Wednesday, May 02, 2012

How to Disobey in Nazi Germany

Hamburg, 1936. One man, August Landmesser, refuses to raise his arm to give the Nazi salute. He had already been in trouble with the police, having been sentenced to two years hard labour for marrying a Jewish woman.
We know little else about August Landmesser, except that he had two children. By pure chance, one of his children recognized her father in this photo when it was published in a German newspaper in 1991. While he is believed to have been a member of the Nazi Party from 1931 to 1935, he was later expelled from the party for marrying a Jewish woman, Irma Eckler, according to Fasena, an educational site on the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.After Landmesser fathered two daughters with Irma, he was sent to jail for “dishonoring the race.” Irma is believed to have been detained by the Gestapo in the Fuhlsb├╝ttel police prison in Hamburg. Their children were separated. Landmesser was discharged from prison in 1941 but was soon drafted to serve in the war. He was later declared missing in action and believed dead. In 1996, one of Landmesser’s daughters, Irene, wrote a family history in German, saying she hoped to share the story of how her family had been torn apart. Sixteen years later, that story is spreading across Facebook, thanks to the Internet’s habit of rediscovering historical treasures Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions.

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