Hans Retzlaff-killed because he was gay.

Capture

The case of Hans Retzlaff is particularly sad, not only because he was killed in the concentration camp Sachsenhausen but also because he was disowned by his own Father.

Hans had already been in court in 1927 in relation to homosexual activities, which was a criminal offence in Germany at the time, according to paragraph 175  of the German criminal code(this paragraph was only completely deleted in 1994) It is believed he spent a few months in 1935 in concentration camp Lichtenburg Prettin, September to November 1935.

On November 3 1938 he was arrested again and was sentenced on January 4,1939 for “unnatural fornication”. He received further sentencing in February 1940.On September 5,1940 a Telex was sent from the Berlin Police about Hans, in which he was described as an “incorrigible homosexual”

175

On September 18,1940 the Police transported him to Sachsenhausen in just over 2 months later, on November 25, at 17.15 he died of an Pulmonary embolism and a chronic heart condition, at least that is what it said on the death certificate. The body was cremated, These causes of death were often put o the death certs even when a prisoner was executed, given the fact that the body was also cremated it sage to make the assumption that Hans was executed.

cert

 

The death cert  and another follow up document also state that the urn with his ashes could be requested from the crematorium authorities in writing, at own costs.

His Father however stated that he refused the estate of his deceased son and that he didn’t want anything to do with any of the matters relating to his son. Heh ad already been estranged from his son for years.

(document stating that the urn with his ashed can be retrieved within 4 weeks)doc2

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Sources

http://www.raunitz.de/sh_tote_opfer/h_retzlaff.html

https://collections.arolsen-archives.org/en/archive/1-1-38-1_100104402/?p=2&doc_id=4135831&tf_document_category=20406672|20472150|14539586|20332256|5075|24735180|5781|20407164|5456|26132683

 

Dora Gerson-Body lost or destroyed.

Dora

Dora Gerstein was a Jewish actress and singer  born  on 23 March 1899  in Berlin. She was murdered on February 14,1943 in Auschwitz. On one of the sites I used to do the research on Dora I noticed the line ‘Body lost or destroyed’.

Not only her body was destroyed but also her talent and beauty. Her short life is a poignant illustration how in a few years time, a poltical movement with a warped ideology impacted her life and ultimately caused her death.

In 1920 she starred in 2 silent films. Die Todeskarawane aka Caravan of Death and Auf den Trümmern des Paradieses aka In the Rubble of Paradise. She played the same character in both movies. The movies were based on novels by Karl May. Many Europeans have seen the Winnetou and Old Shatterhand westerns which were penned by Karl May. He was also admired by Albert Einstein  who said about him , “My whole adolescence stood under his sign. Indeed, even today, he has been dear to me in many a desperate hour.”

Ironically another admirer was Adolf Hitler who mentioned Karl May in Mein Kampf.

Between 1922 and 1924 Dora was married to the Actor/Director Veit Harlan. In less then 16 years after their divorce Harlan would become a pivotal figure in the Nazi propaganda machine. In 1940 he directed the anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda film Jud Süß.

Jud

To escape Nazi persecution she moved to the Netherlands in 1936, where she met her 2nd Husband Max Sluizer. The couple had 2 children  Miriam Sluizer born on 19 November 1937 and Abel Juda Sluizer born on 21 May 1940,only 11 days after Germany invaded the Netherlands.

Dora and her family were all transported to Drancy internment camp and from there they were deported to Auschwitz where they were all murdered on February 14,1943.

pass

Finishing up with one of Dora’s recordings “Vorbei”  an emotional ballad, reminiscing pre-Nazi Germany.

!They’re gone beyond recall
A final glance, a last kiss
And then it’s all over
under the frame of eternity
A final word, a last farewell”

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Sources

IMDB

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/110288165/dora-gerson

http://www.musiques-regenerees.fr/GhettosCamps/Camps/GersonDora.html

YouTube

 

Stella Goldschlag- Jewish collaborator.

stella

It is easy for me to be judgmental about Stella Goldschlag, but the fact is I don’t know what I would have done. However Stella did go beyond anything I would have done. Stella was boen in Berlin on July 10,1922 as the only child to a middle class Jewish family.

