Despite the fact that Hannover was founded in medieval times, the district has very few buildings that predate the 1950s.
The reason for that is the almost complete destruction of Hanover during World War II.
Image source: ww2today.com
In 1938, a Hannoverian Jew named Herschel Grynszpan fatally shot Eduard Ernst vom Rath, a Nazi diplomat. The assassination was the pretext for Kristallnacht, a pogrom against the Jews in Hannover carried out by the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing as well as by Jewish civilians. During the pogrom, the Nazis burnt the district’s synagogue to the ground. The riots also resulted in the destruction of countless Jewish cemeteries, shops, and homes, as well as the loss of countless lives.
Hannover was a frequent target of Allied bombing raids, due to its status as a critical railroad and road junction and due to the presence of many factories, plants, and refineries within it. The bombings resulted in heavy loss of life and property.
Once the war was over, the arduous task of rebuilding began.
The old town in the center of Hannover was nearly decimated during the war, leaving only 40 half-timbered buildings. Parts of these were used to form the facades of newer reconstructions, which comprise the majority of the buildings in the new old town. The interior of Hannover’s oldest church, the Kreuzkirche, was also destroyed. It has since been reconstructed.
Not much could be salvaged from the city center, as approximately 90 percent of it was destroyed. As a result, most of the buildings in the city center were built in the 1950s.
The 14th-century church Martkirche in Hannover’s old marketplace was also damaged severely during the war and was reconstructed in 1952. The Hannover opera house, originally built in 1842, was also severely damaged. It was rebuilt in 1948, according to its original style.
Despite being instructed by the British Royal Family to avoid damaging the Herrenhausen Castle, it was completely destroyed during the war. It has since been rebuilt, and it and the gardens that surround it have since become popular tourist attractions.
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The synagogue in Hannover was not rebuilt, however. Instead, a monument was built on its former site on Rote Reihe. One of the plaques on the monument cautions visitors: “Never forget.”