The German City Caught In The Middle Of World War III

“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.

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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
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