'Schweinfurt' translates as ‘pig ford’ or ‘pig crossing.’ But it is unlikely that many of the 3,000 airmen who clambered into their Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses during the cold, damp morning hours of Oct. 14, 1943, gave much thought to the meaning of the word. For them, Schweinfurt meant only one thing: a killer town that was one of the most savagely defended targets along the aerial high road, above Hitler’s Third Reich.
Its reputation was well-founded. Before the day was over, more than 600 of those airmen would be killed or captured, the future of the American daylight bomber offensive would be in doubt and Mission 115 to Schweinfurt would be known as ‘Black Thursday’ in U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) folklore.
At the 50th anniversary of The Second Schweinfurt Memorial Association, two Germans, Dr. Helmut Katzenberger and Vomar Wilckens came to the reunion in New Orleans to present to the group information they had on that fateful day. Then in 1996, the SSMA members invited more of their former enemies, including Georg Schaefer, whose grandfather founded one of the "targeted" ball bearing factories, to attend their reunion in Las Vegas. Schaefer, now retired from the Board of Directors of FAG Kugelfischer, had served, along with his classmates, in one of the 88mm Flakbatteries around Schweinfurt. He brought many artifacts from "Black Thursday." Many of these artifacts are permanently included in the Second Schweinfurt display at the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum in Savannah, Ga.
It was at this reunion that the Americans suggested erecting a joint memorial remembering this mission. Schaefer presented this idea to his fellow Luftwaffenhelfers, who embraced the idea, and on June 16, 1998, a German-American Memorial was dedicated on a site alongside the former “Spitalsee” air raid shelter in Schweinfurt. The memorial was created by G. Hubert Neidhard (3/3/28 - 5/14/99), an art teacher at Alexander von Humboldt High School in Schweinfurt and a flak-helper in his hometown during the war.