Ludwig Heinemann and Karl M

Title

Ludwig Heinemann and Karl M

Description

Ludwig Heinemann and Karl M's account of the events at Frankfurter Straße 26/28 (City Tax Offices, public air raid shelter), Hartwigstraße, Wolfsschlucht 22.

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

1944-05-03

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 76
BKasselVdObmv10076

Coverage

Conforms To

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

Translated from the original in German: Present are Messrs. Ludwig Heinemann, commercial agent and employee of the Office for War Damage, born 20 September 1892 in Dennhausen, and Karl M., employee of the City Tax Office, born 25 March 1912 in Schöningen, District Helmstedt, and make the following statement:
Well, the story was this. The night of terror started with the alarm. We were on duty. We opened the shelter immediately for the public and made the whole building ready for the raid. Then the attack started. And right at the start, a heavy explosive bomb came down near us and coal gas entered the cellar. We had approximately 40 people in there, children and old men. The women too kept very calm. We then started the ventilators. Then we gave the public water so that they could wet cloth for their noses. Because we had much smoke and dust and dirt (lime dust) in the cellar. Buildings everywhere were on fire. After nine our building started burning too. So we tried to save machines and telephones by carrying them into the cellar. Then we started looking for a way out of the sea of fire. Together, we were five men on duty, two as fireguards and three as reserves.
When it got worse and the lights went out, we thought it was about time that we went outside. We guided people through to Fünffensterstraße. Because we could no longer get out through our own entrance hall. As far as possible, we gave people wet blankets. Someone from the municipal police was also with us. On the corner was the pub at the junction of Frankfurter Straße and Fünffensterstraße. Outside, everything was ablaze. People could just abut get through on our side; on the opposite side, where Bangert’s was, everything was already a sea of flames. We also had a disabled woman with us whom we guided to Schöne Aussicht. A sergeant took her off our hands there. The raid as such was already over but the actual fire had only started. In the house next door was a bomb with a timer which went off just as we got out of the corner house and everything was blown up. People behaved tremendously. Before we went out, we poured water on all the wooden parts and also on the air raid beds. But from the street so many sparks were flying through the window that everything was going to burn down.
On the square, the houses were destroyed by fire, the theatre was ablaze and then it consumed bit by bit the whole of Schöne Aussicht. The pub Zur Krone in Frankfurter Straße went up in flames first and from there, the whole of Friedrichstraße started burning.
I (M.) still tried to get home – to Hartwigstraße near Weserspitze – I ran past the Rondell and across the wire bridge. I couldn’t take Blücherstraße because houses started to collapse and bombs with timers went off. People tried to salvage what they could but there wasn’t much that could be done. Then I passed the Rondell and tried to get through via the Schladg. I climbed up to Fulda Bridge via the emergency stairs and got as far as Fischgasse. That was as far as I got, the house of the clockmaker Voigt was just collapsing. It nearly flattened me. So I went back to the Rondell and to Schöne Aussicht. Then we went together in the shelter underneath the Weinberg. I was completely exhausted.
Then I tried to get home via the upper part of the city, through the Tannenwäldchen and Rothenditmold. I got as far as the railway bridge but then a munitions train went up and I was held back and had to turn around. So I went back to the Schöne Aussicht and the Rondell and rested a bit. By that time it was about half five. So I went up the footbridge, crossed Fuldabrücke, passed Holzmarkt and went along Leipziger Straße – everything was totally damaged there – and smoking rubble – then through Hafenstraße, across Hafen Bridge and through Gartenstraße to Hartwigstraße. That too was on fire. The house where I lived had burnt down to the first floor. The people in the house had thrown many incendiaries out of the windows but the house had perished anyway. Then people tried to salvage their belongings. I too could get some of my stuff out of the first floor because it also started to burn. I folded what I could into a wool blanket because the walls started already to collapse. At Weserspitze I put all my stuff together. Two of my suitcases and my winter coat were stolen there while I was looking for friends. I can’t have been gone for more than ten minutes.
Heinemann: My experience was more tragic. I live in Wolfsschlucht 22. I was the last to jump with the storm lantern from the cellar. M. shouted: “Heinemann, jump to the left!” and that’s what I did, otherwise the whole gable of Frankfurter Straße 28 would have dropped on me. Then I got to Schöne Aussicht. My first shock was that my son Ernst, who was home after being wounded for the fourth time, was not at home with his bride. I met him there. I said: “My boy, I meet you here?” “Dad, I had gone into town with my bride but I will try to get to get to mum immediately.” But he came back because he could not get through. So I tried to get there from the theatre and Friedrichsplatz. But in Königstraße the smoke was so thick that I had to turn back. Then I tried it again in the morning. The house had been burnt down completely to the cellar. So I stood there and did not know whether she lay beneath or what was going on. I tried to gain access from the school yard next door. But even the cellars were smouldering. All the coal and my nice things in the cellar had been burnt. Fortunately the caretaker of the grammar school came. I asked him whether he heard anything about the Heinemann family. He said that they had been seen in the Karlsaue, during the night.
