Assassination of Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck
The Murders of Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck were a double homicide that took place in Berlin in 1931, when police captains Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck were assassinated by members of the Communist Party of Germany.
Planning and execution
On August 2, 1931, KPD Members of the Reichstag Heinz Neumann and Hans Kippenberger received a dressing down from Walter Ulbricht, the Party's leader in the Berlin-Brandenburg region. Enraged by police interference, Ulbricht snarled, "At home in Saxony we would have done something about the police a long time ago. Here in Berlin we will not fool around much longer. Soon we will hit the police in the head."
As a result of Ulrbicht's words, Kippenberger and Neumann decided to target Captain Paul Anlauf, the forty-two-year-old commander of the Seventh Precinct. Captain Anlauf, a widower with three daughters, had been nicknamed Schweinebacke, or "Pig Face" by the KPD. According to John Koehler,
Of all the policemen in strife-torn Berlin, the reds hated Anlauf the most. His precinct included the area around KPD headquarters, which made it the most dangerous in the city. The captain almost always led the riot squads that broke up illegal rallies of the Communist Party.
On the morning of Sunday August 9, 1931, Kippenberger and Neumann gave a last briefing to the hit-team in a room at the Lassant beer hall. Two teenaged members of the Parteiselbstschutz, Erich Mielke and Erich Ziemer, were selected as the shooters. During the meeting, Max Matern gave a Luger pistol to a fellow lookout and said, "Now we're getting serious... We're going to give Schweinebacke something to remember us by."
Kippenberger then asked Mielke and Ziemer, "Are you sure that you are ready to shoot Schweinebacke?" Mielke responded that he had seen Captain Anlauf many times during police searches of Party Headquarters. Kippenberger then instructed them to wait at a nearby beer hall which would permit them to overlook the entire Bülow-Platz. He further reminded them that Captain Anlauf was accompanied everywhere by Senior Sergeant Max Willig, whom the KPD had nicknamed, "Hussar."
Kippenberger concluded, "When you spot Schweinebacke and Hussar, you take care of them." Mielke and Ziemer were informed that, after the assassinations were completed, a diversion would assist in their escape. They were then to return to their homes and await further instructions.
That evening, Captain Anlauf was lured to Bülow-Platz by a violent rally demanding the dissolution of the Prussian Parliament. According to John Koehler,
As was often the case when it came to battling the dominant SPD, the KPD and the Nazis had combined forces during the pre-plebiscite campaign. At one point in this particular campaign, Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels even shared a speaker's platform with KPD agitator Walter Ulbricht. Both parties wanted the parliament dissolved because they were hoping that new elections would oust the SPD, the sworn enemy of all radicals. That fact explained why the atmosphere was particularly volatile this Sunday.
At eight o'clock that evening, Mielke and Ziemer spotted Captain Anlauf, Sergeant Willig, and Captain Franz Lenck walking in front of the Babylon Cinema, which was located at the corner of Bülowplatz and Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße. As they reached the door of the movie house, the policemen heard someone scream, "Schweinebacke!"
As Captain Anlauf turned towards the sound, Mielke and Ziemer opened fire at point blank range. Sergeant Willig was wounded in the left arm and the stomach. However, he managed to draw his Luger and fired a full clip at the assailants. Captain Franz Lenck was shot in the chest and fell dead in front of the entrance. Willig crawled over to Captain Anlauf, who had taken two bullets in the neck. As he died, the Captain gasped, "Wiedersehen... Gruss..." ("So Long... Goodbye...") Meanwhile, Mielke and Ziemer made their escape.
After the murders, the act was celebrated at the Lichtenberger Hof, a favorite with the Rotfrontkämpferbund, where Mielke boasted: "Today we're here to celebrate a trick I pulled." (German: Heute wird ein Ding gefeiert, das ich gedreht habe!).
