‘Stadtplan von Edinburgh’ – the Nazi war map of Scotland’s capital

The 'Stadtplan von Edinburgh' dates from 1941 and highlights key sites in the city deemed to be of strategic importance. Picture: Edinburgh City Libraries/Capital Collections
The 'Stadtplan von Edinburgh' dates from 1941 and highlights key sites in the city deemed to be of strategic importance. Picture: Edinburgh City Libraries/Capital Collections
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IT HIGHLIGHTS the Capital’s main places of interest and reveals key elements of its transport infrastructure – but this was no tourist guide.

Published in 1941, the Stadtplan von Edinburgh is a comprehensive German bombing map detailing the capital’s places of military, geographic and strategic significance.

Picture: Edinburgh City Libraries/Capital Collections

Picture: Edinburgh City Libraries/Capital Collections

The unsettling document serves as a timely reminder that Edinburgh, like everywhere else in Britain at this time, was under real threat from Hitler’s forces.

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The map was created by adapting existing British Ordnance Survey (OS) maps. Military data was compiled by the German Army Division for war maps and surveying, and then overlaid on to the OS map. A colour-coding system, supplemented by a concise legend made it easy for the Luftwaffe to identify potential aerial bombardment targets.

Edinburgh’s transportation hubs, medical institutions, places of worship and interest are marked out in red, while purple indicated the presence of manufacturing facilities. The city’s numerous bridges are outlined in bold

Picture: Edinburgh City Libraries/Capital Collections

Picture: Edinburgh City Libraries/Capital Collections


Not surprisingly, the docklands of Leith appear to be of particular interest. The port suffered disproportionately compared to the rest of Edinburgh.

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Edinburgh survived World War Two relatively unscathed. The Luftwaffe conducted 18 bombing raids on the capital, inflicting a total of 20 civilian casualties and 210 injuries. Edinburgh civilian deaths during WWII account for less than 1% of the number of civilians killed in Scotland as a whole.

Interestingly, the origins of modern Ordnance Survey maps can be traced back to the aftermath of the 1745 Jacobite rising, when Scotland’s wilderness and vast mountain regions were mapped out for military ordnance (artillery) purposes.