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Otto Hübener
© Gesche Cordes

Otto Hübener * 1891

In de Bost 39 (Altona, Nienstedten)

JG. 1891
ERMORDET 23.4.1945


Ernst Otto Hübener, born 28 Dec. 1891, arrested 30 Nov. 1944, detention in Berlin prison Lehrter Straße, killed 23 Apr. 1945

In de Bost 39

During the memorial service following the relocation of Otto Hübener’s Stumbling Stone, his grandson read from a letter that his grandfather had written to all of his employees at Christmas 1943: "And then all that we have to go through is, in the end, so onerous that one doesn’t like to speak about it, instead one tries to deal with it preferably in solitude and each individual for him or herself.”

Ernst Otto Hübener was killed for fighting in resistance to the National Socialists. During the summer of 1939, he supported a military opposition group that wanted to prevent the outbreak of war. During the war, he was active in the resistance group surrounding Hans Oster and Hans von Dohnanyi. He was also connected to the circle that attempted to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944.

Ernst Otto Hübner was born on 28 Dec. 1891 in Hamburg. Prior to World War One, the trained merchant made the acquaintance of Walter Jauch in London who was also a merchant. Together they founded the insurance brokerage Jauch and Hübener in Hamburg, Trostbrücke 3, after the war in 1919, which soon became the most important insurance and reinsurance brokerage on the continent. Otto Hübener owned a 49 percent share in the company.

He was married to the Hamburg native Thekla, née Möring, and they had two sons who were born in the 1920s: Jürgen and Harald. The Hübeners lived at the family’s country estate "In de Bost” 39 in Altona-Nienstedten in the immediate vicinity of Hirschpark.

In 1934 the Gestapo briefly detained Otto Hübener in connection with the "Röhm Putsch”. At the end of June, beginning of July of that years, SS commandos executed Ernst Röhm, the leader of the SA (Sturmabteilung), and further SA leaders as well as other individuals regarded as enemies by the National-Socialist regime in a purge long planned by Hitler and Göring. Political tensions and a power struggle between the SA and the NSDAP motivated the putsch. Yet Otto Hübener was released.

In the summer of 1939, he supported the military opposition group surrounding Hans Oster and established contact with British offices to avert the threat of war at the last minute. Hans Oster, later Major General and leader of the military defense under Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, was a cousin of Otto Hübener’s business partner Walter Jauch by marriage. As early as 1935, Oster had begun to build a network of contacts of opponents to the National-Socialist regime in the government, administration and in security organizations. During the war, Hübener’s company also worked for the resistance group in the Department of Defense led by Hans Oster and Hans von Dohnanyi. When they were arrested in spring 1943, the Reich court-martial attorney general investigated Hübener because the authorities found documents in Dohnanyi’s possession showing that Otto Hübener had loaned Dohnanyi money. After the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944, Otto Hübener was interrogated on several occasions, with no results. Part of the investigations looked into the relationship between Jauch, Hübener and the military resistance.

The Gestapo discovered a cache of documents in Zossen, Brandenburg, where the high command of the Wehrmacht had had its headquarters since 1939. When the documents demonstrated a clear connection between the Foreign-Defense Office and the conspirators surrounding Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, Otto Hübener was arrested in Hamburg on 30 Nov. 1944 and taken to the Lehrter Straße Jail in Berlin. The former military prison was used as a jail by the Wehrmacht from 1935 until the end of the war.

On 7 Apr. 1945, Hans von Dohnanyi was executed at Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Two days later, Canaris, Oster and the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer were executed at Flossenbürg concentration camp. During the night of 23 Apr. 1945, just a few days before the end of the war, Otto Hübener, along with other prisoners, was led to a neighboring bombed-out site and killed by a special commando of the Reich Main Security Office, without having had a trial.

During the redress proceedings after the war, witness reports were presented: "The insurance broker Otto Hübener was arrested by the Gestapo in Nov. 1944. He was taken to the remand prison of the Berlin Gestapo on Prinz Albrecht Straße. On 19 Apr. 1945, Miss Margot Lind, who until then had been in constant contact with him, received her last message from him. The prison cook Heinz Henzschke saw him last on 20 Apr. 1945; when the prison was cleared out on 28 Apr. 1945, Hübener was no longer among the prisoners. According to statements by Hentschke, Otto Runge, Dr. Ense and Superintendent Reinicke, arbitrary shootings took place intermittently. Dr. Ense testified that he clearly remembered Hübener being picked up during the night from 22 Apr. to 23 Apr. 1945 and then was very likely shot; he himself was part of the ‘discharge troop’ the following night and only by accident was able to escape death by firing squad.”

It is very likely that Otto Hübener and the other prisoners were rounded up at midnight and shot in the early morning hours of 23 April.

His son Jürgen Hübener who was 14 years old at the time of his father’s arrest also submitted a statement: "My departed father, the insurance broker Otto Hübener, was arrested in his office in Hamburg and taken to Fuhlsbüttel in Nov. 1944. After a brief period of detention, he was transferred to Berlin in connection with the investigations into the ‘20th of July’. He spent the remainder of the time until his death on 23 Apr. 1945 in the interrogation cells at the Reich Main Security Office on Prinz Albrecht Straße in Berlin. [Gestapo headquarters at Prinz Albrecht Straße 8, today Niederkichnerstraße in Berlin-Kreuzberg, had a "house jail” to accommodate prisoners whose interrogation the Gestapo was particularly interested in.] The interrogations aimed at obtaining evidence of participation in the conspiracy of 20 July 1944. I am unable to state anything further about this because my father never mentioned his political activities to me. As proof that this was a politically motivated arrest, I should like to point out the following: My father was close friends with a large number of the men allegedly involved in the assassination attempt of 20 July, especially with General Oster who lived in my father’s apartment before his arrest.”

A letter from 6 Dec. 1944 has survived in the files from the Hamburg Gestapo to the District Defense Command V, to the attention of Mr. Rittmeister Ravemann, Hamburg Altona, Bei der Johanniskirche 19/20. It requested a follow-up examination be carried out on Hübener’s son Jürgen Otto Hübener as he was to be deferred from military service due to a severe heart defect and instead employed in his father’s company. "We have determined this is not applicable. H.’s father was taken into custody on 30 Nov. 1944 for subversive activities.”

The news of his death shocked the family for after his arrest everyone believed Otto Hübener would return.

Translator: Suzanne von Engelhardt
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: April 2018
© Birgit Gewehr

Quellen: AB Hamburg und Altona; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 13870 (Otto Hübener); Cordes, Stolpersteine, S. 228 f.; Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand, Biographie Otto Hübener und Auskunft von Prof. Dr. Johannes Tuchel.

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