During WWII, for cities affected by the conflict, death came from above in the form of air-raids. The city of Konstanz in Germany was able to survive these bombings, barely scathed by fooling the Allied bombers. They didn’t do some sort of complicated form of trickery but instead simply kept their lights on— a simple, clever, and effective way that history proved to be true.

Air Raids During WWII

Bombing raids that were usually done at night were one of the strategies to cripple enemy forces during the second world war. Commonly targeted areas were civilian communities, government buildings, and important infrastructures, as well as markets, factories and warehouses, railways, and docks— anywhere that would hurt and disrupt the adversaries’ functions and activities and crush their morale. As for Berlin, for instance, they witnessed a total of 312 bombings which left one-third of its city crumbling to ashes. While the actual numbers were hard to determine, estimates of German civilians killed by the Allied strategic bombing ranged from approximately 350,000 to as much as 500,000.

The City of Konstanz

The civilizations in Konstanz can be traced back to the far Stone Age era. The Romans first settled there in 40 AD and named the place Constantia, either for Emperor Constantius Chlorus or his grandson Constantius II. Today, the town is a charming warren of cobblestone streets and stone buildings that were mostly preserved due to the clever stunt (more of it later.)

German-Swiss border at Konstanz. (Maksym KozlenkoCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

It’s important to understand the city’s location, to understand how it was able to pull the trick successfully. It is located at the western end of Lake Constance in the south of Germany, right on the Germany-Switzerland border that runs along the southwestern and southern edge of the city. The border runs technically through the middle of the town. As Slate wrote in an article: