Kassel Tidbits

 

Historical Photos

Top and Bottom: Kassel around the turn of the century.  Note the twin towers of Martinskirche.

















































Top: Pre-war view of Kassel from the Bergpark. Bottom: Dr. Erwin Aders, head of Henschel's Panzer program and the Tiger's chief designer, tours shop 5 with high ranking army officers on Sept. 5, 1942. (Major Rager second from the right).










My Inspiration

My mom was always on the look for things that she knew would interest the ones she loved.  She once recorded a movie for me to watch that was based on a novel and was set in World War II.  It was one of the most unbelievable and unrealistic movies I had seen in a long time, but the movie did cause me to think about what it would be like to live in Germany during the war but not be on Hitler’s side.  The more I thought about it, the more the story began to spill out of me.

The Setting

During my first visit to Germany, I passed through Kassel on my way to Munich.  I can remember stopping at the train station at Kassel/Wilhemshohe and wondering what kind of city lay beyond the railroad tracks.  Fifteen years later, I needed a large, significant city for the setting for Echoes of Kassel, and something about this city drew me to it.  When I began to research it’s history and the part it played in the war, it was apparent right away that this was where the story really could have happened.


In 2013, I was able to visit Kassel with my niece.  We were able to attend the remembrance service on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Kassel.  We were able to visit the sites that were already written into the story:  the park where they met, the major’s house, the major’s workplace, the churches, the Bergpark, the train station, the Weinberger bunker.  Kassel is a beautiful, charming and mysterious city, perhaps made even more so when you have studied it’s past.

No work of fiction, if it is to be at all based in reality, can be so without extensive research.  Beyond the general knowledge of World War II Germany, I spent several years locating everything I could in English and then in German about life in Kassel during the war.  There is not a wealth of information out there in English, but there are some pretty fascinating works in German.  Among others, I located a biography of a woman who grew up in Kassel during the war.  This work gave me assurance that I was on the right track.


I searched American, British and German sources for information on the air raids, finding the most useful information in the city museum in Kassel.  There are some academic papers relating to the presence of the Gestapo in the city before and during the war, and some very thought provoking information relating to the concentration camps and labor pool in the area.  I located maps and information on the bomb shelters and the fall of Kassel to the Americans.  I read transcripts of the Nuremburg trials and visited the hotel in Garmish.


Kassel played a somewhat unique part in the war, having multiple important war production factories, and there is quite a bit of information relating to these facilities available if you dig deep enough.  Some of the information I uncovered is below, followed by my collection of historical photographs of the city of Kassel.

Historical Timeline


1934


June 30–July 2 – The Night of the Long Knives (German: Nacht der langen Messer) or "Operation Hummingbird", was a purge that took place when the Nazi regime executed at least 90 people for political reasons.


1939


September 1 – Germany invades Poland from north, south and west.


1940


May 10 – Germany begins invasion of France.


June 22 –  The RAF commences its first bombing raid on Kassel at 1 am with 5-10 airplanes.  The target was the Flugplatz Waldau. (Ref. 10, 12)


July 22 – Second RAF raid on Kassel with 16 planes, commencing at 1 am.  Bombs hit industry targets and homes in Bettenhausen and the lower new part of Kassel. (Ref. 10)


July 24 – RAF targeted the aircraft plants and airfield at 12:30 am with 10 planes, again hitting industry targets and homes in Bettenhausen. (Ref. 10)


August 16-17 – RAF hits houses at Gräfestrasse 2, 4 and 6 in a raid that began at 11:41 pm and lasted until 3:45 am.  Two people were killed and eleven wounded. (Ref. 10)


October 16-17 – RAF hits the Stadtgartnerei and Jagerkaserne commencing at 22:02 pm and lasting until 1:13 am. (Ref. 10)


1941


September 8-9 – RAF returns with 73 aircraft to hit Henschel and Sohn and Crede & Co at 23:31-3:00.  They hit various locations in the city, the museum Friedericianum with the library and the Rote Palais.  Fifteen people are killed with thirty-five injured. (Ref. 10)


October 24-25 – Night raid by 7 or 8 RAF aircraft beginning at 22:37-0:21.  The target was Henschel & Sohn.  They hit the train yards at Harleshausen and houses in the area. (Ref. 10)


December 9 – First transport of Jews from Kassel to Riga


1942


February 17/18 – 10 Wellingtons and 3 Stirlings to Emden, Hamburg, Kassel and Aachen.  (Ref. 1).


