Herbert, R


Herbert, R


Mr Herbert's account of the events at Moltkestraße 7 and 8, Untere Königstraße.



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Record 1


Translated from the original in German: Present is Mr Herbert R., Kassel, Moltkestraße 8 and makes the following statement:
I am from Essen. We moved to Kassel on 1 August 1942 to escape the terror bombing.
After the alarm came, we, my wife Else and daughter Christel and my sister-in-law Emilie Mühlenbacher and her brother Werner, went to the air raid cellar in our block of flats in 8 Moltkestraße. The powerful explosions shook the houses. Our street too was hit by an explosive bomb and in addition to that, it was raining innumerable incendiaries on our houses. The rear building was already on fire. The fire had been working its way already down from the roof timbering to the third floor. Fumes, smoke and dust where coming into our air raid shelter. The house opposite, Moltkestraße 7, was not on fire yet. The whole row of houses opposite still seemed safe. There was, however, a huge bomb crater between nos. 7 and 11. Our ARP warden said: “We have to get out of here, otherwise we’ll all die!” I collected my family and we agreed that we would quickly run to the house opposite. I wanted to go and save our suitcases. But my wife said: “Please, let it go and only save us, me and the child!” – At this point the man breaks down in tears, overwhelmed by the memory. – Before we ran across, I soaked coats and blankets and so we ran across to the stairwell of no. 7. When we turned around, my sister-in-law and the little boy weren’t there. They were afraid to run through the fire which was burning foot-high on the street. I said to my wife: “Stay here; I go and get the others.” In that moment a sergeant came along who said: “If it gets worse, I’ll take your wife and the eight-month old child with me in the cellar.” So I ran back to get the other two. As we get back to no. 7, there’s no sign of my wife and my child. The sergeant had probably taken them with him in the cellar. Here everything was in chaos. The women were channelled through the breakthrough, so as to get from the Detmolder Hof [a pub] to the Lutherplatz. I ran through two breakthroughs, shouting the names of the missing, but did not get an answer. So I ran back and thought: Maybe they’re still at the back. But I could not find them. I now hoped that they’d been fortunate enough to get to the Lutherplatz and wanted to run there through the street.
Because of the firestorm, I had had to wrap a blanket around my head. I couldn’t see anything and as I was running, something got between my legs. It was the overhead wire of the tram. I was on Königstraße. Because of the heat and the smoke I felt faint. I fell. Then I felt something wet with my hand. It was a clear puddle, in the middle of the street. Water was welling up into the street, probably because of a broken mains. I wetted my mouth and rolled in the water. I had a bath like a canary. That woke me up a bit. But I had burnt my hands and feet. Then a few soldiers came running along, saying I couldn’t keep lying there because the houses would collapse. And already burning debris came falling down. So they ran away. I crawled further down the street and reached a hydrant. I lay under the water jet. More soldiers came, also a Dutchman who has done many good things, and they thought I’d get pneumonia if I stayed there and they carried me in a tunnel which was on the neighbouring plot. There was an almighty throng, many injured. I had a look at my watch. It had stopped at 11.20, probably because water had got in when I was rolling in the puddle. A soldier said it was twenty to one. Now we were waiting for the morning. A nurse bandaged my hands and feet and men from the auxiliary service brought me to the rescue centre at Henschel and Son. In the afternoon, I was taken by a truck to the Möncheberg hospital. On Sunday, I was able to open my eyes again. Then I travelled to Essen. I hoped to hear from my family there. But they were and remain missing.


Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Herbert, R,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 20, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/7323.

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