A map showing how Nazi Germany planned its 1941 bombing of Belfast has been put on display at the Northern Ireland War memorial.
The Ordnance Survey map used by Luftwaffe for the blitz was discovered in a German airfield at the end of the Second World War.
A Northern Ireland company had a copy in its archives and loaned it to the War Memorial to mark the 72nd anniversary of the bombing.
Around 900 people died and 1,500 were injured in the attack by 180 Luftwaffe bombers on the night of Easter Tuesday April 15.
The planes dropped 203 tonnes of bombs and 800 firebomb canisters on the city over several hours.
Yesterday the tragedy was marked by the laying of a wreath of flowers on the Blitz War Memorial in Belfast’s Talbot Street.
The ceremonial gesture was made by Lieutenant Colonel C T Hogg, chairman of the NI War Memorial, in front of a small gathering.
The map, which measures 110cms by 70cms, shows the clinical approach to the bombing of what the Luftwaffe concluded was “the most poorly defended city in the UK”.
Marked in red and purple are a range of targets, all noted down and translated into German.
These include ‘parliament and ministries’, ‘law courts’, ‘City Hall’, ‘shipyard – Harland and Wolff’, ‘gasworks’, ‘ropeworks’ and docks.
Less obvious targets identified are ‘Royal Academic Institution’ (better known as the grammar school ‘Inst’), a reservoir and a sweet factory.
The map will be on display for a month.
War Memorial curator Ciaran Elizabeth Doran, who worked for 25 years in London’s Imperial War Museum, said it is an “ordinary Ordnance Survey map” which was available to anyone before the war and fell somehow in to German hands.
“The map was found in Gatow airfield in Berlin by the RAF when they arrived in 1945,” she said.
“Scenic NI had it in their collection and there is not a copyright on it so it fitted in very well with today’s commemoration.
“If you look at it you can see that it really exposes the vulnerability of Belfast from this map on which areas are highlighted.
“It could have been picked up by anyone who had been going to Belfast on holiday.
“They added their own information to it with areas and buildings highlighted. They also marked railways and bridges.
“following the bombing in 1941, the devastation that was visited on a lot of these areas meant this map was the last view of Belfast as it was before the blitz.”
Reproduced from The Irish News, Tuesday April 16 2013. By Bimpe Archer.