During World War II, Croatian ground had its share of fighting, as forces of Nazi regime clashed with Allies over strategically important points in Eastern Europe. One of them was Rijeka, a city in Croatia’s coastal region of Kvarner, known to be a large harbor and place where first torpedo weapons in the world were crafted. In 1945, Axis forces were already on the brink of defeat, yet they were far from surrendering, causing the Allies to make several campaigns against their foes. Thanks to brave photographers who risked their lives in order to do their job, the battle of Rijeka has been visually documented. The following pictures are courtesy of Rijeka Town Museum. Visit the institution’s official website for more information.
Nazi leader Friedrich Rainer observes Rijeka from Trsat, prior to beginning of fighting. He will eventually flee to Carinthia, where his capture occurred. Rainer later participated as a witness in Nuremberg Trials, but was fundamentally extradited to Yugoslav authorities, and sentenced to death in 1947.
This photo is courtesy of RAAF archives, depicting British bomber during the flight above Rijeka harbor. Interestingly enough, the sunken ship leaking oil on the docks will, after much needed reparations, become “Galeb”, the official ship of communist leader Josip Broz Tito.
The joint forces of American and British soldiers are bombing the industrial complexes of Rijeka, one of them being the world’s original torpedo production facility. The weapon revolutionized naval warfare, and was patented in Rijeka several decades before.
Bizarrely enough, when German forces decided to retreat from Rijeka, they destroyed all the facilities which Allies didn’t bomb. The photo above shows destruction of Brajdica dock by Nazi army.
Before retreat, Germans also destroyed a stone railway overpass in Rijeka. However, they didn’t use enough explosive, doing little harm to train tracks which were installed on the structure. The tracks were left hanging in the air, providing a somewhat surreal sight.
Rijeka’s main promenade didn’t look very impressive in spring of 1945. Today, it is a lovely place where thousands of people are enjoying the sun and drinking coffee on terraces.
When the battle of Rijeka ended, local residents began the long and exhausting repairs. Although the city landscape was obliterated, their dedication and love for Rijeka finally led to beautiful city we know today.
Check out more photos in our gallery below: