Geoff Walden


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Schweinfurt, Part 6

Schweinfurt Under the Swastika

   Schweinfurt was not a hotbed of National Socialism, because its predominantly blue-collar population did not particularly favor fascism. However, Hitler's policies in favor of the working man were certainly popular with the citizens. The city's industries were important to the Nazi re-arming and war efforts, so the Party held several rallies, marches, speeches, and dedications there.


Adolf Hitler visited Schweinfurt on 16 October 1932, shortly before he became Chancellor of Germany. These photos show the crowd in the downtown Marktplatz. The buildings have changed due to reconstruction of the bombing damage, but the statue of poet Friedrich Rückert is still the centerpiece of the Marktplatz.  (author's collection)


View of another Nazi gathering in the Marktplatz, around the Rückertdenkmal.  (author's collection)


Nazi supporters march down a Schweinfurt street. (I have not been able to identify the location - if anyone knows, please send me an e-mail.)  (author's collection)

Hitler speaks in Schweinfurt to over 12,000 people.
(author's collection)


Nazi standard bearers in the Marktplatz, at the foot of Friedrich Rückert's statue. The monument to one of Schweinfurt's most famous sons was erected in 1890.  (Stadtarchiv Schweinfurt)


In April 1940 the Rückert Monument was used to display all sorts of metal wares that the people of Schweinfurt had donated for the war effort, in honor of Adolf Hitler's birthday. (Stadtarchiv Schweinfurt)


Looking the opposite direction from the Rückert Monument shows the Schweinfurt Rathaus, or city hall. In this 1940 view the Rathaus flies a swastika flag.  (period postcard)


The main street off the Marktplatz was renamed Adolf-Hitler-Straße (today Spitalstraße). This view is from a 1930s postcard. Rebuilding after the bombing damage was not always done to match the pre-war architecture. The Rathaus on the Marktplatz is visible at the end of the street.  (period postcard)


An SS column marches down Adolf-Hitler-Straße, with a similar view today.  (Stadtarchiv Schweinfurt)


Nazi rallies often filled the Marktplatz with marching columns and spectators. A view from the tower of the Rathaus.  (Stadtarchiv Schweinfurt)


SA men parade through the Marktplatz past local Nazi official Wilhelm Weidling.  (Stadtarchiv Schweinfurt)


The original Schweinfurt Rathaus (town hall) was built in 1572. Here it is seen decorated for the Nazi "Tag der Arbeit" (Labor Day) rally on 1 May 1933. The Rathaus suffered some damage during World War II and a devastating fire in April 1959, but is once again the centerpiece of Schweinfurt.  (Stadtarchiv Schweinfurt)


The major ball bearing manufacturers entered floats in the Schweinfurt Tag der Arbeit (Labor Day) parade on 1 May 1933. Left - Kugelfischer (FAG) entry, right - truck entered by SKF and Fichtel & Sachs. It is interesting to note that this 1933 photo shows the SKF name that is used today (Schwedische Kugellagerfabriken). During World War II the Allies referred to this company by its 1929 name VKF (Vereinigten Kugellagerfabriken), as they did not want to appear to be bombing a Swedish company!  (left - author's collection; right - courtesy Peter Gullers)


Erntedankfest (similar to American Thanksgiving - a harvest festival) parade in the Schweinfurt Marktplatz.  (Stadtarchiv Schweinfurt)


Military parade in the Schweinfurt Marktplatz for the return of PanzerJägerAbteiling 49 (anti-tank battalion) from the front in 1940.  (Stadtarchiv Schweinfurt)


During the war, the Nazi ceremonies in Schweinfurt centered on the burial of victims of the bombing attacks. On the left, bombing victims are buried in the city cemetery in 1944. This is between Sections 32 and 36 in the cemetery today (see also here).  (Stadtarchiv Schweinfurt)


