Gottlieb Sunkel and August Lehnebach


Gottlieb Sunkel and August Lehnebach


Gottlieb Sunkel and August Lehnebach's account of the events at the Civic Centre.



Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage





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Record 77


Translated from the original in German: Present are the municipal engineer Gottlieb Sunkel, born 24 December 1891, and the town clerk August Lehnebach, born 5 November 1883, and make the following statement:
It was like this: Four of us were in the Civic Centre, among them a Miss Völker, on duty for air raid guard. We had only just started our shift when the alarm came. So we lit our lamps, fetched the steel helmets and gas masks from the guard room and fled into the ventilation shaft. Every now and again we went out to observe. Shortly after, the air protection command at the back was on fire. Shortly before nine, the lights went out and a heavy explosive bomb dropped on Hindenburgplatz. The doors flew open and the glass was blown out of the windows. Gobrecht and I (Sunkel) went to the big hall after that and found an incendiary in the middle of it. The whole of the side where the garden was, now lit up because the windows had been destroyed and the light from the fire came in. The incendiary was a dud. We threw it into the garden. We searched the building inside and outside. In the attic we found the aluminium mantle of the incendiary which had dropped into the big hall. The roof had also been damaged in places.
As soon as the all clear came, I (Lehnebach) went home and Miss Völker came with me. The whole of Elfbuchstraße, where I live, was on fire. I fetched a steel helmet and made my way through anyway and helped fight the fire in my house (Auguste-Viktoria-Straße 19). We saved the house. Only the roof and the attic rooms have been destroyed by fire.
In the morning, towards 6, I returned to the Civic Centre and brought my steel helmet back.
During the raid, about a quarter past nine, the Mayor came on a motorbike. He requisitioned the Civic Centre for the Council because the city hall was on fire, and all officials who could be seen, should come to the centre early in the morning. After the raid, he came back and ordered that the centre should be used as a reception centre for those who had lost their homes. Towards ten, the local group leader Schlegel from Stadthalle party group turned up and organised an emergency service. We then took the air protection beds immediately out of the ambulatories on the garden side and put them up in the vestibule. And towards ten, the first refugees arrived already. These were mainly guests from the Hotel Schwaneberg (Kurfürstenstraße). And then more and more came and the evacuation of refugees began. Women and children and men, they were all lying in the cloakrooms downstairs. Everyone made themselves as comfortable as they could. We also had straw sacks. During the night we also closed windows and doors as best we could. Everyone helped, including boys from the Hitler Youth. Towards four, we had the first coffee and towards 6, food arrived. Mrs Witt and Mrs Burchard helped local group leader Schlegel to administer first aid. Doctors and nurses had also arrived and bandaged the wounded and those with burns, treated eyes and so on. Miss Völker, who is also bombed out, helped all night through as she is a trained nurse.
Towards half seven the municipal employees arrived, the Mayor, again, and Mr Schwarze and others, and they set up municipal departments. The work of the Department for Property Damage started and towards 11 the first people received money.
I (Sunkel) wanted to go home towards morning. But as I heard on the way that the whole of the old town had burnt down – I am a widower – I turned around. I used to live in Kastenalsgasse 7. They all died, with the exception of four people who were not in the house that night. I now live in Landgrafenstraße 17. Until last month, I had installed myself in the Civic Centre.
Towards 10 we received food supplies. The inflow of people was immense. We had put six hundredweight of butter on sandwiches on that day. The mobile supply unit ‘Bayern’ of the army arrived about noon on Saturday and brought clothing, undergarments and rations. They even handed out real coffee; how people were running towards them because they handed out real coffee. The food was wonderful. Because people could not be supplied with gas, they came for three weeks to be fed. High or low, they all came with their mess kits and fetched their food. The Civic Centre also served as emergency shelter for people who had lost their homes. Every evening we gave out blankets. We catered for several thousand people a day.


Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Gottlieb Sunkel and August Lehnebach,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 12, 2024,

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