Heinrich West

Title

Heinrich West

Description

Heinrich West's account of the events at Mauerstraße 13/15. Gießbergstraße.

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

1944-05-31

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 97
BKasselVdObmv10097

Coverage

Conforms To

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

Translated from the original in German: Present is Heinrich West (stage manager at the Theatre at Wilhelmshöher Platz), born 8 July 1891 in Waltersbrück, District Fritzlar, and makes the following statement:
The matinée performance had finished and afterwards I always went home for dinner. The evening performance started at half seven. Shortly after it had begun, at about 8, the alarm came. I had been onstage. After we had closed the stage and switched off the lights, I changed immediately and rushed home. I went out first on the balcony to reconnoitre. I heard the planes approach and shouted that my wife should get herself ready. Then I went down to the street. As I got there, I saw the first marker drop above Wilhelmshöhe. At that moment, I immediately blew my whistle to order all the people in the house to go to the air raid cellar immediately.
After a very brief period of time, the breakthrough was opened from no. 11 and the block leader of the air raid protection league, Mr Klute (who owns the printing shop Martin), came first with the people from no. 11 to us because everything was already lost there. My cellar was not big enough to take all those people. So I led all of them, the people from our building included, to no. 15, after the breakthrough had been opened. Here was a long corridor in the cellar (on the corner to Gießbergstraße). At that moment, all the people from Gießbergstraße 8, 6 and 4 also arrived in no. 15 through the breakthroughs. I must have had between 50 and 75 people in that cellar. I then searched all means and ways to find an exit. I tried to open 12 cellar vents as an experiment but they had been protected with planks and earth but when I tried to get out there, I was met by fire. We had to close the vents again.
When I returned to the cellar, some people had already passed out. Among them was a woman with three children (Zielinski, the children were maybe 12, 8 and 2, she had the little one on her arm). I took the little one off her and gave it to another woman. I sat her up again on a chair and washed her mouth out with a wet cloth. Because I was so busy, as people were calling for me from all sides, I could no longer look after the woman. I then told the women in the cellar to wrap wet cloths around their hair so that it would not burn when we got the opportunity to get out. That was the last instruction I was able to give. At that moment we took a direct hit, the lights went out and I collapsed and I was found the following morning at seven.
I had been unconscious until then. I was taken to the Diakonissen Hospital and from there to Volkmarsen and Saturday evening I became aware that I was in hospital.
I was discharged on 29 October. I then lodged with my parents-in-law in Kassel-Bettenhausen, Dormannweg 25. The real effects started a fortnight later. I had become incontinent. Dr Horn treated me but it got worse by the day. And about 20 November, after the in-laws and I had been making inquiries in the town hall with the Department for Missing Persons, to find out about my wife, I was informed that she had been buried on the main cemetery in a communal grave. That information hit me hard, so hard that I had a nervous breakdown.
Dr Horn therefore referred me to the sanatorium Haina. I spent eight weeks there. I am happy with the treatment and the food. I was discharged on 30 January after a slight improvement and was given good advice by the consultant Schmidtmann to avoid all activity and not to go into Kassel so that I did not have to see the ruins. Otherwise, it was easily possible that I would suffer a setback. And then it was likely that I would not recover. So Haina petitioned the NS welfare organisation to send me away for a recovery break. I started that treatment on 21 March in Hahnenklee-Bockswiese and it was to last for six weeks. It was not successful, however. The consultant had said right from the start that was not the right course of action for me. I should be sent to a proper spa with daily baths and daily observation. So I asked the local relief organisation and they told me to see their relevant medical examiner in the first few days and he would make the decision. At the moment, I am being treated by the specialist Dr Scholl. That’s it so far.
I now live with my in-laws again and the best thing for me is to sit in the garden chair, all by myself. I don’t want anyone around me. I have lost two wives in 25 months – it’s too much. I’d only been married to my second wife for 14 months.

Citation

Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Heinrich West,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 2, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/8955.

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