How Much of Krakow Was Destroyed in WWII?

During the Second World War many cities were damaged or completely destroyed. In Poland, cities such as Warsaw and Gdańsk, among others, were devastated. Was Krakow destroyed during World War II? How much of Krakow was destroyed in wwii? Are the monuments in Kraków original or not?

If, while visiting Krakow, you are wondering whether Krakow was destroyed during World War II, the answer to this question is no. Krakow, like Lwów, is one of those cities that survived the war virtually intact.

Krakow was the capital of the General Government, the seat of the authorities established there during the German occupation. The Germans wanted to expand Krakow and create an exemplary German city in it, so they decided not to destroy the town.

When the Red Army attacked Germany at the end of World War II, it was not decided to defend Krakow at all costs. Krakow was not given the status of a fortress and there were no fierce battles that could lead to the destruction of the city.

There was no uprising in Krakow, there were no fierce urban battles and it was not a victim of bombing either. Traces of machine gun fire can be seen on the façades of some of Kraków’s old buildings (such as near the entrance to the building shown in the photo above), but these are among the few traces of wartime destruction in the city. At the end of World War II retreating German troops blew up the bridges over the Vistula in Krakow and this was actually the most serious damage to the urban fabric of Krakow.

If you ever decide to hire a guide in Krakow, you may hear colorful lies about how the retreating Germans mined Krakow and only the quick arrival of the communist „liberators” from the Red Army saved Krakow from being blown up. Of course, this is just a fairy tale for tourists and a lie of postwar soviet propaganda.

In conclusion: was Krakow destroyed during the Second World War? No. Krakow was not bombed, there was no fighting in Krakow. All the monuments in Krakow are originals.

The opening photograph is available in the Public Domain and comes from the Polish service National Digital Archive (Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe, image reference 2-3245) and shows a mast with the flag of the Third Reich and a view of the town hall tower in Krakow.

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