Heinz Grässel


Heinz Grässel


Heinz Grässel's account of the events at Holländische Straße 21.



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Record 91


Translated from the original in German: Present is Mr Heinz Grässel, director of the library, born 5 January 1888 in Munich, and makes the following statement:
We had no air raid watch in the building of the library, next to the Guildhall. Because four families lived in the house, we had a caretaker and a public shelter. The keys for the public areas of the building were deposited with the caretaker. We therefore had a form of self-protection. I was bombed out in Ihringshäuser Straße 25 and with great effort I found a place for my family where they could stay the rest of the night. Towards half eight, I rushed to Holländische Straße. The Guildhall was already burnt down and had collapsed.
A door which originally connected the two buildings to the storerooms and which had been bricked up, stood open. It seemed that because of this, the fire had already spread to the storerooms. Next to the door was a cupboard with materials which had already been destroyed by the fire. Under the parquet flooring you could feel a smouldering fire. I found a few buckets full of water. I fetched some more water from a fire engine and kept pouring water on those parts which seemed to burning from below. I put out the fire on the panelling of my door with the help of Mrs Rathgen, the cloakroom attendant, whom I had met. It appeared as if the fire had been put out. Some of the books in the storeroom, near the door, had already been burnt to a crisp. I then tried very hard to reach the leader of the fire engine, to save the rest through water hoses. But the man told me that he had to try and put out the fires in no. 17. Such were his orders. In short, he refused to help. Despite my efforts, the fire had continued to smoulder under the floor.
When I got there on 24 October, everything which was in the main reading room was burnt to cinder and ash. Everything which was in my office was undamaged because the parquet flooring stopped. I could at least save that. The reading room on the ground floor was also unscathed. There was no damage from fire. We only had damage from the air pressure. For three days, I did not get out of my clothes. In Ihringshäuser Straße, I was also on fire watch.
About 15,000 books were destroyed, in part in the library, in part in the bookbindery Berard in Hohenzollernstraße and in part in readers’ homes.


Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Heinz Grässel,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 1, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/8949.

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