Andreas H and Emma H


Andreas H and Emma H


Andreas H and Emma H's account of the events at Schomburgstraße 10 (Rheinischer Hof Hotel), Bahnhofstraße 19 and Lutherplatz 7.



Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage





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Record 98


Translated from the original in German: Present are Andreas H., master tailor, born 21 Nov. 1871 and Miss Emma H., born 7 March 1906, formerly of Schomburgstraße 10, now Wurmbergstraße 78 ½, and make the following statement:
When the alarm came I was sitting on my work table and was working on a uniform for someone from the railway – it was war work – normally I have private customers. Then the radio stopped. That was later, however, when my daughter had already come home – must have been after a quarter to eight. (Later, Dad, because I only got home at a quarter to eight.) My daughter had worked until seven and quickly eaten something. Mother had baked oatcakes and said: “You haven’t even tried the cakes. Well, you can do it when we get back up.”
From the window in one room, we could see the train station. This was always an orientation point when the lights were out. And the station was in the dark. So we put our coats on quickly. The girls went down first and Mother and I followed later. We had also packed our glasses but then everything went very quickly and I lost them. When I call it a day, I put the thimbles and glasses in my pockets now so that I don’t lose them again; they are indispensable. We had already left our luggage in the cellar. We had everything down there. People were laughing about us being so cautious. There were few guests in the hotel and so we hardly met anyone on the stairs. We, my sister and I, stood outside the house entrance with a few soldiers. Because a patrol group of the army police was in our house. And we said: “It’ll be nothing.” But then we saw the searchlights and they said: “Time to go to the cellar.” We also spoke to neighbours, the Buttstädts of no. 11, and she said to her husband: “Come on, Karl! Something bad could happen and then we would not be together.” They died, together with her 78-year old mother. And then we went down to the cellar and the ack-ack started shooting. And my sister said: “Let’s put on some more clothes; something might happen.” And I put on this grey dress and two summer coats. My sister put on her favourite coat, I will never forget that. And one of the soldiers, maybe 45 years of age, said to my father: “What a mess! I have my leave pass in my pocket and get the train to Frankfurt at half eleven.” By half eleven he was already dead. The leave pass they found on him four weeks later was his ID.
So we sat in the cellar, tightly packed, which I found uncomfortable. Because the shooting got fiercer and the drone more terrible. And Mrs Althans said: “Dear God, now we’ll be buried.” And I replied: “Keep calm!” And then the light flickered and I saw dirt trickling on my sister. And Mr Althans, the owner of the hotel, ran into the yard with some soldiers and came back and said: “We’re all doomed, there’s a phosphorous canister lying in the yard. And there’s fire in all four corners, fire everywhere.” And then came an explosive and a terrible bang. And the light came back but very faintly. And then the soldiers went up again to fight the fire in the yard and then the landlord came back and said: “Our staircase has collapsed.” This all happened in seconds and I don’t really know what went through my head.
Then all the soldiers went up to the yard to firefight. One of them gave me a wonderful briefcase and said: “But please do me the favour and keep it.” But I dropped it later anyway and the soldier was left there.
And then came the bomb which buried us all. There was a terrible bang, the lights went out and I was hit in the back by a beam and lay on my knees. I lost a shoe in that cellar when we were buried. But I left it there. Had my father been in the washhouse, he’d have been killed. I still see his torch sticking out. And then the fire came into the cellar from every opening and from the washhouse. That was phosphorous. There were also two boys, the children of the widow Maßberg (they were a quarter Jewish). They were lying in the washhouse and a soldier dug them out. The soldiers worked really hard. So we lay there for a few seconds and I thought: “Now you’re going to die. But when? No, you don’t have to die, you’re still strong.” So I struggled to my feet and the others did too. Now the shouting started, for every single one, to see whether they were still there. My wife was also lying in the dirt and under the rubble; she had a wound about 4 centimetres long on her head. Mother showed terrible courage. A soldier came and said: “We have to get out or we’ll suffocate; the fumes are getting through. So my mother went first with my sister and we followed them. But first we dug my father out from the dirt. He could not get out on his own. Stone, loam and bricks were lying on him. I had a beam pushing in the back of my neck. It had moved slowly, otherwise it would have killed me on the spot. So we made our way through the corridor, over the rubble and it had not settled yet, there were still hollows in it. So we got to the breakthrough and thought: “Heavens, what if the breakthrough is buried?” But it was open; that was a relief.
