Keeling, Ralph Franklin, 1901- / Gruesome harvest
Chapter I: War devastation, pp. 3-6 PDF (1.3 MB)
GRUESOME HARVEsT . . . 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.
Copyright, 1947, by Institute of American Economics. All rights reserved.| For information on re-use see: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright