Elisabeth G


Elisabeth G


Elisabeth G's account of the events at Ständeplatz 13.



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Spatial Coverage





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Record 40


Translated from the original in German: Present is Mrs Elisabeth G., née M., born 12 August 1899, formerly of Ständeplatz 13, now of Harleshausen, Wegmannspark, Am Obstkeller 9, and makes the following statement:
Where we lived, on Ständeplatz, we were extremely lucky, because people could save themselves because of the breadth of the square. After the alarm, Director Figge shouted from the yard: “Mrs G., make sure that you black out properly, you have the window which is the most difficult to black out.” I took the most necessary things, switched the lights off, checked all the windows and ran down the stairs with my son Gerd and the visitor we had. The three of us arrived on the yard and we saw the searchlights above us, like a star, and at the centre was a plane. The sky was really clear; I had never seen it like that. Then we were urged to go to the cellar immediately because my son Gerd and another boy stayed in the entrance hall. So we went down into the cellar.
And then the raid started properly. It was a massive. Then a soldier on furlough from the front without his pack and rifle came into our cellar but apart from him and relatives of the Scheyhings only residents were down there. A few little children were with us, too; they have all been saved. With the first hits, the boys came flying in and then the doors had to be shut. The middle corridor had a beautiful vaulted ceiling, it was safe. And by the way, before, our air raid cellar used to be on the side of the building. We had three pillars in there and a concrete ceiling, it was very solid. We also had enough water but the buckets we had forgotten. So I said: “This is aimed at us, the city centre is the target; they want to destroy the train station. The people stayed very calm. Women with smaller children sat on the floor and put blankets on their heads. Our landlady gave every lady in the cellar a tranquiliser pill.
No. 15 went up in flames first. The beautiful corner house with the shops. Then we noticed the presence of smoke. I said: “We have to open the breakthrough to no 15.” We were told, however, that no. 15 was on fire, it was full of smoke. The breakthrough had already been opened. So I went with a gentleman up the stone stairs to the front-facing building and into the entrance hall. There’s a grill at the front, it is lower than the pavement; there was already fire in there. There was phosphorous in there. Mr Figge’s brother pushed the fire to one side and asked: “Do you want to get through?” We said: “Yes!” We went into the gateway. The gates lay next to it. Then we saw a dreadful picture – I had once read a book Quo vadis? The fire of Kassel reminded me of that. It was raining sparks. We could not muster the courage at first and went back into the cellar. In the meantime, quite a number of people from no 15 had come into our hall. They had come through the breakthrough and the hallway. Mrs Fischer had wonderful hair which hang down to the floor and she dragged a basket behind her, down the stairs to the cellar. In the meantime, it had been discovered that every floor was on fire. So people tried to salvage their things. The women had to sit in the cellar and Mr Figge’s brother ordered the men to fight the fires. My son Gerd had a tin hat. Then he came back and he had tried to put out the fire in Bettenhausen’s butter shop. He had been successful but afterwards the fire flared up again. Then he joined the men again but they were coming down, nothing could be done anymore, because they said phosphorous was running down the stairs. A Mr Dreilig had salvaged his feather bedding from the fourth floor. He was radiant with joy about it. But the ceilings had collapsed already.
Then Mr Stoya from the third floor came and said: “Mrs G., your flat is on fire.” Mrs Riemenschneider had noticed it too as she was looking through the duct in the wall. People got agitated but it was still alright. Then I got a terrible fright. Then my boy ran out, the door and the stairs were already on fire and the walls had been pushed out by the air pressure. There was nothing we could do anymore. The stairwell was on fire. The fire from the neighbouring houses was affecting us. Everyone said: “Close the door!” Then a stone dropped from the breakthrough of no 11. I felt as if I was in a mouse trap. My boy had learnt about this and they should think about it. We would have to get out. My boy had already knocked through the breakthrough to no 11. So we crawled through to no 11. This is an old house with solid old cellars. They were well furnished. Our people stayed in that cellar but everything was on fire. And I wanted out, found the front door, everywhere was full of smoke, one had to feel one’s way to the hall. In the doorway I said to a gentleman: “We have to get out, everywhere is on fire.” I did not want to go at first because my boy was not with me but the gentleman said: “The others will follow.” A young woman with a gas mask came too and said: “On the count of three, we’ll run across to Krönert’s cellar pub. One, two, three – we crossed at the double. That house too was already on fire. It was a big gateway. I thought: Now we’re at least here. I had lost my hat in the hot wind and wrapped a scarf around my head. We got into the gateway. More people joined us. A truck from the air raid protection drove past. People came with wet sheets draped around them and walked through the rain of fire. I put shoes on because I had been wearing slippers. Because I had carried them with me in a net.