Although the family did observe all the Jewish holidays, they were German citizens. Her father was a World War I veteran.

But like any other Jewish family they were treated as lesser citizens with the arrival of the Nuremberg laws, and gradually their lives would become more and more perilous. After the 1938 November pogrom the family tried to leave Germany, but could not get the required visas.

In 1941, Stella married a Jewish Jazz musician, Manfred Kübler. They had met whilst  working as Jewish forced-labourers in a war plant in Berlin. In  1942, when the Berlin Jews started to be rounded up and deported to the concentration and death camps, Stella went underground, using forged papers to pass as a non-Jew , her blue eyes and blonde hair gave her an ‘Aryan’ appearance.

However in 1943 Stella, her husband and her parents were found out and arrested. Manfred was deported to Auschwitz.

In order to safe herself and her parents Stella agreed to start working for the Gestapo as Greiferin(catcher) to get the Jews who had gone in hiding, sometimes referred to as U-Boats.

Stella was very successful tracing her former schoolmates and handing their information over to the Gestapo, while posing as an ‘U-Boat’ herself. Some of Stella’s tricks to apprehend Jews in hiding included promising them food and accommodation, meanwhile turning them over to the Nazi authorities.

Although she was promised that her Parents would be safe they were also deported to Auschwitz, but initially were sent to Theresienstadt. They were killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau in October 1944. This did not stop Stella to continue working fort the Gestapo

On October 29,1944 she married a fellow Jewish collaborator,Rolf Isaaksohn.

They were granted a bounty of 200-300 Reichsmark for every Jew in hiding who was arrested with their help. Carrying a gun and papers identifying them as Gestapo agents, they were free to move about the city and did not have to wear the Yellow star .Initially, the Greifer HQ was located in the transit camp at Grosse Hamburgerstrasse but was lare on moved to  the pathology wing of the Jewish hospital.

On one weekend alone, Goldschlag helped the Gestapo catch 62 Jews.

After the war she went into hiding . however she was found and arrested by the Soviets in October 1945. She was sentenced to 10 years in detention.

arrest

After her detention she moved to Weset Berlin, where she was arrested and tried again, She was sentenced to 10 years , but due to the fact she already served time in Soviet detention the sentence was suspended.

Rolf died in 1945, I don’t know under what circumstances.

Stella committed suicide in  1994 by throwing herself out of the window of her apartment in Freiburg.

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Sources

https://www.tracesofwar.com/articles/5158/Goldschlag-Stella.htm

https://www.aviva-berlin.de/aviva/Found.php?id=141669

http://www.holocaustchronicle.org/staticpages/421.html

Treason! 12 of History’s Most Notorious Traitors From Ancient Times to the 20th Century

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiergartenstraße 4

T4

Tiergartenstraße 4, may look like an ordinary German address. But is an address which is synonymous to unspeakable evil.

It was the address of a villa in  the Tiergarten or Zoo district in central Berlin.

T4 Villa

But more then that it was the headquarters of the Nazi “euthanasia” program ,the mass murder of disabled people and others, code named Aktion T4.

An estimated 300,000 people with disabilities were killed as a result of the T4 Aktion program. The definition of disability was very loosely used by the Nazis. Even a political dissident could be marked as disabled.

What often is overlooked is that the authorizing of  the euthanasia program was signed by Adolf Hitler and dated Sept. 1, 1939. The very same day as the Nazi regime invaded Poland.

Officially the program  ended in  August 1941 amid a welter of protests from many quarters of German society. But in reality the killing continued to the end of the war.

 

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Sources

Britannica

gedenkort-t4.eu

All that is interesting.

Otto and Elise Hampel-Ordinary citizens.

