Station 10

War & PeaceQuartering, Ruhrkessel invasion & town twinning

Information point:
- Wimereuxstraße

Again and again wars
Founded as a fortress town, Schmallenberg has been exposed to attacks and fights again and again in the course of its history, despite - or perhaps because of - its mountainous terrain.
In the 14th century, the town participated in numerous alliances for peace in the countryside and concluded agreements with the surrounding towns of Hallenberg, Medebach and Winterberg for mutual protection (1300, 1370, 1451). The four towns also joined the large Westphalian land peace alliances. At the time of the Soest feud around 1444, the surrounding villages were repeatedly plundered: The inhabitants sought shelter behind the walls of the town; several villages went desolate during this time.
During the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) Schmallenberg was saved from greater destruction, as Kaspar von Dorlar, called Decker, who worked as a Swedish war commissioner, stood up for Schmallenberg: His family is attested in Schmallenberg since 1349, provided mayors again and again and owned a house in the southeast of the town (in Decker's alley).
A century later, however, during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), in which the Bishop of Cologne supported France against Hesse and Prussia, the town suffered from frequent quartering of French, Hessian and Prussian soldiers as well as oppressive taxes. The coalition wars in the course of the French Revolution also influenced life in Schmallenberg from 1794 onwards; in the following years the town had to provide food, clothing and accommodation for troops passing through. In May 1795, 300 Austrian soldiers came to the town. In autumn 1797 and in summer 1798 French infantry and cavalry took up quarters. In 1813 and 14 Russian, Prussian and Saxon troops passed through Schmallenberg and had to be accommodated and fed.
Again there was peace for more than 100 years. The two world wars also claimed many victims among the people of Schmallenberg and especially during the Second World War many forced labourers were used in the local industry and agriculture. All the Jewish inhabitants, who were well integrated into everyday life in Schmallenberg until the National Socialists took power in 1933, disappeared from the town, the majority were deported and murdered in the concentration camps, some of them managed to emigrate. Until April 1945, however, Schmallenberg was hardly affected by the immediate events of both the First and Second World Wars. Only in the very last days of the Second World War did heavy fighting take place in Schmallenberg, because the surroundings of Schmallenberg served as a last retreat for various troop units. On April 7th, 1945, during the Allied invasion of the Ruhrkessel, Schmallenberg was attacked by the American 7th Armored Division with air support after the villages of Gleidorf and Grafschaft, and occupied on the same day. 72 German soldiers and 11 civilians fell, 350 soldiers were captured, 37 houses burned down and 151 were damaged. The attack on Schmallenberg was captured on 32 millimeter film.
In the summer of 1945, the stream of refugees from the East came to Schmallenberg as well, and in view of the housing shortage, the lack of food, and those evacuated from bombed-out towns during the war, several hundred people, meant a great burden for the local population.

Maintaining peace through town twinning
In recent decades, Schmallenberg's idea of peace has been cultivated and consolidated through the town twinning with Wimereux (from 1972) and Burgess Hill (since 1988). Regular mutual visits and student exchanges take place.

Hitler Youth in Schmallenberg on 1 May ca. 1936

Propaganda march of the young people in Schmallenberg, 20.08.1933

Celebration in decorated hall in Schmallenberg about 1936

American tanks advance from Sorpe Valley towards Holthausen

American infantry advance from Niedersorpe to Holthausen

Schmallenberg on 7 April 1945

American tanks in Fredeburg

08. April 1945: American soldier with German prisoners of war

Starving city dwellers return home fully packed after a hoarding trip to the Sauerland, around 1945