Die hier gezeigten Abzeichen sind zu edukativen Zwecken dargestellt, aus diesem Grund sind sie nicht abgedeckt. Weiterhin möchte ich auf den folgenden Discliamer aufmerksam machen:
Disclaimer: Die hier gezeigten Abbildungen aus der Zeit des "Dritten Reiches", u.a. mit dem damals obligatorischen "Hakenkreuz", dienen der Berichterstattung über Vorgänge des Zeitgeschehens, der staatsbürgerlichen Aufklärung sowie Forschung und Lehre (§ 86a, 86 StGB)
This is the first report from 2011 and covers the Horst Wessel Story during 1930. I would like to stress that it is not my intention to glorify Horst Wessel, but rather an attempt to see it as an archaeological study of what remains today.
I am often in Berlin, but I have not revisited the grave of Horst Wessel since 1993 and back then it was late evening and due to the fading light no photos were possible, added to that is the fact that I have more background knowlege now than I did back then some 18 years ago.
Horst Wessel was born 9th October 1907 in Bielefeld and in 1926 as a student in Berlin, joined the NSDAP. He quickly took charge of the 34th SA Troop in Berlin-Friedrichshain and later became an SA-Sturmführer and was given command of the 5th Sturm, he wrote the "Horst Wessel Song" (Die Fahne Hoch) which became identified as the campanion to the National Hymne during the Third Reich period. Horst Wessel was shot on the 14th January 1930 and died of his wounds in Berlin on the 23rd February 1930. (Information taken from "5000 Köpfe- Wer war was im 3. Reich" by Erich Stockhorst).
"Horst Wessel at the head of his Sturm in Nuremberg 1929"
Photo taken from "Deutschland Erwacht" from 1933
Horst Wessel´s father had been the pastor of the Nicolai church and before that, had worked on the General Staff during the First World War under the Kaiser. Pastor Ludwig Wessel passed away in May 1922 and is buried in the Nicolai cemetery, his grave stone is the only one remaining on the Wessel family plot. "Pfarrer Ludwig Wessel 15.7.1879- 9.5.1922".
The Nicolai Cemetery gate has not changed since 1930 and between 1930 and 1945 there was a constant two man SA guard on the gate.
The "Altes Stadthaus" in Jüdenstraße where the Wessel family lived in Berlin. The Wessel house Nr 50-51 no longer exists, but would have been next to the tree on the left of the picture.
The "Red Town Hall" in Jüdenstraße, Berlin-Mitte named after the colour of its brickwork, was in Horst´s street. On the left in the background behind the street light, is the Nicolai church where Ludwig Wessel was Pastor.
A Signed portrait of Horst Wessel in 1929. Taken from the book "Horst Wessel" by Hanns Heinz Ewers 1933. ( I purchased the book in London for £3 )
Horst Wessel was returning from a meeting, when he saw a young girl at the Alexander Platz crying, he rescued her from a drunk and took her home. She was an 18 year old prostitute called Erna Jänicke and after a short time fell in love with Wessel.They set up home together at Number 62 Große Frankfurter Straße (sadly again, a house that wessel lived in had been pulled down after the war).
Erna´s pimp, Albrecht Höhler was outraged at the loss of earnings from his former prostitute, however fate would deal a hand. Frau Elisabeth Salm who was Wessel´s landlady, had a dispute over payment of rents for the flat. Frau Salm had a lot of contacts with the communists through her late husband and called on the Reds to "rough" him up a bit. The communist strong arm types were led by no other than Albrecht Höhler and when Frau Salm used her key to let them in, Höhler saw the girl and remembered his lost earnings!
Höhler pulled out a revolver and shot Wessel in the mouth, Horst lost his upper teeth and the bullet broke open the roof of his mouth. It took him over a month to die, during which time Goebbels used Wessel´s fate to build him up into a martyr for the NSDAP. Goebbels built Wessel up into something he was not and the communists made him out to be a pimp, which also he was not.
Although Höhler and Salm, amongst others, served prison terms, their fates were sealed when the Nazis came to power three years later. Two other members of the communist group that had avoided prison terms in 1930 were executed after a short trial in 1935.
Horst Wessel´s rank was SA-Sturmführer, centre of page, with three pips. Taken from a "National Bank A.G." pocket diary 1940.
Ingeborg Wessel writes in her book "My Brother Horst-A Legacy" (1933). That their brother Werner Wessel was killed in a snow storm in the mountains during 1929 and was laid to rest in the family grave at the Nicolai cemetery, Werner Wessel died on 22nd December 1929, two months before his brother Horst.
A view of the grave showing the Spindler family grave in the background, which made Hosrt Wessel´s grave easy to locate. (Photo: Landesbildstelle Berlin)
Taken from the same direction as the photo above.
A view from the other direction, the grey plaque above the door on the crypt in the background is no longer there, the holes from the screws can still be seen above the door. Note the two SA men in the foreground, they both have their foot against a small square "pyramid" about six inches square, one of them can be seen in a modern photo further down the page. (Photo: Landesbildstelle Berlin)
The crypts seen in the background of the picture above.
One of the small "Pyramids" seen in the black and white picture above.
(Photos:Landesbildstelle Berlin, and Bill Medland)
"Then and Now" 1930 and 2011. Of special note is the metal fence, it is the only one like it in the Nicolai cemetery.
Just one inch below the surface of the grave are the bricks that supported the granite border that was removed after the war, it would seem that the grave has remained undisturbed. As any attempt to seriously dig deep would have caused these bricks to fall into the exposed grave. It had been stated that the bones had been disinterred and cremated, most unlikely.
On the 70th anniv. of Horst Wessel being buried, in 2000, it was reported that the skull of Horst wessel had been removed and thrown into the River Spree. It would have taken ages to dig down six feet, someone would have seen the grave-robber at work? No one came forward to claim that they had done the deed and the police were unable to trace anyone involved. In fact the authorities at the time could not even say which skull had been taken, if indeed one had. Well, if anyone wished to rob the grave they had a choice of three skulls to choose from! Ludwig, Werner or Horst.
The story does prove one point..... the bones were not cremated in 1955 as reported years ago.
Some of the damage to the cemetery, plenty of bomb damage, but also small arms fire. The SA guards would have been under orders to fight to the last man when the Russians entered the cemetery during the battle of Berlin, April 1945.
There is a UfA film called "Hans Westmar" from 13th December 1933 which tells the story of how Horst Wessel was shot and his time in the hospital, it is freely available online, but only in the original German language, although I see no reason why it should not exist somewhere with English subtitles?