Otto and Elise

Some people think that all Germans subscribed to the Nazi regime’s policies and that there was no resistance. But that is not the case, there were many who did resist the Nazi’s warped ideology. And they often paid dearly for it.

Otto and Elise Hampel were 2 ordinary people.

Otto Hampel  was born 21 June 1897  in Mühlbock, a suburb of Wehrau, now in Poland, but then part of Germany. He served in World War I and was later a factory worker.

Elise Hampel (nee Lemme)  was born 27 October 1903 in the Bismark area of Stendal.  She worked as a domestic worker and was a member of the National Socialist Women’s League.

They married in 1935, and were an ordinary working class couple going about their daily lives until November 1940 when Elise got the news  that her brother had been killed in the invasion of France.This changed , their attitude towards the Nazis in general, and Hitler in particular.

They would leave anonymous hand written postcards in Berlin  with messages encouraging people not to co-operate with the government, to refuse to serve in the German army, and not to donate to Nazi organisations like Winter Relief ,and attacking Hitler.Many of the postcards would have the heading “Free Press”.

free press 2

free press

Over a time span of more then 2 years the couple left more then 200 of these cards all across Berlin.

Although nearly all the postcards were immediately brought to the Gestapo, it took two years for the Gestapo to find the couple.

Eventually, by chance, the couple were caught and arrested in October 1942. Otto Hampel declared to the police police that he was “happy with the idea” of protesting against Hitler and his regime. The Hampels were sentenced to death on January 22, 1943 by the People’s Court for “Wehrkraftzersetzung-undermining military force ” and “preparation for high treason,” and executed on April 8, 1943.

Two ordinary people who displayed extraordinary bravery, because they knew that they could be caught every time they planted a card, and every card carried the death sentence.

memorialTheir Gestapo file was given to German novelist Hans Fallada, and the story of Otto and Elise Hampel  inspired his 1947 novel, translated into English and published in 2009 as Every Man Dies Alone (Alone in Berlin in the UK). The story was filmed in 2016 as Alone in Berlin.

 

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Sources

History.org.uk

The Guardian

World of Wonder

Wikipedia

 

 

Helene Mayer-Caught between a Rock and a hard place.

Helen Mayer

The Olympic Games are the biggest sporting events in the world. But more then a sporting event is is also a political event filled with propaganda. This was never more clear then in 1936 during the Berlin Olympic Games.

1936

On July 26,1935,German sports commissioner Hans von Tschammer und Osten advised that no Jews would represent Germany at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He claimed that Jews had competed in the qualifying events but none made the grade. In November 1935 Germany would make a bit of a u-turn after  mounting international pressure and allow the half-Jewish fencer Helene Mayer onto the team.

In 1936 the Nazi politics which enabled the Holocaust were already in full swing, three years prior the first concentration camp, Dachau, had already gone in operation.

The first Jewish person to die in Dachau was Arthur Kahn, a 21-year-old Jewish German medical student had enrolled in Edinburgh University in Scotland, he had returned to , Germany to pick up his student records at the University of Wurzburg.He was killed on April 12 1933.

In the U.S, there were those who believed that the country should boycott the 1936 Olympics due to Hitler’s stand towards Jewish athletes and his obvious discrimination towards athletes of African-American descent.

Helen Mayer had already  won a gold medal in fencing at the age of 17 at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, representing Germany, winning 18 bouts and losing only 2. She became a national hero in Germany and was celebrated, with her photo plastered everyone. According to a profile in The Guardian, “She was tall, blonde, elegant and vivacious. The fact that she was tall,blonde and blue eyed were taken in consideration to include her in the Olympic squad.

In 1931, her father died of a heart attack. She finished fifth at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, having learned, two hours prior to the match, that her boyfriend had died in a military training exercise in Germany.Two years later Helene Mayer lost her German citizenship. Luckily for her, she managed to enroll into Berkley and to compete for the USC Fencing Club.

In 1936, however, it appeared that the same people who stripped her of citizenship and humiliated her to the point of complete ostracization, wanted her to perform once again for Germany.

Reluctantly she decided to accept the invitation although she was caught between a rock and a hard place between her professional career and her dignity and pride.

Goebbels requested of the press that no comments were to  be made regarding Helene Mayer’s non-Aryan ancestry She won a silver medal in individual women’s foil. She gave a Nazi salute on the podium, and later said it might have protected her family that was still in Germany, in labor camps.

Helen

There are some who have called her a traitor. I don’t describe to that point of view, in fact I think what she did was heroic. She was safe in the USA but yet she decided to represent her country at the major sporting tournament, risking being imprisoned after the tournament and especially if she hadn’t won a medal. Although the politics of her country failed her she still felt German, she had no political agenda. And I believe she competed for Germany in the hope of securing better treatment for her family, who were still living in Germany. It is easy to judge when you are not put in that position.

At the end of the day she was used as a pawn of the Nazi regime and the International Olympic Committee.

After the Olympics, she returned to the United States and became a nine-time U.S. champion. She received citizenship in 1941 but returned to Germany in 1952.Where she married an old friend, Erwin Falkner von Sonnenburg, in a quiet May ceremony in Munich. The couple moved to the hills above Stuttgart before setting in Heidelberg where she died of breast cancer in October 1953, two months before her 43rd birthday.

fENCING

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Sources

The Guardian

Irish Times

Vintage News

Mashable

 

 

Heinz Sommerfeld-Transport Ek no. 1458 (28. 09. 1944, Terezín -> Auschwitz)

Heinz

Around this time of year many 17 year old kids are getting ready for school exams. And although they may think it is unfair that they have to sit for hours and hours, to do their exams(I know I thought it was unfair). They don’t actually realize how lucky they are.

Education, even though it is a basic human right.it is not a certainty and it should be seen as a privilege when it is given to you.

I am sure Heinz Sommerfeld would have loved to have done his exams when he was 17, but he never got the chance. His biggest worry was staying alive, and because of an evil regime he did not succeed in that either.

He was born in Berlin on March 26th, 1927. On January 5th, 1939, aged 11, he  came to the Netherlands as a refugee without his parents on a  Kindertransport. (children’s transport)

Kinder

When he arrived in the Netherlands he was first in an orphanage in Amsterdam, but in November 1939 he was put in foster care with the Lipschits family in Maastricht . However a few months after the Nazis invaded the Netherlands he was moved again to an orphanage, this time in Utrecht.

In February 1942 he was deported to Westerbork. On January 20th, 1944 he was put on the train to Theresienstadt, from where he was deported to Auschwitz on September 28th, 1944 on transport 1458. A total of 2499 persons were registered on that transport. Heinz was one of them.

The train arrived in Auschwitz on September 29th,1944. What happened to the other 2498 I don’t know, but Heinz was murdered in the gas chambers upon arrival.

He was murdered not because he was bad but because he was perceived to be different, He was Jewish that was enough for the Nazis to kill him.

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Alfred-Ingemar Berndt-Writer,Journalist and cold blooded killer.

Alfred 2

If someone told you that you could kill an innocent man and there would be no repercussions or any form of punishment, would you do it?

Any normal person would answer “no” of course.But not Alfred-Ingemar Berndt, he decided to kill a man simply for the reason that he could.

Berndt was a German journalist, writer and was very close to  Joseph Goebbels. Alfred Berndt  wrote an eyewitness account of the 1940 German invasion of the Low Countries and France,  the book he wrote was titled “Tanks Break Through!”

In 1935 Goebbels recruited Berndt as official head of the Reich Press Office in the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. In April 1936, Berndt was appointed head of the press department of the Propaganda Ministry (Division IV).

alfred

Berndt is also believed to have been the creator of the “Desert Fox” myth attached to the German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, when he was working with Rommel.

