Postlingberg Church Linz at dawn

Postlingberg Church Linz – Camouflage and Pilgrims

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The Postlingberg Church Linz is probably the only church in the world that had military camouflage patterns painted on its walls. In the 18th century, a picture of the Virgin Mary caused the emergence of legends about miraculous healings. For this reason, one of the most beautiful Baroque pilgrimage churches was built from 1738 to 1748. The cross-domed church has a richly structured double tower façade. The facade is white and held in a light pink, the roofs on the towers are black. 

In 1964 the pope raised the church to the rank of a basilica minor. There were two fires in the Pöstlingberg church. The first fire, caused by a lightning strike, occurred in 1919. The attic became a plunder of the flames, the interior of the church remained intact. A second fire in 1963 was caused by a blowtorch. It destroyed both the roof of the church and both towers. They could, however, be reconstructed. For several years, the pilgrimage basilica has been renovated with donations. Today it is a popular excursion and tourist destination in Linz.

Camouflage painting on Postlingberg Church Linz during World War II

In 1943 the Wehrmacht applied a dirt gray paint with wavy contours on the church’s walls. The intend was not to hide the church from discovery at daytime. According to information from a former pilot of the German Luftwaffe the camouflage pattern was applied to avoid a sighting of the widely visible bright white structure at night. On moonlit nights, Allied bomber crews used the course of the Danube River as a reliable guide to find their targets in Linz. However, in unfavorable meteorological conditions and if the blackout regulations were complied with in the city, the Postlingberg Church without camouflage paint would have been a welcome orientation aid even from a great height. Thus, the usefulness of this camouflage attempt is not disputed by military experts.

More information on the pilgrimage church on Pöstlingberg.

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