Otto Kappel


Otto Kappel


Otto Kappel's account of the events at Wildemannsgasse 24, Fisch-gasse.



Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage





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Record 78


Translated from the original in German: Present is Mr Otto Kappel (painter and decorator), born 28 April 1874 in Kassel, formerly of Wildemannsgasse 24, fourth floor, now of Gilsa in Oberhof, and gives the following statement:
Amongst other roles, I was also the block warden and air raid warden. After the alarm, I gathered all the people in the house in the cellar, as is usual. The cellar had a solid barrel vault and was eighteen steps deep. It must have been around half eight when my wife went up to the entrance hall and at that point, the whole of the neighbourhood was already on fire. The houses owned by the merchant Herjett, all of them corner houses, were on fire. In my house nothing was on fire yet except for some little bits which I put out. Sparks had flown into my room but I extinguished them with water. I then had to get down again because my wife was calling for me and Mr Weckesser shouted: “Allmeroth’s shop is on fire!” (This was on the ground floor of our house.) Now my wife came from the cellar and mobilised everybody: soak blankets and hold them in front of your mouth and out of the cellar. We now crawled through the breakthroughs down Wildemannsgasse up to the fourth house. There we could not go on because the house had fallen in. It must have been Wildemannsgasse 30.
So we made our way back and through the other cellars towards the lower Marktgasse. And my wife got nearly everyone out of the cellar. In our cellar were: 3 people from the Stark family, three people from the Henkler family, children, we had only two, from the Mohnsam family. The Kappel family were three, Kappes two, Engelke four, Allmeroths weren’t there because they were already living in Altenhasungen, Lehmann two, Müller three, Weckesser two and Mohnsam three. – We had more or less everything behind us. The street was all on fire and it was too narrow. We could not get through there. Where the Hirsch pharmacy was, we turned left. We’d only collected our daughter from the hospital that morning and she pulled and the whole lot went on because everything was dark, a wax candle here, a stearin candle there, and we did not know anymore where we were and we pushed on and so we got to the Fischmann’s house. But we did not go into their cellar but stayed on the street because the passage to the furniture house Metz was blocked. People shouted from the other side: “You won’t get through there.”
Behind us were Mr and Mrs Henkler, both over seventy, they got out. Mr Lehmann and his daughter came with us to the Hirsch pharmacy where they stayed. They are dead. Richard Kappes and his sister Hilde also stayed back; they’re dead too. Mrs Weckesser had a heart attack on the way into the cellar and keeled over. Her husband sat down and stayed with her. They were both about seventy. Richard Kappes had been in Stalingrad and gone through a lot as a soldier and then he was killed that night. The last my wife saw of him, he had lost his hat and his hair was standing on end. And if you had been there and lived through it, you would understand it, because if you looked out, you could not see anything but fire and sparks. I had a blindfold and my wife pulled me out. She is 52 and comes from the countryside and a long line of farmers. My first wife died 1918 and then my second wife came into the house, and I saw her, loved her and married her and it’ll be our silver wedding anniversary in ten weeks. I had four children with my first wife and two with my second. I have lived in the fairy tale house since 1915. I’ve lived in the old town my whole life, I was also born there.
When we got out of the cellar, we saw only fire. Burning beams were sailing through the air, gables were falling down, we made our way down from where the watchmaker Voigt was, then through Fischgasse, Zeughausstraße, Weserstraße, Schützenstraße to the Ahne River. There we climbed over the railing and went down to the river. Hundreds of people were lying there.
On the Sunday, my wife went into the town, together with our daughter. I didn’t see anything but the two of them saw how the dead bodies were brought out from the houses. My wife did not want me to see that. We also lost a daughter in Kölnische Straße 10 (Mrs Marie Metz, née Kappel) and her husband, Wilhelm Metz and the boy was called Walter.
When we were in the cellar, we felt very strong air pressure because the bombs must have had immense power. The front door blew open and the iron doors to the cellar were flapping back and forth, we had to tie them together. The strong draft of the fire also made the fire jump from one house to the next. We also suffered terribly from the fire storm in Fischgasse until we finally got through. In outward appearance, people seemed all very calm. My wife said: Here, it’s no use, soak bits of cloth and hold them to your mouths. Everyone had a suitcase with them. I had a few packages with underwear with me.
Our belongings were dug out of the buried cellar by soldiers a few days later. The cellars were free of smoke and perfectly preserved. We found our belongings in the Renthof where they had been stored. We could show our papers and collect them.
We lived on the fourth floor under the attic where [unintelligible] kept pigeons. We had been talking about moving elsewhere and every now and again had an opportunity to do so but it never happened. And now we moved house without a removal van. We would not have believed it.


Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Otto Kappel ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 29, 2023,

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