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.

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.

German cities that survived WW2

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 had still to fight not to be torn down, to be replaced by 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 retiring Wehrmacht's combat units had left 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 allied bombings which 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 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 well-known for its magnificent ducal palace, and its well-preserved old town.

The city suffered only one serious bombing attack in World War II. Destruction rate: About 2.2%
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 palaceSeven 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 attacks. This is partly because almost no major war industry was settled 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 to escape from bomb damage, as it was strategically of no relevance. 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, lies at the limit to be excluded from this list. The good news is that the only serious bombing that caused most of the damage, didn't touch the center.

As it was in a much better condition than its bigger neighbor Frankfurt, the U.S. Air Forces 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 at the other side of the river Rhein, 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.
Image by LenDog64

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

It is interesting the story of a mysterious anonymous donor that gives a large sum of cash every year; There are only two conditions: his 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 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 .

  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.


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