Compiled by Glen Griffitts
601st AC&W Squadron 1957-1960
The city of Kassel (est. pop., 200,000) is the only large city in the northern part of the state of Hesse, Germany. It is located about 93 miles northeast of Frankfurt am Main. It is a city of 107 square kilometers nestled in a valley surrounded by forests and parks and is intersected by the Fulda River.
Industries include manufacturing of locomotives, synthetic textiles, automobiles (Volkswagen), machinery, electronics, precision instruments and optics.
It has it's own provincial character. Every five years since 1955 Kassel has hosted a fabulous exposition of contemporary art called Documenta. Artists like Picasso, de Maria, Christo and Warhol have displayed their works there.
Kassel's most prominent landmark is the 30 feet tall copper clad statue of Hercules overlooking the city from a tall pedestal at the summit of a mountain. The statue was designed by the Italian artist Giovanni Francesco Guerniero and was commissioned by Landgrave Karl in 1717. The palace of Wilhelmshöhe, constructed in 1785 by Wilhelm IX, lies majestically below. Wilhelmshöhe has the distinction of having held Napoleon III prisoner of war after he lost the war of 1870-71, and it was later Kaiser Wilhelm's summer palace. From here Field-Marshal von Hindenburg organized the demobilization of the German army after WW I.
Kassel was originally a Roman settlement. The City of Kassel was chartered in 1180. Landgraves of Hesses made their residence in Kassel in 1277 and the city became the capital of Hesse-Kassel.
Kassel was heavily damaged during WW II because of local manufacturing of armaments. The destruction from Allied bombing of the inner city was nearly total. A night bombing on October 22, 1943 resulted in over 10,000 civilian casualties. The War ended for Kassel April 3, 1945 after the city capitulated and U. S. Army troops occupied the city on 5 April 1945.
The people worked relentlessly on the removal of debris and on the reconstruction. Kassel was under consideration to be named the new capitol city of West Germany, but lost out to Bonn.
Many of the destroyed historic buildings and Castles were restored after the war. "Kasselaners" are proud of their 17th and 18th century castles of Wilhelmshöhe, Wilhelmstal, Löwenburg and Karlsruhe.
The city was rebuilt over the subsequent decades and few physical scars remain. A beautifully terraced and landscaped pedestrian street called Treppesstraße, was completed in 1953. Königstraße, the principal shopping street of Kassel, is now a modern pedestrian mall with only straßenbahns (street cars) permitted. It is the center of activity for this beautiful city.
HISTORIC KASSEL CHRONOLOGY913 Kassel is mentioned in a document of King Konrad I. It was called
"Chassalla". It was later spelled, Cassella, Casel, Cassel.
945 Kaiser Otto I spends time in Kassel
1140 A monastery is built near what is now Wilhelmshöhe.
1277 Hesse & Theringia are divided. Heinrich II makes Kassel his home.
1364 St. Martins Church is built (and still stands).
1415 The Druselturm tower is built as an addition to the walled fortification around the city.
It remains standing today near Königstraße.
1568 Construction begins on Aue Park.
1677 The Landgrave Karl rules.
1717 Hercules is put in placed atop the stone pyramid.
1757 Kassel is occupied by the French during the Seven Years War.
1806 Napoleon's army occupies Kassel
1807 Napoleon's youngest brother Jerome takes over.
1812 The Grimm brothers publish their first fairy tales in Kassel.
1813 Prince Wilhelm I returns from exile and cancels all reforms until 1831
1866 Kassel made the capital of Hessen-Nasau
1870 Napoleon III lives in Wilhelmshöhe as a prisoner of war
1890 Emperor Wilhelm II makes Wilhelmshöhe his summer residence.
1909 The new City Hall is inaugurated.
1930 The air ship Graf Zeppelin lands in Kassel.
1933 Nazis seize power.
1938 Nazis destroy the synagogue and other buildings during
"Reichskristallnacht" on November 9.
1943 Kassel, the thousand year old city, is destroyed by allied bombers because of the arms production in and around the city. There are over 10,000 civilian casualties.
1945 U.S. Army troops enter and occupy the city on April 5, 1945. There is a new beginning for the people of Kassel.