Max Bartels


Max Bartels


Max Bartels's account of the events at Lossestraße 14 (Losse [power] plant).



Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage





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Record 96


Translated from the original in German: Present is Max Bartels, production engineer, born on 1 March 1881 in Kiel, and makes the following statement:
As production engineer, I was also in charge of air raid protection for the plant. On the day in question, at the time of the catastrophe, the second shift was at work. We were altogether 27 men that evening. The plant was running at full capacity, as usual, in spite of the damage we suffered on 3 October. When the sirens went, the air raid squad took up their positions. We soon realised that a serious attack was coming. We saw flare bombs everywhere. We also saw an individual plane caught in the searchlights attracting the fire of the ack-ack. This diversionary manoeuvre made it possible for the enemy to mount a concerted attack on Kassel. The ack-ack was diverted and the enemy could attack in formation. Shortly afterwards, the bombing started with all means: incendiaries and explosives were being dropped.
I was on lookout, together with Wiegelmann, the foreman. Soon the phone lines had been destroyed. And then, as the bombing started, we saw that Bettenhausen and the Losse plant were also being hit. Close hits but not direct ones, but they took the roofs off all the buildings, without exception, and all the windows and walls were torn open. The connection with Preussen-Elektra [power station] was destroyed, the pylons collapsed and we had electrical shorts. Incendiaries caused seven fires in our plant, but we were able to put out four of them. We were able to save the power switching station – otherwise we would still not have an electricity supply – the depot was saved twice and three fifths of the building with the flats was preserved. I live there and Inspector Kühne. A completely new set of huts for workers, which had been damaged heavily on 3 October and which had not yet been taken into service, burnt down. There was such a heat that we were unable to get close. A stack of wooden poles was ablaze and the fire could only be extinguished much later. The most calamitous fire was in the part which transported the coal. The machine which lifted the coal, twenty meters above ground, burnt out and was destroyed. We would have been able to continue our production if it had not been for the damage to that machine. As it was, we had to shut down the following morning at nine.
The mechanical rake screen where the river Fulda enters the Losse plant was destroyed through a near hit and so we still have to do the cleaning manually. That was that. Now let’s get to the end.
From the plant, we have an excellent view across the city, and at first we could only see the big fires which were closer to us: the docks, the brewery, Salzmann & Co., Leipziger Straße and Schüle-Hohenlohe. We could not see any further because of the enormous smoke developing. The fire storm from the periphery of the city towards the centre made itself felt strongly. It made it difficult for us to fight the fires. Because the drinking water network had stopped working, all the hoses in the plant were under pressure from our own electrical pumps. This had already been prepared in the plans of the air raid protection. We stopped firefighting at about six in the morning and put fire watch teams in the places where the fires had been. It was my duty to make a report and because we had no phone lines, I ordered the technical assistant Höhle to give an oral report to the air raid protection commissioner of the public utilities, Director Dinessen. Only when the messenger returned (it had taken him three hours to get there and another three hours to get back, through smoke, fire and buildings on the verge of collapse) did we learn about the full extent of this terrible calamity.
Because we had been so focused on firefighting, we had not taken much notice of what was happening around us. Of those at work at the time, no one was injured or killed. In Wildemannsgasse, a colleague who was off work was killed in his apartment, the stoker Lange. The families of some of the men who were at work here that night, trying to protect the plant, perished in the fire.
The following morning all sorts of offices asked me when we would be able to resume production. Seven men were there. So I put a plan together and said: If I can get this and that, I can guarantee that we’ll be up and running again in three weeks. And I got engine fitters and engineers and we were back online three days earlier than projected. In the meantime, after we had repaired the connection to Preussen-Electra, Kassel got emergency power from us through that connection after only two and a half days.


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

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