Nikolaus Gross

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Sign at the Nikolaus-Groß-Haus (museum) in Niederwenigern

Nikolaus Gross (German:Groß) (30 September 1898 – 23 January 1945) was a German resistance fighter and labor union leader in the time of the Third Reich who was later beatified by Pope John Paul II at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on 7 October 2001.


Nikolaus Gross was born in Niederwenigern (Hattingen), and, like his father, a miner. He furthered his knowledge in evening courses at the People's Association for Catholic Germany (Volksverein für das katholische Deutschland). In 1920, he gave up his job as a miner and became a youth secretary at the Christian Mineworkers' Trade Union (Gewerkverein Christlicher Bergarbeiter) in Oberhausen. From July 1921 until May 1922, he was assistant editor at the union newspaper, the Bergknappen in Essen. From June 1922 until October 1922, he was a trade union secretary in Waldenburg in Lower Silesia, and afterwards for two years in Zwickau, Saxony, and for another two years (December 1924 to December 1926) in Bottrop. In January 1927, he changed jobs to become an editor at the Westdeutsche Arbeiterzeitung ("West German Workers' Newspaper"), the organizational organ of the Katholische Arbeitnehmer-Bewegung ("Catholic Workers' Movement"; KAB) in western Germany, and he soon became general editor. The Westdeutsche Arbeiterzeitung stood out as a paper that was critical of the Nazis. After the elections in March 1933, the paper was banned for three weeks. By the beginning of 1935, the paper bore the name Kettelerwacht, and was banned once and for all on 19 November 1938. Nikolaus Gross took over the leadership of the Düsseldorf KAB, whose secretary had been called into the Wehrmacht. His activities were linked with many travels, which would be a help to him in his upcoming resistance activities. He also represented the KAB at Catholic conferences.

Nikolaus Groß memorial in Sprockhövel-Haßlinghausen

With good friends from the KAB, Christian trade unions, and the Centre Party, among others, he discussed alternatives to the Nazi régime in the so-called Cologne Circle (Kölner Kreis), which was meeting in the KAB's centre, the Kettelerhaus in Cologne no later than 1942. The Cologne Circle worked closely with the circle in Berlin about Carl Friedrich Goerdeler and took part in his personal plans for the time after Hitler. On 12 August 1944, Nikolaus Gross was arrested in connection with the failed July 20 Plot to assassinate Hitler at the Wolf's Lair in East Prussia. On 15 January 1945, he was sentenced to death at the Volksgerichtshof and on 23 January 1945, was hanged at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.

In Niederwenigern, a museum is dedicated to Nikolaus Gross.


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