Franz Kramer

Title

Franz Kramer

Description

Franz Kramer's account of the events at Königsplatz, main post office, Lutherplatz.

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

1944-03-16

Contributor

Harry Ziegler

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Language

Type

Identifier

Record 42
BKasselVdObmv10042

Coverage

Conforms To

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

Translated from the original in German: Present is Mr Franz Kramer, postman, born 6 October 1892, formerly of Mauerstraße 16, now of Burgstraße 67, Naumburg, and makes the following statement:
That evening I was on the night shift in the main post office. When the alarm came, we went into the air raid shelter. There, we waited whether anything was going to happen and when we were told that everything was on fire, we left the shelter. We had a motor-powered fire pump which we connected to the mains and as we wanted to start firefighting, we had a one jet of ten meter’s length and then the water stopped. It was our misfortune that the building had been scaffolded. They wanted to put a concrete roof on. It was a heavy scaffold with timber beams and planks. This was ablaze, in the midst of the firestorm and flying sparks. Incendiaries and canisters had dropped on it. Because it went up suddenly. So we had the flat roof, it was tarred all around, and below the flat roof was the scaffold. We’d always said before: “If anything happens and someone gets trapped there, they won’t get out again.” Everything was on fire, the tar and the timber. Our pump was empty. At Königsplatz, there was a basin but we could not get out there with the pump because Poststraße was closed off. Because that was where the building materials had been stored. As this was all for nothing, we guided the women out first to Königsplatz. Then we brought everything we could down to the cellar: plant, first aid materials, the account books of the main cashier’s office… I must have been among the last getting out of the cellar.
One set of people then tried to get through to Königsplatz. The others went to Lutherplatz. There was of course a crowd on the little square behind the post office in Mauerstraße. Because all around us the streets were on fire: Mauerstraße was on fire, Hedwigstraße, Poststraße and the Arts Centre, Schombart’s garage and the fire station, everything was ablaze. I had put my tin hat on. As we got out, a whole bunch of people were coming from the direction of Lutherplatz and gathered on the small square and realised that they could not get through. They wanted to get to Lutherplatz but did not have the courage to brave the fire. They then ran up Mauer-straße and I let myself be fooled into running with them, we thought we might be able to reach Kölnische Straße but of course it was the same there. So I said to myself: running back and forth serves no purpose. I had observed the fire and noticed that the flames receded when the storm lessened. And so I told my colleagues to watch out for this and to use the moment and run through. And that’s what we did.
So we got to Lutherplatz and many people had already gathered there. It was a terrible storm and rain of sparks and we felt here too that we would suffocate. We had found shelter under a big tree, 25 or 30 people were already lying behind it. They’d squeezed one behind the other and that also gave them some protection. We sat there and every quarter of an hour we soaked towels and handkerchiefs in the lake and that also helped against the breathlessness and against the sparks. Because were they dropped, they created a brief flame. So there we were, it may have been about 4 in the morning – we had left the post office just before 10 – when someone from the police came. It may also have been someone from the fire brigade, who said that there was an opportunity to get into the open via Rosenstraße and Kölnische Allee. So we went through Spohrerstraße, Rosen-straße, Friedrich-Wilhelms-Platz up Kölnische Straße. But here was a big pile of rubble, everything was on fire.
In front of the Hotel Schirmer and the NSDAP party offices was also a big pile of rubble, and I had a female colleague with me, I thought that’s probably not the best way, maybe Ständeplatz will work better and so we got as far Hohenzollernstraße. There was the house Homestead overlooking the square and it was such a sea of flames and furnace that I preferred to go back.
So we went up Kölnische Straße after all. We stopped at the last house on our left on Kölnische Straße because my companion could not go on. A woman stood there and I asked her whether there was anywhere where my companion could sit. So we went into their cellar and washed the dirt and soot from our faces and rested for a while. Then I went to the train station and notified the people at the station to Naumburg that I was still alive should my family inquire after me. Then we went together to Schlachthof-straße to see whether the rooms of my companion were still intact. When we got there, it was still possible to live there. Then I went back to the station, through Mombachstraße, Rothenditmold, Kirchditmold, the same route back to the station. Everywhere the same picture of devastation and destruction. In the school in Rothenditmold, I had my eyes washed out as I could not look out of them anymore. And in the afternoon I travelled to Naumburg to my family.
On Lutherplatz a paramedic came and said a woman had given birth. He was looking for a first aid box. And one of our women – Mrs Schmalfeld – is said to have fallen into the lake at Lutherplatz and to have drowned in it. I have soaked my cloth several times in the lake but did not see anyone fall in or drown.
I did not see any children running around. If I had seen any, I would have looked after them. If you heard children cry, the parents were with them.

Citation

Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Franz Kramer,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 8, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/8700.

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