Bratislava in World War 2

Bombing of Bratislava in World War 2
Bombing of Bratislava in World War 2 – Author: Vladimír Malík
For most parts of World War 2, Bratislava was a better place to live than the surrounding countries. Therefore the history of Bratislava in World War 2 is not that full of atrocities and suffering like of some other Eastern European cities.

Status of Bratislava in World War 2

Slovakia enjoyed some kind of independence, in fact, it was a vassal state of German Reich. The availability of goods and food even attracted people from Vienna (in that time part of Germany) to shop here for things that were only available on the black market in their hometown.

Bratislava and holocaust

Starting 1939, Jewish citizens of Bratislava (who constituted around 12% of its population) were subject to discrimination and persecution. Smaller part managed to flee abroad via Balkan before the actual Holocaust and some people dispersed in towns and villages across Slovakia. Starting 1941, the Jewish population of Bratislava was expelled from Bratislava to the labour camps in Slovakia and later deported to the mass-murder camp of Auschwitz.
Only very few returned after the war.

Bombardement of Bratislava

The bombardment that targeted German cities did not significantly hit Bratislava until 16th June 1944, when the oil refinery Apollo was bombarded by American B-24 bombers of the 15th Air army, causing 181 deaths.

Year 1945 and liberation by Red Army

The year 1945 was a dramatic change, with the Germans losing ground and the Soviet Red army approaching. It meant the first scarcity of food and trains with injured soldiers passing the city. On early April, Red Army along with Romanian soldiers (as Romania recently switched sides and their combatants were now given the toughest battles by Soviet generals) was already at the outskirts of the city.
Despite German plans to make Bratislava to a pillbox city (Festung Pressburg), there was a lack of support from locals and Bratislava luckily did not sustain the fights that did Budapest or Warsaw.
After an artillery preparation, the liberating armies made the final push as of 3rd April and by 4th April majority of Bratislava was free.
Due to relatively low damages normal live returned to the city within few days and that is how the events of Bratislava in World War 2 ended.