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MAINZ, Explosion of the Pulverturm



Three original drawings of the destruction of Mainz after the explosion of the Pulverturm, the powder tower, were made in-situ by an English journalist.


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Three original drawings, made in-situ by an English speaking reporter showcase the destruction of buildings in Mainz, caused by an explosion of the powder magazine (Pulverturm) on November 18th 1957, at 14.45.

Within seconds the explosion ruined 57 houses and caused damage on other 64 buildings, including the Stephanskirche nearby.  Approximately 150 people were killed and at least 500 injured.

These drawings were made by a reporter to be published in Illustrated London News. They were sent to London folded, most probably in an envelope with written instructions for publishers verso:

The foreground of this is very imperfectly made out – but if the picture be of any use, the artist who makes use of it can easily supply a foreground of debris and Austrian & Prussian uniforms – A uniform white layer of lime (from the stone) covers everything, and the weather beyond is fine & frosty. The site of the explosion is to the left – the foreground the slope of the crater formed by it – the trees shattered – St. Stephen’s in front, & some of the Cathedral towers behind – the Taunus hills behind all.

A more grim description accompanies Street called the Old Kästrich (160 x 245 mm): ‘Small old houses – walls of higher ones behind – are in the smash – the survivors hunting for bodies & effects among them – Austrian sentries – fatigue party of Prussians.’

The third sketch is titled Site of the Powder Magazine (158 x 240 mm) and is described: ‘The angle of the Boniface bastion in front – the Explosion crater with the ramparts behind.

The images were printed on page 557 of the December 5 1857 issue and are rare witnesses of the international journalism of the 19th century. 

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