Mainz is located on the west bank of the Rhine River. This means the Rhine land--the German areas west of the Rhine. It is opposite the confluence of the Main with the Rhine. This strategic location determined the history and ecomnomy of the city. Mainz is a river port city as the Rhine which connects with its main tributaries, such as the Neckar, the Main and, later, the Moselle and thereby continental Europe with the Port of Rotterdam and thus the North Sea. This is vital, because until the invention of the railways, water transport was the primardy conduit of trade. While being a trasport hub was the making of the Mainz economy, it also made it a target of the Anglo-American strategic bombing campaign. As a result, the city was largely destroyed in the War. It was seized by the U.S. Army. Gen. Patton's Third army crossed the Rhine south of Mainz. Mainz and the southern Rhineland became part of the French occupation zone. Mainz became an important railway hub, because of its access to oceanic and riverine transport.
Mainz is located on the west bank of the Rhine River. This means the Rhine land--the German areas west of the Rhine. It is opposite the confluence of the Main with the Rhine. This strategic riverine location determined the history and ecomnomy of the city. Mainz is a river port city as the Rhine which connects with its main tributaries, such as the Neckar, the Main and, later, the Moselle and thereby continental Europe with the Port of Rotterdam and thus the North Sea. This is vital, because until the invention of the railways, water transport was the primardy conduit of trade. And even today Mainz's large container port hub allowing trimodal transport is vastly important. With the coming of the railways, Mainz became an important railway hub, because of its importance in oceanic and riverine transport. The Mainz�Ludwigshafen railway and the Alzey�Mainz Railway was erected by the Hessische Ludwigsbahn (1871).
Mainz was a created as a Roman garrison town--the Roman stronghold or castrum Mogontiacum. It is believed to hve been was founded by the Roman general Drusus (around 13/12 BC). The location of the confluence of the Main and Rhine was the obvious region. It developed in a beaitiful medieval city stride important trade routes.
The city is perhaps most famous as the place where the first books using movable type were printed by Gutenberg (1450s). The Citadel for which the city is famous was built (1660), but replaced earler forts.
After the World War I Armistice, the Allies moved ino the Rhineland (1918). The Versailles Peace Treaty was signed 8 months later (1919). The French occupied Mainz in the southern Rhinland (1919-30). Under the terms of the Versailles Treaty, the Rhineland was to be a part of Germany, but a demilitarized zone. The French garrison in the name of the victorious Allies was to remain until until the Germans paid the reparations. There was a Rhineland separatist movement that proclaimed an independent republic (1923). It collapsed because of strong German nationalist opinion (1924). The French withdrew (1930).
Presiden Hindenberg appoined Adolf Hitler chancellor of Germany (January 1933). He and his NAZI Party proceeded to turn Germany into a militarized, Fascist police state. They targered political opponents, especially those of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the socialist party that had been the primry oppoition to Hitler and the NAZIs. Mainz was not one of the larger Germzn cities, but it was an SPD stronghold. SPD leaders of any importance were arrested or murdered. Some judiciouly escaped from Mainz while it was still possible. The most notable SPD member in Mainz was political organizer, Friedrich Kellner, who went to Laubach, a small town in Hesse. There as the chief justice inspector of the district court he quietly opposed the NAZIs by recording their crimes in a secret 900-page diary. He writes, "I could not fight the Nazis in the present, as they had the power to still my voice, so I decided to fight them in the future. I would give the coming generations a weapon against any resurgence of such evil. My eyewitness account would record the barbarous acts, and also show the way to stop them." Mainz did not have an important NAZI Party. A detachment from the Party in Worms was ordered to set up the Party infrastructure (March 1933). They rose swastika flg over all public buildings and began to harange the city's Jewish population in the newspapers. The Bishop of Mainz, Albert Stohr, foounded an organization to help Jews escape Germany.
The Rhineland was the areas of Germany west of the Rhine. It was the area that Louis XIV coveted and fought enless wars to make the Rhine the Frenvh border with Germany. The Rhineland had been permanently demilitarized under the terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty ending World War I. This was one of the restictions that Hitler railed against in his speeches. The situation in the Rhineland was different than in Saarland. French authorities had been in control of the Saarland. Germany was in control of the Rhineland, they were simply not allowed to militarize it. Hitler's developing relationship with Mussolini by 1936 had ensured that Italy would not object. By 1936 the question was what France would do. The French agreement wth the Soviets in 1936 gave Hitler a pretext for action. This allowed Hitler the ability to appeal to the anti-Communist forces in Britain and France to dnounce the Locarno Pact. Hitler had reason to believe that the French would not react. [Davidson, p. 131.] The Whermacht was ordered to march into the Rhineland March 7, 1936). The Whermacht force sent uinto the Rhineland was weak one. They were under orders to withdraw if the British and French responded militarily. A military response from Britain and France could have dramatically changed 20th century history.
Mainz far from the Eastern Front was largely unaffected by the War until the Allies strategic bombing bombing campaign began in earnest. Mainz was a small industrial city, but not a major center of German war industries. It was the city's role as a transporttion hub that drew the attention of the allies strategic bombing campaign. Initial attacks by the RAF were small an ineffectual. After the D-Day interlude (March-August 1944), the Allies focused more and more on the German transportation system. There were more than 30 air raids on Mainz. This was small by World War II standards but was enough to destroyed some 80 percent of the city's center with all the beautiful medievel buildings. The city citadel was converted into the Oflag XII-B prisoner of war camp. This mean a camp for officers (Offizierlager). The American 90th Infantry Division under William A. McNulty seized Mainz (March 22, 1945). This was a unit of the Third Army's XII Corps commanded by General George Patton. Resistance in the city was uneven, there was some sharp fighting, but some areas surrendered without resistance. Wehrmacht and Volkssturm units that could withdrew across the Rhine. On the same day, however, Patton's Third Army began a low-key crossing of the Rhine, a day before Field Marshall Montgomery's D-Day style crossing to the north. Goebbels in his diary refers to heavy fifgting un the city. [Goebbels, March 24, 1945, p. 267.] Patton's Third Army used the ancient strategic gateway through Germania Superior to cross the Rhine south of Mainz. At the time that the Allied Rhine crossings took place. Eisenhower and the Western Allies were still fixatd on Berlin. Subsequently Eisenhower decided to leave Berlin to the Red Army. Eisenhower vectored his forced north and south. Montgomery struck north, cutting off the Red Army from entering the Danish Peninsula. Out of concern for a possible Alpine redoubt, the American and French forces shifted more to the south. They drove down the Danube towards Czechoslovakia. Their goal was the cutting off the south and th possibility of a NAZI Alpine redoubt which Eisenhower and other American commanders took seriously until the end of the War. In fact, because Hitler was uninterested and the Wehrmact commanders saw no point of it, virtually nothing was done to prepare such a redoubt. Other Americans units drove into the Alps in Austria where they met with the Red army driving west.
Maniz and the southern Rhineland became part of the northern French zone of occupation (1945-49). When the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate was founded (1946), by the French commander in the French occupation zone, Marie Pierre K�nig, Mainz became capital of the new state. The NAZI-era diarist, Friedrich Kellner, returned to Mainz to spend his final years (1962), although his diary would not be published until after his death. [Magers] Following the withdrawal of French forces from Mainz, the United States Army in Europe occupied the military bases in Mainz. Mainz now houses the headquarters of the German Bundeswehr.
Goebbels, Josef. Hugh Trevor-Roper, ed. Final Entries 1945: The Diaries of Joseph Goebbels (Avon: New York, 1979), 453p.
Kellner, Friedrich. Mein Widerstand (My Opposition).
Magers, Phil. "German's war diary goes public". UPI United Press International. (December Mrch 28, 2005).
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