Dramatic Story of Strasbourg's Great Exodus

Historic City of France Emptied of 220,000 Souls

The War Illustrated, Volume 1, No. 10, Page 308-309, November 18, 1939.

Think of a city as big as Cardiff, much greater than Aberdeen, halt as big again as Derby, from which the entire population of some 220,000 souls has been evacuated. Its thronging streets, its splendid historic square, its great railway terminus, its superbly towered Gothic cathedral, its ancient university, its once crowded quays, its numerous picturesque buildings, all echoless and deserted, left to the care of some mobile guards and a few civic officials, and to the flocks of pigeons which used to be as great an attraction to the visitor as those of Trafalgar Square or the Piazza San Marco! The only sounds of life are the whir of the wheels of the elderly guardians as they cycle on their rounds!

Strasbourg offers one of the most dramatic and emotional pictures of the War. It is France's nearest town of importance to the Rhine frontier, for the Kehl bridge which connects its suburb with the German bank of the Rhine is only two miles distant. Like the famous bridge between Tarascon and Beaucaire which is said to "divide" the two towns, the Kehl bridge now divides France and Germany. Its roadway has been dismantled and at either end strongly armed forces maintain a constant vigil. Here is the real stuff of drama and we are fortunate thanks to the co-operation of the French Embassy to be able to offer our readers these views of Strasbourg before and after evacuation.

The inhabitants scattered over France in temporary shelters have here the assurance that neither damage from the enemy action, nor from robbers or evil-doers has befallen their homes... despite foul lies circulated by Nazi wireless. When comes the final day of victory for the Allies it is to be hoped that the antique beauty of Strasbourg may have survived to cheer its returning townsfolk.