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Already layed Stumbling Stones

Annemarie Ladewig * 1919

Blumenstraße 32 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)

KZ Neuengamme
gehenkt 23.4.1945

further stumbling stones in Blumenstraße 32:
Rudolf Karl Ladewig, Hildegard Ladewig

Annemarie Ladewig, born 5 June 1919 in Neidenburg, Fuhlsbüttel Gestapo prison 22 Mar. 1945, hanged 22 Apr. 1945 at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp
Rudolf Karl Ladwig, born 19 Feb. 1922 in Waldenburg, Fuhlsbüttel Gestapo prison 22 Mar. 1945, murdered between 21 and 24 Apr. 1945 at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp

"I’m doing fine!!”
(from Annemarie Ladewig’s last letter to her fiancé, shortly before her execution)

Annemarie’s and Rudolf Karl’s father, Rudolf Wilhelm Emil Ladewig, was born on 30 April 1893 in Brodersdorf near Rostock in Mecklenburg. His parents were Rudolf Carl Heinrich and Lucie, née Wollner, Ladewig. He had two sisters, Paula (*1891 in Brodersdorf) and Hedwig (*1897 in Pastow) and three half-siblings, Charlotte (*1903), Grete (*1908), and Hans (*1910), all born in Rostock.

Rudolf Ladewig attended school in Rostock, then apprenticed as a bricklayer at the Building Trades School in Holzminden. He then studied at the Polytechnichal Institute in Strelitz (Mecklenburg). In 1914 he volunteered to fight in the First World War, and was released from service when he was wounded in the Battle of Verdun in 1916 and his leg was amputated. He returned to his studies in Strelitz, and graduated with a degree in architecture in 1918.

On 15 March 1919, Rudolf Ladewig married Hildegard Bucka (*7 July 1892 in Posen) in Breslau (Wroclaw). Her parents were of Jewish heritage. Her mother, Ella Bucka, née Jacobson, later emigrated to the US. Her father may have been Protestant, like Hildegard. There were two other children, Erna and Robert. Hildegard Bucka studied architecture and art history at the Royal Academy in Wroclaw and in Strelitz.

When their daughter Annemarie was born on 5 June 1919, Rudolf and Hildegard were living in Neidenburg in East Prussia. Later that year Rudolf was hired as the city architect in Waldenburg in Upper Silesia, so the family moved there. Rudolf Karl was born there on 19 February 1922. Both children were christened in the Lutheran faith. From November 1925 until September 1926 the family lived in Reichenbach in Vogtland, where Rudolf Ladewig, who was heavily influenced by the Bauhaus school of design, was the city’s chief architect. He worked as a free-lancer in the following two years, before the city of Reichenbach again hired him. In Reichenbach he was involved in building St. Mary’s Church, the water tower, and a homeless shelter. The department for which he worked was dissolved at the end of 1931, and he returned to free-lance work. Rudolf Ladewig’s focus was on finding a theoretical and practical solution for small apartments and in designing a new style of building that was characterized by extraordinary cost effectiveness, an efficient floor plan, and good interior fixtures. He was able to apply his theories in 1932-33 to Reichenbach’s Sternsiedlung (Stern Housing Development), which eventually became his trademark. The Sternsiedlung consists of hexagonal areals formed by one-story terraced houses.

As his sister Charlotte later recalled, the political situation in Germany made it impossible for Rudolf Ladewig to pursue his profession after 1934 because of his "race.” He left the country and worked for a short time in Sofia, Bulgaria. The family moved to Hamburg on 1 September 1935, and lived at Thielengasse 4 (present-day Georg-Thielen-Gasse). Rudolf Ladewig had helped design the house. He worked together with the well-known architects Fritz Höger (designer of the Chilehaus) and Rudolf Klophaus. He also worked for the German Academy of Housing in Berlin. His office was at Armgartstraße 4.

Annemarie Ladewig was confirmed in 1934, and finished her primary schooling in Reichenbach. In 1936 she was refused entry to the Hansischen Academy because of her mother’s Jewish heritage. She instead attended the art school run by Gerda Koppel, and later, after Koppel emigrated, by Gabriele Stock-Schmilinsky. Annemarie studied painting and graphic design from November 1936 to January 1939. She was a very talented artist, and found her first job in 1940/41 in the advertising department of the Reemtsma cigarette company. Her boss Hans Domizlaff protected her by refusing to turn over her identity papers. Although she enjoyed working there, she tried to start her own business in October 1942, working as a free-lance advertising illustrator from her apartment. Her attempt was not successful, and she went to work as an advertising illustrator for the Montblanc-Simplo company. Friends described Annemarie Ladewig as warm-hearted, charming, cheerful, courageous, and, like her brother, very discreet with regard to the political situation of the day. In 1941 she became engaged to Hermann Sartorius, a physician from Blankenese.

