North Africa, Asia, and huge portions of Europe were heavily impacted by World War II. The new bombers, torpedos, and later the atom bomb, made WWII the most destructive war in human history- a record it still holds to this day. In many parts of Germany where fighting lasted for years the towns and cities had to be rebuilt after the war, with cities like Dresden having been bombed to near complete demolition. But, the years-long struggle of small, French villages also took a toll, albeit far less dramatic than the bombing of Dresden or the atom bomb attacks at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The town of Wingen-Sur-Moder (sometimes shortened to Wingen) lies in the Northeast of France and was a battleground between the experienced German 6th SS Mountain Division and the inexperienced U.S. 70th Infantry Division. The town was captured from the Allies by German forces, who then locked hundreds of American POWs inside the church and a nearby house for days until American forces pushed the SS back. The fighting took place between January 1st and 7th, 1945.
In the process of fending off the Germans, nearly every building in the town was damaged. But, despite this a large portion of the historic buildings there today have either been rebuilt or are original and managed to survive not only the war, but the nearly 80 years that have passed since then.
Have a look at side-by-side footage of Wingen being defended in 1945 and how it looks today in the video below. It’s amazing how much of this village of less than 2,000 people is still standing!