The bombing of Nordhausen part I.

A contemporary witness report by Heinz Eiling, Jg 1931

In Nordhausen the air raids on Nordhausen were made before these days 75 Years ago, at them 8800 People lost their lives and the city too 75 Percent was destroyed.

I like the 3. and 4. April 1945 experienced in Nordhausen!

If I do today, 75 Years after the heavy bombing days on Nordhausen write down my own experiences, then with the intention, to preserve and remind future generations of this inferno, that something like that doesn't happen again.

I still remember very well, like me as 13 year old boy on 3. April by the Tennecker company & Summer in the Long Street in a handcart fetched a sack of coal and against 16 O'clock the first bomb attack began. Already arrived on the Frauenberg, I had to find shelter in a house, when bombs detonated in Neustadtstrasse and other places. After the attack I hurried home to Petersberg, looked after my mother, who hugged me and was happy, that nothing had happened to me.

View of the Petersberg around 1938, Iffland Collection

Mit 13 For years I was a member of the Pimpfen and was used as a notifier. So I quickly ran to the chicory factory on the „Nice view“, where in the basement the command center of the district leader of the NSDAP Hans Nentwig was. In addition to the district leader, the mayor Dr. Meyer and other city officials. It was very hectic here. I got the job with other boys, to go to the pump immediately, to collect leaflets.

The leaflets calling for resistance to Nazism, because the war for Germany was already lost, didn't reach their destination, because the leaflet bomb only opened on the ground as a dud. We could also see, that many bombs had ruffled open fields.

Apparently, the dense cloud cover obscured the view of the English bombers and part of the bomb load fell outside the city. So stayed on 3. April spared the lives of many people in our city.

View of Petersberg from Weberstrasse. On the left, 100 My parents' house was meters from the church. Iffland Collection

After fulfilling our order, we were allowed to go home. There were no further deployments, because on 4. April against 9 The major attack began at. This is completely surprising for us, because sirens could not be heard. I was still in bed, when my mother woke me up with the words: "Get up fast, the airmen are humming ". We had visitors at that time. My cousin Herbert Gießler, NCO of the Wehrmacht, and a friend, Mrs. Dittmann from Erfurt, who wanted to escape the air raids there, were drawn into this inferno. They ran to the basement with my mother.

They actually wanted to go to the health insurance company in the air-raid shelter, the caretaker didn't let them pass. After I also reached the basement in the back house, the first bombs fell near us. Had in the basement 17 People found. I only made it to the basement stairs and sat on one of the lowest steps, as our Petersberg house 30-31 got a direct hit. Then I lost consciousness. In one fell swoop the life of 16 People wiped out. But before I get to that, it is important to me, to say a few words about those concerned. The Grunig family died here too 2 Children. The father August was just on recovery vacation as a soldier, with us he died with the whole family, is, his wife and two children. The Fuchs family, too 6 People died in our basement. At the 3. April the Fuchs family fled to the garden on Rossmannsbach. But in the evening against 23:00 O'clock Mr. Fuchs came as a soldier on "leave to the front". He brought his family from the garden into the apartment and died with them in our cellar. Mrs. Crab Apple was 80 year old, lived with her daughter in the rear building. The daughter, engaged to an aviator, a sergeant major from Braunschweig, he belonged to the subordinate command of the Nordhausen Air Base. All three of them perished. The relatives of this soldier probably never found out, how her son died, because only I knew, that he was in the basement. However, I forgot his name. My mother, back then in 8 Month pregnant, my cousin and acquaintance were also killed.

How did it come, that I stayed alive. It was just a coincidence. I sat on the cellar stairs right next to my mother, With one difference, it was sitting against the wall and I was thrown up the stairs. I only became aware of this later. When after approx. 10 Hours of regaining consciousness, I believed at first, to lie in bed. It took me a while to realize, what happened. Because I was lying in a cavity on the basement stairs, I was able to free myself after a while. As I wandered among the destroyed houses, I ran into our master baker Wenckel, who was desperately looking for his eldest daughter and his companion.

About the spot, where the entrance to our house was. Foto: Klaus crowd.

The baker Wenckel took me to the air raid shelter in the courtroom, where I received medical care. My face and eyes were damaged, The next day we were out of town, transported to the emergency hospital in Harzrigie. I couldn't stand it here, because the uncertainty about my mother and the others did not let me calm down. I ran over the Gump to Krimderode. On the way I met the son of the shepherd master Schulze in the Gumpe, Karl-Heinz Schulze, who was also a schoolmate of mine. This took me to the sheep farm where I got something to eat. Because I wanted to continue to Lower Saxony, he took me to the Kurhaus in Krimderode, to stop a vehicle there for me, that should take me away.

But as soon as we reached the Kurhaus, we had to seek shelter, because it was followed by an attack by 12 Moskito-Bombern. They dropped their bombs over the city park. One of these bombs detonated very close to us on the way to Nordhausen. After the attack was over, Karl-Heinz helped me with that, to get a ride. Eventually I was able to ride a soldier on a motorcycle, who drove to the Harz with a military convoy. Because the back seat was covered with a jerrycan, I had to take this place.

US Airforce shot from 8. April 1945. In the city park and at the top of the picture you can see the bombings from 5. April 1945. Source Geoproxy Thuringia

Arrived in Niedersachswerfen, I went to my mother's sister, Else Dittmar geb.. Giesdorf, who welcomed me like a son. With her and her daughter Monika I sought protection in the Kohnstein, where I was also given medical care. With thousands of other citizens from Nordhausen, Salza, We lived in Lower Saxony and the surrounding area between V1 and V2 parts, until on 11. April the Americans liberated the Dora and Nordhausen camps.

It wasn't until much later that I became certain, that my pregnant mother and others 15 Human lives were lost in the basement of our house. My cousin's stepfather had sought shelter in the Petrikirche and, along with many other northern houses, died under the collapsing church roof.

However, the hardest moment was for me, when the bodies of our house were recovered in September and I was forced, to identify them all. My mother and our relatives (visiting) found their final resting place in the cemetery in Salza. All other residents were put into mass graves.

Radical experiences often change a whole life. For me, this bombing has drawn the conclusion, to use all my strength for it, that such a war never breaks out again. Wars are not wanted by God, but are made by people and therefore can only be prevented by people.

Neubrandenburg in April 2020
Heinz Eiling, Oberstleutnant a.D.

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