The end of the war in Solingen 

On April 17, 1945 “around 1:00 p.m.,” US Colonel Lansing wrote in his war diary, “the entire region of Solingen and its surroundings was under our control.” The American invasion took place with practically no resistance, since anti-fascist groups had ensured a peaceful handover in several places. Already at 2:00 p.m., Oskar Rieß was appointed provisional mayor by the Americans. 

Oskar Rieß, who had been Managing Director of the Soling Spar- und Bauverein since 1928, was dismissed in late 1933, not only because of his SPD membership but also as a so-called “half-Jew.” He and his brothers Max and Willi belonged to a Social Democratic resistance group that distributed leaflets at the end of the war with the “order” to surrender to the Allies without a fight. 

On May 1, 1945, Oskar Rieß delivered a speech at the joint funeral of seventy-one prisoners who had been killed on April 13 by members of the SS in a ravine on the border between Solingen and Langenfeld as part of an “Endphaseverbrechen” (final phase crime): “May the dead rest in peace before this town hall and may the crime serve as a deterrent to all citizens, so that they will do everything in their power to prevent such inhumanities forever. We are unable to dry the ocean of tears that Hitler’s regime has created.”

Left: Funeral of the victims of Wenzelnberg before the city hall of Ohligs. Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park

Right: Oskar Rieß (SPD) was Managing Director of the Soling Spar- und Bauverein until 1933. After the Americans invaded, they appointed the Social Democrat as provisional mayor. Source: City Archive Solingen

Timeline Solingen

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