Berndt wrote about 10 books, all propaganda material for he Nazi regime. He also published several other articles. But I don’t want to go too much into his ‘artistic and journalistic’ career.

Late in the spring of 1944, the Nazi leadership came up with  a plan to lynch captured Allied airmen. Goebbels discussed the matter with Hitler.

In May 1944 , the propaganda minister published an article ,in the Völkischer Beobachter  stating that the government would not act against anyone lynching Allied airmen who had fired on civilians, what he really was saying that lynching any captured airmen was okay.

Goebbels hoped that this article would sparkle  a massive hunt for Allied pilots and deter airmen from flying missions against Germany. It resulted in 350 lynchings of Allied pilots.

Berndt also took part in these murders. On May 24,1944, Berndt stopped his car where a captured US Flight Lieutenant James G. Dennis was being held, and shot him dead.

Below part of the text of the allied report of the murder of Lt Jame G. Dennis.

To
Head of Sipo and SD
B e r l I n

Reference: IV B 1 b – 2731/44 of 2/3/1945
Subject: Shooting of US airman Dennis

1) On 17/6/44 the following letter was addressed to you:
“We received the following report:
On Hamburger Chaussee at place Segeletzt.
On 24/5/44 at 12.30 the US-American 2nd lieutenant James G. Dennis, dog tag number O-816707, parachuted from a shot down aircraft. D. was taken prisoner by forest supervisor Meier from Nachel and handed over to Home Guard men Buenger and Schoenbeck, from Segeletzt, to be delivered to the village mayor.
When being led away, prisoner was overtaken by Brigadeführer Berndt of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, driving in automobile IA 990. B. stopped, alighted from the car and was informed about the nature of the transport. He said: “He’ll be bumped off.” The Home Guard men refused to tolerate that. Bernd went to the car in which a female was sitting, took out his pistol and said: “I am the Brigadeführer of the Security Head Office Berlin and I’m taking responsibility. He called on the Home Guard men to make room, since otherwise they’d be in danger to be shot themselves. The prisoner had both his hands raised.
Berndt brought down the prisoner with three shots, and drove away. The occurrence was observed by civilians and several prisoners of war (Frenchmen, Poles). After a considerable time Sturmbannführer Kunze, Reichssicherheitshauptamt Berlin, arrived and ordered the body to be transported to Segeletzt. At 22 hours, Kunze fetched clothes and private property from village mayor Segeletzt. After establishing the facts of the occurrence Dennis was buried at the Segeletzt cemetery on 26/5/44 by (a) Receiving Detail (from) Fl.H.Kdtr. Neuruppin.”
Since the Protective Power is likely to take measures, this office is in need of an explanation which is hereby requested ahead of time.”
2) 1st reminder sent 21/7/1944
3) 2nd reminder sent 2/9/1944
4) On 3/10/1944:
“There was no reply to the above mentioned letter(s). Early settlement is requested.
Document mentioned above is translated here by Traugott Vitz:

Dennis

Ironically Berndt was killed in air attack by Soviet dive bombers on March 28,1945. I suppose you could call that karma.

 

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Sources

Find a grave

100thbg.com

 

Max Schmeling-defying an evil regime

mAX

Often the psyche of people is that they see what they want  to see. They see a headline or a picture and they will have made up their minds. There is no further need for more details on the background story, they have enough to work with and make up their own story.

For example people will see the picture of Max Schmeling above giving the Nazi salute and they will just assume that Max clearly was a Nazi sympathizer.

Or they see the picture below of Max Shchmeling being warmly received by   Adolf Hitler and immediately they will think that Max was one of Hitler’s best buddies and favourite sports man. But on both occasions they could not be much further from the truth.

Max and AH

Truth is that Max Schmeling also saw things but he did not like what he saw and refused to join the Nazi party, which would have consequences for him. Not only did he not join the Nazi party he also saved a few Jewish boys and refused to fire his Jewish boxing promoter Joe Jacobs.

