Researching a Medieval victim of the Air War

By Pagentorn on 18/01/2019

St Ansgarii Church, Bremen during an air raid

St Ansgarii Church in Bremen was just one of many historical monuments across Europe to fall victim to the 8th Air Force's Bombing campaign during the Second World War. In this guest post, Bremen resident Nils Huschke (aka Pagentorn) shares his research into how the church came to be destroyed by US bombers.

St Ansgarri was first built in 1229 in Bremer Alstadt (Bremen's Old Town), dedicated to Saint Angsar, the Apostle of the North. Its long and eventful history saw it become the location for the start of the Protestant Reformation in Bremen, and turn the city into a site of historical and religious importance for many years. Until the Second World War the Chuch's 98 metre tower made it the tallest building in Bremen.


St Ansgarri Church

During an Air Raid on Bremen's Old Town on 20 December 1943, a high explosive bomb hit the foundations of the tower, causing cracks to form in the Medieval monument. The Tower was so distabilised that it finally succumbed to the damage 9 months later, and collapsed on 1 September 1944. After a raid on 6 October 1944 the roofs and vaulting were also destroyed, but three outer walls, the gables and the interior arches managed to survive the war.

The destruction of the church was the biggest cultural victim of Bremen's Old Town, and the town still mourns the Churches loss during the Second World War. The gaping hole in the city skyline serves as a reminder of the consequesnces of the war and the collateral damage it caused.

Unfortunately, treatment of the remains were handled controversially Post War. And despite many residents calling for the Church's reconstruction the project was cancelled in 1959 and the ruins destroyed. Today there is a commercial building on the property, but in recent years there has been hope in Bremen to reconstruct the old Church and it's tower.

For now, my big-and certainly difficult question- is: is it possible to find which group flew over the specific area of Bremer Alstadt where the church stood?  I do not dare to dream of the possibilty of finding the specific aircraft which dropped the fatal bomb? Sure this would be a ballistic impossibilty?


All images courtesy of Nils Huscke