Since her brother Rudolf Karl Ladewig was denied entry to the university in Berlin to study medicine or chemistry, he worked for the husband of one of Annemarie’s friends, a wine merchant. He also learned Russian at a language school, and was fond of literature.

Rudolf Ladewig, Sr. was a conservative Social Democrat, and had for some time been a member of the "KdF-Group.” The abbreviation was purposefully chosen to be identical to the Nazi slogan "Kraft durch Freude” (Strength through Joy), but actually stood for "Kampf dem Faschismus” (Battle against Fascism). The group’s goal was to fight against National Socialism, to form a democratic government, and later to end the war. The KdF-Group was formed before the outbreak of the war by a loose group of friends in Hamburg, and eventually included opponents of the Nazi regime from all social classes. In 1939/1940 the group established connections to resistance groups in Leipzig, and the Hamburg group began to form cells in factories, like AEG and HEW. Beginning in 1942, forced laborers and prisoners of war were integrated into the group. Later air raid wardens and members of the Volkssturm (a militia created as a last-ditch effort in the final phase of the war) joined.

For reasons of secrecy, most members of the group only had contact to a few other members. The group hid resistance fighters and Jewish children, helped foreigners by giving them ration cards, and secretly sabotaged production. Beginning in 1942/43, the group was in radio contact with Bernhard Bästlein, to the National Komitee Freies Deutschland (NKFD – National Committee for a Free Germany), and to many other resistance groups in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, England, and Switzerland. Some members of the group were members of the Nazi Party, and forwarded information from meetings of the local Nazi authorities. Beginning in 1944 in Hamburg, the group began stashing weapons and making detailed plans for aiding the Allies against the Nazi regime when it began to fall apart. These plans included disrupting the electric supply and liberating the prisoners from the Neuengamme Concentration Camp.

After the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler on 20 Juli 1944, the Gestapo launched a massive investigation resistance groups, using undercover agents and informants. They gathered more and more information about the KdF-Group, which played a leading role among the various resistance groups in Hamburg.

In August 1943, the Ladewig family moved to Blumenstraße 32.

On 28 June 1944, Rudolf Klophaus fired Rudolf Ladewig, "in consideration of the situation at this time.” According to his sister Charlotte, Rudolf felt that he was in immediate danger in the summer of 1944, for which reason he moved to Ludwigslust and worked for her. Annemarie and Rudolf Karl had Hermann Sartorius put their mother Hildegard, who was frail, frightened, and confused, into the stationary psychiatric care of Prof. Bürger-Prinz at the Eppendorf University Hospital in 1944. When she became ill, her husband returned to Hamburg. On 23 October 1944 he was conscripted to forced labor as a construction worker for an architect. He objected on the grounds that the wounds he received in the First World War prevented him from doing this type of work, but his plea was denied.

Hildegard Ladewig died on 30 November 1944 in the Eppendorf Psychiatric Clinic. The official cause of death was suicide, but euthanasia cannot be ruled out. On its website, the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) writes: "There is every reason to suspect that killings took place within the hospital.” Rudolf Ladewig was deeply shocked. He and his children had strident arguments, and he moved out of the apartment and lived with his girlfriend Anna Elisabeth Rosenkranz at Armgartstraße 4.

Elisabeth Rosenkranz was born in Kassel on 6 March 1906. She had three sisters. Her father Heinrich was a master ornamental metalworker, her mother Anna Katharina was a housekeeper. After graduating from high school and achieving her journeyman’s certificate in tailoring, she attended the applied arts academies in Munich and Düsseldorf for six semesters. She married August Franz Beck in 1928, but they divorced a year later. From January 1939 onwards, Elisabeth Rosenkranz lived at Armgartstraße 4. She worked for Rudolf Ladewig, and was also active in the KdF-Group.

In 1944–45, Annemarie Ladewig became more and more depressed because of her progressively worsening situation, but she remained positive. In December 1944 she was quartered with the Schacht family on Blumenstraße, probably for purposes of observation. Annemarie and Rudolf Karl were conscripted to forced labor at the Howaldt shipyard in January 1945. Rudolf Karl was assigned to clearing rubble from bombing raids in the Freihafen (Hamburg’s customs-free port).

In early 1945, a Gestapo informant, Lotte Hinze, was quartered in Elisabeth Rosenkranz’s apartment. The Gestapo informant Alfons Pannek was also assigned to the investigation of Rosenkranz and Rudolf Ladewig, and he was able to win their trust. As a cover, Alfons Pannek ran a lending library stocked with books that had been confiscated in Gestapo raids. Since Elisabeth Rosenkranz had an extensive library, she often traded books to Pannek for cooking fat. Rudolf Ladewig was often present when they met. At one such meeting, Elisabeth Rosenkranz gave Alfons Pannek a manuscript that criticized the leaders of the Nazi Party. It was meant to be published after the war. Pannek immediately handed over this manuscript to his superior, the Gestapo agent Henry Helms.

