Auguste Bolte

Title

Auguste Bolte

Description

Auguste Bolte's account of the events at Renthof 4.

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

1944-04-12

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 62
BKasselVdObmv10062

Coverage

Conforms To

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

Translated from the original in German: Present is Mrs Auguste Bolte, née Heinemeier, born 19 August 1874, widow of the weigher Heinrich Bolte, and makes the following statement:
My husband had been ill. He was 85 years old and had been ill in bed since the raid of 3 October. Our flat was above the great gateway of the Renthof, on the fourth floor. There were only three flats in the building, the rest were offices. We’d been living there for 36 years; my husband had been employed by the council. We lived there with Mrs Rehberg and we were supposed to be evacuated for a while. The air raid warden Königsdorff always wanted to be rid of us through evacuation. We all refused, however. So he said: “Well, if you don’t want to but we won’t look after you.” Besides, the night before, someone from the local branch of the party, which met down in the cellar, a Mr Wickert of Renthof 3 came and said to my husband: “Mr Bolte, everything is still calm but should it get worse, we’ll come and carry you down.” I had also said to the seventeen-year old daughter of the furnace feeder of the ecclesiastic office in Renthof 5: “Miss, if it gets worse, then come and fetch my husband, I can’t do it on my own. We’ll put him on a chair and carry him down.” That’s what I said to the daughter. And as the alarm came, I dressed my husband. Then I heard that the air raid warden ran down the stairs with his family, that’s what I heard. Then Mrs Rehberg came and went down – slowly, she was an old woman – and I said to her: “Send someone up, please, who will take my husband down.” I then fetched a few things together and dressed my husband but no one came.
Then the shooting started and I took my husband by the arm and he took his suit under his arm and I my little suitcase with the few valuables. So we got to the third floor. Then came the air pressure, a blockbuster must have gone down, and the ceiling fell in. And then he collapsed. He fell in a heap on the stairs. So I took the wool blanket off him and threw my suitcase down next to him and wanted to get help. I went down and said: “Why isn’t someone coming to get my husband?” Three gentlemen from the ecclesiastic office were there. One of them said: “It’s too late now, it’s the responsibility of the land-registry office” – because that was the wing of the building in which we lived. I was speechless when I heard that and not even five minutes later came the direct hit and just where I’d come through, into the filing room.
And so the exit for all of us was blocked. We first had to dig one. The furnace feeder from the ecclesiastic office dug an exit and then smashed through the wall towards Renthof. That was not a breakthrough but a thick wall. It was fortunate that there was a small void in that thick wall, otherwise we wouldn’t have managed. I held the little lamp from beginning to end and was the last to leave the cellar. When we were all out, a fireman took me, the Renthof was ablaze, and files and sparks came flying over from the courts. The fireman did not want me to go through the fire; he said he would go and look for my husband. I should help old Mrs Rehberg to get up the slope at the Rondell. Then, as I came back from the Voraue, the wife of the furnace feeder, Mrs Ludwig, said to me: “Your husband has been rescued! I saw him being carried out of here on a stretcher.” I believed her and stayed quiet for half an hour because I could see that people were very busy. Then I went to the police. The miss in reception said: “No, Mrs Bolte, that was not your husband; that is a mistake. I had a soldier bandaged and carried out.” Well, the fire came from the ecclesiastic offices and land-registry and my bedroom was on fire, the police pumped water up from the Fulda and defended that corner of the Renthof. That’s why the building is still standing. There was not much water in the Fulda but it was enough.
So I went back to the Voraue, where the sheds at the front of the sports ground are. There we sat. And the following morning, about half seven, I went first to the Weinberg where one of my friends lives. I was only wearing my pinny, no coat or nothing. When I got there, she was sitting in the street, on her furniture and the house was ablaze (the rear building of no. 14 – it used to belong to the Jew Stern). It was about half seven. So she sat there for eight days and slept at night in the front-building because she could not get a cart. Much was stolen anyway. Then Captain Böttiger exerted himself on her behalf so that she could leave there with her furniture and was taken to Asbach near Sooden-Allendorf; that’s where she’s from.
After a few minutes I went back to the Aue to Mrs Rehberg and brought her a piece of bread. Because a policeman had given me two pieces of bread. And then I went to the Weserspitze – the big house is my sister’s. As I got there, everything had burnt down, the whole furniture of the pub on the ground floor was on fire. No one could tell me where my sister was. The tenants were sitting in front of the door. But no one could tell me anything. So I went to Hartwigstraße where one of my nieces lives (Minotto, no. 23). The people from the ground floor flat – they were still salvaging their furniture – told me: “The upper part of the house is burnt out. We don’t know where the Minottos are.” I was always walking through the fire and the heat. From my niece’s, I went to the Wackers in Ihringshäuser Allee 27 where I had always helped out in the garden and see whether they would put me up. The house had been destroyed by a direct hit. Mr Wacker, who had tried to fight the fire, was buried beneath the house. The others had been saved. Although I was exhausted, I struggled along to my cousin in Hildebrandstraße 9 (Zickler). As I get there, she’s sitting in the street with her furniture. The teacher living opposite had offered, however, to put her up. In the meantime, it was evening. I went over Möncheberg, where everything was ablaze, to the bunker at the train station. That’s where I stayed the night. We did not have any light or water and it was very busy. That’s where I sat until the following morning when we were told: “Everyone go to the town hall!” In the town hall I was given papers for the bombed-out, a ration card and cheque for 200 marks.
I went back to the Renthof but could not get into no. 4 because the building was still burning and there was still rubble everywhere. I begged the police lieutenant Weber to have people look for my husband. “Mrs Bolte, resign yourself, your husband is no longer alive. I have to deploy my forces where we may still be able to save people who are still alive.” He thought that my husband had had a heart attack when he slumped together on the stairs. The dead from the Pinne were laid out on the lawn and they tried to resuscitate people and the injured who still showed signs of life were put into ambulances and taken away. I said: “My husband is buried under the rubble and lived and worked here for forty years; I’m staying.” I made an emergency bed for myself in the rooms of the Hitler Youth.
But during the night there was another alarm and the houses and ruins of the neighbourhood were still burning, there was smoke and crackling noises and then House Schmalkalden in Fuldagasse collapsed; that made a crash and the ecclesiastic offices also burnt and crashed. So I went to the cellar of the police station. There was no light, we just had lamps. I lay down on a bench at the back and stayed in the cellar even as the others had left. Then – oh, what a fear – something rattled and moved in the cellar. I asked: “Who is there?” No reply. After another half an hour again: “Is anyone here? This is Mrs Bolte.” No reply. So I lit a match and a big black dog was lying in the cellar. The police lieutenant Weber came – what a fright I’d had: “Mrs Bolte, this is not the right place for you. Go up into the station where it’s warm. But the dog saved our lives last night, it will stay with us.” I don’t know how. Anyway, I stayed the whole night in the police station. The following morning we were told: “A place for the homeless has been opened in Herkulesstraße. When I got there, a hundred people were already before me in the queue at the school. I asked a woman to keep my place for me: I wanted to have a look, city inspector Otto lives in the neighbourhood with his family, my niece is married to their son, and as I asked in the third house for Otto, the leader of the local women’s branch, Wack, led me in. Her husband is an inspector at the local tax office. She led me into a warm room and gave me water to wash myself and a comb to comb my hair and she gave me a shirt and also something to eat and because they did not have enough room, she organised a bed for me in the house. Because the people had a single daughter and she had to get out of her room and sleep with her parents and I should sleep in her bed. I stayed there for three nights and slept there. And then, through the upset and lack of food, I felt ill and went to the hospital in Wilhelmshöhe (the recreation home for railway employees). I thought I could recover there but my friends weren’t there anymore. So I went had a good cry in the woods and then I went to the Jacobs in Niederzwehren whom I know. I am still there and in good hands. And now I’m looking for a little suitcase to put my few things in. Because I want to travel to Celle. Kind people there have invited me to stay with them.

Citation

Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Auguste Bolte,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 28, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/8728.

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