In 1939 Wielun was a Polish town of some 12,000 people near the German border. On the very first day of the Second World War Wielun was severely attacked by German “Sturzkampfbomber”. 1,200 of the city’s inhabitants were killed, 70 per cent of all buildings were destroyed. Attacks on Warsaw began on 9th September 1939, they lasted for two weeks, killed 20,000 people and left great parts of the city in ruins. In the autum of 1944 - after the crushing of the Warsaw up-raising - the German occupying forces completed their work of destruction: whole blocks of buildings were systematically blown up. The paper will discuss how inhabitants of both towns experienced the destruction of ‘their’ city. It will also deal with strategies of survival among the ruins, the consequences of the great shifts in the population of both cites during the war and the symbolic meaning of post-war reconstruction and remembrance.
Paper presented at Seventh International Conference on Urban History: European City in Comparative Perspective, Panteion University, Athens - Piraeus, Greece, 27-30 October 2004, Session:The Urban Experience of Modern War. European Cities and Aerial Warfare in World War II