King Charles remembers Allied bombing victims in Hamburg as he ends Germany visit

King lays wreath at the ruins of St Nicholas’s church, a memorial site to July 1943 firestorms

Britain’s King Charles remembered 34,000 victims of Allied bombings of Hamburg and the 10,000 Jewish children evacuated to the UK from Nazi Germany at the end of his three-day state visit.

The king laid a wreath at the ruins of St Nicholas’s church, a memorial site to the July 1943 firestorms caused by incendiary bombs which destroyed swathes of the northern port city.

The roofless church was designed by English architect George Gilbert Scott, who was also responsible for London’s memorial to King Albert.

In a simple ceremony, Hamburg’s Bishop Kirsten Fehrs read the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation, remembering the destruction of the English city of Coventry by German bombers in 1940.


One reading urged setting grievances aside to avoid the “hatred that divides nations from nations”.

Earlier with Camilla, the queen consort, Charles visited a memorial to the children’s transports from 1938, when the UK offered refuge to more than 10,000 Jewish children – most of whom never saw their parents again.

On Thursday the king told the Bundestag that “learning from the past is our first duty – but only through our commitment to a common future can we fully fulfil it”.

Crowds braved a steady downpour to gather outside Hamburg city hall, where the royal couple signed the city’s golden book and waved from the balcony. The day ended with a tour of Hamburg harbour, one of Europe’s largest, and a concert of German and British bands and 1,000 invited guests.

The royal couple travelled to Hamburg, Germany’s most anglophile city, on a regular high-speed train, accompanied by Germany’s president Frank Walter Steinmeier.

The German trip, Charles’s first state visit as monarch, was recommended by the British government as part of a campaign to boost relations with its European neighbours after Brexit strains. Plans to visit France first were thwarted by widespread strikes.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin