I was about to give an irritated reply and turn over on my side when I heard it. I jumped out of bed and ran barefoot out of the house, into this sound that hovered like an oppressive weight between the clear constellations and the dark earth, not here and not there but everywhere in space; there was no escaping it.
One didn’t dare to inhale for fear of breathing it in. It was the sound of eighteen hundred airplanes approaching Hamburg from the south at an unimaginable height. We had already experienced two hundred or even more air raids, among them some very heavy ones, but this was something completely new. And yet there was an immediate recognition: this was what everyone had been waiting for, what had hung for months like a shadow over everything we did, making us weary. It was the end. […]
The sound immediately drove me back into the house. It is possible that Misi called out to me from above, and that I answered something or other—I no longer remember. It wouldn’t have been more than a few words; for this sound made a lie of all talk, it disarmed every word and pressed it to the ground. […]
— Hans Erich Nossack, from The End: Hamburg 1943, trans. Joel Agee