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Familie Stauffenberg: Hitlers Rache

Ursula Brekle

Nina Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg war als Ehefrau von Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, der Schlüsselfigur im Widerstand gegen Hitler, von Anfang an in die Widerstandspläne ihres Mannes einbezogen. Sie bewies Mut und Stärke, obwohl sie nach der Ermordung ihres Mannes im Gefängnis und im KZ leben musste. Auch durch den Verlust von Angehö-rigen durchlebte sie eine leidvolle Zeit. Nach dem Attentat auf Hitler am 20. Juli 1944 drohte Himmler:
„Die Familie Stauffenberg wird ausgelöscht bis ins letzte Glied.“
Vor Ihnen liegt die spannungsreiche Geschichte, die beweist, dass es Himmler nicht gelungen ist, die Drohung wahrzumachen. Die jüngste Tochter von fünf Geschwistern Konstanze wurde noch während der mütterlichen Haft geboren. Sie berichtete vom 90. Geburtstag ihrer Mutter Nina, auf dem über 40 Nachkommen zusammengekommen waren. Die Nationalsozialisten haben trotz Hinrichtungen und perfider Sippenhaft nicht gewonnen.

Erich Honecker

Erich Honecker

Christoph Werner

Translation by Christoph Werner (Weimar, Thuringia) and Michael Leonard (Petaluma, California) USA

The Slater from Wiebelskirchen

"Wiebelskirchen was a small place – it is still there – a village of miners, metal workers and also farmers and shopkeepers. The "Fließ", a little stream, flows through it. It’s a nice place. The environs are well-wooded so that after school we had the chance to roam the place and the woodlands."

This is how Erich Honecker, the best-known son of the village, remembered Wiebelskirchen. We can add that Wiebelskirchen is the oldest Christian placename in Saarland, a Land (state) in the south-western portion of Germany. There are documents confirming this which date back to the year 765.

Of course the son of a miner could not have imagined that one day he would, for many years, be the head of state and virtual dictator of a part of Germany.

This boy, who after having worked for two years on a farm in Pomerania, returned to Wiebelskirchen in 1928 and began a traineeship as a roofer with his uncle, but did not finish it. He became a full-time communist functionary who in the course of his life fell more and more victim to what Friedrich Engels called an "ideology-induced wrong consciousness". It is a process whereby the person refuses to check his political ideas against reality, resorting instead to the help of other, "secondary" ideas. This was Honecker's undoing.

In those early years, it was even less likely that he would become an agent, a witness and finally an irrational and senile loser in an historic upheaval, which was without precedent in its extent and velocity.

The author of this text on Erich Honecker grew up and lived in East Germany (DDR) for almost as long as it existed and knows the attractions of a closed society which reproduces itself and its institutions and provides answers to all questions and solutions for all problems.

Many of the leading representatives of this system had suffered in the concentration camps and prisons of Nazi Germany or had been forced by the Nazis to emigrate to other countries. Because of this one was inclined to initially offer them a measure of trust and overlook the fact that their sufferings did not automatically make them morally upright humanists.

Honecker believed that he could make people happy by forcing an ideology upon them. For this he used the traditional instruments of power employed by communist countries, which were the secret police and their informers, the army, and the so-called Combat Groups of the Working Class (Kampfgruppen der Arbeiterklasse) together with a judiciary completely under the control of the Communist Party (SED).

In the end Honecker and the DDR failed because the system did not allow for any adaptation to economic, political, social and personal changes in their own country and in the world.

Honecker's answers to the questions put to him by Andert and Herzberg in their interview (see Recommended Reading below) reveal a complete divorce from reality and are expressed in such frightful simplistic communist party language that the reader is overcome by a mixture of pity and dismay – dismay also in the face of one's own failure to meet the demands of an unshakable inner moral standard.

When Erich Honecker died at the age of 82 years in Santiago de Chile in 1994 few tears were shed. He had been the cause of too much sufferings to those who did not want to comply with his views.


Recommended reading:

Andert, Reinhold/Herzberg, Wolfgang. 1990. Der Sturz. Erich Honecker im Kreuzverhör. Berlin und Weimar: Aufbau-Verlag.

Schütt, Hans-Dieter. 2009. Glücklich beschädigt. Republikflucht nach dem Ende der DDR. Berlin: Wolfgang Jobst Siedler jr.

Picture credits:

Photo above left: Bundesarchiv, Picture 183-1986-0421-044 / Mittelstädt, Rainer / License: CC-BY-SA

Photo top right: Bundesarchiv, Picture 183-1987-0724-321 / unbekannt / CC-BY-SA

Photo at the bottom left: Bundesarchiv, Picture 183-1988-0108-059 / Mittelstädt, Rainer / CC-BY-SA