Concert to mark anniversary of wartime destruction of Norwich’s twin city Koblenz

PUBLISHED: 06:00 30 June 2014

Koblenz musician Anna Lina Gummersbach and Chris Lawrence prepare for the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Koblenz concert at Norwich Cathedral.
Photo by Simon Finlay.

Koblenz musician Anna Lina Gummersbach and Chris Lawrence prepare for the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Koblenz concert at Norwich Cathedral. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Archant Norfolk.

The destruction of Koblenz by Allied bombing cast a long shadow over Norwich’s twin city in Germany.

The bombing of Koblenz

The riverside city of Koblenz was virtually wiped out by Allied bombing in the Second World War.

A devastating raid on November 6, 1944 left the city centre near uninhabitable – estimated to be 87pc destroyed.

Koblenz was the location of the command of German Army Group B, but had no immediate strategic military importance. It was targeted as part of the carpet bombing strategy to weaken morale.

More than 94,000 people lived in Koblenz in 1943, but just 9,000 remained at the war’s end – with most evacuated and more than 1,000 killed.

Bombs, air mines and ensuing firestorms wreaked death and destruction in 1944, and the post-war recovery effort took more than a decade.

The twinning relationship between Norwich and Koblenz brought together two cities that suffered great harm in wartime.

And at the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Koblenz, friends from Norfolk and the Rhineland will celebrate the subsequent regeneration of both cities.

Musicians from Koblenz, Norwich and Novi Sad in Serbia – another of Norwich’s four twin towns and cities – play in the Triorca youth orchestra.

They will perform in a special concert at Norwich Cathedral on Sunday under the banner of reconciliation and regeneration.

Chris Lawrence, co-organiser of the concert, said he wanted to “celebrate how far we’ve come since the destruction of Koblenz” while there were still people around who remembered the events of 1944.

Waltraud Jarrold, president of the Norfolk and Norwich Koblenz Friendship Association, said the concert would send a powerful message.

“Our motto is understanding and friendship,” she added. “It’s to overcome what should never have happened.”

Anna Gummersbach, 18, of Koblenz, will play violin in the concert. She is staying in Norwich while she completes an internship, which Mat Newnham, partner at law firm Birketts LLP, helped to arrange.

Miss Gummersbach said she had made a lot of friends in the city.

The concert will be built around Metamorphosen by Richard Strauss and will be performed by musicians including the Cavick Players, the Guastalla Quartet from London and five former members of Triorca from Koblenz and Novi Sad and one from Norwich.

Any surplus funds raised will go to the Triorca Trust.

The concert is from 7.30pm on Sunday at Norwich Cathedral. Tickets cost £12, or £6 concessions, and can be bought from Prelude Records on 01603 628319 or the cathedral shop on 01603 218323.

Norwich has formal twinning links with four towns and cities worldwide, including Koblenz.

Formal twinning documents between Koblenz and Norwich were signed in 1978, and the bond has grown.

The Norfolk and Norwich Koblenz Friendship Association (NNKFA) was founded in 1980, but school exchanges between Norfolk and the Koblenz region date back to the 1940s.

A new international youth orchestra, called Triorca, was founded around 2012.

Members from Norwich, Koblenz and Serbia will perform at Sunday’s concert.

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