Reconstruction of the publishing house

On the evening of 8 March 1945 Kassel suffered its second heavy air raid which destroyed most of the publishing company’s buildings. Very little publishing stock survived – just the cellar of the publishing house and its contents. At first the only thing to do was to rebuild the basic essentials. Six months later, the main building had a roof again. Karl Vötterle wrote in his book Haus unterm Stern:

“I thank God that I inherited a practical vision and much knowledge from my father who was a trained bricklayer. And with unparalleled joy, standing on the burnt out walls with the typesetter Gottlieb Göbel and the bookseller Otto Fricke, I hoisted the beams up by rope and put them in their bearings. Without any expert help we erected the roof of the large building ourselves.”

There were 30 staff at ‘Stunde Null’ (zero hour after World War II) who carried out the rebuilding work.

Karl Vötterle had sold antiquarian books during the war. He had stored them near Bad Wildungen which is how they had survived. These were publications dealing with all kinds of subject matter. And so, he reopened his business with the Bärenreiter antiquarian bookshop. The first bookshelves were built from old rifle stands. Towards the end of 1948 the typesetting, printing and bookbinding machines were once again in working order. The actual publishing work could begin once Richard Baum had received the necessary licence from the American military government on 25 January 1946. The constant shortage of paper presented a great challenge: nonetheless, four hundred Bärenreiter editions were newly printed in the following four years.