Heinrich von der E


Heinrich von der E


Heinrich von der E's account of the events at Fischgasse 10.



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Record 66


Translated from the original in German: Present is the glass cleaner Heinrich von der E., born 29 November 1894, formerly of Fischgasse 10, now of Dörnberg-straße 7, and makes the following statement:
I was coming home from work and went into the NS welfare office to get some collection boxes – because we were supposed to collect donations on the Saturday – and I had hardly arrived when the alarm came. As air raid warden, the first thing I did was to ensure that all the people in the house got into the cellar. We’d just got down, when the first explosives and incendiaries started dropping. Our house was one of the first to catch fire. It was probably set on fire by a canister of phosphorous as the whole attic was immediately ablaze.
We were on the whole fairly quiet but because blockbusters were being dropped, we all had to get out through the breakthroughs because we weren’t allowed to be in the middle of the cellar. Because a blockbuster had blown the door into the cellar. Later on the people from Fischgasse 12 and other houses came through the breakthroughs into our cellar. Most of them were afraid of being alone. They were mostly women with small children. Then we soaked cloths to keep them to our mouths and eyes because smoke was coming into the cellar. Because of that I went out on the street where I met our block leader Strohbach who said to me: we have to evacuate the cellars.
We then made our way along the walls of Fischgasse (the wall) to the cellar of the offices of the town cleansing department. That is where my wife was with several other tenants. That’s the wall where the old town hall was. I myself sat in a tram. The car stood outside of the public air raid shelter of Fischgasse 2. There were at least 60 people in there. The block leader and I kept fetching water from no. 12 as long as we could. This was the only house left with running water. When the tram also caught fire through the heat, we were forced to look for an escape route towards the river. We soaked all the cloths and blankets again in water and then we marched in an orderly fashion to the Fulda Bridge.
As we left the cellar, another tenant, Heinrich Schröder, says to me: “My mother is still down there.” So I went back into the cellar of no. 10 to fetch the old woman. Then I went back once again and went through all the cellars up to the public shelter in no 2. On my round, I saw an old woman sitting on a chair in no 8. I said: “Dear lady, do you want to stay here?” And she replied: “The people said that they would come back.” So I took her through the breakthroughs and brought her out at no 12. I had a torch with me.
So we went to the Fulda Bridge and removed wires and beams. At that point I had already problems looking out of my eyes. Then we went back and brought all of the people’s comrades through. And as we were on the bridge, the people’s comrades dispersed in all directions.
- It must have been about half past midnight – because at this point my wife was still in the cellar and saw another woman giving birth. But the cellar got so hot that we all had to leave. I don’t know what became of the woman, she was taken away.
We stayed on the bridge until the following morning. Then my wife ran to the Graben where her mother and my sister-in-law lived. They had been in the public shelter in Markt-gasse 17, with four of the nieces and one nephew. When she got there, she had to find out first where the Graben had been. You could not make out anything, it was just a scene of devastation. She could not find out anything at the cellar because all exits and entrances were buried. So she came back to the bridge and sat down. Then someone came from behind and flung their arms around her neck and when she turned around, it was her little sister, twenty years old. She should also have been in the cellar with her mother but happened to be with her parents-in-law in Lindenberg. And then the little one cried after her mother and she also went up and wanted to have a look herself at the Graben. As she stood there in front of the debris, a timer went off at Martinsplatz and a bit flew at her head so that she had a wound which was bleeding profusely.
In the meantime our eyes were so inflamed that we could not see anymore. So the little one and the sister-in-law took me by the arm and they brought both of us, my wife and me, to Lindenberg. We only wanted to have a wash and sleep as we were both completely exhausted.
Eight of our family died in the Graben: my wife’s mother, Elisabeth Andrecht. With her no. 43 lived in one sister-in-law, Mrs Walli Andrecht, with her two children. She had been bombed out in Sandershausen on 3 October and moved with her children to the Graben. Her husband is missing in action in Russia. Another sister-in-law lived in Marktgasse 3, in Karl Andrecht’s flat, which was empty because the owner is at the front. And she had also been bombed out on 3 October in Wolfsanger. Her husband is seriously injured in a military hospital and his wife and the children are dead. They were all together in the public shelter, Marktgasse 17. And that is where they died. They have all been identified. Detectives gave me the number of their grave.
One of my wife’s brothers was killed in action, one is missing in action, one has lost a leg and two are still fighting.
A bomb of five hundredweight dropped on Fischgasse 6. It did not explode but it was torn open. So the air pressure went upwards. Otherwise it would have been a disaster. But people in our cellar screamed when that thing went off.


Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Heinrich von der E,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 16, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/8732.

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