According to John Koehler,
Kippenberger was alarmed when word reached him that Sergeant Willig had survived the shooting. Not knowing whether the sergeant could talk and identify the attackers, Kippenberger was taking no chances. He directed a runner to summon Mielke and Ziemer to his apartment at 74 Bellermannstrasse, only a few minutes walk from where the two lived. When the assassins arrived, Kippenberger told them the news and ordered them to leave Berlin at once. The parliamentarian's wife Thea, an unemployed schoolteacher and as staunch a Communist Party member as her husband, shepherded the young murderers to the Belgian border. Agents of the Communist International (Comintern) in the port city of Antwerp supplied them with money and forged passports. Aboard a merchant ship, they sailed for Leningrad. When their ship docked, they were met by another Comintern representative, who escorted them to Moscow.
Thousands of Berliners attended the funeral of the police officers. A monument, created by Hans Dammann, was erected to commemorate Anlauf and Lenck at the former Bülow-Platz, then renamed Horst-Wessel-Platz, in 1934, and was opened with a ceremony on September 29 that year.
Erich Mielke would later claim falsely that he had been convicted of the murders in absentia in a German court. Three other German communists were arrested for these murders, convicted, and received the death penalty, among them Max Matern.
In the aftermath, Captain Anlauf's oldest daughter was forced to drastically rush her planned wedding in order to keep her sisters out of an orphanage. Max Matern was subsequently glorified as a martyr by KPD and East German propaganda. Erich Ziemer was officially killed in action while serving as a secret police agent for the Second Spanish Republic. Neumann and Kippenberger ultimately fled to the Soviet Union after their involvement in the killings was revealed. Ironically, both were arrested, tortured, and executed by the NKVD during Joseph Stalin's Great Purge.
Ghosts of Bülow-Platz
After his flight from prosecution, Erich Mielke served as an agent of the political police, or NKVD. He was one of the perpetrators of the Great Purge and the Stalinist decimation of the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, he returned to Berlin and helped organized the Soviet Zone of occupation into a dictatorship by the Socialist Unity Party.
A 1947 attempt to prosecute Mielke for the Bülow-Platz murders was stymied by his Soviet protectors. In the aftermath, the KGB confiscated all documents tying their operative to the murders and gave them to Mielke, who kept them in his personal safe. In 1950, the East German Politburo ordered the destruction of the 1934 monument to Captains Anlauf and Lenck. Meanwhile, the last survivor of the hit-squad, Erich Mielke, would go on to lead the East German secret police, or Stasi, between 1957 and 1989.
After German reunification in October 1990, Mielke was arrested and prosecuted for the murders of Captains Anlauf and Lenck. Most of the evidence used at his trial was taken from the files of the original investigation, which were found in Mielke's personal safe after the Peaceful Revolution.
According to John Koehler,
"Defenders of Mielke would later claim that confessions had been obtained under torture by the Nazi Gestapo. However, all suspects were in the custody of the regular Berlin city criminal investigation bureau, most of whose detectives were SPD members. Some of the suspects had been nabbed by Nazi SA men and probably beaten before they were turned over to police. In the 1993 trial of Mielke, the court gave the defense the benefit of the doubt and threw out a number of suspect confessions."
Despite all this wrangling, Mielke was convicted of both murders and in October 1993 was sentenced to six years' imprisonment. He was paroled after less than two, and in 1998 all further legal action against him was ended on the grounds of his poor health. Erich Mielke died on 21 May 2000 in a Berlin nursing home. He was buried in an unmarked grave.
- (English) John O. Koehler, Stasi: The Inside Story of the East German Secret Police, West View Press, 1999, ISBN 0-8133-3409-8
- (German) Wolfgang Kießling, Leistner ist Mielke. Schatten einer gefälschten Biographie, Aufbau Taschenbuch Verlag, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-7466-8036-0
- John Koehler, The Stasi, page 36.
- The Stasi, page 36.
- The Stasi, pages 38-39.
- John Koehler, The Stasi, page 39.
- The Stasi, page 39.
- The Stasi, pages 39-40.
- The Stasi, page 41.
- The Stasi, page 41.
- Erich Mielke "Erich Mielke - Freund und Genosse (in German)". Dynamosport.de - Private website on the BFC Dynamo. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- The Stasi, pages 42-43.
- Koehler, The Stasi, page 416.