The German City Caught In The Middle Of World War III

By Will on Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Fulda Bridge Cassel (i.e. Kassel) Hesse-Nassau Germany
“The test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members.” —Pearl S. Buck, My Several Worlds

In A Nutshell

The small city of Fulda was on the border between West and East Germany in the Cold War. It was the most likely area of attack for eastern European and Soviet forces in the event of World War III and unsurprisingly, over a million soldiers faced each other off in the region. Soviet forces would have attempted to break through there and exploit the routes through the valleys and mountains to the strategic city of Frankfurt. Had war broken out, one of, if no the largest tank battle would have taken place between American and Warsaw pact forces, with the use of nuclear weapons being very likely, from land mines to short range missiles. Fulda would have been turned into a nuclear wasteland, littered with corpses and smoldering vehicles and buildings.

The Whole Bushel

Fulda is a small city in central Germany with a current population of just over 64,000 (according to the 2009 census.) During the cold war, it was on the border between East and West Germany and also happened to be nearby to the Fulda gap, a series of mountains and valleys that led to the strategically important city of Frankfurt. Fulda itself had no strategic value.

In the event of war, it’s likely that the Soviet attack through the region would have been led by nine divisions, including five armored ones consisting of 100,000 men, 1,000 tanks, and 1,000 APCs/IFVs (armored personal carriers/infantry fighting vehicles) plus helicopter and jet support. Facing this onslaught would have been a roughly similar amount of American tanks, men, and aircraft. And in the middle of all of this would have been Fulda.

The American plan involved A-10 ground attack jets and Apaches combating Soviet tanks while the ground forces fought a retreating action until reinforcements arrived. The end result would have been a gigantic armored battle, similar to Kursk in 1943 with massive amounts of armored vehicles from both sides.

And to make it even worse, there were plans from both sides to use nuclear weapons. A Soviet plan that was unclassified with the fall of the Soviet Union showed there were plans to use at least 300 nuclear missiles against American defenses in the region. To combat the greater number of Soviet troops, the Americans planned to use nuclear missiles too, although against tank columns. Also, they had deployed some nuclear land mines that made normal mines look rather pathetic.

The end result of the gargantuan battle would obviously have been huge amounts of casualties on both sides. Fulda itself would most likely have ceased to exist, leaving only smoldering remains of vehicles and buildings, bomb craters and corpses. Add to that a huge amount of radiation from all of the nuclear weapons as well as the possible use of chemical weapons and you get an inhospitable ghost town that would have made Chernobyl look comparatively hospitable.

Show Me The Proof

Featured image via Snapshots of the Past
“A Scenario for Invasion”
The Lovely Little Town That Would Have Been Absolutely Screwed by World War III

  • NHN

    Fulda would have been nuclear toast, but the rest of Germany and central Europe probably too. The scary defence tactic of the NATO was indeed to create an atomic armageddon on the way of the Russian tanks. I hope they reconsider that brilliant plan in regard of the Ukrain crises right now.

    • Will

      I read about that too, not the smartest idea firing nuclear war heads everywhere.

    • Atlas

      I remember reading that the Western powers had decided that the only plausible way to combat the number of tanks the Soviets had was through the use of ‘Tactical Nuclear Weapons’. If you ask me, not much is tactical about something that can obliterate entire cities….

      • Clyde Barrow

        Some tactical fission weapons had very small yield (0.1 Kiloton). For example, the “Davy Crockett” recoilless rifle…

        • Atlas

          I do suppose lower yield weapons could be used tactically, but that thing looks a bit silly :).

          • Lisa 39

            Hey buddy, anything with the name davy crockett on it is serious business, and don’t go to his birthplace and say anything bad about him, big trouble!

          • Atlas

            Haha true that!

          • Lisa 39

            Have you ever been there? Lawrenceburg tennessee, (tour guide voice!) Home of davy crockett, if you go to the heart of beautiful historic lawrenceburg in the center of the circle (actually its kind of on a corner but that sounded better) you can tour the house that davy crockett was born in, they have displays! Don’t plan to spend hours there tho, its a one room place! And while you’re in lawrenceburg be sure to visit the davy crockett movie theater davy crockett motel or the extremely beautiful davy crockett state park! Tour guide voice off 😀

          • Atlas

            No I haven’t, but he was a badass, I’d probably very much enjoy going! P.S. excellent tour hahaha :).

          • Lisa 39

            Thank you, of course there’s more stuff but i didn’t want to keep typing davy crockett lol, there was also a tv show about him back in the days of black and white tv, i’ll bet you can figure out the name!