And people said: “We hope that the stairs from the cellar are still there.” And the stairs of that cellar were the only ones which were still there. (Bahnhofstraße 19, Hotel Vaterland)
So we went out and I got a shock. The building was already burnt to a shell. And my mother said: “What’s that, burning up there?” And I said: “Have a good look, that’s our homeland burning. And my mother said: “I’m not staying here!” And I said: “But where shall we go?” So we went down Bahnhofstraße a bit but on the pavement. Someone shouted: “Get off the pavement! Walk in the middle of the road!” And there was already muck falling from above, beams, bricks and roof tiles and there was still shooting – like from a machine gun. Constant explosions. We were overcome by a terrible feeling when we came out of Bahnhofstraße and saw that the whole city was on fire. Also the heat and the storm which went with it.
So we stepped into a house, that was Bahnhofstraße 7, and we took off our headscarves and coats and soaked them in a bucket of water. A woman was there who said: “Don’t be so unreasonable and use the whole of our water; we still need it to fight the fire.” But the whole quarter was already ablaze. My mother said again: “We have to get out!” Because the storm made it difficult for me to breathe. I still see my mother running in front of me, through the fire, and I’m thinking: It’s like in the movies; she’s running for her life. And fire was on the street, broken glass, up to my knees and I went through it with my bare foot and the torn stocking. The foot was not injured and not burnt.
So we arrived on Lutherplatz. It was still early and not many people had arrived yet. They all came later. Our eyes were burning, do you remember, Dad? There were people and smoke and fire came through the air and soldiers with horses. It whooshed and swooshed everywhere. There were a few young girls who had soaked their clothes so much that they stripped off and dried their clothes first. And I looked for the other people from our building and they said: “Let’s lie down together, we belong together.”
Then I found a pair of my friend's shoes and a woman took my left shoe because she had lost her right shoe.
Oh, we were so tired, we settled against the gravestones. And we really slept. And people said: “If that tower comes down, you will all have to leave. And then the whole of Gießbergstraße collapsed and the buildings on Lutherplatz and Spohrstraße and Wörthstraße.” We were lying right on the corner of Spohrstraße and I thought the houses would fall on top of us. People were very nice and no one complained. And they said: “Now we can understand the people of Hamburg.” And two women suddenly had a conversation about how best to have a dress made by a dressmaker. And it was terrible that you had to go [to the toilet]. People squatted at the corner of the church and people didn’t feel embarrassed. A man said to a woman: “I will do what you have just done” and squatted next to her. And when day broke, it was terrible. Bahnhofstraße was cleared by and by. Soldiers guided people along there. We got through with a real effort. The rubble went up to our knees and the overhead wires of the tram were lying on the street. And we passed our old home. So we went up there and met Mrs Thomas and she was crying (bakery, Bahnhofstraße23) because she’d lost all her pretty things. We said: “Be glad that you got out of there.” So we went up Kölnische Straße which was still burning and learnt that the whole city had been destroyed. You could see that from there. And that’s how we ended up with Hundelshausens. We had made an arrangement with them in case something would happen. And the two ladies Stegemann have taken us in. They are really warm-hearted people and we have been made welcome.
“Dad, you can’t complain, all our neighbours are dead, we did not salvage anything, not even a handkerchief, but we are alive!”
When the alarm came we would not have dreamt that anything like this would happen to us.


Vermisstensuchstelle des Oberbürgermeisters der Stadt Kassel, “Andreas H and Emma H,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 19, 2024,

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