically one of the most important german cities. BTW I think that Regensburg is the largest city without WWII damage (not Gorlitz)

    1. Thanks, Speyer is a good one. In the 1940's Gorlitz, including its eastern part (nowadays the Polish city of Zgorzelec), had around 94.000 inhabitants. On the other hand, Regensburg had already around 104.000 inhabitants, so you are right! After 1945 Regensburg experienced a strong increase in population, coming from the ethnically cleansed eastern parts of the former Third Reich (especially from Sudetenland).

  11. What about Baden-Baden?

  12. Another vote for Speyer. I also believe Regensburg is the largest German city to escape WW2 unscathed.

  13. Limburg an der Lahn, Hannoversch Munden, Celle?

  14. Freiburg should be on the list for sure.

  15. Freiburg seemed to have suffered from bombing

    Wikipedia says

    "Freiburg was heavily bombed during World War II. In May 1940, aircraft of the Luftwaffe mistakenly dropped approximately 60 bombs on Freiburg near the railway station, killing 57 people. On 27 November 1944, a raid by more than 300 bombers of RAF Bomber Command (Operation Tigerfish) destroyed a large portion of the city centre, with the notable exception of the Münster, which was only lightly damaged. After the war, the city was rebuilt on its medieval plan. "


  16. Never mind the Buildings !What about the people who were killed maimed and who lost everything they knew does that not count for anything .
    or is damage percent more important .
    Nurnberg got totalled Furth got bombed Koln was a mess Schweinfurt buggered and many others .
    this article I find is insensitive to the losses suffered on human beings both Allied and Civilian .
    I have lived in Germany for 8 years and travelled extensively .

    1. Ditto. The "Allies" pursued a RAF plan drafted by a certain colonel Lindeman (rings a bell?), by which they deliberately bombed, at night, bedroom towns and cities of German civilian population. Millions (repeat that) were literally incinerated alive. You won't find this genocide (and the subsequent, inconceivable rape and slaughter of other millions) revealed in any school "history book" that are censored by the same ones who financed such apocalypse and declared war on Germany in the first place. A thousand years of buildings and culture wiped out seems like a detail, in comparison.

    2. Then, Germany should not have started the war. Plant the wind and reap the whirlwind.

    3. You’re missing the point of the article. Yes, Germany started the war but it doesn’t diminish the fact that there was so much destruction of beautiful old cities. It’s like the poster above talking about the loss of human life; the war was very tragic, not just in destruction of homes, cities, etc. but also in human lives. But there’s plenty written about that as well. We’re still allowed to bemoan other aspects of the war. And then, with this article, celebrate what wasn’t lost.

  17. Rothenburg ob der Taube is incredibly preserved, and Speyer, Germany's oldest (2000 year) city, which was only bombed once, on 8th January 1945, where Helmut Kohl finalized German Reunification with George H.W. Bush, Mikail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher in private meetings, and where he was finally buried, is also worth inclusion.

    1. Thanks, we didn't consider Rothenburg ob der Taube because is rather a big town than a small city. But Speyer is definitely a very interesting candidate!

  18. This list is meaningless without Erfurt...you should also consider Stralsund.

    1. Erfurt suffered 27 air strikes. The historic old town was particularly affected. Valuable secular and sacred buildings were lost, including the Collegium Maius (reconstructed in 1983), the old university and the library of the Augustinian monastery. Stralsund was subjected to repeated Allied bombing too.

  19. You forgot Landshut and Fürth. Both still have well preserved historic centers and buildings.

    Not all Frankfurt historic buildings were destroyed. Most survived the war intact.

    Also, 5% of Erfurt was damaged in the war. It was wrong that you did not put it to the list.

    You should not base your info on Wikipedia.That is not right. Wikipedia is not reliable. Even Wikipedia said their site is not reliable.

  20. Was there a glass factory that survived, untouched by the bombing in Europe during WW2? I thought I read an article about it many years ago in a Reader's Digest. I love to find info. I like this article.

  21. You may want to check your facts on Regensburg, which was the location of a Messerschmitt aircraft factory bombed multiple times by both the US and the UK. Large portions of the town were utterly flattened.

  22. German cities not destroyed would have been with atomic bombs if still fighting when Russia got nukes, Stalin would have leveled every city town & village


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