Anton Saefkow

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Anton Saefkow, 1964 stamp from the GDR

Anton Emil Hermann Saefkow (22 July 1903 in Berlin – 18 September 1944 in Brandenburg an der Havel, executed) was a German Communist and a resistance fighter against the National Socialist régime.[1]

Early life[edit]

Anton Saefkow came from a socialist working-class family and in 1920 while still a metalworker's apprentice, joined the Young Communist League of Germany to whose Berlin leadership he rose in 1922.

Activism[edit]

In 1927, he became secretary of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in Berlin, then in Dresden. From 1929-1932, he led the Revolutionary Trade Union Opposition (Revolutionäre Gewerkschafts-Opposition; RGO) in the KPD Ruhr district and became in 1932 political leader of the KPD's Wasserkante district in Hamburg. In 1932, Saefkow married Theodora Brey who was also active in the underground resistance.

Imprisonment[edit]

From April 1933 to April 1934, Saefkow was in a concentration camp, followed by two and a half years in a Zuchthaus at hard labour, followed by a spell at the Dachau concentration camp. There, he organized an illegal remembrance service for Edgar André and as a result was given another two years of imprisonment.

Resistance[edit]

Released from detention in July 1939, Saefkow went back to the illegal political work. In Berlin, after the attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, he built up the biggest KPD resistance group, called the "Operative Leadership of the KPD". In 1944, he, Bernhard Bästlein and Franz Jacob (Resistance fighter) led the Saefkow-Jacob-Bästlein Organization which agitated against the war in Berlin munitions plants, and called on people to commit sabotage.[2]

In April 1944, the Social Democrat Adolf Reichwein made contact with Saefkow witha view to involve him with the KPD group in the July 20 Plot which sought to assassinate or otherwise overthrow Adolf Hitler. It eventually took the form of the well-known 20 July bomb attack on the Führer at the latter's HQ, the Wolf's Lair in East Prussia. It famously failed with dire consequences for the plotters.

Arrest and Execution[edit]

In July 1944, Saefkow was arrested, sentenced to death by the "People's Court" Volksgerichtshof on 5 September and executed on 18 September by guillotine at Brandenburg-Görden Prison.

Saefkow left behind a wife and two daughters. Shortly before his death, he wrote to his wife Änne: "Through this letter I want to thank you, my comrade, for the greatness and beauty that you have given me in our life together... Not until today, writing these lines, thinking about you all, have my eyes moistened since the sentencing. For the pain, which might tear me apart, restrains reason. You know, I am militant and shall die bravely. I only ever wanted to do good..."

Memorials[edit]

On 2 February 1975, a square in Berlin was named after Anton Saefkow. Franz Jacob and Bernhard Bästlein were also honoured by having streets in the same neighbourhood named after them.[3][4][5] In Prenzlauer Berg, a greenspace called Anton-Saefkow-Park is not only named for Saefkow, but also features a bust of him. In Brandenburg an der Havel, the street running in front of the very prison where Saefkow and many other members of the antifascist resistance were executed has been named Anton-Saefkow-Allee.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Hermann Weber, Die Wandlung des deutschen Kommunismus; Vol. 2, Frankfurt am Main (1969) 267f (German)
  • E.R. Greulich, Keiner wird als Held geboren; Verlag Neues Leben, Berlin (1961) (German)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Anton Saefkow". Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Short biography of Anton Saefkow. German Resistance Memorial Center, Berlin. Retrieved March 23, 2010
  3. ^ Map link to Anton-Saefkow-Platz, Berlin Google Maps. Retrieved March 22, 2010
  4. ^ Map link to Franz-Jacob-Str., Berlin. Google Maps. Retrieved March 22, 2010
  5. ^ Map link to Bernhard-Bästlein-Str., Berlin. Google Maps. Retrieved March 22, 2010