National Geographic : 1945 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine European Yanks Stormed "the Castled Crags of Drachenfels," Where Siegfried Slew the Dragon Nibelung legends say the hero bathed in the dragon's blood and became invulnerable except where a leaf lodged against his skin. Today the red wine from grapes grown on the castle's slopes is called Drachenblut "Dragon's Blood." The ruins, nearly 900 feet above the river, served as an artillery observation post (page 28). two years later were to become commonplace over German cities. At that time, air photos showed, Cologne was rather thoroughly de molished. But strangely enough, since land marks could not be distinguished by the bom bardiers in the dark, the Cathedral remained uninjured. Air photos taken six months later showed that the city apparently had been almost en tirely rebuilt. How much of this showing was deceptive, because of clever camouflage, no body knows. But since then swarms of Allied bombers had visited the Rome of the North over and over again. Long since, there had been no major war industry left aboveground. Large completely flattened areas were shown. And this is exactly what the Third Armored Divi sion found when its tanks rolled in over the crater-pocked streets. Cologne, as the soldiers say, "had had it." It was about as badly smashed as Aachen. It is difficult to imagine how any city could be much more thoroughly smashed. Here is another job for the bulldozers-to inter de cently what once was one of the loveliest cities of Europe. But in the center of block after block of rubble still stands the great Cathedral (page 20). It is damaged, badly damaged. There are bomb holes, which have been bricked over, in its roof. All its windows are broken, its floor covered with debris. But the essential structure stands. The nearest parallel is St. Paul's Cathedral in London, one of the few reasonably intact buildings in many blocks of flattened rubble. On D Day the Nazi Government declared the Cologne Cathedral "a historic monument." This, of course, was a futile gesture. Ob viously the structure was without military significance. No bombardier would deliber ately have hit it in daylight. At night it would be impossible to distinguish it.