          • Clyde Barrow

            The U.S. Army did find the weapon to be a bit redundant, being how the crew firing the weapon were at the minimum safe distance from the blast and lethal X-Rays & Gamma Rays. So not many of the “Davy Crocketts” were produced or issued.

          • Atlas

            To me, that seems like it would be the least tactical part of the use of any nuclear weapon. At some point your own forces would be hindered by the radiation left over.

          • Clyde Barrow

            Very true about the fallout! Plus, the crew manning the weapon had to dig a ditch to take cover in after they set up the weapon, which would give an opposing force ample time to overrun/eliminate the crew before they even fired the warhead.

            It’s easy to see why there wasn’t much future for the “Davy Crockett” on a battlefield.

    • inconspicuous detective

      after that article about deadhand, they should reconsider war with russia entirely.

  • Lisa 39

    That is such a beautiful town, i’m glad that it didn’t get destroyed, nice job will!

    • Will

      Thanks

      • Lisa 39

        You’re welcome, i have a quick question, did you pick the picture? Its beautiful.

        • Will

          No, I usually leave that to Micah and whoever else sorts it out as they’re the experts with copyright!

          • bananaphone

            Ahahah how ya doin mate?

          • Lisa 39

            Good thinking, somebody did an excellent job with the pic, also, it looks like you have an admirer :p

          • Will

            I was quite surprised when I saw it, they did do a good job. If it was up to me it would probably been a picture of some tanks! I guess I’m getting popular quickly!

          • Lisa 39

            Its so pretty that i either want to go there or do a puzzle of it :), enjoy your fan club, i know who the president is!

    • http://Cunts.com/ Unblockmelistverse

      lovely part of the world

  • Shirokuma

    In case the Russians attack? What makes you think they would? What makes you think, the West would not? Because you’re from the West and Russia seems foreign and dangerous to you because you don’t understand it? Congratulations, you just helped perpetuate paranoia, as done for decades now.

    • Will

      Well that escalated quickly. This is what would have most likely happened in the event of a Russian invasion. I don’t know exactly how you mean I ‘perpetuated paranoia’ when I was writing about something that was a threat over 30 years a go.

      • Shirokuma

        Will, reading wordings like yours usually escalates stuff for me, yes. Let me explain what my problem was:
        First, the particular threat from 30 years ago is gone, you’re right about this. But the paranoia “the bad Russians are coming to get you” is still there and very well alive in the Western world (where I also happen to live, btw). Best seen from the Western (mostly hypocritical) reactions to the recent crisis in the Ukraine.

        And now to the main point of my unhappiness with your article 🙂
        Yes, that’s what would (better: “could”; but that’s not the topic here) have happened in the event of a Russian invasion. The thing I always ask myself: Was there never a threat of Western invasion? How about including that possibility in your intellectual game of “what if?” Balance it out.

    • bananaphone

      You keep your mouth shut

    • Spartachilles

      I agree. Kind of. Just about how the West might of attacked. Operation Unthinkable!

  • Mark Lambourn

    So no Europeans would of fought…. we just planned to sit back and let the Americans do all the fighting…?

    • Will

      From the sources it was Americans in the region

      • Mark Lambourn

        Cheers for answering me, but I re read your article and it makes no mention of any sectors.

        It just came across as the typical “America won WW2 on its own” type attitude which is extremely prevalent on the interwebs.

        Great article and web site BTW… Sorry for moaning.

        • Will

          No problem, I’m from the UK anyway so I’ll be the last person to say ”America won WW2 on its own.” No worries

  • Atlas

    I really enjoyed this list, especially the discussion of strategy! Great job, and please write more like this!

    • Will

      Thanks, I’ll try to find more then, it’s just finding it that’s the problem!

      • bananaphone

        Alright matey mate mate mate?

  • Clyde Barrow

    They might have been able to get away with exploding a couple of tactical fission devices without killing their own forces, but 300? Not a chance. Not to mention that would have triggered a full scale exchange of high yield fusion weapons, destroying most of civilization.

    Let’s be thankful that never happened (at least quite yet).

  • bananaphone

    Um the soviet union was in eastern Europe

  • oouchan

    Wow….glad this didn’t go further than it did. Too many hot-heads around here.

    Crazy!

  • Spartachilles

    The title is a bit misleading. It thought it was going to be about a city caught in the center of post-war, non-war, armed conflict after WW2. Interesting nonetheless.

  • GerbilActs17

    way to go, alternate history! what about Korea?

  • Wallace McNabb

    I was in Germany during this time for 7 yrs. I was a tank commander. Some of you are very ignorant or misinformed about TAC nukes. Also the Soviet tanks were no match for ours in the early days. They got better but so did ours. It would have been a huge battlefield. They would never make it to Frankfurt.