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Kurt Ledien
© KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme

Dr. Kurt (Curt) Ledien * 1893

Hohenzollernring 34 (Altona, Ottensen)

KZ Neuengamme
Gehenkt am 23.4.1945


Dr. Kurt (Curt) Heinrich Ledien, born 5 June 1893 in Berlin-Charlottenburg, imprisoned in the Fuhlsbüttel and Neuengamme Concentration Camps, murdered at Neuengamme 23 Aprl 1945

Kurt Heinrich Ledien was originally from Berlin. His parents, Louis and Gertrud Ledien, were both of Jewish heritage, but raised him, his sister, and one brother as Christians and had them confirmed.

Kurt Ledien finished his college-preparatory schooling at the Christianeum Gymnasium in 1912. He served in the army in the First World War. After studying law in Lausanne, Munich, and Kiel, he received his doctorate in Göttingen. In 1925 he married Martha Liermann from Winsen an der Luhe. At that time she was working as a bookseller in Hamburg. She was non-Jewish. The couple moved into a ground-floor apartment at Giesestraße 9. Their first daughter Ilse Luisa Ida was born in 1926, followed in 1929 by Ulla Gertrud Martha.

In 1927 Kurt Ledien was appointed to the bench at the Altona District Court. In 1933 he was transferred to the Dortmund Regional Court, but in 1934 he was forced into retirement for "racial reasons” when the Law for the Reconstitution of the Civil Service was passed. He returned to Hamburg. He received a pension, but also worked in the legal department of the Bavaria Brewery. He was eventually prohibited from working in this position as well, and went to work for the Jewish lawyers Dr. Wilhelm Gutmann and Dr. Samson as a clerk for emigration cases. With the persecution of Jews becoming ever harsher, his sister fled to Vienna and his brother and his family to the US in 1938.

In that same year, Kurt Ledien, like all Jews, was forced to pay two percent of his income for the Levy on Jewish Assets.

Ledien’s youngest daughter Ulla first attended the public school on Klopstockplatz. In 1940 she went to secondary school at the Klosterschule, and when it was closed after being damaged in an air raid, she transferred to the Bertha-Lyzeum at Easter 1944. She had to leave the school, however, in the eighth grade because she was a "first degree Mischling.” The elder daughter Ilse had also had to leave the Klosterschule in 1942. She then attended a trade school and worked as a stenographer at an insurance company. By this time the family was living at Hohenzollernring 34.

Kurt Ledien and his younger daughter Ilse were friends of the Leipelt family. Hans Leipelt and his mother Katharina, both of Jewish heritage, gathered a group of opponents to the Nazi regime around them. Ilse Ledien and Hans Leipelt’s sister Maria were friends. The group met in the Leipelt’s apartment in Wilhelmsburg, and during the war, in the basement of a book store at Jungfernstieg 50, which belonged to the family of Reinhold Meyer, a student and junior manager of the store. The group, made up of students and intellectuals, read and discussed banned publications, made copies and distributed them. The group’s primary concern was freedom of speech – they wanted open, uncensored discussion. When the White Rose resistance group was apprehended in Munich and Hans and Sophie Scholl were executed, the group printed copies of the White Rose leaflets and distributed them in Hamburg. For this reason they were called the "Hamburg branch of the White Rose” after the war.

On September 1943, Kurt Ledien was assigned to a forced labor detail in Berlin, which was overseen by the SS. After the war a fellow forced laborer described the working condition of this detail: "We had to transport really heavy rocks and sacks of cement. Dr. Ledien was in no shape for this kind of work. […] It was work meant to destroy the laborers.” Another survivor added: "We had to work on the bunker for the Gestapo’s main security office on Kurfürstenstraße. The SS was in charge, the overseers were Sturmführer and Obersturmführer. One Obersturmführer in particular, Tuschka [probably Lischka, B.M.], was especially abusive and kicked people. For Dr. Ledien, who had been a judge and probably never had a hammer in his hand in his entire life, the work was especially harsh. I worked with him when he was there, he couldn’t work at all, but he had to. They found out something about him from letters from his daughter, and they arrested him. Since he was ill, he was sent to the police ward at the Jewish Hospital. That was in late November 1943.”

While he was in the hospital, his wife could send him clothing and received letters from him. But on 29 February 1944 the Hamburg Gestapo placed him under arrest and had him transferred to the Fuhlsbüttel Concentration Camp in Hamburg. The Leipelt group had been infiltrated by the Gestapo. Kurt Ledien was accused of intention to commit high treason and was held in the concentration camp without a trial. Shortly before the end of the war, 13 women and 58 men – most of them members of Hamburg resistance groups and foreign prisoners – were transferred to the Neuengamme Concentration Camp. The names of these 71 men and women were placed on a "liquidation list” by the heads of various Gestapo departments. They did not live to see the end of the war. On the nights of 21, 22, and 23 April 1944, they were executed without a trial, on orders of the head of the Hamburg Gestapo, Georg-Henning Graf von Bassewitz-Behr. Among them was Kurt Ledien, who was hanged in the Neuengamme bunker on 23 April 1945.

Eight members of the Hamburg branch of the White Rose died as a result of prison conditions or by execution: Hans and Katharina Leipelt, Reinhold Meyer, Margarethe Mrosek, Margaretha Rothe, Frederik Geussenhainer, Elisabeth Lange, and Kurt Ledien.

The Gestapo also placed Ilse Ledien in "protective custody” in March 1944, on charges of high treason. She remained in the Fuhlsbüttel Concentration Camp until 1945. She spent the first months there in strict solitary confinement. She survived. Ledien’s wife and elder daughter also survived the war. His mother, whose last address in Hamburg was with her son’s family on Hohenzollernring, was deported to Theresienstadt in 1943. She was one of the lucky few who were able to leave Theresienstadt for Switzerland on 30 April 1945.

There is a memorial plaque at Jungerfernstieg 50 for the members of the Hamburg White Rose who lost their lives at the hands of the Nazi regime. Anneliese Tuchel, Reinhold Meyer’s sister, ran the bookstore after the war. In 1981 a street in Hamburg-Niendorf was named for Kurt Ledien. There is a Stolperstein for Frederik Geussenhainer on Johnsallee.

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

Stand: March 2017
© Birgit Gewehr

Quellen: 4; 5; AB Altona und Hamburg; StaH 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden, 992 m Band 3 (Ankunftslisten der von Hamburg in das KZ Theresienstadt deportierten Juden, Ankunft 25.6.1943); StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 14496 (Ledien, Gertrud), 14888 (Ledien, Martha Emilie Magdalene) und 17072 (Ledien, Martha); Gespräche mit Ulla Greuner, geb. Ledien, November 2008, und Korrespondenz, Juli 2014; Diercks, Gedenkbuch Kola-Fu, S. 54 f.; Biographien für Katharina und Hans Leipelt in: Günter u. a., Stolpersteine, S. 183–190; Morisse, Ausgrenzung, Bd. 2, S. 139–1421; Gedenken heißt: Nicht schweigen, S. 33–36.
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