June 1 – Second transport of Jews from Kassel to Majdanek, Sobibor


August 27/28 – Target was Henschel.  306 aircraft destroyed/seriously damaged 144/317 buildings, particularly in the city southwest. Three Henschel buildings were seriously damaged, and 43/251 were killed/injured.  (Ref. 1).  In addition to the military targets, houses and hospitals were hit. (Ref. 10)


September 7 – Third and last transport of Jews from Kassel to Theresienstadt


1943


May 17 – RAF returned to Kassel with 4 aircraft at 1:12-2:58, killing two people. (Ref. 10); tidal wave reaches Kassel after Erdtal dam is blown by British dam buster. (Ref. 12)


July 28 – The United States Army Air Corp begins first raid on Kassel, targeting Fieseler Aero engine works in Bettenhausen and Waldau.  182 B-17's are dispatched against the Fieseler Works at Kassel, Germany; 58 hit the target at 1027-1054 hours.  (Ref. 9).  Most of the bombs fall at Spinnfaser AG and in the neighborhood of Bettenhausen. (Ref. 10)


July 30 – USAAF hit the Aircraft component works.  119 B-17's are dispatched to the Bettenhausen Fieseler Works; 94 hit the target at 0910-0917 hours.  (Ref. 9).


October 2/3 – The Pathfinder Force (PFF) was not able to find the center of the city, and most bombs fall on Wolfsanger, Sandershausen, Ihringshausen and Bettenhausen. In addition to considerable damage, an ammunition store was hit.  (Ref. 1).


October 3/4 – 547 aircraft used H2S radar; the main weight of bombs fell on the western suburbs and outlying towns and villages.  (Ref. 1).


October 22/23 – 569 bombers dropped more than 1,800 tons of bombs (including 460,000 magnesium fire sticks) that started fires which illuminated the entire town seen as far away as Frankfurt.  Damage to the main telephone exchange and the city's water pipes hindered firefighting efforts.  (Ref. 1).  Over 10,000 people perished in the ensuing firestorm.  Eighty percent of the city center is destroyed. (Ref. 10)


1944

In the Junkers airplane and engine works in Kassel, among other things, accessories for the first operational jet military plane of the world, the ME 262, developed by Messerschmitt are manufactured.  Henschel produces the heavy battle tank tiger II (" Königstiger") in series.  (Ref. 12)


January 20 – In Kassel, the only daily paper still printed is the “Kurhessischen Landeszeitung”.  The postal code is introduced by the post office minister.  Kassel belongs to the post office area code 16.  (Ref. 12)


March 18/19 – 11 Mosquitos on a diversionary raid.  (Ref. 1).


March 29, 1944 – Gerhard Fieseler, head of the Fieseler aircraft plants is dismissed as operating leader because the production numbers demanded by the military are not reached.  (Ref. 12)


March 30/31 – 34 Mosquitos on diversionary raids to Aachen, Cologne and Kassel.  (Ref. 1).


April 19 – Target was Eschwege Airfield.  Bombers attacked a factory for fighter plane engines nearby.  The flak batteries around that area could not stop the attack.  (Ref. 3).  271 of 277 B-17s hit the Kassel area, Eschwege Airfield, Limburg and a target of opportunity.  (Ref. 9).  Fieseler, Henschel airplane motors and Junkers hit. (Ref. 10)


April 22 – A German fighter plane fought several Allied fighter planes.  The German plane was shot down near Besse.  The pilot was dead.  (Ref. 3).


June 6 – D-Day; Allied forces land on beaches in Normandy, France.


