Karl P


Karl P


Mr Karl P's account of the events at Hartwigstraße.



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Record 22


Translated from the original in German: Present is Mr Karl P., born 9 December 1901, formerly of Hartwigstraße, now Hundelshausen, District Witzenhausen, and makes the following statement:
When the alarm came, I was with my NSDAP operations unit at Wesertor. Ten minutes quiet, searchlights, aircraft and ack ack fire. Then four flare bombs were dropped in the area Wolfsanger, Möncheberg, Wesertor. Then a Christmas tree was dropped in between and shortly after, the bombs rained down. All house communities were in their air raid cellars. Within five minutes, three attics were on fire in Hartwigstraße: no 14, the rear building of no 16 and no 27. Shortly after the following houses were on fire: nos. 2, 4, 6, 10, 20, 22, 24 and then nos. 31, 25, 23, 21 1/2. It was impossible to put out these fires. Then I ran out again. I was constantly outside. Three corners of my flat were on fire, bedroom, children’s room, kitchen. At least on the lower floors they salvaged what they could. Then I went on to Gartenstraße, all houses were on fire, every single one, even the rear buildings.
Then the raid was finished. I started to chase people out of the cellars which was difficult because they did not want to leave. Then I returned to my buidling. In the cellars there, people were backed up against the breakthroughs. The air raid wardens refused people’s comrades passage through the breakthroughs. The smoke development was immense in the cellars. In house no 14, I used force, took my wife and two children with me and went with them through the breakthroughs to no 24. All the other people in the cellars followed us and that’s how we were saved. This was our last chance because both sides of the street were on fire. We could get out of no 24 without danger because it bordered on a junction. From here people could get to Josefsplatz through Sodensternstraße and Gartenstraße – this was also a sea of fire but not as dangerous – or they could get to the army veterinary hospital on Ihringshäuser Straße. Both places had been equipped as collection points. Through that approach, our cells, Hartwigstraße and Gartenstraße, had no fatalities and no missing persons but some people had been injured.
I ran with my family to Josefsplatz, left them in a pub there, and returned to the house to salvage our air raid luggage. I managed to salvage some papers and a couple of suitcases. I put the gas mask on and went to the cellar. From there I went back to my family and started searching for other relatives. My brother-in-law’s house in Hafenstraße burnt down but they’re all alive. Then I went to Marktgasse where my other brother-in-law lives in no 19 (Schützenhalle); his name is Mainzer. But the police would not let anyone through the sea of fire. In Wildemannsgasse no 30 lived my niece, Mrs Nikolaus, with her daughter. They are still missing; Mainzer and his wife were buried on the main cemetery. There is no trace of Mrs Neubert (Mainzer’s daughter) and her child. The girl was ten years old. The cellar was opened but nothing was found. We also did not find any objects apart from an empty shopping bag which belonged to Mrs Mainzer. The Mainzers’ son died at sea, his last letter contained the poem “No roses grow on a sailor’s grave”. Their son-in-law fell at Stalingrad. His last letter and that from the sailor and photographs were in a handbag which we gave to the relatives as a memento.
The other day a woman came to me and said: “Mr P., I’m so glad about the slap in the face you gave me, you saved hundreds of lives with that. I had a sewing machine I wanted to salvage and you pushed me aside.”


Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Karl P,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 24, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/7494.

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