Unsung Heros Of Germany Who Dared Challenge Nazis

May 30, 2022 0 By Yatharth

S V Singh

World celebrates historic win over dreaded Nazi fascism on May 8th midnight in Germany which happened to be May 9th in USSR. The venomous Nazi politics germinated in the Bavaria state of Germany. Within Germany also the worst and the most brutal Nazi oppression was there in Nuremberg and the Bavaria state capital Munich. Opening mouth to question Nazi barbarism was enough there to be killed in cold blood. Under such suffocating, dire conditions also there were people who fought that menace their own way, putting their life on line, quite literally. Posters of such brave warriors are adoring a park in Munich. We salute their martyrdom and exemplary determination; not to give come what may! This essay is compiled by translating those messages from German and present here to seek inspiration as the similar dark clouds of fascism are yet again hovering over the horizon.

77 years of rise of the victorious Soviet Flag on German Reichstag at Berlin; 2nd May 1945

  • Mikhail Ivanovich Kondenko (1906-1944)

Mikhail Ivanovich Kondenko was a Major in the Soviet Union Red Army. As one of the best athletes in the military, he successfully took part.

Monument commemorating the resistance fighters against Nazis; Munich, Germany.

in the All-Union Spartakaide (sports event) in 1938 and became champion in equestrian sports of the Workers and Peasants’ Red Army. In the Soviet Union’s war against Nazi Germany, Kondenko fought against the advancing Wehrmacht in 1942 in Sevastopol and as chief of the task force of the 109th Rifle Division in Simferopol. Like many other officers, he too was taken prisoner. After being interned in various camps in the Soviet Union, Major Kondenko was sent to the Munich Perlach Officer’s camp on Schwanseestrasse.

Here he took an active part in founding the illegal anti-fascist organization BSW (Brataskoje Sotrudnitschestvo Wojennoplennych/ (Brotherly Prisoners of War Association). This resistance organization carried out acts of sabotage against arms production, disseminated information and made preparations for an armed uprising. The aim of the organization was to organize prisoners of war of all nationalities, to sabotage German warfare, to cooperate with German resistance groups and to support the Allied troops together with them.

The BSW managed to organize hundreds of prisoners of war and forced laborers beyond Munich, to establish contacts with groups of prisoners of war in Vienna, Berlin and Hamburg and to cooperate closely with the Munich resistance group Anti-Nazi German People’s Front. 

When this organization was broken up by the Gestapo , Mikhail Kondenko was arrested and severely mistreated in the Dachau Concentration Camp. There, he was murdered on September 4, 1944 along with 91 other active members of the BSW.

  • Emma Hutzelmann (1900-1944) & Hans Huzelmann (1906-1945)    

The accountant Emma Hutzelmann and her husband, the mechanical engineer Hans Hutzelmann, were already active in the left-wing Catholic milieu against the National Socialists before 1933 and belonged to the “Red Aid”. They were in close contact with the communist Kari Zimmet and like-minded people who wrote leaflets against Hitler before the war broke out. In 1942, Emma Hutzelmann was denounced for making a statement against the war but was acquitted by the Munich Special Court.

After the Nazi defeat at Stalingrad in January 1943, the group came together under the name “Anti-Nazi German People’s Front” (ADV in German). Karl Zimmet was the chairman, Hans Hutzelmann the deputy Emma Hutzelmann the cashier.

Hans Hutzelmann worked for the company Deckel, his wife Emma in the Fettabrik Saumweber. Both had daily distress of Soviet prisoners of war and forced laborers in mind. Emma made contact with a member of illegal group ‘Brotherly Cooperation of Russian Prisoners of War (BSW). She stole large quantities of fat and exchanged it for clothing, food and money to enable Russian Prisoners of War (BSW) to escape. From July 1943, the Hutzelmann met twice a week with Zimmet, delegates from the Soviet Prisoners of War and others in their apartment to listen to the Soviet enemy radio station and to plan resistance actions.

After the Gestapo uncovered the BSW, many members of the ADV were also arrested in early 1944, including the Hutzelmanns. Emma managed to escape from Stadelheim prison at the end of July. During an air raid in November 1944, she was fatally wounded in her hiding place. Hans Hutzelmann was sentenced to death and executed on January 15, 1945.

  • Josefa Mack (1924-2006)  

Josefa Mack grew up as the daughter of a carpenter in the small village of Mockenlohe near Eichstatt. From an early age she felt drawn to the church and monastic life, so in 1940 she entered the Angerkloster in Munich as a candidate for the poor school sisters. In 1942, she was sent to the Sankt Klara branch in Freising as a helper for the children’s home. In mid- 1944, she received the order from the matron to fetch vegetables and flowers from the camp gardening of the Dachau Concentration Camp, the so- called plantation. She was shocked to see hundreds of shaven-headed men in stripped pants and jackets staring at her, pale-faced, as if she were some otherworldly- creature.

The young imprisoned priest who gave her the plants quietly asked her to come back and bring communion wine. In the following week she found out about the hardship and hunger of the Poles and Russians in the camp, and gradually also about the unbelievable humiliation, harassment and torture at the hands of the SS guards.

From then on, she went to the Concentration Camp every week, initially by train to Dachau and then on foot, later she took a bicycle from OberschleiBheim. She brought groceries to the camp and increasingly also carried letters. For their protection- this illegal messenger activity was punishable by death – they were called “Madi”. Despite the physical strenuous ride on the overloaded bicycle, Josefa Mack kept going on her weekly rides until the Dachau Concentration Camp was liberated on April 29, 1945. In 1946, she took her vows and lived as Sister Maria Imma in the Anger monastery in Munich till her death in 2006.

  • Sylvia Klaar (1885-1942) & Max Klaar (1875-1938)         

Sylvia Klaar & Max Klaar were pacifists. Max Klaar, head of a clinic for orthopedics and surgery, chaired the Munich “German Peace Society” for several years and was a functionary in the “Association for Defense of Anti-Semitism”. Both clubs were broken up by the Nazis and Max Klaar was imprisoned in Stadelheim prison in March 1933 for an unknown period. The Jewish couple Klaar were friends with the SPD politician Wilhem Hoegner and were close to both the social democratic resistance and the resistance group Neu Beginnen. In July 1933, Sylvia Klaar hid Hoegner, who was wanted by the Bavarian Political Police, for a few days in her apartment on Jutastrasse and in her hunting lodge near Ingolstadt. On July 11, 1933, she drove him in her husband’s car near Mittenwaid from where Hoegner managed to escape over to mountains to Tyrol.

On Reichskristallanacht on November 9, 1938, the Nazis deported Max Klaar to the Dachau Concentration Camp as a “protective prisoner”. 20 days later, the severely diabetic died there under unknown circumstances. At the funeral she put a black, red and gold ribbon under his head, the colors of the Weimer Republic. Although Sylvia Klaar was aware of her own danger, she sent the valuables that had been left behind and urgently needed to the Jews who had emigrated through the British Consul. In December 1939, the Gestapo arrested Klaar for “offending against the insidious law” and “continued foreign exchange offences”.

In January 1940, she was taken to the Ravensbruck Women’s Concentration Camp as a “political prisoner”. On June, 1942 she was murdered in the gas chamber of the Bemberg Killing Centre.

  • Karl Schorghofer (1879-1962)  

Karl Schorghofer, who was born in Hallein near Salzburg, trained as a stonemason and was employed by the Jewish community in Munich in 1923 as administrator of the new Cemetery. There, he built a tree nursery and a garden center. Schorghofer, married and the father four children, was a Catholic but soon acquired knowledge of the Jewish religion.

During the Nazi regime, the Schorghofer family was increasingly exposed to hostilities. Gardeners and corpse drivers refused to work in the cemetery. The Gestapo monitored the family and searched the house. Nevertheless, Schorghofer thwarted the Nazi plan to remove tombstones and sculptures from the cemetery for road construction and hid them. Later, he also hid religious objects entrusted to him by Jews before emigration.

When the situation for the Jews became more and more desperate in 1944, the Schorghofers set up a hiding place in the basement of the cemetery building and gradually housed 7 Jewish people there. The daughter Martha, who lived in Miesbach, took in a 12- year- old girl. In order to procure food for the family and those in hiding, Schorghofer illegally slaughtered an animal and secretly traded part of it for other necessary food.

The hiding place was betrayed at the end of February 1945 but most of the Jews were able to escape. Schorghofer and his son Karl were arrested. After paying a fine of 800 RM and threatening to go to the Dachau Concentration Camp if they did it again, they were released. But just 2 days later, they hid 2 of the escapees back in cemetery. The family saved the life of 8 people.

The Schorghofer family has been honored at the Yad Vashem Memorial in Israel in 1967.

  •   Martina Partsch (1896-1968)

In 1924, the previously Catholic Martina Erdt became a Bible student. After her marriage in 1933, she and her husband took part in Bible groups of the now banned Jehovah’s Witnesses. In 1936, Martina travelled illegally to a congress in Luceme, where a leaflet was passed protesting against the persecution of the religious community. On 12.12.1936, Martina and Richards Partsch took part in spreading it through out the Reich and were arrested 5 days later.

After a short detention in police prison in Munich, they never saw each other again. While the police HQ sent Richard to Eglfing Haar sanatorium and nursing home because of his anti-Nazi attitude, Martina was sent to the Stadelheim prison and was sentenced to 6 months in prison on May 4, 1937.

On 1.7.1937, the Nazis deported them to the Moringen Concentration Camp, followed in 1938 and 1939 by the Lichtenburg and Ravensbruck Concentration Camps. Her refusal to sew for soldiers in support of the war was punished there with 14 days of dark arrest. In the winter of 1939/40 she had to stand outside for days. After that, the SS guards locked her in an unheated detention cell in the severely cold for 3 months. After eight and a half years in prison, seven and a half in concentration camps she had to walk 86 km with other prisoners from Ravensbruck to Berlin in 1945. In Munich she received the news of the death of her husband, who had been deliberately neglected in the sanatorium in 1943. 

  • Otto Kohlhofer (1915-1988)

Otto Kohlhofer grew up with his parents and 5 siblings on Leonrodstrasse in Neuhausen. During his apprenticeship as a precision mechanic at the Rodenstock company, he organized an Apprentices’ strike at the age of 17 after massive job cuts in 1932. Rodenstock dismissed him without a final exam. He then joined the Communist Youth Association.

In 1933, at the age of 18, he took over the leadership of a Communist Resistance Group, which in leaflets and writings called on citizens to show solidarity against the Nazi regime. The meeting place of the resistance group and the exchange point for the illegal literature was the Neuhauser in Fasaneriegarten. In 1935, Otto Kohlofer was betrayed by a smuggled informer and arrested on June 29, 1935. He served two and a half year prison sentence for preparing for “high treason” in solitary confinement. In Feb 1938, the Gestapo transferred him to Dachau Concentration Camp. Even in the concentration camp he did not give up his resistance for survival for the prisoners.

In early 1945, Kohlhofer was released from the concentration camp on condition that he join a Wehmacht probationary battalion. On the way he managed to escape and was able to go into hiding until he was freed. After the end of war, Otto Kohlhofer took part in the reestablishment of the KPD (Kommuinst Party of Deutschland) and the ‘Association of Victims Persecuted by the Nazi Regime’ as a contemporary witness and was a co-founder of the support association for international youth encounters in Dachau Concentration Camp.

  • Walter Klingenbeck (1924-1943)   

Walter Klingenbeck grew up in Munich in a Catholic home. The harassment to which the Catholic youth association was subjected led early on to an attitude critical of the regime. He listened to Vatican Radio with his father. When his father stopped listening to “banned enemy radio stations”, he continued to listen. During his apprenticeship as a gearshift mechanic, he met 3 young people who shared his technical passion for radio and aversion to Nazi regime. In the late summer of 1941, inspired by a BBC broadcast, they set off with a bucket of black paint and, in a spectacular action, painted ‘V’ the sign of victory on about 40 walls, hydrant and traffic light poles in Bogenhausen and in front of SS barracks in Freimann.

In their enthusiasm for technology, the 16- and- 17 -year- old, planned to build a remote-controlled model airplane to drop their leaflets and set up their own black transmitter. As a first small attempt, they broadcast French pop music and opposition texts with a short and medium wave transmitter. He was denounced because of his remark that he had dared to paint a V sign in front of SS barracks and watch the washing up the next morning. The Gestapo arrested him on Jan 26, 1942 and also arrested his friends shortly thereafter. The verdict for High Treason was the death penalty. As the initiator of the group Walter Klingenbeck’s request for pardon was rejected and the other 3 were sentenced for 8 years in prison.

On August 5, 1943 Walter Klingenbeck was executed on the scaffold in the Stadelheim penitentiary.

  • Marie Luis Schultze Jahn

Marie Luis Jahn grew up in East Prussian Gut Sandlack (now Poland) and in Berlin. It began in Feb 1940 studying Chemistry in Munich. At the Chair of Nobel Prize winner Heinrich Wieland, she met Hans Leipelt from Hamburg, with whom she soon became a close friend. Because of his Jewish mother, Leipelt was only tolerated at the university as a private student with Professor Wieland.

A few days before the Scholl and Christoff Probst siblings were executed , Leipelt had received their last flyer in the mail. Jahn and Leipelt spontaneously decided to continue the resistance. They copied the leaflet with a new headline…”And their spirit still lives on..” They distributed the leaflet in Munich and took it to Hamburg to draw attention to the resistance. Together with their friends they thought about more actions. In Munich they learned of the plight of Professor Huber’s family who had also been executed in Stadelheim and collected money from friends and acquaintances. Despite great caution, they were denounced to the Gestapo.

The Gestapo arrested Hans Leiupelt on Oct 8, 1943, 10 days later Marie-Luise too. The trial of both and 5 of their friends took place in the same month. Professor Weiland appeared as a defense witness at the trial. Nevertheless, Hans Leipelt was sentenced to death and Marie Luis Jahn to 12 years in prison.  On May 29, 1945, Americans liberated her from Aichach prison. Marie Luis Schultz-Jahn studied Medicine, married and practiced in Bad Tolz until 1988. Since the 1980s, she was involved in White Rose Foundation and the White Rose Institute and gave many eye witness interviews.

  •  Ernst Loercher (1907-1991)

On May 1, 1933, a few dozen people gathered on a meadow in the Perlacher Forest on the outskirt of Munich for a secret rally. They came from trade union and working- class youth circles. The speaker wore a mask. He tried to analyze the events to encourage and appealed not to give up the resistance. He himself was already on the Gestapo wanted lists, the 26- year- old trained cap maker and Economics student Ernst Loecher.

In 1921, at the age of 14, Ernst Loercher joined the Socialist Workers Youth. He was 15 years old when his father and political role model died in 1922. The hat shop in the Lehel district that was supposed to be taken over by Erst no longer existed. The shop in front of which my father held up a sign a few years earlier that said: “Vote for the USPD, vote for the party of the revolution”. In 1928, Ernst Lorcher was able to take advantage of further training opportunities and began studying in Frankfurt Main. At the side of his Jewish girl friend Gertrud Sander and his fellow student Wolfgang Abendroth, he became active there with the “Red Students”. After the NSDAP took power, they were expelled from the university. Ernst went back to Munich and took part with his siblings in leaflet campaigns by the banned KPD against the Nazi regime.

He had to flee to France, Switzerland and the Netherlands, maintained contact with resistance circles at home and returned illegally by the Ruhr area in 1935. In 1936, he was arrested there and sentenced to prison which was followed by imprisonment in the Ebensee subcamp of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp until liberation in 1945. Back in freedom, he immediately begins to be active in political and anti-fascist movements, as a journalist, as a café and pension manager in the foothills of the Alps, as a publisher’s representative in the Middle East and Israel, together with his brother Albert as an employee of the Munich DGB magazine, Easter marches and the large demonstrations and human chains of the 1980s in Mutiangen and Wackersdorf. 

  •  Franze Felner (1922-1942)

Franze Felner and his 3 siblings grew in extreme poverty in the worker’s colony of Ghiasing in Munich. He took training as bakery worker and worked at various places to earn livelihood. His father and his several friends were communist. Franze Felner, though, was not interested in politics but he hated Nazis who eulogized Hitler. In May 1941, he was recruited to compulsory service in Navy and after training, was posted as waiter in the canteen at Nazi army’s 152nd Division in Philotila. Daily participation in army parade, bow and salute to the officers and standing at their table to take orders, became unbearable to him. He was longing to go home as he was also deployed in the unit to remove landmines.

On July 1, 1941, he left the camp for home without permission. He was arrested as soon as he reached but he managed to escape. Franze Felner threw away his army uniform into the gutter and hid in a friend’s house. Gestapo found out and arrested him. He was lodged in Weihmer prison in Munich. He tried to escape yet again but got caught. He was now sentenced to hard labor with fetters in his legs. Even after that, he made one more desperate attempt to escape while on the way to court. As Franze had made 2 attempts to escape, he was sentenced to 2 death sentences in 1941. He was shot on March 7, 1942.