Heinrich Stöppler


Heinrich Stöppler


Heinrich Stöppler's account of the events at Franzgraben 85 (Municipal Cleaning Department).



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Record 89


Translated from the original in German: Present is the senior official Heinrich Stöppler, born 10 April 1877 in Steeden, and makes the following statement:
Regarding 3 October:
When the alarm started on 3 October, I went together with the other residents of the house, the caretaker Lange, to the shelter of the depot in the docks. At the same time, the three people from the watch arrived. After a short period the attack started. We realised fairly soon that the attack was aimed at the area around our properties. You could hear and feel the bombs dropping. We tried on several occasions to leave the room so that we could see what was happening. The bombs kept dropping, however, so that we had to wait. After some time, there was a lull. We stormed out and realised that the roof of the stables was ablaze and we also saw that the attic of the administrative building was on fire and also the depot with straw and oats above our shelter. Because the horse stables were solidly built and did not seem to be in any immediate danger, we fought the fire in the administrative building first.
While we were doing this, more explosive and incendiary bombs dropped. We did not, however, stop fire-fighting. Our wives too came from the shelter and helped carry water and tear down net curtains and to empty rooms. The ceiling had burnt through in one of the apartments on the top floor, the blankets were on fire and the furniture too. In the meantime someone had noticed that there was much smoke in the horse stables. We could at first not see why because the smoke was too dense. You could not see your hand in front of your face. We tried to pull the horses out but they did not want to follow. But it was impossible to get into the stables without a gasmask. After we had put the gasmasks on, we could just barely save three of the horses. The fourth horse dropped with smoke poisoning in the gateway. As a result, the exit was blocked and we could not pull the other horses out. They suffocated. We established later that the smoke had been caused by an incendiary which had dropped through the food hatch in the solid roof. It had ignited the animal bedding. As you know, that stuff creates terrible smoke.
Then some workers from the neighbourhood came to our aid. The roofs of the workshops had caught fire. First and foremost we had to save tools and machinery. The buildings, however, could not be saved. The vehicles in the endangered buildings we had already moved into the yard, either by using their motors or by pulling them (water wagons, dust carts, lorries). They stood on the yard.
Regarding 22 October:
After the alarm we went to the shelter; the watch was already there. It did not take long till the first bombs were dropping. We noticed that the building was shaking and quaking, a sign that a large number of big bombs were being dropped. It was impossible to step out of the room. Attempts at getting outside which were undertaken a few times failed because the doors were literally torn from your hand. When the attack abated, we jumped up into the yard and noticed again several fires. All the garages were on fire and also some of the vehicles housed in them. By the same token, flames were again shooting from the roof of the building where the offices and the apartments were. Some of us ran to the building where we lived to fight the fire, others ran to the garages to pull out the vehicles. Six bombs had dropped on the admin building, three of them into the stairwell. My front door was on fire. Two of the incendiaries were lying on the stairs but had not ignited. I threw them out of a window with a shovel. I was able to put out the fire on my front door. On the roof, a dormer was on fire but we could put that out with the hand pump.
Several vehicles which were already on fire were saved by the people from the watch and Dutch workers from the municipal cleaning department who put out the fires. The other vehicles had already been moved onto the yard. The 450 gas bottles which were in a shed which was on fire, seemed to pose a greater danger. Next to it was a shed with wood for the generator. The flames were licking at the gas bottles, the roof of the shed was already on fire, the gas ignited. Now the fire jumped from one bottle to the next. Because of a small explosion, the asbestos disks (valves) were blown off. Because of this the gas could burn away without explosions. There was nothing to be put out where the bottles were. We could not get closer than 20 metres. The whole stock was consumed by fire. It burnt for 24 hours.
I would like to add that we had no water on 3 October and even less on 22 October. What little we had of stored water had mainly been used on the living quarters. In order to save the vehicles, we had used all the fire extinguishers. In this way we could save some of the vehicles even though they had been damaged.
The damage to the main building was also extensive through the blockbusters which had dropped nearby. On the top floor, some of the walls had fallen out. On the other floors the doors and windows were broken. Apart from that the damage was the same as everywhere else.
Because workers came quickly and helped we managed to save quite a number of things.


Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Heinrich Stöppler,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed February 21, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/8941.

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