Gockel, Jakob


Gockel, Jakob
Jakob Gockel


Mr Jakob Gockel's account of the events at Oberste Gasse 43.



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Record 14


Translated from the original in German: Present is Mr Jakob Gockel, born 2 February 1866, formerly of Oberste Gasse 43, now of Grüsen near Gemünden and der Wohra, and makes the following statement:
When the alarm came, my wife and I were in the kitchen. So we dressed as fast as possible, my wife grabbed her bag and I took the carrier bags which we had already prepared and which contained what we needed most, rucksack and papers and all that. I said to my wife: “See that you get down there; I’ll follow you in a minute.” At that point the rear buildings in Oberste Gasse 47 and 45 were hit. So I followed my wife sharpish and we came to the air raid cellar where most of the other tenants were already. My wife was disabled – she had broken her leg the year before – and that slowed us down. Well, everyone knows what happened next, you can’t describe the impact of the bombs. So we sat there for an hour or an hour and a half, I can’t remember. Every now and again, I went up the stairs and had a look in the house and the courtyard to see whether everything was okay. Suddenly a woman said: “The cellars in the wings of the house are on fire.” Phosphorous had entered the cellars through the cellar hatches. I went up again a little later and as I get into the entrance hall, the front door and its frame had been blown off by a blockbuster and was lying in the hall. The bannister had gone. The rooms on the upper floors were already on fire. I went up to the third floor where we lived because I had a big wooden suitcase there where I’d packed everything and so I grabbed the suitcase at the last minute and dragged it down after me to the ground floor so as to salvage at least something. As I came past the second floor the caretaker stopped me. He wanted me to bring water up to the second floor but there was no water anymore and so we went back to the cellar.
We stayed a while longer in the cellar and then came terrible impacts. The two air raid wardens – Merle and Gunkel – said it couldn’t be helped, we have to give up the house. Now we had to knock through the breakthroughs. First, we wanted to see whether we could get to the Druselturm. But as we reached the last house, Schröder’s, we were told the entrance hall was on fire. We had to get back. So we made our way back where I met my wife who was sitting in a corner. We were told: “Get out! Get out! We’ll burn to death!” So we had to crawl on all fours through a very low opening. My wife said: “See that you can save yourself, I’ll follow; someone will help me.” Two soldiers dragged her through the narrow passage and I was in the cellar of the gardener Pirschel, I was reeling, I was exhausted, when Mrs Schmidt said: “Where do you think you’re going?” I staggered from one corner to the next where a young man grabbed me under my arms and said: “Come on, granddad, we have to get out!” He helped me out, otherwise I would have died. I can’t say whether we got out at Schönthier’s or at Vogt’s chocolate shop. We walked across the coal bunker of the garrison church. You could barely get through the fire. We went to the church. And as we had been inside for a minute, someone with an armband said: “You have to get out, you can’t stay here, the church is also on fire; you’ll be buried alive here.” So we thought we’d go to Wiedersich but the young man said: “We won’t go in there.” And I had a feeling as if we shouldn’t go in there. The young man said: “Come on, granddad, we go to the tram cars on Königsplatz.” So we saved ourselves into one of those. There we stood, and sat, for about ten minutes, then the windows blew out through the terrible storm. A patrol came: “You have to get out of here; the cars are also catching fire.” So I grabbed my hand luggage and we saved ourselves to Friedrichsplatz. We stayed there for a while and caught our breath but then we were sent away from there too. A patrol came. The wooden stalls had started to burn. To the right of the theatre, a girl of about 11 years of age was lying on a table, she was ranting and raving. A woman tended to her. Several kids were running around, people did not pay much attention to them.
Then we tried to get through the rubble to Aue gate. I tried to look for my wife but the guard wouldn’t let us through. It was too dangerous; the beams were falling on the street. At about seven a car picked us up and took us to Oberzwehren and from there I went to Sand and now my son-in-law has taken me in where he lives, in Grüsen, district Frankenberg. My wife is missing, nothing has been found of her.


Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Gockel, Jakob ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 13, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/7476.

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