It is America’s blackest, saddest anniversary: 20 years have passed since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Saturday. Nothing in New York is like it was before.
The planes. The explosions. The falling people. The collapse of the twin towers, black dust, silence, bewilderment. Images that are forever burned into the collective memory. Those who were and are hard to bear, even if you only know them from television. And even more shocking when you’ve seen them live – and feared for your life in New York on the day of the attack.
This is how BILD reporter Herbert Bauernebel experienced it.
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Bauernebel recalls on BILD LIVE, BILD’s TV station: “I was on Broadway, about two or three blocks from the south tower, when it collapsed. (…) I myself dived under a delivery truck, lay on the ground, the dust cloud over it. It was completely dark, deathly quiet. As if the film broke. Then you breathe in the World Trade Center and I lay on my stomach under this car and for a moment thought: I’m suffocating here. “
Bauernebel – then 36 – about the horror he experienced: “These are all moments that, even 20 years after this terrible terrorist attack, are still as fresh as if the whole thing happened yesterday.”
Dramatic: In Bauernebel’s fear of death, worries about his wife Estee were also mixed. “I just found out a few weeks ago that my wife was pregnant, that I was going to be a father. Those are moments when you get really very emotional and are also scared to death. “
In his notes on September 11, Bauernebel wrote about these moments under the van: “Anger rises: I’m about to become a father, why am I suffocating here? I give myself a jerk, crawl out from under the car, stumble across the street, find refuge in a restaurant entrance. ‘Jesus Christ!’ Shouts one. I am completely covered with white dust. “
When Bauernebel has sorted his thoughts, it flashes through his head: “’My wife!’ These are my first clear thoughts. She must fear the worst after hearing the building collapse a few blocks. I run through the dust-filled streets. I squeeze myself into an elevator and shout that my wife doesn’t know that I’m okay. “
But in the end, Bauernebel and his wife were unharmed. Bauernebel continues: “Suddenly my cell phone rings. She is it. ‘I’m fine,’ I stammer. Almost everyone in the elevator is in tears now. At least a happy ending on this day of horror, you think. “
Herbert Bauernebel has lived in New York since 1999. He and his wife Estee have two children: Maxwell (19) and Mia (14). Bauernebel has been reporting for BILD as the US correspondent since 2009.