The bells are quiet now. They ring every year through that 17 minutes. H was 21:35. 63 years ago the firestorm became stronger and stronger. The big bells of the Dom melted and the burning bronze dripped into the cellar-chambers setting the treasure alight, the empty shells of the towers working as furnaces. The museum in the Max-Strasse was already destroyed with all it collections, including those of Dr. B.’s father who brought them to the “bomb-proof” cellars there. The residence without roof, only the gorgeous hall-way/staircase intact, next winter will do it’s best to destroy it. The archives burning. Only the library got away, because the most precious handwritings and incunabula were evacuated. The rest was destroyed by fire or water.
The humans burnt or suffocated. The remains were buried in some mass-graves, somebody counted to five thousand and than stopped. Nobody knows and it is not significant. It was an still open city, a Lazarett-Stadt, and in the ploughed railwaystation were some trains with wounded. Few survived.
Survivors I interviewed remembered the horrors of this night. And the creeping silence of the following days, beautiful spring days, just disturbed by the noise of the bombs with timers and the growing stench. Some weeks later the US-Army arrived and the miserable son of a bitch, Gauleiter Hellmuth, started to defend the heap of ruins, it took them a day of hard fighting to conquer the mass-grave. On Easter 1945 the war was over here.
I found it moving when the Coventry Cross of Nails arrived some years ago.