August Keppler

Title

August Keppler

Description

August Keppler's account of the events at Obere Karlsstraße 12/14 (Old Townhall, Public Welfare Office).

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

1944-05-10

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 84
BKasselVdObmv10084

Coverage

Conforms To

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

Translated from the original in German: Present is August Keppler, born 18 August 1893 in Kassel, senior inspector in the Public Welfare Office, and makes the following statement:
That evening I was on air raid watch with the temporary employee Wasmuth, the administrative employee Mössner and Miss Kühlborn. After the alarm came the reinforcements: Inspector Grein, Secretary Dehmel and the Assistant Gockel.
When I arrived at eight in the evening, I already thought that something was going to happen. I immediately issued instructions to connect the hose of the hand-held pump to the tap in the yard and to unlock the padlocks on the iron doors on the exits from the shelter. I had been on duty during an earlier raid and had observed that these little locks were difficult to open in the dark. After we had connected the hose, I personally opened the door to the shelter in no. 14. The alarm came while we were busy with our preparations.
Then we went into the cellar and connected the telephone. We noticed the so-called Christmas trees in the sky and immediately after that the first bombs were dropping. If we consider morale, when the first bombs dropped, you could always hear afterwards the buildings crumble and collapse. A few people from the neighbourhood came into our room too. It was not really a public shelter but some of the buildings around us did not have suitable cellars. Because of the suction from the air, the doors were pulled open outwards, including the iron guard doors. The result was that the gasses from the fire and the explosions were pressed into our room. The air became very bad for breathing and most of the people were sitting there with soaked handkerchiefs. We made various control rounds in the building and put out an incendiary which had dropped in. When I went up next time, the sports hall with its tarred roofing felt was on fire and the upper floors of the old town hall too. When I got to the first floor, the ceiling had already burnt through so that you could not be sure in those narrow corridors whether the way back had been cut off by fire. We tried nevertheless to fight the fire but there was no water anymore. Otherwise we might have been able to save the lower floors.
The air raid shelter was so full of smoke that I had to give the order to evacuate. Some people did not want to leave because they were afraid. So I said: “Those who don’t leave now will be lost.” We wanted to try and jump across the rain of fire above the entrance – in the meantime we had soaked our coats and blankets with water in the cellar. I just wanted to jump when someone shouted: “We could try to get through the breakthrough towards Fünffensterstraße. The breakthrough leading downhill could no longer be used because the houses were already burning low down. But the same started to happen uphill and it was high time that we got through there. I was the last to leave the cellar through the breakthrough. The others had taken the lights with them. I shouted to make sure that no one was left. It was very dark around me. We got out through the corner building on Fünf-fensterstraße. The house was on fire down to the first floor. We than ran up Karlsstraße to Friedrichstraße. We could still run there without too much trouble. And from there we got to Schöne Aussicht where the art gallery is. There we lost one another in the throng.
When I got home to Kaiserstraße 68 via long detours, I was surprised to find that the building was still standing.
I then made my way to the civic centre – it must have been about half three in the morning. Everything was dark here and no one from the city employees was there. It had been agreed that this is where we would meet after a terror attack. I then tried on a circuitous route to get to the agreed meeting point, Murhardpark. I went along Hohenzollernstraße to get to Murhardpark. But I could not get beyond Annastraße. So I had to take Parkstraße, Kölnische Allee, Viktoriastraße and got to the square in front of the railway station. Here, it was mad. Only men on their own were scurrying about. The railway station was on fire, Fürstenhof, Kaiserhof, Nordischer Hof, all the great hotels and buildings too. In Bahnhofstraße, one could hardly breathe. The rain of sparks were so heavy that I had to turn back again. A few buildings had already collapsed and on Orleansstraße was a wall of rubble and I thought to myself: No one has got out of this alive. So I tried Kurfürstenstraße. The tram wires were on the ground and it was a terrible mess. I finally got to Murhardpark via Theaterstraße, Friedrichsplatz and Schöne Aussicht. I could not find anyone there either. The fire in Wilhelmshöher Allee was not so fierce anymore, most buildings had already burnt down, and one could get through. By about five, I went home. At half seven I went back to the civic centre to report for duty.
In Opernstraße the savings bank was on fire and you could not get through that way. I had difficulties getting back to Friedrichsplatz.

Citation

Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “August Keppler,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed November 17, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/8937.

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