Halle (Saale)

Full of devotion Felix Count von Luckner in his book “Aus 70 Lebensjahren” (“My 70 years of life”) he uniquely titled one chapter:

“Halle, my love”

These three words clearly describe the close relationship of the Count to the city located in Germany on the river Saale. Even as a kid he had wonderful times here, where his grandma took care of little Felix. In 1919 von Luckner decided here to give lectures about his time as a buccaneer of the German Emperor and to publish a book about his adventures. By the way, his first lecture the Count held in the Saalschloßbrauerei (a brewery in Halle which had a big and wonderful ballroom) the same year.

Many places in Halle are commemorating us to the Count today or can be brought into connection with him. These places will be combined by us to the “Count-von-Luckner-Trail” and be worked to provide international visitors more sights in Halle. The “von Luckner Trail” will be introduced here in our website, furthermore, there will be a leaflet for tourists.

Almost fateful where the circumstances leading to the day, when von Luckner in 1945 could save his favorite town from destruction by allied bombers and artillery – thousands of people kept alive.

In the following film you can see scenes of the battle of Halle

About von Luckner’s role we can tell you as follows:

von Luckner’s role

Count von Luckner played a vital role in saving his home town, Halle, from being completely destroyed in 1945.

We remember, Count von Luckner was asked by civilians in Halle to act as an intermediary between the Germans in Halle and the 104th Infantry Division Timberwolf. Luckner went to the American front zone where he met Al Newman, a war correspondent from Newsweek. Newman and von Luckner knew each other from the 1920′s.  He brought the Count to the Headquarters; where the negotiations took place. A small memorial erected by a private person stands there now to honour the Count.

Let us hear, what the Americans say about his role in 1945. Lt.Col. Rouge about his memories: “Let me say something categorically. The town of Halle owes a debt of gratitude to Count von Luckner for having been instrumental in saving it from being bombed and being shattered with artillery and losing a lot of civilians etc.; I say that categorically.”

Col. Leo A. Hoegh, who was a member of the 104th Headquarters and was with Gen. Allen during the conference with Count von Luckner, recalls: “Count von Luckner made the proposals concerning the partial retreat of the German defenders into the southern third of the town. We used exact maps. I can say that we trusted him. During the meeting the detailed conditions of the later partial surrender of the defenders were made.”

These events are described in more detail in the report of Mj.Gen. Allen, personally signed by him: “Count von Luckner realized the hopelessness of the German situation in Halle. He vehemently expressed himself on the humane needs of protecting the hospital areas, and for avoiding heavy casualties among the women and children of the civilian population. He volunteered to act as an intermediary with the German commander, and to carry a message to him, on a safe conduct passage through our lines.”

Within this report in the “Summary of Count von Luckner’s Activities” his contribution is once more valued: “Count von Luckner voluntarily acted as an intermediary to the German commander in Halle, regardless of the personal risks involved. He was primarily interested in protecting the city and the civilian population, knowing that the tactical situation was under American control. His efforts were most helpful in arranging for the establishment of neutral areas in Halle, for the protection of German hospitals and civilian non-combatants, and in transmitting the American terms of surrender. His activities contributed materially to the welfare of our Allied prisoner of war wounded (in the German hospitals in Halle). He acted with complete fairness and frankness, toward both the American and German commanders.”

For more information see the Resources page. You may enjoy the book:

“Our Way to Halle – The march of the ‘Timberwolves’ to Halle” by Matthias J. Maurer

The summary of the book is: On April 19th 1945 at 10.55 p.m. the fighting in the town of Halle (Saale), situated in Central Germany, came to an end after the task forces of the 104th Infantry Division “Timberwolves” of the US forces had already reached the northern city limits on April 15th and had forced ahead from there to the heart of the town. This publication depicts in brought outline the path of liberation which guided the “Timberwolves” in 1945 right through Europe to Central Germany and thus to Halle and describes the step-by-step capture of the town. Eye-witness reports from “Timberwolves” complement the well known accounts from the German side,. and illustrate the most critical hours following the American leaflet action, focusing on the ultimatum: “Surrender or destruction”. They render the situation more understandable, in which bold Halle citizens, the level-headedness of the American commander and last but not least the negotiations held with Felix Count of Luckner achieved that despite the fact that the surrender had been rejected by the German commander and despite house-to-house fighting, involving heavy losses, Halle was spared carpet bombing. More than 350 photos, the majority hitherto unpublished, from archives and both German and American private property illustrate among other things life in Halle during the American occupation time and demonstrate the extent of the war damages.

(At the moment the book is not available) The book is written in German but a booklet with the English translation will be provided by request (excluding the description of the photos).  It can be ordered here! The price is: 40.00 US Dollars including shipping and handling.

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