How Hamburg workers fought against Hitler – History

Status: 2022-10-14 15:50

Hundreds of workers in Hamburg sabotaged the Nazi regime during World War II and support its network. One of the largest groups is Bernhard Bästlein, Franz Jacob and Robert Abshagen. They will be executed – as will many others.

by Kristina Festring-Hashem Zadeh

“According to information from Hamburg’s Stapoleitstelle, on the night of 1942 September 2 to the 3rd At Vereinigte Deutsche Metall-Werke AG in Hamburg, 7 fire hoses were intentionally damaged. […] was cut in several places by a sharp object and became unusable. Investigations of the perpetrator have so far been unsuccessful.”

A series of acts of sabotage at companies important to the war in the 1940s caught the Secret State Police (Gestapo) in Hamburg. Resistance to this is growing among the Hanseatic city workers The Nazi regime get out Several activist groups are trying to inform the population about Hitler’s machinations through illegal leaflet campaigns. The largest of them, which sometimes had 300 members, was founded in 1941. in early December in the working-class district of Barmbek. Bernhard Bästlein, Franz Jacob and Robert Abshagen meet like-minded people in Abshagen’s apartment at Wachtelstraße 4. They are all communists and have spent the last few years in prisons and the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. However, the prison time did not break them – on the contrary.

Organization in “cells of three”

Bästlein, a KPD member of the city council before the Nazi takeover, drew up a plan for what an organized struggle against the regime should look like. According to this, the resisters of more than 30 large companies and shipyards in Hamburg are to operate in several small groups of three men each. They should educate the workforce about National Socialist terror and covertly sabotage labor to weaken the armaments industry. For their own protection, members of the company’s different “triple cells” are not allowed to have any contact with each other. Instead, they should exchange information directly with the organization’s central management through a liaison officer.

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“Ensures slow and shoddy work!”

Bästlein is appointed the political leader of the Hamburg resistance group and takes over the political training of the comrades. Franz Jacob, also a former KPD MP, is in charge of agitation and propaganda. He secretly acquires typewriters, copiers, paper and the like. He and other comrades usually write pamphlets in a studio above the restaurant “Tuskulum” on the Rödingsmarkt square, which a well-wisher makes available to them.

Literature on resistance to the Nazi regime in Hamburg

The “Letter for builders” written by Jakub has survived to this day, which the resistance fighters distributed to workers sent to the East or Norway by the Nazis. It reads: “Disrupt the planned construction of the fortifications! Make sure the work is slow and shoddy! Sabotage the German war effort!”

Robert Abshagen has a special organizational talent. As a “networker”, he establishes contacts with other resistance groups, mainly on the coast in Kiel, Flensburg, Lübeck, Rostock and Bremen, but also in other parts of Germany.

The tobacco kiosk becomes an information center

Every two to three weeks, members of the management meet for briefings in various resistance apartments or in the Rödingsmarkt studio. A tobacco kiosk on the Rathausmarkt becomes an “information center”. A member of the Bästlein-Jacob-Abshagen group works as a salesman and delivers messages while selling cigarettes – without even knowing what they actually mean. “I was never officially informed of their activities,” a kiosk worker was quoted as saying in a report after the war. “I never asked for more specific connections,…

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