Erich Thom and Karl B


Erich Thom and Karl B


Erich Thom and Karl B's account of the events at Mombachstraße 10/12 (abattoir)/Leipziger Straße 79.



Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage





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Record 82


Translated from the original in German: Present are the assistant to the manager, Mr Erich Thom, born 10 November 1885, and the meat inspector, Mr Karl B., born 29 September 1897, and make the following statement:
I (Thom) was in the command post and was writing something. We had already received news before eight o’clock that the British were approaching. Then the alarm came and it did not take long for the first bombs to drop. An incendiary hit the hut at the front of the street. It was the first to burn down. We were still in the porter’s lodge and the outbuilding was hit and the whole mess flew around our ears, including window panes and frames. So we made our way to the cellar. As we crossed the yard, we saw the light in the sky. Everything around us was on fire, the machine hall, the admin block and the outbuildings – they were all ablaze. The people were already all in the cellar, the canteen operator and his wife, the caretaker and his family and also strangers who lived in the neighbourhood, all were down there because it was a public shelter.
Then came one hit after the other, we held the shelter doors shut because the air pressure kept blowing them open. It was an iron door. There was a woman with a child (less than a year old) and about another twenty people. Every now and again we had a look outside. Everywhere the roofs were on fire. The stables and flats were burning fiercely. We could not get at them. As things had calmed down a little, we went out and tried to put out the fires. We connected the hoses and poured water on the machine hall and we saved the roof truss and all the machines. But there was fire all around us and it was impossible to fight all the fires. Next to us, beams dropped down and half our things were destroyed by fire. We made sure from the start to save at least the machines. If we had not done this, our firm would not exist today. Butchers came and other neighbours, they helped us. The stockyard was completely engulfed by fire. But I think only one horse died which I had signed in that evening. Now at the end of the week, we have few animals in the yard. The abattoir has its own water supply but it had little pressure and the fire-fighting was heavy-going. The fire was too enormous for human strength. The main outbuilding was on fire at the top. We extinguished the fire in the attic using a handheld sprayer; that’s why it wasn’t destroyed. We tidied up and saved other things until about Saturday lunchtime.
Where I (Thom) live (Schwabstraße 40), everything had been torn too apart but luckily, there had been no fire, an explosive bomb had just blown the roof off.
I (B.) went the following morning through Schlachthof-straße where everything was on fire and it was a sea of flames. I wanted to go to my flat (Leipziger Straße 79). In Müllergasse the houses were falling down so that I tried to get there through Artilleriestraße; I turned the corner at the arsenal and at Töpfenmarkt everything was a sea of flames, fire all around. So I turned back again and at the bottom of Bremer Straße I made my way through the flames because I couldn’t find another way. I got some burns. Hands, arm and my clothes were singed. I went down Katzensprung and into Schützen-straße.
There I stood for a moment and took a breath. I could not see [out of my eyes]. There I saw the first people sitting on the street wailing. Then I crossed the Hafen Bridge and went along Scharnhorststraße and when I came to Leipziger Straße, the whole street was eight inches under water because all the sewers had been destroyed. I found nothing of the building where I lived but a smouldering heap of rubble. So I asked someone from the emergency service what had happened to the residents. They told me: “Those from the red brick houses went towards Schwanenwiese and those from the old houses on the other side of the street where I lived had made their way up there.”
A boy said to me: “Are you looking for your family? They are in the public swimming pool.” There, people all sat in the cellars, crying and grief-stricken; they had not saved anything except for what they were wearing. My wife had tried to save some stuff from our flat on the second floor. When she came back down, she could not get back into the cellar because it was buried. So she banged and shouted that they should get out because the house would be falling down, with the result that they all went through the breakthroughs and saved themselves. The air raid warden actually did not want them to go out. But when they had all left, the building collapsed. My wife saved all the people in the house. My grandchild and the daughter-in-law who was heavily pregnant and four children and nine adults from the building have been saved.


Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Erich Thom and Karl B,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 20, 2024,

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