So I went to the Orangerie and looked for them there. But I did not find anyone. I went up the stairs where the theatre is. Those who were poisoned by smoke inhalation were taken away. Corpses were also lying there already, already during the night, from Karlstraße. Tables were being set up along the theatre and Schöne Aussicht and the wounded were constantly ferried away. It was a horrifying sight how people were fighting for their lives.
I learnt from the people there that women with little children had been accommodated in the barracks. I assumed that my wife would have preferred the Jäger barracks in Frankfurter Straße. I therefore marched off and asked the guard. Then I searched the individual wings. After I had searched three or four wings, I heard that women and children had been in the wing on the left at the front but that they had moved on by dawn. My wife and our five-year old had made their way to Körle and I assumed that that’s where they had gone and took the same way. I arrived at Körle in the evening, completely demoralised. The five-year old came running towards me near the house – heavens, what was that a moment, the boy with his five years pressed himself against me so that I thought a much older person was squeezing me.
My wife told me that there had not been one man in the whole of the air raid shelter in Wolfsschlucht 22. When the attic was on fire, they opened the breakthrough to no 20. Unfortunately, there was a passage of four metres and the women could only open the second breakthrough (under the gateway, towards the Barmer Insurance building) with great difficulty. After a great effort, the women opened the two breakthroughs. In that corner house they finally had better air to breathe. Soldiers and Stormtroopers also came into the cellar and they said: If it gets worse, we’ll come and get you out. In all that ado, the little one got wounded and had a cut from a stone splinter on his cheek and when it got hotter and hotter, his mother soaked the blankets, hung them over their heads, took the suitcases and the boy, got out towards Königsplatz, made her way through the burning Königstraße where she was no longer able to carry the suitcases and the luggage. She was lucky because a soldier came and took the boy and carried him to Schöne Aussicht. A Hitler Youth girl took the suitcases. But while fleeing to the theatre, she lost the girl and so the suitcases were gone. The soldier was also gone. So she wandered around Schöne Aussicht. Luckily she found the boy after an hour and then fled via the barracks to Körle where I found my loved ones again.
When they tried to get out of the cellar, they already heard the floors above them collapse, third floor, second floor, they were despairing that they still could not open the breakthrough with their feeble strength.
As I was standing in front of the ruins, I went at first weak in the knees but then I clenched my teeth. I said: You won’t cry, you cried when you lost your fine specimen of a boy. But not now. That was 1940. He gave his life for his people.
M.: As I wanted to go home and came back from the wire bridge, I ended up on the Rondell. From there, we could hear terrible screams for help which must have come roughly from the area around Fuchsgasse. People went over on a boat but they could not get any further. After a quarter of an hour, the screams became quieter until they fell silent. But the flames were to powerful and no one was able to bring help.
When we guided people through the breakthroughs, many a scene unfolded. In front of us was a very plump elderly lady who could not get through the breakthrough. Her daughter pulled from the front and I pushed from the back. And the disabled woman behind me shouted: “I don’t want to burn to death!” And so I told the ladies: “You will have to choose between your hairdo and your coat and dying. So make your coats wet and pull them over your heads and then we get out.” The disabled woman whom I brought to Schöne Aussicht had developed new strength in her fear and fled away from the flames. The women with little children conducted themselves in an exemplary manner. Flames of ten metres were shooting out of Bangert’s house.
M.: That morning I met a friend who lived at Holzmarkt. He told me: When the smoke got so thick and people were beginning to go to sleep, no one wanted to go out into the fire. So I hit my wife on the backside to make her go through the fire and I threw the child across to her. And then I went back to chase people out. Four people came with me but then someone said: “People, we’ll die in these flames.” So they turned back in fear and all of them perished. It was the house on the left side after the bridge.

Citation

Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Ludwig Heinemann and Karl M,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed November 18, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/8804.

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