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Otto Mende * 1907
Billhorner Mühlenweg Ecke Billhorner Kanalstraße (Hamburg-Mitte, Rothenburgsort)
Karl Otto Mende, born 2/10/1907 in Zwickau, Saxony, executed 6/26/144 at the Hamburg remand prison.
Billhorner Mühlenweg/corner of Billhorner Kanalstrasse
"I accuse the shipyard worker Carl Hans Otto Mende … of having prepared high treason in Hamburg in 1942 by participating in the founding of communist workshop units and spreading defeatist propaganda, thus attempting to corrupt the German people’s will to win the war, … and thereby benefiting the enemy”, the Reich Chief Prosecutor wrote in his indictment of January 31st, 1944.
It was the second time that Karl Otto Mende was accused of a criminal offense. After passing his junior high school examination in Zwickau and after the death of his parents moved to Hamburg at an unknown date. He remained single and lived as a subtenant in Billhorner Mühlenweg 1 in the Rothenburgsort district. According to his own testimony, he sympathized with the communist party KPD and in 1935 took part in a predominantly communist group’s attempt to form a common anti-Nazi resistance organization.
The members discussed, studied political literature und listened to foreign radio stations. In August 1936, Otto Mende was arrested and indicted for "preparation of high treason” in the case "against Rudolf Mokry and 9 others” and sentenced to three years and six months at hard labor on April 22nd, 1937. Pre-trial custody was taken into account, and Mende was released on January 22nd, 1940. In October 1940, he started working at the Kiehn shipyard. Otto Mende made the acquaintance of opponents of the Nazi regime from the environment of Bernhard Bästlein, Franz Jacob and Robert Abshagen, who formed workshop units at large companies, especially shipyards, and agreed to cooperate.
On November 25th, 1942, he was taken into temporary custody, but soon released. On March 19th, 1943, he was again detained pursuant to an arrest warrant issued by the Hamburg district court. Following the devastation of the city of Hamburg by the allied air raids in July and August of 1943, he was granted leave from remand for not quite six weeks, returning to jail on September 10th. Again, he was indicted for "preparation of high treason.” On January 31st, 1944, the Reich Chief Prosecutor at the Volksgerichtshof opened the case "against Hornberger and 8 others” in "secret session” before the Hanseatic Supreme Court. The trial ended in March. Ernst Mittelbach, a technical instructor from the professional school for aircraft technology in Borgfelde, was among the co-defendants.
The trial was one of twelve against 47 opponents of the Nazi Regime held in Hamburg in the first half of 1944. Many of the defendants were sentenced to death, including Karl Otto Mende, Ernst Mittelbach and Kurt Vorpahl. Ten were guillotined at the jail at Holstenglacis 3 on June 26th, 1944. Karl Otto Mende was the second to be killed at 4:05 p.m.
Translated by Peter Hubschmid
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: October 2017
© Hildegard Thevs
Quellen: VAN-Totenliste 1968; Archiv Gedenkstätte Ernst Thälmann, Anklageschrift Hornberger und Genossen; StaH, 332-5 Standesämter, 1203+578/1944; Hochmuth, Ursel/Gertrud Meyer, Streiflichter.