Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Sisters in Resistance - German Women executed

SOPHIE SCHOLL (1921-1943)
Martyr of the anti-Nazi movement at Munich University where she studied biology and philosophy. Arrested with her brother Hans, a medical student, both were sentenced to death by the People's Court, and on February 22, 1943, twenty-two year old Sophie and her brother Hans were beheaded by the guillotine. They were instrumental in organizing the resistance group known as the 'White Rose' and encouraged by the professor of philosophy at the university, Dr Kurt Huber, who was also arrested and executed on July 13. In one of their illegally printed pamphlets, she wrote "Every word that comes from Hitler's mouth is a lie". The graves of Hans and Sophie Scholl can be seen in the Perlach Forest Cemetery, outside Munich.
HILDE MONTE (MEISEL) (1914-1945)
Poet and writer for the Berlin paper 'Der Funke', representing the Socialist International. Living In England when Hitler became Chancellor, she joined the campaign of resistance against the Nazis. To carry on the struggle against Hitler she decided to return to her homeland and in 1944 had reached Switzerland via Lisbon. In Vienna, she established a secret intelligence chain with a group of anti-Nazis. In attempting to cross the border into Germany she stumbled into an SS patrol. A shot was fired that shattered both her legs. As the SS rushed to arrest her, Hilde Monte (Meisel) bit hard into her suicide pill. She died instantly.
ELIZABETH von THADDEN (1890-1944)
Teacher and activist in the anti-Hitler movement. Born in Mohrungen, East Prussia now Morag, Poland, she taught in a Protestant boarding school at Wieblingen Castle near Heidelberg which she founded in 1927. Forced to resign in 1941 by new state regulations, she started working for the Red Cross. She was reported to the Gestapo for things she said during a discussion on the regime at her home on September 10, 1943. She was arrested, charged with defeatism and attempted treason and sentenced to death by the Peoples Court. On September 8, 1944, she was executed. Her half brother, Adolf von Thadden, survived the war and became a member of the Bundestag and later chairman of the National Democratic Party (NPD) formed in the early 1960s

LILO GLOEDEN (1903-1944)
Elizabeth Charlotte Lilo Gloeden was a Berlin housewife, who, with her mother and her architect husband, helped shelter those who were persecuted by the Nazis, by sheltering them for weeks at a time in their flat. Among those sheltered was Dr. Carl Goerdeler, resistance leader, Jurist and Lord Mayor of Leipzig until 1936. Lilo Gloeden, her mother and husband Erich, were all arrested by the Gestapo, and Lilo and her mother subjected to torture under interrogation. On November 30, 1944, all three were beheaded by guillotine, at two minute intervals, in Plötzensee Prison, Berlin.
LILO HERMANN (1909-1938)
Liselotte Hermann was a 29 year old German student who became involved in anti-Nazi activities. She was arrested and sentenced to death for high treason for passing information about a secret underground munitions factory being built near the town of Celle, to a Communist Party cell in Switzerland. She became the first woman to be executed in Hitler's Third Reich for this offence. Lilo Hermann was guillotined on June 20, 1938.
Born in Berlin, daughter of surgeon Professor Albert Solomon. In 1933, being Jewish, he was deprived of his right to practice medicine. Charlotte was admitted to the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts in 1935 (some Jewish students were admitted whose fathers had fought in World War 1) After Kristallnacht, father and daughter were given permission to leave Germany. They settled in Villefranche in the South of France. After Italy signed the surrender, German troops marched into Villefranche and on 21 September, 1943, the Gestapo arrested Charlotte and her husband, Alexander Nagler. Deported by train to Auschwitz both were gassed on arrival. Professor Solomon survived the war and in 1971 presented to the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam a total of 1,300 paintings done by Charlotte in the three years before her arrest.
Working in the German Foreign Office, 31 year old Ilse Stöbe became involved with the Red Orchestra spy organization. Early in 1941 she warned the Soviet leaders of a planned attack on their country. Her warnings were intercepted by the Gestapo and Ilse was arrested. At her trial she was charged with treason, found guilty and sentenced to death.