June 9/10 – 36 Mosquitos to Berlin.  No aircraft lost. (Ref. 1)


June 10/11 – 32 Mosquitos to Berlin.  2 Mosquitos lost from the Berlin raid. (Ref. 1)


June 11/12 – 33 Mosquitos to Berlin. 2 Mosquitos lost from the Berlin raid. (Ref. 1)


July 12 –  An electrical Oberleitungsbus begins operations between Harleshausen and Kirchditmold for the first time, briefly called the “O-Bus”.  (Ref. 12)


July 20 – failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler inside his "Wolf's Lair" field headquarters near Rastenburg, East Prussia.


September 8 – 166 B-17s are dispatched to hit an oil depot at Kassel.  (Ref. 9).


September 10 – 121 of 135 P-47s strafe airfields and ground and rail traffic in a sweep over the Cologne, Frankfurt/Main, and Kassel areas.  (Ref. 9).


September 13 – A bomber was shot down by the flak batteries in Grossenritte.  The bomber crashed in a forest near Besse.  (Ref. 3).


September 22 – Ordnance and motor vehicle factories were scheduled for attack on this date with all (3) Bomb Division assigned targets in the vicinity. The 577th and 578th were assigned lead functions with Lieutenant Mace and Captain Westerbrook as Lead Bombardiers, respectively. At 0700-0800 hours, (24) crews were briefed and all commenced take-offs at 1030. The trip was noted as uneventful with no fighters seen and flak meager. A total of (23) crews bombed through 10/10th undercast with results unobserved and dropping (288)500# bombs in the target area by PFF means. All bombers returned safely about 1720 hours.  (Ref. 4).  661 bombers are dispatched to hit armoured vehicle and motor vehicle factories at Kassel/ Henschel, Germany bombing by PFF; 453 B-17s are dispatched; 410 hit the primary, 10 hit Wetzlar and 7 hit targets of opportunity.  (Ref. 9).  Twelve people are reported dead with seven injured. (Ref. 10)


September 25 – Monday 48 plane raid.  (Ref. 6).


September 27 – daylight raid on Tank Factory.  At 0430 and 0500 hours, (30) crews were briefed again for this target up behind the Ruhr.  At 0725 hours, (28) ships were dispatched with (25) going over the target to drop PFF through 10/10ths clouds. Results of the (142) 1000 pounders which were released were not observed. No fighter opposition was experienced, but once again flak was moderate and accurate. Mission aircraft returned to base around 1415.  (Ref. 4).  315 B-24s are dispatched to hit Kassel/Henschel aircraft plant (248); 35 also hit Gottingen. Escort is provided by 207 P-38s, P-47s and P-51s.  (Ref. 9).  Fourteen people are reported dead, with seven injured. (Ref. 10)


September 27/28 – evening bombing 46 Mosquitos.  (Ref. 1) hit Kassel at 22:00-22:30. (Ref. 10)


September 28 – daylight raid on Henschel motor transport plant.  243 of 262 dispatched B-24s bombed the Kassel/Henschel motor transport plant.  At 0415-0515, (30) aircrews were given briefings and at 0716 hours, all commenced take-offs. The bombing was done by PFF through clouds with the results of (244) 500 and 1000 pounders in the mixed loading not being observed. Again no fighters. Landing was at 1400.  (Ref. 2).  243 B-24s are dispatched to hit the Kassel/Henschel motor transport plant; 1 hits a target of opportunity.  (Ref. 9).  Target hit at 11:30-12:12 with seven reported injuries. (Ref. 10)


October 2 – Bettenhausen ordnance depot was hit using PFF plus visual sighting with good results.  (Ref. 5).  Flak was moderate but fairly accurate, while no enemy air opposition was met.  129 B-17s are dispatched to hit the Bettenhausen ordnance depot at Kassel; 143 hit targets of opportunity are Kassel; 384 B-17s are dispatched to hit the Henschel motor vehicle plant at Kassel.  (Ref. 9).  Target was hit at 10:49-11:40. (Ref. 10)


October 3/4 – evening bombing 43 Mosquitos.  (Ref. 1).  Target was Henschel at Mittelfeld. (Ref. 10)


October 7 – 12:30 daylight raid on Tank Factory.  The ordnance plant again was targeted.  General briefings were given for (37) crews at 0430 and 0530 hours with (36) being dispatched at 0800 hours. A force of (34) went over the target bombing with fair results, releasing (270) 500 and 1000# bombs. From the 578th, Lieutenant R. H. Johnson in #966 was hit by AA fire on the bomb run at 1224 hours with #3 engine catching afire and the ship falling from formation position. Shortly the bomber went into a steep glide and around 1000 feet the right wing was severed by an explosion with no chutes seen. Seven bombers of the returning force which landed around 1425 hours sustained battle damage.  (Ref. 4).  122 B-24s are dispatched to hit an armored vehicle plant at Kassel/ Henschel.  (Ref. 9).


