Clara H

Title

Clara H

Description

Clara H's account of the events at Moltkestraße nos. 12 and 7.

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

1944-04-27

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 74
BKasselVdObmv10074

Coverage

Conforms To

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

Translated from the original in German: Present is Mrs Clara H., née B., born 18 April 1910, formerly at her mother’s, Moltkestraße 12, now of Wilhelmshöher Allee 154 and makes the following statement:
The alarm came. I had been working at the army post office until eight. I was just about to eat but the sirens sounded already. We used to look out of the windows first to see what was happening. So I said to my mother: “We’d better go down, the sky is full of searchlights.” And just as we got down, the first bomb hit, in the Oncken factory in Jägerstraße, I’d guess, because it was close. And the people from the house were still fairly quiet and we were looking at each other because we were all black with soot because the soot came down from the chimneys and we laughed and made jokes. And then there were another three of four hits and then the breakthrough from no 14 was knocked through. And the first one to come through was the director general Gedecke. And he shouted: “For the love of God, our house is on fire and you are so quiet here!” And that’s when we stopped being quiet.
Then we knocked through the breakthrough to no. 10. The people there were all agitated. And they had already opened the breakthrough to no. 8. And as we got into no. 8, nos. 6 and 10 were on fire and we could go neither forward nor back. So I wanted to go up and have a look, and as I was halfway up the stairs, my brother and my mother shouted with one voice: “Clara, stay back!” It was a dreadful scream, I’ll never forget it. Mr Möbius, an elderly gentleman from no. 14, appeared at the stairs and he screamed: “I can’t go on!” He had two crutches. So we stayed a while longer down there and the soldiers came who said we should run down to Pferdemarkt or across to no. 7 because we could not stay where we were. Many left before us because my sister-in-law had trouble with her leg and was terribly afraid of running through the fire. My brother was half blind and had been since he was child. But I took courage and wanted to help my mother and brother across the street first and then come back to get my sister-in-law. My sister-in-law (Dina Broll) was happy with that. As we got up the stairs, the corridor leading to the cellar was ablaze. When we got to no. 7, my brother and I turned round but my mother did not see it. My sister-in-law was standing at the curb and burning beams dropped on her from above. We both screamed, my brother ran back but I could not leave my mother alone as she was completely exhausted. So went into the cellar of Moltkestraße 7. I never saw my brother and sister-in-law again.
No. 7 had three air raid cellars. Two are connected with each other, the third was separate. I knew them from before. I went with my mother in the first cellar. The corridor and the room itself were completely overcrowded; there must have been 300 or 400 people in there. The room where we sat had a shaft in the middle. The iron shaft cover was taken off and women and children used the shaft as toilet. All the men said: “Women, be quiet! We’ll get out again!” A man looked on his watch. It was half eleven. At that point we were all still alive. My mother was very agitated because my brother and sister-in-law weren’t coming. Suddenly, there was a terrible bang. We heard a terrible scream from what must have been the people in the cellar next to ours. And then everything went quiet. I don’t know anything after that. I must have passed out. I also don’t know what had happened or the names of the people in the cellar.
When I came to again, I felt as if I was lying in my bed at home. Only my legs were entangled oddly as if the mattress had dropped off and my legs had gotten in between.
Then I realised that I was in the cellar. I wanted to get up and reached around me but it was all very slippery, I kept falling back and did not know what that was. I had a torch in my coat pocket, fished it out and shone the light around me. Then I saw that I had been touching dead people. They had green faces and a thick foam at their mouths. That’s what I had been touching. Two dead people were lying across my legs; that was why I could not free them. The dead people were all lying on the floor. Only a woman and her child were still sitting against a wall. (They both had ruptured lungs.) As my head cleared, I heard wheezing. It came from a woman behind me who was wearing a fur coat or a fur jacket. I learnt later that she came from Huttenstraße where she was visiting the Baums. And from afar I heard another wheezing. And that came from my mother. I am certain because she was wearing the Persian lamb coat. I wetted the lips of both women – the water was boiling. There may have been a litre left in the air raid bucket.
I had been able to free myself, could walk about and move, only my back hurt badly. After I had closed my mother’s eyes, I wanted to get back to the woman where I had been. My torch started getting dark because I had to be careful not to trip over the bodies. When I came to the shaft, I got a terrible shock. The heavy iron cover was gone. In the shaft lay a dead woman. On the woman stood a chair and on the chair sat a man who was still alive. And that was Mr Baum from no 9. His breath was rattling dreadfully. I have no idea how he got there. My mother had also been sitting next to me and had been flung far from me. It must have been a terrible jolt. I also gave this man something to drink. He complained terribly about his back and his head. And as I turned around, I saw yet another man who was still alive. He also asked for water. Then it went quiet again because they lost consciousness.
I had already lost my shoes, through the air pressure, I assume. I also took off my coat because it was unbearably hot in the cellar. In the meantime, the woman in the fur coat had also died. There was a little space on the ground where I could lie down. I took my cardigan off and put it under my head. Because I was terribly tired. But I kept listening anyway whether I could hear steps. I can’t say for how long I had been lying there. Suddenly I could hear steps above me. They must have come from the gateway. I found a crutch and struck the iron door with it so that it would boom. But it didn’t. So I ran around in the cellar and found an iron water stopcock. And with that piece of iron I knocked against the door. There was a reply knock from above. So I lay down again on the ground. I could hear the steps leaving. But I was not afraid. A quarter of an hour later, more knocks came from above. And I knocked too. After half an hour’s work, I could hear spades and picks and another quarter of an hour later someone shouted from above: “How many people are down there?” I shouted: “Three, two men and a woman are still alive!” So they shouted: “What’s your name?” So I gave my name but they understood Kessler instead of H. So I shouted: “What’s the time?” And then I had a shock that it was Sunday morning about eleven. So I calmly lay down again.
After about three hours a sergeant came down; he must have been with the air force. He wanted to get me out first. But I demanded that they got the two unconscious men first. So they wanted to lift me and carry me out. But I could walk on my own. When I got out, however, I had to accept that they put me on a stretcher. When I lay on it, they gave me an injection in the chest. When the medical officer backed away from me, my boy stood there and said: “Oh, that’s my mum.” I was so happy. Because it had been my boy who heard the first knocking. He had run all the way to Königsplatz to get help.
I had taken my mother’s handbag and my sister-in-law’s and my own with all the papers. There was jewellery in there and 1500 RM. When the sergeant got me out, he demanded that I leave the handbags because of cadaveric poison. And so I did not even save a piece of my relatives whom I never saw again.
Then I was put on an army truck and taken to Göttingen via the motorway. I took my boy with me. The other two gentlemen came with us to Göttingen. They are both still alive. They are Mr Baum and Mr Rubenkönig.
Many people were persuaded by the soldiers to run down to the Pferdemarkt (cf. the group of children on the pile of sand). That was however a false escape route.

Citation

Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Clara H,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed February 18, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/8740.

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