In the evening of December 22, 1942, at 8.27pm she was executed by guillotine, along with ten other members of the spy ring. Ilse Stöbe was the only woman to be featured on a special coin issued by the East German Ministry of State (Stasi) to commemorate important spies in Communist service during the war.
EDITH STEIN (1891-1942)
Born in Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland) the seventh child of Siegfried and Auguste Stein a Jewish timber merchant. She rejected Judaism and became a Catholic nun on January 1, 1922 and in 1932 she was appointed lecturer at the German Institute of Scientific Pedagogy, a post from which she was dismissed because of her Jewish parents. She then entered the Carmelite Convent in Cologne as Sister Teresa Benedicta. In the elections of 1933 she refused to vote and was prohibited from voting in the elections of 1938. Transferred to a convent at Echt in Holland, she and her sister Rosa were arrested by the Gestapo when Germany invaded that country. Interned in the Westerbork transit camp with many other Jews, they were sent to Auschwitz where on August 9, 1942, they were put to death in the recently built gas chambers. Edith Stein was later proclaimed a saint by Pope John Paul 11, an act which infuriated many Jews who think that she is not an appropriate representative of Jewish victims. (Of the seven members of her immediate family, four died in concentration camps)
Born in Frankfurt-on-Main, a member of the Socialist Young Workers movement. In 1933 she helped many Jews and others to flee the Reich. In 1935, she aided those engaged in resistance work, from her home in Alsace. After the capitulation of France in 1940, she was arrested by the Vichy Government and handed over to the Gestapo. Brought before the People's Court in Berlin in 1943, she was sentenced to death, and on June 9, 1944, executed in Plötzensee Prison. In her last letter she wrote "Be cheerful and brave, a better future lies before you."

bookseller, she worked for the Schutze-Boysen-Harnack resistance group (The Red Orchestra) Arrested on October 10, 1942 for passing messages to French slave workers in factories. On February 3, 1943, she was sentenced to death by the People's Court and hanged in Plötzensee Prison, Berlin, on August 5.
Born in Milwaukee, USA, on September 16, 1902, daughter of merchant William Cooke Fish. In 1926, she married the German Rockefeller scholar Arvid Harnack whom she met while studying literature at Wisconsin University. She insisted on keeping her maiden name. In 1929 she and her husband moved to Germany where she taught American literature history at the University of Berlin. In Berlin, she became friends with Martha Dodd and through this friendship, she and her husband were often invited to receptions at the American Embassy where she met many influential Germans. When the war started, Arvid and Mildred supported the resistance movement against the Nazi regime through their friendship with Harro Schulze-Boysen and the spy ring the Nazis dubbed 'The Red Orchestra.'On September 7, 1942, she and her husband were arrested while on a short vacation in Priel, a seaside town near Königsberg and taken to Gestapo headquarters at No. 8, Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, Berlin. At their trial on December 15-19, 1942, Mildred was sentenced to six years in prison for 'helping to prepare high treason and espionage'. Arvid and eight others were given the death sentence and on December 22 Arvid and three others were hanged from meat hooks suspended from a T-bar across the ceiling of the execution chamber at Plötzensee Prison. The others were beheaded by the guillotine. On December 21, Hitler reversed the sentence on Mildred and at her second trial on January 13/16, 1943, she was given the ultimate penalty, death. At 6.57pm on February 16, 1943, Mildred Elizabeth Harnack, nee Fish, was beheaded by guillotine in Plötzensee, the only American woman to be executed for treason in World War II. Her last words were reported to be "and I loved Germany so much."By September, 1943, most of the members of the 'Red Orchestra' had died, two by suicide, eight by hanging and forty-one beheaded by guillotine. The well known writer, Adam Kuckhoff, his wife Grete and pianist Helmut Roloff were among the few survivors. In January, 1970, the Russians posthumously awarded Arvid Harnack the Order of the Red Banner, and Mildred, the Order of the Fatherland War, First Class, the highest civilian award. Sadly, in the US the Harnacks were forgotten.

GERTRUD SEELE (1917-1945)
Nurse and social worker she was born in Berlin and served for a time in the Nazi Labour Corps. Arrested in 1944 for helping Jews to escape Nazi persecution, and for 'defeatist statements designed to undermine the morale of the people'. She was tried before the People's Court in Potsdam and executed in Plötzensee Prison, Berlin, on January 12, 1945.

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