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Keeling, Ralph Franklin, 1901- / Gruesome harvest

Chapter I: War devastation,   pp. 3-6 PDF (1.3 MB)

Page 6

. . . Less than 15,000 of their 65,000 homes remained livable.
They learned how to dig in, to escape the coal fumes, the fires.
Somehow, I thought it was with just a touch of pride, that the
Burgomeister said, 'And then our latest raid, March 8 and 9,
1945. It was by far the biggest. Perhaps a thousand big bombers,
one of the biggest raids in all Germany; and we lost very few
killed-less than 100.
"'And then, just before Easter, we heard the American armies
were coming and wanted to make Kassel an open city,' said Helga
Aspen, a pretty blond girl who stayed through it all. 'But,' she
added bitterly, 'the Puehrerhauptquartier (Himmler) gave orders
to defend to the last man.'
"And so Kassel, beaten by 300 air-raids, must know the crash-
ing of American artillery fire. They gathered about 6,000 civil-
ians in a deep bunker in the center of town and waited-as the
rather inept German defense units gradually were driven back.
"So, on April 4, 1945, Kassel surrendered, not more than
15,000 of its 250,000 still in the city and living. Thousands lay
buried under the countless tons of brick and mortar and twisted
steel that had been dwellings and stores and factories.
"That was a year ago and it's no exaggeration to say that they
are still dazed. Only a few have snapped out of their stupor to
become real leaders. It is not uncommon to see a person burst
into helpless tears, if the conversation turns to recounting the
war terror."*
This wholesale destruction of the cities and production fa-
cilities of the most highly industrialized nation in Europe was
successful from a strictly military point of view; however, it
was also an attack against the livelihoods of millions of work-
ers, for the wrecking of factories and machines is also destruc-
tion of jobs, the basic means of life.
Some of Germany's jobless millions have found temporary
employment in clearing rubble and similar work. But genuine
reconstruction is impossile without production of vast amounts
of building materials and new equipment, neither of which can
be produced in Germany today, because the necessary facili-
ties no longer exist. It takes factories and mac  es Germany
lacks to build the factories and machines Germany needs.
To get the German economy off this dead center demands
external assistance. And meanwhile the people, unable to pro-
duce the necessities of life for themselves, must either be
allowed to die in masses or be given outside help until recov-
ery has gone far enough to enable them once more to take
care of themselves.

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