October 15/16 – evening bombing 2 Mosquitos on a diversionary raid hit the city center.  (Ref. 1).


October 18 – 300 B-17s are dispatched to make a PFF attack on Kassel/Mittelfeld.  (Ref. 9).  Target is Henschel at 11:00 am. Also marshalling yards. (Ref. 10)


October 24 – 415 P-47s and P-51s are dispatched to attack aircraft and ground targets in the Hannover-Kassel area.  (Ref. 9).


November 9/10 – 22:00 evening bombing 3 Mosquitos.  (Ref. 1).


December 4 – 212 B-17s are dispatched to hit marshalling yards at Kassel.  (Ref. 9).  Kassel hit at 12:22-13:00 with 62 dead and 131 injured. (Ref. 10)


December 15 – 318 of 334 B-17s hit the marshalling yard and tank factories at Kassel; 5 others hit targets of opportunity.  (Ref. 9).


December 27/28 – evening bombing 7 Mosquitos.  (Ref. 1).


December 30 – 314 B-17s are dispatched to hit marshalling yards at Kassel.  (Ref. 9).  Using radar through closed cloud cover, they bomb the marshalling yard at Rothenditmold. (Ref. 10, 12)


1945


During 1945 Henschels had 8000 workers working in two shifts each of 12 hours.   (Ref. 1).


January 1 – daylight raid on Railroad marshalling yards, tank factory (secondary target), ME-109 airplane factory. 292 B-17s.  Secondary targets are the Henschel marshalling yard at Kassel (292).  (Ref. 9).  About 700 bombs fall.  (Ref. 12)


January 6/7 – evening bombing 20 Mosquitos.  (Ref. 1).


January 18/19 – evening bombing 12 Mosquitos.  (Ref. 1).


January 21/22 – evening bombing 76 Mosquitos.  (Ref. 1).


January 29 – Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe was bombed.  (Ref. 3).  93 B-17s are dispatched to hit the Henschel oil plant at Kassel; 154 hit the secondary, the Kassel marshalling yard.  (Ref. 9).  Central wing of Wilhelmshöhe Palace goes up in flames.  (Ref. 12)


February 2 – Bombers dropped around 200 bombs in the forest near Grossenritte. (The deep holes of the bombs were filled with water over time, and are still there today.)  (Ref. 3).  Fifteen people reported dead with Seventy-three injured. (Ref. 10)


February 28 – 364 of 380 B-17s hit the marshalling yard at Kassel, the secondary target.  (Ref. 9).


March 2/3 – evening bombing 67 Mosquitos.  (Ref. 1).  Two people reported dead with thirteen injured. (Ref. 10)


March 8/9 – 176 aircraft in the last heavy raid by the RAF on Kassel.  According to the history of the RAF, “262 Lancasters and 14 Mosquitos of No.’s 1 and 8 Groups carried out the first large raid on Kassel since October 1943; it was also the last large RAF raid on this target. 1 Mosquito lost. This target was also covered by cloud.”  (Ref. 1).  Fourteen people reported dead with Fifty-four injured. (Ref. 10)


March 9 – daylight raid on Locomotive Repair Shop and Marshalling Yard; Henschel Motor Works.  318 of 336 B-17s attack the marshalling yard and a large tank factory at Kassel visually.  (Ref. 9).  Fourty-two people reported dead. (Ref. 10)


March 18/19 – evening bombing 24 Mosquitos.  (Ref. 1).