Rudolf Ladewig and Elisabeth Rosenkranz were arrested on 22 March 1945. The Gestapo searched their apartment and that of Annemarie and Rudolf Karl. They ripped down the wallpaper and cut open the furniture. All four were arrested, although the Gestapo found nothing in their search. They were taken to the Gestapo prison at Fuhlsbüttel. Their names were on the Gestapo’s "liquidation list,” a list of 71 people who were to be eliminated.

On 20 April 1945 they and other members of the KdF-Group were transferred to the Neuengamme Concentration Camp as part of the evacuation plan in the event of the advance of Allied forces. Hanne Mertens and Erika Etter (see Biographies, Hanna Mertens and Erika Etter) were also among the 13 women transferred. Since there was no judicial decree, the women thought that they were going to be released. They showed each other photos of their families and made themselves presentable. Annemarie Ladewig was able to write a letter that day to her fiancé. In it she mentioned that her father had been tricked by a Gestapo informant. "…If I only knew where we were going tomorrow. … I’ll say Auf Wiedersehen and send you a kiss – Yours forever, Annemarie. I’m doing fine!!”

In the hallway of the prisoner bunker there was a long beam along the ceiling which served as a gallows. The women were taken there in the night of 21 April. One after the other, in 30 minute intervals and while the others were forced to watch, each woman had to undress and stand on a chair, then a noose was placed around her neck and the chair pulled away.

The 58 men who were transferred to Neuengamme, including Rudolf, Sr. and Rudolf Karl Ladewig, were executed between 21 and 24 April 1945. Some of them were housed in the same bunker as the women. They knew what was coming and barricaded the bunker doors, then fought with the guards when they broke through. Some of the men died when the SS threw hand grenades through the bunker windows, the rest were shot. The men in the other bunkers were shot in the night of 23 April 1945.

It is not certain if Annemarie and her brother Rudolf Karl were actually members of the KdF-Group. Since the group’s prime directive was to keep family members in the dark, they may not have known about their father’s and Elisabeth Rosenkranz’s activities. However, Annemarie often went to a bookstore in the Dammtor Passage, which may have been the "Fundgrube für Bücherfreunde am Dammtor,” owned by Berthold Neidhard, who was a member of the KdF-Group.

Elisabeth Rosenkranz’s family in Kassel only found out about her death by coincidence in July 1945, when her ex-husband heard about it on a visit to Hamburg.

The execution of the 71 people in the Neuengamme Concentration Camp led to several trials after the war. Henry Helms was sentenced to nine years in prison. He had been held in an internment camp for two years, and this time was deducted from his sentence. He was only in prison for a total of six years. Alfons Pannek was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and was also released before his sentence was fully served. The commandant of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp was sentenced to death. Employees of the Gestapo prison at Fuhlsbüttel, Lotte Hinze, and Georg-Henning von Bassewitz-Behr, SS and Police Leader of the northern region, who signed the execution order, were found not guilty. Bassewitz-Behr, however, was extradited to the Soviet Union for other crimes, and died there in 1951 in a prison camp.

In 1987, Bergedorf named a street Annemarie-Ladewig-Kehre.

Stolpersteine in memory of Rudolf Ladewig and Elisabeth Rosenkranz were placed in the sidewalk at Armgartstraße 4.

Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: March 2017
© Maike Bruchmann

Quellen: AfW 050619; AfW 190222; AfW 300493; AfW 230583; Ursel Hochmuth/Gertrud Meyer, Streiflichter aus dem Hamburger Widerstand 1933–1945, Berichte und Dokumente, Frankfurt am Main 1980, S. 379, 449–464; Herbert Dierks, Gedenkbuch "Kola-Fu", Für die Opfer aus dem Konzentrationslager, Gestapogefängnis und KZ-Außenlager Fuhlsbüttel, KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme, Hamburg 1987, S. 46, 52–53; Rita Bake, Wer steckt dahinter?, Hamburgs Straßennamen, die nach Frauen benannt sind, Hamburg 2000; (eingesehen am 19.08.2007); Gertrud Meyer, Nacht über Hamburg, Berichte und Dokumente 1933–1945, Frankfurt/Main 1971, S. 84–116; Maike Bruhns, Kunst in der Krise, Band 2, Künstlerlexikon Hamburg 1933–1945, Hamburg 2001, S. 255–257; Kay Rump (Hrsg.), Der neue Rump, Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler Hamburgs, Altonas und der näheren Umgebung, Neumünster 2005, S. 251; Maike Bruhns Ausstellungskatalog: Annemarie Ladewig 1919–1945, Erinnerung an eine Vergessene, Ausstellung 2007 in Blankenese; (eingesehen am 03.02.2008); GET, Akte "Hanne Mertens".

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