During the First World War Kalisz was ruined by the German army - 81st anniversary passed in 1995. From August 2nd till 22nd 1914 the oldest town in Poland, with the rich historical tradition, the monument of mediaeval architecture was bombed and burnt down. It was a crime committed on a defenceless, open town, left by the Russian army without any fighting.
Kalisz - the town on an island - surrounded by the arms of the Prosna River, was funded in 13th century. It fis the town with a typical mediaeval urban structure. On February 13th 1793 Kalisz and the Kalisz region went finto Prussia due to the partition treaty; but after Napoleon's defeat it was taken over by Russia from February 14th 1813 up to August 2nd 1914.
The Prussian army invaded Kalisz from the nearby Ostrów on August 2nd. Hermann Preusker, the major, the commander of the second battalion of 155 infantry regiment gave an order to buro the city - in consequence 95% of the town was completely destroyed. Nearly all the houses within the boarders of the mediaeval town were burnt to the ground. The only buildings which survived were the churches and public offices. A great number of citizens were shot. Kalisz, with the population of 65.400 before the war, had only 5.000 inhabitants after the August exodus.
These terrible war calamities affected both the people's way of life and the town's social and economic development. The town could not recover for years. The war was not ended yet when the Town Council took up the idea of Kalisz rebuilding which would reflect its historical tradition. The reconstruction was to be based on the winning project in the competition of 1916, although the German authorities were against it. After the liberation in 1918 the rebuilding was carried out with much energy and enthusiasm.
In this album each photograph of Kalisz destroyed in 1914/15 corresponds to the photograph of the same part of the town in 1995. The enclosed town plan helps to see clearly the devastation and the mediaeval town construction.