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Eyewitness Götz Bergander Recalls the Bombing of Dresden (Retrospective Account)

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Someone turned on a flashlight. We could see again, and that meant a lot. If it had remained dark, I don't know if the people wouldn't have jumped up and screamed to get out. However, after this flashlight went on everyone relaxed, and in spite of the loud crash that made me think the whole house was caving in on top of us, a loud voice shouted, "Calm down, calm down, nothing's happened." Although the drone of the bombers faded away, we heard another load of bombs explode in the distance. The entire episode lasted about 15 minutes.

We listened for it to become quiet again. The deathly silence that ensued was a stark contrast to the previous minutes. Our house was still standing, a true miracle. There were no more windows and the entire roof had been torn off and strewn about the street. In front of the house there was such an enormous crater that I thought, my God, it's not even 20 yards away, how did this house ever make it through as well as it did?

After a while, we began to clear the rubble out of our apartment. It was one big junk pile. We were so preoccupied with ourselves and the thought that we might be the next to go up in flames, it never occurred to us to go immediately into the city to help dig people out. Compared to those people still trapped in their cellars twelve hours after the night raids, waiting for someone to get them out, our problems were laughable.

Source of English translation: Johannes Steinhoff, Peter Pechel, and Dennis Showalter, Voices from the Third Reich. Washington, DC: Regnery Gateway, 1989, pp. 227-31.

Source of German original: Johannes Steinhoff, Peter Pechel and Dennis Showalter, eds., Deutsche im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Zeitzeugen sprechen. Munich: Schneekluth 1989, pp. 324-29.

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