March 20/21 – 2:30-4:30 evening bombing 16 Mosquitos. (Ref. 1).  City center hit. (Ref. 10).  40th air attack of the war and the last.  (Ref. 12)


March 27 – Kassel was largely destroyed. Lack of energy, electricity and water at the plants led to production losses. On 27 March 1945, the Managing Director of works, Fieseler, Wegmann, Junkers and Henschel for the defence command in Kassel are gathered.  A leading General announced that all works in Kassel and surroundings should be blown up. But, this could be averted at the last minute.  (Ref. 11)


March 28 – Bombers were flying over Grossenritte.  One bomber was hit by flak from Grossenritte.  (Ref. 3).


March 30 – Messages that American troops were nearby.  Tank blockades were built up in Altenritte.  German artillery was also built up.  An Artillery duel between an American battery near the village Werkel and the Grossenritte flak unit.  One Allied plane was shot down.  Civilians ran into the forests for safety.  (Ref. 3).


March 31 – American infantry captured Grossenritte.  Suddenly, artillery shells hit the village, killed and wounded residents of Grossenritte.  Two American soldiers were also killed, and about 20 houses damaged.  The wounded residents (women and children) came into American hospitals in the towns of Homberg/Efze and Ostheim. The shells came from the American’s own artillery.  They tried to hit two German flak guns outside the village, but they hit the village and their own infantry.  (Ref. 3).


79 forced laborers, most of them Italians, take food from a boxcar that had already been broken into and looted by German on the grounds of the Wilhelmshöher train station.  A  Gestapo unit appears on site a few hours later, and although there is opposition, the command is followed to kill 79 men.  Five weeks later the American occupation force German prisoners of war to unearth the bodies.  The tragedy of this incident on the station area is hard to beat:  While the Italians are dying, the town is sealed off South and West by the advancing Americans.  For the first time, a five-minute wailing - tank alarm sounds in Kassel.  The next day, German soldiers blow up the Fulda bridge, but the Americans are not stopped.  (Ref. 11)


April 1 – To impede the advance of US troops, the Fulda bridge is blown by retreating German units.  (Ref. 12).  The US 3rd Army advanced in a southwest-northeast direction from Frankfurt am Main. As the US 80th Infantry Division approached Kassel from the south, its advance ground to a halt due to heavy gun fire from German RAD anti-aircraft battery positioned on the Dönche training ground, which was a relatively flat area that allowed the German 88mm guns to engage in long range fire.


April 2 – The US forces responded with heavy artillery fire, destroying the RAD AA battery. Then, the US 318th Infantry Regiment moved a battalion into the wooded high ground (Habichtswald) west of Kassel, while the US 319th Infantry Regiment crossed the Fulda River and moved north along its east bank.  By the end of the day, western and southern suburbs of Kassel had been occupied by the Americans.


April 3 – The US 318th Infantry Regiment (80th Inf Div) was able to make their way into Kassel after ferocious fighting against a Wehrmacht unit composed of 500 men deployed on the outskirts of the city. Then, as the Americans entered Kassel, fierce house-to-house fighting broke out against other German elements that had set up machine gun nests, barricades, and sniper positions in the town.  Midnight-Scattered pockets of resistance was mopped up in Kassel during the night.  The US First Army captured Kassel on April 3, 1945.  (Ref. 1).


April 4 – Early in the morning, at 12:30am, General Major Erxleben, Commanding General of the garrison at Kassel, surrendered himself and an estimated four hundred men to friendly forces.  This culminated the battle for Kassel, and the city was cleared.  (Ref. 7).  Midnight-Fierce resistance from small arms, machine guns and direct fire was encountered during the morning, as we advanced on Kassel.  One counterattack of five tanks, supported by an unknown number of infantry was received at 9:20am, from the northwest of Vallmorshausen.  It was repulsed without loss of ground.  During the afternoon, resistance slackened somewhat, as our forces entered Kassel and cleared two thirds of the town.  Pockets of resistance in the city are being mopped up.  An estimated 1,260 P.W.'s were captured during the period.  (Ref. 7).  The battle had raged through that night, when at 09:00 hours, on April 4, 1945, the American forces that had pushed through the city, closed in on the command bunker of General Erxleben, who surrendered to the Americans.


April 5 – Visibility is poor, with sporadic rain.  (Ref. 7).A few days after the war ended, the village was plundered by foreign workers.  (Ref. 7).


Former 702nd Tank Battalion S-2 (Intelligence) Officer, Carl Nordstrom remembered the Tiger Tank factory near Kassel.  The air corps had tried many times to level the factory, in order to halt German tank production.  The entire area surrounding the factory had been leveled in the carpet bombing, but the factory remained virtually unscathed and continued production right up to its capture by the Americans.  (Ref. 3).


Former 702nd Tank Battalion, Company “B” Tank Commander, Fred Riley remembers; ”It seems as though there was a lot of horse-drawn artillery in that area.”  (Ref. 3).


Former Platoon Leader Lt. “Slim” Rives, who led the tanks which encountered the Grossenritte flak unit, remembers; “  My best recollection of Kassel was that my platoon captured a wine cellar.  We loaded our tanks with all we could carry.  Later we heard that higher headquarters took it over, and inventoried forty thousand bottles of high quality French wine.  We also feared the attack on Kassel because it was either the factory for the Tiger Tanks or was a big mobilizing depot for the Tigers.  As the Germans were out of fuel they could not mobilize the tanks, so the attack on Kassel was pretty much a "fizzle".”   (Ref. 3).


April 7 – The occupying powers employ Willi Seidel as Acting Mayor. The Social Democrat and staunch Nazi opponent Seidel comes from an old merchant family in Kassel.  Since 1903 he is busy in the city administration eventually as Managing Director.  Seidel is significantly involved in the constituent communities of Kassel suburb.  On the occasion of his 60th birthday on November 1, an evaluation of the head of the city appears in the Hessian news.


April 8 – a replacement for the Fulda bridge establishes a ferry service between the old town and lower new town.  (Ref. 12)


April 17 – Unit moves in Germany: HQ 48th Fighter Group and 493d and 494th Fighter Squadrons from Kelz to Kassel with P-47s.  (Ref. 9).


April 21 – Unit moves in Germany: HQ 36th Fighter Group and 22d and 23d Fighter Squadrons from Niedermennig to Rothwesen Airfield, Kassel with P-47s.  (Ref. 9).


April 30 – Hitler is dead.


May 8 – Unconditional surrender of Germany


June 19 – At Königsplatz, a weekly market is held for the first time.  (Ref. 12).


August 6 – gas company resumes gas supplies.  (Ref. 12)


November 21 – The Nuremberg trials were a series of trials, or tribunals, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership held in the city of Nuremberg at the Palace of Justice. The first and best known of these trials was the Trial of the major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), which tried 22 of the most important captured leaders of Nazi Germany. It was held from November 21, 1945 to October 1, 1946.


1946


1946–1952 – Order in Kassel kept by the "Blitz-Polizei" or "Lightning Police"   Some units referred to them as "Circle-C-Cowboys"  They were the United States Constabulary Army. (Ref. 8).


March 25, 1946 – Start of systematic debris removal.  (Ref. 12)


August 21, 1946 – a bridge at the train station Wilhelmshöhe collapses as a train beneath it is burning.  (Ref. 12)


References:


1.  http://www.answers.com/Bombing+of+Kassel+in+World+War+II "Campaign Diary" (html). Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary. UK Crown.


2. McKillop, Jack. "Combat Chronology of the USAAF". usaaf.net. http://www.usaaf.net/chron/index.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-09.


3. http://www.thetroubleshooters.com/702nd/grossenritte001.html


4. http://b-24.net/missions/index.htm


5. http://www.92ndma.org/92nd/326Journal/o44.htm


6. http://www.kasselmission.com/diaries_allen.htm


7. http://www.thetroubleshooters.com/80th/shea003.html


8. http://www.geocities.com/usconstabulary/index.html


9. http://www.usaaf.net/chron


10. Bomben Auf Kassel – Kassel Stadt Archiv


11. http://www.weinberggeschichte.de


  1. 12.http://www.kassel.de/stadt/geschichte/chronik/info/09480/index.html

Historical Notes

Second Brüning cabinet, October 1931 – May 1932

•Heinrich Brüning (Z) - Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs

Hermann Dietrich (DSP) - Vice Chancellor and Minister of Finance

Wilhelm Groener - Minister of the Interior and Minister of Defence

Hermann Warmbold - Minister of Economics

Adam Stegerwald (Z) - Minister of Labour

Curt Joël - Minister of Justice

George Schätzel (BVP) - Minister of Posts

Gottfried Treviranus (Conservative People's Party) - Minister of Transport

Martin Schiele (Christliches Landvolk – Christian country folk) - Minister of Food

