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Near the the vintage stone bridge at Neustadtplatz you will find two commemorative plaques in the grass which explain the symbolic contents this bridge represents. In German and English they explain the history of one of the oldest stone bridges in Europe, having survived more than 800 years and representing one of the few remaining medieval bridges, more beautiful than ever before. In the spring of 1945 US soldiers prevented its destruction at the last minute...

The commemorative plaques in German and English


Advancing soldiers of the 87th Infantry Division
in the Bahnhofstrasse of Plauen on April 16, 1945.
(Foto: Archiv A. Bräuer)

The troops reached the heavily damaged Neustadtplatz,
once part of the pulsating center of the city.
(Photo: Archiv A. Bräuer)


While the 1st Platoon marched down from the north on Pausaer Strasse, the Commander of the L-Company, Captain Kidd, received a message from an observation plane that the Germans were making efforts to blow up the bridge over the Elster river. Sergeant Stafford’s 2nd Platoon was ordered to advance, reinforced by several tanks from an armored unit.
“When we arrived at the bridge we saw a group of Germans who obviously were occupied with preparations to blow up the bridge. I stationed one tank each on either side of our end of the bridge and under the salvos from the tanks my men and I marched across the bridge, hoping to defuse the demolition charges.”
They succeeded. The Platoon secured the area beyond the bridge without any problems, and some of the German soldiers were captured while fleeing.
In his rush to save the bridge Stafford had ignored to secure his perimeter by searching the surrounding buildings which could have been a fatal error. A Platoon arriving later under the command of 2nd LT Ray Stander found a group of German officers and enlisted men in a basement who obviously had orders to destroy the bridge. Fortunately, they did not intervene.

1. Thomas L. Stafford, diary
2. 87. Infantry Division Legacy Association


On the occasion of the Liberty Convoy commemoration
in 2010 a sign was installed on Neustadtplatz to recall the fact
that it was the US Army which had liberated Plauen
and the Vogtland from war and the Nazi Regime.

LIBERTY CONVOY April 16 2010:
With an Aquarell by the artist Andreas Claviez held by the Veterans
Tom Stafford, Eldon Gracy, Jesse Bowman, Gene Garrison and
Tom Burgess (the latter not shown) and Katherine Brucker,
US Consul General from Leipzig, atop the Elster Bridge.

Commemorativ event at Elster Bridge on April 2015.
As a guest among others: Alan Bonde (in the light shirt).

Today only the walls are present from which a street
to the castle deviated.

For Plauen the preservation of the vintage Elster Bridge is a great stroke of luck. Until the 1970s, when the new bridge next door was built, the stonemade Elster Bridge was very important in terms of traffic.
A lively and historically interesting area has emerged in recent years. Today the ensemble of Rähme, Komturhof and castle gives a small impression of the medieval splendor of Plauen.

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