Kassel Before



Theater Before

Originally uploaded by Dan Brekke

Part of a project I’m working on during my family trip. My dad was drafted late in World War II and sent to Germany as part of the occupation army. He was assigned to Kassel, a city on the River Fulda that had a prewar population of about a quarter-million and was the site of an important locomotive works and some other industries. The city was heavily bombed, with the deadliest and most damaging attack coming in the fall of 1943.

This is a “before” view of Kassel’s opera house (officially called the Prussian State Theatre, I think). According to one account, a program was being presented the night of October 22, 1943, when the air raid sirens went off, signaling the start of the 569-plane British fire bombing that devastated the city. (It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it, a nation putting on an opera for the home front while engaged not only in a calamitous war but also in a side project of systematic extermination of millions. All part of maintaining an illusion of normalcy, or humanity, I guess.)

This image is from a postcard that is an obvious duplication of an original by Echte Photography and published by the firm Bruno Hansmann–apparently taken in the mid-1930s.

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