Max was a world champion heavyweight fighter from Germany whose two fights with Joe Louis transcended boxing and became worldwide political events because of their racial and international significance.

I will not go into Max’s boxing career. I will only focus on 2 matches ,both against the boxing legend Joe Louis.

On Friday 19, June 1936 Max Schmeling beat Joe Louis in the Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, USA

KO

Less then 2 years later in the same venue on Wednesday 22, June 1938, Joe Louis got his revenge and beat Max Schmeling and took back the World Heavyweight Title. The fight had been  portrayed as the battle of the Aryan versus the Black, a struggle of evil against good .When Louis regained his title, Hitler took Schmeling’s defeat as an embarrassment to the nation.

In an interview in 1975 ,Schmeling remembered the defeat: “Looking back, I’m almost happy I lost that fight. Just imagine if I would have come back to Germany with a victory. I had nothing to do with the Nazis, but they would have given me a medal. After the war I might have been considered a war criminal.”

KO2

During the 1938 November Pogrom-Kristallnacht- Max hid the 2 sons of his Jewish friend David Lewin. He hid the 2 boys ,Henry and Werner, in his apartment at the Excelsior Hotel in Berlin. Schmeling had told the front desk of the Hotel that he was ill and was not to be disturbed.

After things had calmed down Schmeling helped the 2 boys flee the country. The boys escaped to the United States, where Henri got a great career in managing Hotels, including the Hilton in Las Vegas.Henri Lewin was convinced  that he and his brother owe their lives to Schmeling and he sincerely believed that Schmeling himself could have died for saving them.

In 1923 Schmeing had hired Jewish New York born boxing promoter Joe Jacobs. Hitler had demanded that Schmeling would fire Jacobs, Schmeling refused to do so.

Because his refusal of joining the Nazi party ,he was him drafted into the Paratroopers and was sent him on very dangerous missions.He did partake in the Battle of Crete in May 1941, where he was wounded in his right knee by mortar fire shrapnel during the first day of the battle. After recovering, he was dismissed from active service after being deemed medically unfit for duty because of his injury.

Max remained a close friend of Joe Louis and even paid for Joe’s funeral in 1981. and became a successful business man in Germany after the war. He had been hired by Coca Cola to run the company  in Germany, .

He only once gave the Nazi salute and regretted it for the remainder of his life. He died on February 2, 2005.

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The day Roland Freisler received justice.

Freisler

One of the most despicable henchmen of he Nazi regime was Roland Freisler. The only redeeming factor he had was that he also tried high-ranking Nazis . You could be for 90% certain that if you would appear before his court you would be sentenced to death or to life imprisonment.

On 20 August 1942, Hitler appointed  Freisler as president of the People’s Court.This court was instrumental in securing the Nazi stranglehold over Germany

Not only would Freisler sentence defendants.often for no real reason or without any evidence, he would also humiliate them.

One time he yelled at one defendant“You are crying!”  who started to cry in court, “What do you want to tell us with the tears in your eyes?” Freisler  sentenced that man to be hung with a thin rope so that he would, as per Hitler’s orders, suffer a slow death.

However on February 3rd, 1945 Judge Freisler got his comeuppance. USAAF Lt. Colonel Robert Rosenthal led a bombing raid with his B-17 over Berlin.

b 17

Freisler was conducting a Saturday session of the People’s Court at the time and although the air sirens were sounding,Freisler refused to evacuate the building.

He stayed behind to get  files for  the trial of Fabian von Schlabrendorff, one of the  July 20 plot conspirators. Freisler planned to sentence von Schlabrendorff to death that day.

Fabian

However things didn’t turn out the way he planned.A sudden direct hit on the court-building shortly after 11 am caused a partial internal collapse, with Freisler being crushed by a masonry column and killed while still in the courtroom.

Schlabrendorff’s life was spared but ironically Freisler received the swift justice he had been  such a fan of.

court

 

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Sources

USHMM

Allthatisinteresting.com

Bundes archiv