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Kurt Elvers * 1919
Osterstraße 26 (Eimsbüttel, Eimsbüttel)
20.02.1945 IN HAMBURG
Kurt Elvers, born 24 Sep. 1919, denounced and arrested 1944 in Bremen, executed 20 Feb. 1945 in Hamburg
Kurt Elvers’ father was from the Lüneburg district, where his grandfather sold coal and potatoes. He also had a motorized ship on the Elbe. His mother was from Wandsbek.
Kurt Elvers attended Erna Luetgens’ private school in Hamburg for four years, then the secondary school in Eimsbüttel until the eighth grade. At this time the family lived at Schulweg 40. He then entered a metalworking apprenticeship in Hamburg with the building fitter Oskar Goldsteiner. He wanted to take over his father’s building-fitter business. He took his journeyman’s exam at Easter 1939. On 29 August 1939 he was drafted into the Wehrmacht.
He was first assigned to the 20th Motorized Infantry Gun Replacement Company at the Estorf Barracks in Hamburg-Wandsbek. In February 1940 he was transferred to Flak Battalion 605 in Bremen. He was stationed in Normandy until February 1941, then transferred to Poland, and participated in the invasion of the Soviet Union. He was wounded on the upper arm by a stray bullet on 17 October 1941, and by January 1942 was back in Bremen, where he remained out-of-action until January 1943. While there he won first place in a recreational activities competition. With a reference from his Company, he was accepted at the Nordische Art Academy in Bremen, where he began studying art in May 1944.
The professors at the art academy considered Elvers "talented” and "highly ambitious.” Several times the young soldier expressed the wish not to return to the front, but to finish his studies. His fellow students also considered him to be a "talent,” but they also saw him as critical of the Nazi regime. He told them of his observations as a soldier, and that he did not want to die a "hero’s death.” When he learned of the Stauffenberg assassination attempt on Hitler in the summer of 1944, he allegedly said to one of his fellow students "Too bad that it didn’t work. Otherwise we’d be at peace now.” One student, in whose presence he supposedly made this statement, was horrified: "As a German I was appalled that anyone would agitate so treacherously against the war and thus endanger the possibility of victory, at a time when the last of the nation’s strength was being deployed.” When others heard about Elvers’ statement, one of his fellow students denounced him to the Gestapo.
On 30 October 1944, he was sentenced to death by a military tribunal in Verden. His father desperately sought a pardon, but failed. The interventions of several professors also had no effect on the sentence. Kurt Elvers was shot on 20 February 1945 in Hamburg-Höltigbaum and buried in the war graves section at Ohlsdorf Cemetery.
Six months after the end of the war, Elvers’ father had his remains reinterred in a private grave in the Ohlsdorf Cemetery. After both parents had died and no other relatives could be found, the gravesite was in danger of being levelled. The initiative of various organizations – in Hamburg the Willi-Bredel-Gesellschaft and the Geschwister-Scholl-Stiftung; in Bremen Erinnern für die Zukunft e.V. – ensured that the memory of Kurt Elvers remained alive. A second Stolperstein was laid in Bremen on 20 February 2011 at Am Wandrahm 23, and the Hamburg Geschwister-Scholl-Stiftung erected a memorial to him in their Field of Honor at the Ohlsdorf Cemetery. In November 2012 the Wandsbek District Council resolved to name the new streets that were to be built in the Jenfelder Au after victims of the Nazi justice system. One of them is called Kurt-Elvers-Weg.
After 1945, Elvers’ father made several attempts to bring those that were guilty of his son’s death to justice. The primary denouncer, Gerhard Barnstorf, was sentenced in an extensive de-Nazification trial in Bremen to three years in a labor camp. He never served the term, however. None of the other participants in the denunciation were found guilty. Elvers’ father sought an investigation after the Bremen court’s pronouncement, but the Bremen District Attorney’s Office closed the case. The senior public prosecutor formulated the reasons in a statement in 1960: "It cannot be considered unusual that the accused [Kurt Elvers] was found guilty, with regard to the strict standards that were applied to the upholding of military discipline at the time. Without the availability of the written grounds for judgement, it must be assumed that the military tribunal took into consideration the overall conduct of the accused, Elvers. The harsh standards that were applied at the time – which are foreign to us today – can be justified, to use a catchall phrase, with the exigencies of war, as they were then seen, and cannot be equated with unjust or antilegal sentencing purposes. Further investigation is thus unnecessary.”
Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Hans Hesse
Quellen: Staatsarchiv Bremen, 4, 66 – I., 367–370 (umfangreiche Entnazifizierungsakte des als Denunziant verurteilten Gerhard Barnstorf); Hans Hesse, Bis zur Narbe – Eine Erzählung, Bremen 2011 (Hrsg. von Hochschule für Künste Bremen); ders., "Die Nordische Hochschule für bildende Kunst soll, schöpfend aus dem Urgrunde deutsch-nordischen Volkstums, mitarbeiten am Aufbau arteigener Kultur im Sinne Adolf Hitlers" – Skizzen zur Geschichte der Nordischen Kunsthochschule (NKH), in: Arbeiterbewegung und Sozialgeschichte, Nr. 23/24, 2009, S. 85–104.