My father had left on a train two minutes before the attack started and got as far as Wegmannspark. I then called my boy. He had guided people through, voluntarily. At the last moment, the air raid warden from no 11 let him out. He then also came across. In the earth bunker was a multitude of people. Many families with stair-step children were there. You could not see any faces, just shawls. The carpenter Vogt was looking for his wife and the bookseller Kempf for his. The men, soldiers and my boy helped salvage furniture which was then destroyed by fire anyway. In the bunker people were told to be silent, young girls handed out something to drink and soaked shawls and cloths. We had to leave there about half past midnight. In the meantime, Gerd had gone through the garden with a boy from the Hitler Youth who know the garden, to look for a way for us to the filling station and to Akazienweg. Lots of men from the emergency crews were there. He then ran along Kölnische Straße to Harleshausen and Wegmannspark to my parents. Now we were told: Only the old and the infirm are allowed to stay, we would have to leave but should not worry, there would be a man from the emergency crews every ten meters to show us the way. We marched off in an orderly fashion. When people saw the fire, they became agitated but fear drove them forward. The whole garden was on fire, past a burning summerhouse, some children shouted out, others were really quiet. The young Mrs Hofmann was behind me with little Elsbeth; they returned to the bunker but were rescued anyway. We had to crawl through a smashed-in board fence. An older gentleman said this was madness, no one could ask him to make his way through there. I pitied all these people. The men from the emergency crews stood like walls in the burning hot wind. I honestly admired them. I would have liked to thank each of them individually for their service. But people were so agitated because many women, children and older people were among us. At the corner of a wall, there was a young couple looking for shelter and they did not notice the terrible fire above them. Any moment the burning beams from the roof could fall down. She did not wear a coat or anything.
And then a gentleman in a blue uniform came and said: “if you would like to be guided, follow me.” But people did not have the courage. Most of them listened to the old gentleman. We were the only ones following the officer. So we went to the filling station. Everything was on fire there, I can’t remember how we got through. A gentleman carried my suitcase with provisions. I am the only one who made her way through the filling station, the others did not, including the gentleman with my case. I was standing all alone on the smoke-filled street and shouted: “Now I’m on my own.” There was a very short soldier who shouted back: “You’re not alone, I’m here too.” He showed me the way through Kölnische Straße. And that’s the route I wanted to take to Wegmannspark.
A few houses here were not on fire. So I bolted in a zigzag away from the fires. From Viktoriastraße many people came who had been forced to leave the shelters at the railway station. At the Tannenwäldchen more people were sitting, children and French civilians. I talked to the people. A mother was among them who had wanted to visit her sons because they had been ordered to the frontline and they met in the shelter at the railway station. A young wife from Gießen had lost her husband in the burning railway station and was completely dazed. We could still hear explosions from the train near Kirchdetmold. That was one of the reasons as to why many believed that the enemy was still above us and suffocated in their cellars. It got really cold, we knocked on a door and it was very smoky and the children had to get somewhere warm. The house was empty, we thought maybe it had been evacuated because of the duds. The men examined the house. But we preferred to go to the house next door. An old lady opened the door and let us all come in (the last street on the right where the Tannenwäldchen begins, Lenoirstraße, it would seem). We stayed there until dawn and then walked to my parents via Wahlershausen-Harleshausen to Wegmannspark to my parents. When I arrived at our weekend cottage, my parents were still lying under their beds. They had sought shelter there because they had no cellar. That’s where I live now.


Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Elisabeth G,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 21, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/8697.

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