This is part of our “Letters from War” series documenting the World War II letters of Irvin Schwartz of Pine Grove, PA. The letters were all published in the West Schuylkill Press-Herald between 1943 and 1945.
September 1, 1945
I am leaving this “Nazified” German city early today to begin my journey home. I will join the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion of the Ninth Armored Division at Hof, Germany, and expect to sail approximately September 15th. Much sooner than I first expected.
As I am about to take a last look at war-scarred Germany, I can already see it rebuilding after being totally wrecked by shells and bombs. Nuremberg, which with Munich rank as the two most Nazified cities in all Germany, stands out as a very good example. Nuremberg, which during the latter stages of the war was dead, dark, and dusty from the piles of rubble left by our bombers, is today a city of quite different description.
Lights are again illuminating the great wide streets, the buildings which did escape our air raids are brightly lighted all night long, and newspapers are again being sold on the downtown streets. All day and night, thousands upon thousands of army vehicles cover every square yard of the city’s most important streets, and on a Saturday night the headlights of army jeeps, trucks, and civilian automobiles gives this place the very same picture as that of Times Square in New York.
Trolleys are again operating throughout the city and even run to the suburb of Furth. After dark, these street cars are visible for miles, which, too, helps improve the picture long around 10 or 11 at night. And each evening from, say six o’clock on, many of the passengers are, of course, G.I.s. The loudspeaker at the big terminal is once again calling out stations and trains, American and civilian, are operating on a large scale.
More and more cafes are opening each day, and give the G.I.s and civilians the best music and singing their money can buy. There are no more air raid sirens and therefore men, women, and girls can be seen on the streets as early as 5:30 in the morning waiting for a street car to work. As one walks the streets he can see the older people sitting relaxed on their easy chairs reading the daily news, and grandpa may even be puffing away on a big cigar, no longer fearing that the sirens may blow any moment and followed by a shower of incendiary bombs.
Each evening the “Stadtpark,” or city park, see its splintered benches occupied by numerous couples, each made up of a pretty fraulein and an American. The downtown streets are also traveled by German girls with an arm hooked tightly with a G.I.’s. On a Saturday afternoon and night, street cars are jammed and open air beer gardens are crowded. The famous Opera House is open with high class shows every afternoon and evening, and the Grand Hotel is open to American servicemen.
The not-too-badly-damaged downtown stores are open to business, and tailors, watch repairers, shoemakers, and carpenters have returned to their establishments. The daily athletic contents at the stadium, on the average attended by close to 50,000 persons, and the modern American Red Cross Club also help to make this place look a little like a major city back home. Buses are running schedules to various towns and cities outside Nuremberg. Business stands can be seen on the sidewalks and remind one of the scenes of London and Paris.
German SS troops are working from morning till night cleaning the debris which before the war ended blocked many a main thoroughfare. These prisoners work before the eyes of First Division guardsmen who fought these very same Nazis from North Africa to the central part of Germany. Civilians are also toiling cleaning up the dust left by crumbling buildings so that they may live in a slightly nicer Nuremberg.
Nuremberg will never rise to its pre-war status again, but what is gradually returning to her doorsteps is the city atmosphere which she once enjoyed and her people must seem to be satisfied with that much.
Featured Image: Damage to Nuremberg at the end of World War II in May 1945 (Wikimedia Commons)