Civilian and Government Building Sites


Willy Sachs was an owner in the local ball bearing industry, and also an SS-Sturmbannführer (Major) on the staff of SS chief Heinrich Himmler. In 1936 a new sports complex designed by architect Paul Bonatz and dedicated to Sachs for his 40th birthday was built adjacent to the Panzerkaserne (the Sachs-Stadion can be seen in the 14 October 1943 aerial view here, just to the left of the Panzerkaserne). The Willy-Sachs-Stadion is home today to Schweinfurt's football (soccer) team.  (period postcard)


Sachs is shown here (with head turned) with Himmler, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring and others during a visit to the stadium. The entry to the Willy-Sachs-Stadion remains unchanged today.  (Stadtarchiv Schweinfurt)


At the stadium dedication ceremony on 23 July 1936, Sachs (with SS dagger) stands to Himmler's left; on Himmler's right is Franz Ritter von Epp, Reichsleiter of Bavaria. The only changes are the white metal railing and the modern plastic chairs in the stadium grandstand  ...  and the swastika flag is gone.  (Stadtarchiv Schweinfurt)


The Sachs-Stadion was often used for Nazi rallies and presentations. Here, a Luftwaffe official addresses local members of the Luftschutz (air raid protection corps).  (private collection in Schweinfurt)


Children play at the Sachs-Stadion in 1936 - the stadium is decorated with swastika flags. The trees and bushes have grown up in the intervening 70 years, but the view remains mostly unchanged otherwise.  ("Moderne Bauformen" 1936)


Entry gate marker and pylon at the Willy-Sachs-Stadion, erected in 1936. The bronze eagle on the pylon was by Ludwig Gies (Gies also designed the large Federal Eagle that hangs in the Reichstag building in Berlin today).  (Stadtarchiv Schweinfurt)


The Sachs Stadium included a restaurant for sports fans, which is virtually unchanged today.  ("Moderne Bauformen" 1936)


Willy Sachs' father Ernst, a founder of the Schweinfurt bearing industry, had previously been honored as the namesake of an indoor swimming complex built ca. 1935.  (1936 postcard)


 The Ernst-Sachs-Bad entrance courtyard still displays a fountain with sculpture 
by Third Reich period artist Josef Wackerle.


This is the Hotel Luitpold on Luitpoldstraße in Schweinfurt. The building has the unmistakable lines of the classic Third Reich architectural style, and indeed, it was built for the local government Arbeitsamt (Labor Office) ca. 1936.


This poster advertised the Schweinfurt home show in 1934. At the top are the city shield for Schweinfurt (left) and the coat of arms of Franken (Franconia), the part of Bavaria where Schweinfurt is located. The worker is holding a model of a Third Reich building similar in style to the Hotel Luitpold, although it is not the same building.  (period postcard)


This building on Wilhelm-Leuschner-Straße was built in 1938 as a training center for the motorized Hitler Jugend. Older boys came here to live for a period of study on motorcycles, engines, and mechanical repair. The building now houses the local chapter of the German Labor League (DGB). The building next door (seen on the right) still has a Nazi eagle above the doorway.


The Motor HJ-Heim once had a large eagle insignia above the doorway, and was named for Adolf Hühnlein, founder of the National Socialist Motor Corps (NSKK).  (Stadtarchiv Schweinfurt)


The Schweinfurt Hauptbahnhof (main train station) was a busy facility during World War II. On the left, troops are seen leaving for the front in September 1940. Due to their proximity to the bearing factories and status as a military target, the station and rail yards were severely damaged during the war, and later rebuilt.  (author's collection)


The Heilig-Geist-Kirche (Church of the Holy Spirit) was completed in 1902 on Schultesstraße (the period photo was taken in 1942). The curious artifact below can be seen today on the front of the Heilig-Geist-Kirche. It is an iron disk about five inches in diameter, attached to the wall, that reads "Deutsches Reich Höhenmarke." This was apparently a Nazi government topographical survey marker (click here to see pictures of other such markers that remain today).  (above left - author's collection; above right - Pfarrei Heilig Geist)


I wish to acknowledge the kind assistance provided by the staff of the Stadtarchiv Schweinfurt during my photo research there.


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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.