The President asked Brüning to make way by stepping down as Chancellor while remaining foreign minister. Brüning refused to serve as a figure-head for such a right-wing government and announced his cabinet's resignation on May 30, 1932, "hundred metres before the finish", as he called it. He however sternly rejected all suggestions to make the President's disloyal behaviour public, both because he considered such a move indecent and because he still considered Hindenburg the "last bulwark" of the German people.

Brüning fled German in 1934 to escape Hither’s political purges via the Netherlands and settled in the United Kingdom.


Night of the Long Knives


The Night of the Long Knives (German: Nacht der langen Messer (help·info)) or "Operation Hummingbird", was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany between June 30 and July 2, 1934, when the Nazi regime executed at least 90 people for political reasons. Most of those killed were members of the Sturmabteilung, a Nazi paramilitary organization. Adolf Hitler moved against the SA and its leader, Ernst Röhm, because he saw the independence of the SA and the penchant of its members for street violence as a direct threat to his power. Hitler also wanted to forestall any move by leaders of the Reichswehr, the German military, who both feared and despised the SA, to curtail his rule, especially since Röhm made no secret of his ambition to absorb the Reichswehr with himself at its head. Finally, Hitler used the purge to go against conservative critics of his regime, especially those loyal to Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen, and to settle scores with old enemies.

At least 85 people died during the purge, although the final death toll may have been in the hundreds,[1][2] and more than a thousand perceived opponents were arrested.[1] Most of the killings were carried out by the Schutzstaffel (SS), an elite Nazi corps, and the Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei), the regime's secret police. The purge strengthened and consolidated the support of the Reichswehr for Hitler. It also provided a legal grounding for the Nazi regime, as the German courts and cabinet quickly swept aside centuries of legal prohibition against extra-judicial killings to demonstrate their loyalty to the regime.

Before its execution, its planners sometimes referred to it as "Hummingbird" (German: Kolibri), as that was the codeword used to set the execution squads in motion on the day of the purge.[3] The codename for the operation appears to have been chosen arbitrarily. The phrase "Night of the Long Knives" in the German language predates the massacre itself, and it also refers generally to acts of vengeance. Its origin might be the "Night of the Long Knives", a massacre of Vortigern's men by Angle, Jute, and Saxon mercenaries in Arthurian myth.[citation needed] To this day, Germans still use the term "Röhm-Putsch" to describe the event, as that was the term the Nazi regime introduced into the language at the time, despite its false implication that the murders were necessary to forestall a coup. To emphasize this, German authors often use quotation marks or write about the so-called Röhm-Putsch. [4]


About Kassel


It is pleasantly situated, in a hilly and well-wooded country, on both sides of the river Fulda, over which a stone bridge leads to the lower new town, 124 m. by rail N.N.E. from Frankfort-on-Main. The river is navigable for barges, and railways connect the town with all parts of Germany. The streets of the old town are narrow and crooked, and contain many picturesque gabled houses, generally of the 17th century, but those of the upper and lower new town, and the three suburbs, are not surpassed by any in Germany. The principal streets are the Konigs-strasse (5100 ft. long and 60 broad), the Schone Aussicht, and the Stande-platz (180 ft. broad with four rows of linden trees). The large Friedrichs-platz is 1000 by 4 50 ft. in area. In it stands a marble statue of the landgrave Frederick II. There is a fine view from the open side. The former residence of the electors (Residenzschloss) fronts this square, as well as the Museum Fridericianum, with a facade of Roman-Ionic columns. The museum contains various valuable collections of curiosities, interesting mosaics, coins, casts, a library of 230,000 volumes, and valuable manuscripts. In the cabinet of curiosities there is a complete collection of clocks and watches from the earliest to the present time. Among these is the so-called Egg of Nuremberg, a watch made about 1500 by Peter Henlein. Among other public places and buildings worthy of notice are the Roman Catholic church, with a splendid interior; the Konigs-platz, with a remarkable echo; the Karls-platz, with the statue of the landgrave Charles; and the Martins-platz, with a large church - St Martin's - with twin towers, containing the burial-vaults of the Hessian princes. The gallery of paintings, housed in a handsome building erected in 1880 on the Schone Aussicht, contains one of the finest small collections in Europe, especially rich in the works of Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Van Dyck.


