Heilbronn was desolate and almost deserted. It had been a railroad center of strategic importance and its chemical and other industrial plants had been expanded during recent years. Tens of thousands of German citizens had been killed in a twenty-eight-minute raid by our bombers and in the later artillery bombardments. The stench of unburied dead filled the town. The highest tower of the church of St. Killian had been used for German machine gun nests built into concrete reinforced cubicles. It was as battered as most of the other solidly built stone structures that had once been Heilbronn’s glory. (J. Rorimer,138)
Church of St. Killian 1933-1944 (J. Rorimer, 178-179)
This morning I departed from Füssen, traveling on three trains eventually reaching the city of Heilbronn. Thankfully, it was not desolate nor deserted. After checking into my hotel, I headed for the church of St. Killian, just a 5-minute walk away. For most of the trip, I have been studying the striking before and after photos in my grandfather’s book (above), and I wanted to see for myself how much the church had changed since its bombardment on December 4th,1944.
I conduced a thorough inspection, both inside and out, as well as from above and below, studying the book as I went, looking for details of original stonework, and imagining myself in my grandfather’s shoes. Here’s what I discovered: