Ludwig B

Title

Ludwig B

Description

Ludwig B's account of the events at Wolfhager Straße 176 (rescue centre), Hohentor-straße 19.

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

1944-04-13

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 63
BKasselVdObmv10063

Coverage

Conforms To

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

Translated from the original in German: Present is Sergeant Ludwig B. from the Air Protection Police, born 9 April 1899, formerly of Hohentorstraße 19, now of police quarters Wolfhager Straße 176 (school) and makes the following statement:
When the alarm started, we were as usual in our rescue centre. We were not deployed during the alarm but only shortly after, when Rothenditmold was already partly on fire.
Shortly after the first incendiaries were dropping, the lights went out and we took the first action: we got out. The school started burning; the sports hall was ablaze and we tried at first with buckets and other equipment to keep the fire from the rescue centre, which we managed to do. The men acted according to plan and went into burning streets where women and required first aid. Those who were badly injured or burnt were carried and partly people came to us who had minor injuries or damaged eyes. The badly injured we brought into the rescue centre. We looked after about 400 people. They had severe burns, fractures, head injuries. We had more than enough to do until late morning.
At midnight, I had to take a dispatch after our machine failed. Our vehicle had already been destroyed by fire. But we desperately needed an ambulance to take away the seriously injured. I did not yet know that the whole of the old town had been destroyed. I was also not allowed to leave the rescue centre. That would have been seen as desertion, and we are subject to strict laws. I took the dispatch to the command centre in the police barracks in Hohenzollernstraße. We managed to get there through the sea of flames, a comrade and I, because we had been cautious and gone together rather than one on their own. In Philippistraße I saw so much rubble that I made a detour over a garden plot. People told us – it must have been about a hundred people, children and adults – that a dud was lying on our route. So we backtracked and made our way through Philippistraße after all. As we returned with the ambulance, I could see that in the meantime vehicles from the army and the party were already taking the first people to Naumburger Straße. They were also taken farther away. Saving the ill and seriously injured was done by ambulances of the Red Cross from outside of town, which took their charges to the various hospitals. Towards noon we had a semblance of order. Now it was possible for us to think of our own families.
Towards midday, I jogged to my flat. Then I saw the field of rubble. I jogged across Reißberg, Grüner Weg, Lutherplatz zu Hohentorstraße. On my way, I saw now and again people standing in groups and waiting for transport. These were more or less the last ones. Nothing had been left standing of our house. I took measures immediately, through the emergency crews, to clear a path to the emergency exit. Because we lived in that house, my wife Luise and my children Walter (13 years old), Martha (12 years old) and the little one, Elfriede (4 years old). A fellow resident by the name of Wahlberg, told me himself, he was standing there – the survivors were already standing in front of it, he told me personally: “Brill, your wife, she stood with the children at the front, at the entrance to the cellar, and when someone shouted: The house is on fire, I went out to see and to make sure that the house was really on fire.” In the time between him leaving the cellar and coming back to guide people out, all of them had left already, through the breakthroughs, some of them towards nos. 21 and 23 and the section of the pub Bärenkammer. The rest went the opposite way, towards Kasernenstraße. I asked the neighbours personally regarding the whereabouts of my family. But no one knew anything. So I waited week after week, then I asked at the Department for Missing Persons and then I asked in the police stations and I could not find my family anywhere.
After I had been seconded for 12 weeks to police station no. 4 for a special search operation, I had the opportunity to search several times the section between Kasernenstraße and Pferdemarkt where all the cellars are connected by breakthroughs. One day, I met someone by the name of Sippel of Kasernenstraße 4. He confirmed that he had seen my wife at 20 minutes to ten in the house of butcher Möller (Kasernenstraße 4). He lived in that house and had spoken with the family. A fortnight ago a man confirmed that he had spoken with a man by the name of Gräser – who is still in hospital with serious burns – who had told him that about 30 people, all the families, had been in the flat of butcher Möller’s. That must have been about midnight. And then the dud near Martinskirche exploded and tore apart the back of the church and those houses, which were still standing, collapsed.
And in accordance with the statements by Gräser and Sippel we can assume with certainty that they were buried and incinerated under the rubble. The young Möller kept digging with a number of Italians and they found many skulls and bones. I am sure that they are the family Reis from our house, him and her, and also the families Heußner and Brill, the young Mrs Möller and the two old Möllers – they were never heard of again. Gräser still got out. Adam Heußner also tried to get out and save himself but could not get through and turned back, with a child on his arm, and went back into house no 2. The people did not get out because there was no leadership, the children cried and the women lacked the courage to go through the fire. My wife used to say: “If there is a real fire, I’ll stay in the cellar. I won’t go through the fire. Our cellars are solid and will stand firm.” If people had stayed in our cellar, they would not have burnt to death; they may possibly have suffocated. Those people who had made their way to the pub Bärenkammer, were rescued the following and regained their consciousness. Sometimes the air was hot, sometimes it was cold, that’s because of the pull of the fire, but they were brought out and saved.
The morning after the raid I saw without any doubt the following people lying dead in the street: Mrs Engel and her daughter Marianne and a boy called Helmut Sparenberg, of Hohentorstraße 19. They were carried out dead from the Bärenkammer.
In the cellars, I held every bone in my hands, looking for my wife’s wedding band, I sifted the dirt using an old bird cage. I found many a wedding band but not my wife’s. I also held the vertebrae of children and skulls. The ceilings were in part in danger of collapsing. It was a death commando task. But I didn’t find a trace of my family.

Citation

Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Ludwig B,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed November 12, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/8729.

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