First half of 20th Century

Bellicose, brown and destroyed city

Gießen was not a battle-site of the First World War. But in the city was a prisoner of war camp erected, in Grünberger Straße. Thousands of soldiers of all nationalities were brought here, before it was transformed into a quarantine facility for returning soldiers in 1919. Later it became a shelter for stateless people, who – due to the treaty of Versailles and the resulting division of territories – didn’t belong to any country anymore.

During the financial crisis of the 1920s, many citizens of Gießen thought their status was threatened and thus turned to the fascists of the National Socialist Party. From 1933 until 1945 more military facilities were built than ever before: the artillery barracks, the forest barracks and the air-base. The latter was built by forced labourers, prisoners of war and inmates of concentration camps. Jews, other minorities and political enemies were disenfranchised, prosecuted, evicted and murdered.

At the end of the Second World War, an estimated 70 per cent of the entire city was destroyed during the bombardments of the Allied Forces, which aimed at destroying the railway tracks and connections.