Under the NS regime the people in Kassel were indoctrinated in the cause of National Socialism. Dissidents and single groups of the population were victims of persecution. Many died in concentration camps. The decision-making in town was dominated by the military. War industry expanded, military camps and the general headquarter (Generalkommando), today the federal social court, were built.  Kassel was host for the “ReichskRagertage“, the federal veterans day parade.

During World War II, a subcamp of Dachau concentration camp was located here. The inmates provided slave labour for Henschel.[1] During the night of October 22/23, 1943, 569 British bombers razed Kassel (see: Bombing of Kassel in World War II), destroying 90% of the city centre; some 30,000 people died in the raid and 150,000 were rendered homeless, in a firestorm comparable to the one in Hamburg in July 1943. By far most of the casualties were civilians or wounded soldiers recuperating in local hospitals, whereas Kassel's heavy weapons factories survived the attack generally undamaged. The attack included one of the most accurate target markings since the Hamburg firestorm raid. On the night of the Kassel firestorm raid RAF Bomber Command introduced Operation Corona to confuse the German nightfighters, making the raid a complete success -- so devastating that the regional Gauleiter, Karl Weinrich, was removed from his post soon after. He was replaced by Karl Gerland.


About Henschel & Feiseler


Kassel was home to the Henschel locomotive, engine and vehicle plants, the Feiseler aircraft plant, and several other important industries. The Henschel railway works were considered the biggest in continental Europe. The city was the important transportation and communications centre for Central Germany, with north/south traffic (Hanover-Frankfurt), and east/west traffic, (Ruhr-Thuringia, Saxony), intersecting there.


Early in 1935 Henschel began manufacturing Panzer I tanks. During World War II in 1939-1940 it began large-scale production of the Panzer III, and the Tiger I from 1941. Henschel was the primary manufacturer of the Panzer VI. During 1945 the company had 8,000 workers working in two shifts each of 12 hours. The company used slave labour extensively. The company's factories were among the most important bomber targets and were nearly completely destroyed.

Henschel aircraft and missiles included:

Henschel Hs 117, Schmetterling (Butterfly), surface-to-air missile
       (rocket- engined)

Henschel Hs 121, fighter + trainer (prototype)

Henschel Hs 123, ground-attack (biplane)

Henschel Hs 124, heavy fighter + bomber (prototype)

Henschel Hs 125, fighter + trainer (prototype)

Henschel Hs 126, reconnaissance

Henschel Hs 127, fast medium bomber (schnellbomber prototype)

Henschel Hs 129, ground-attack

Henschel Hs 130, high altitude reconnaissance + bomber (prototypes)

Henschel Hs 132, dive bomber (jet-engined) (prototype)

Henschel Hs 293, glide bomb (rocket-powered)

Henschel Hs 294, anti-shipping glide bomb (rocket-powered)

Henschel Hs 297

Henschel Hs 298, air-to-air missile (rocket-powered)

Map of Kassel West - Pre 1940


 

Top: Terrassestrasse 1 in Winter

Bottom: General Command Headquarters

 
 

Allied Bombing Run Map of Kassel

 

Top and Bottom: City Center following October 1943 RAF bombing.

 

Top: Fire raging through Bettenhausen after an Allied raid.

Bottom: US Army infantry arrive in Kassel, April 1945.

 
 

Martinskirche in 1947

 
 

The Research