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Margarethe Mrosek
© Verein der Antifaschisten und Verfolgten des Naziregimes

Margarethe Mrosek (née Schram) * 1902

Up de Schanz 24 (Altona, Nienstedten)

KZ Neuengamme
Gehenkt am 21.4.45 KZ Neuengamme

Margarethe Mrosek, née Schram, born 25 Dec. 1902, in prison in Hamburg-Bergedorf and Fuhlsbüttel beginning Dec. 1943, murdered 22 Apr. 1945 in the Neuengamme Concentration Camp

Up de Schanz 24b

Margarethe (sometimes spelled Margarete) Mrosek was born in 1902 in Jablonec in north-eastern Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic). Her parent were Camilla, née Pan, and Karl Schram. Her mother was Jewish. Her brother Walter was born in 1911. Her father died in 1928.

During the Second World War, Margarethe and her non-Jewish husband Alois Mrosek lived in a rented apartment in Hamburg-Nienstedten at Up de Schanz 24b. Her husband was a department manager at an insurance company, while she remained at home. Alois helped support Margarethe’s mother, who was destitute after the death of her husband. She had remained in Jablonec, together with her unmarried son Walter, an artisan metal-worker’s assistant. Margarethe and Alois’ "privileged mixed marriage” protected her from deportation. She was, however, conscripted to forced labor in the Dralle perfume and soap works in Altona-Ottensen.

In early October 1943, the Mroseks took in the Zills, who were friends of the family and whose home had been destroyed by bombs in July. The Zills remained with the Mroseks until they moved to Blankeneser Landstraße 9 in mid-November 1943. Johannes Paul and Emma Zill and their daughter Dorothea were acquainted with the Leipelt family, who were Jewish. Käthe and Konrad Leipelt’s children Hans and Maria had gathered a group of friends who were critical of the regime. After the war, this group came to be known as the "Hamburg Branch of the White Rose.” Dorothea Zill was a close friend of Hans Leipelt, who studied in Munich and was a member of the White Rose resistance group, centered around Hans and Sophie Scholl. Between June 1942 and February 1943, the Munich group authored and distributed six leaflets calling for non-violent resistance to the regime. These leaflets also circulated among the opposition groups in Hamburg. Maria Leipelt typed copies of them at her language school and helped distribute them.

At the time, Dorothea Zill’s younger brother Hans Bernhard (*1926) was a Flakhelfer (flak-assistant, young men conscripted into the Hitler Youth and deployed as anti-aircraft personnel), and was only rarely able to visit his family at the Mrosek’s home. He described Margarethe Mrosek as a "lovely person.” He recalled that the older youths met in his sister’s room in their apartment at Conventstraße 6 in Eilbek, where the Zills lived until the building was bombed in July 1943. They listened to music or played music themselves, read banned books, and discussed painters and sculptors whose work had been labelled "degenerate.” Hans’ and Dorothea’s fathers had warned their children that the meetings were dangerous, but the youths did not want to see their freedom limited. They felt oppressed by the ubiquitous Nazi ideology and violence. They were also aware that their music teacher Beatrice Levy, who was a well-known pianist and a Jew, had "disappeared” – she had been deported to Riga.

In February 1943, Hans and Sophie Scholl were arrested after being caught distributing their leaflets at the Munich University. Their last leaflet was reprinted and distributed in Hamburg, under the new heading "Their Spirit Lives On!” After the Munich group was summarily tried and executed, the Gestapo became aware of the opposition groups in Hamburg. Hans Leipelt was arrested in Munich in early October 1943, and his sister Maria, aged only 17, was arrested in Hamburg on 9 November. More arrests followed. A total of 25 people associated with the Hamburg Branch of the White Rose were taken into custody by March 1944.

Margarethe Mrosek had become friends with the Leipelt family, especially with Katharina Leipelt, who was also considered to be a Jew. Both were potential victims of the Nuremburg Race Laws, as was evident from Johannes Zill’s handwritten notes: "She met Leipelt through me, because of our shared fate they often visited us together, they also often spoke on the telephone. I assume that the (Gestapo) agent Reinhardt pressured Maria Leipelt into listing all of her acquaintances. That’s how Grete Mrosek came to be included.”

In a declaration to the Reparations Board in 1951, Johannes Zill wrote: "Margarethe Mrosek was Jewish. She was arrested in her apartment on the morning of 14 December 1943 by the Gestapo agents Voigt and Konrad. My wife and I were arrested the next day. I can confirm that Frau Mrosek was with us in the Bergedorf Youth Detention Center until 7 Jan. 1944,[since there was an outbreak of typhus in Fuhlsbüttel at the time], and then in protective custody in Fuhlsbüttel until at least October 1944, at which time the rest of those involved in the trial were transferred to pre-trial detention. Shortly thereafter some of the men were sent to Stendal, and some of the women to Cottbus. I noticed then that Frau Mrosek was not with us in pre-trial detention, and that she was not sent to Cottbus with the other female prisoners.”

Margarethe Mrosek was sent to Fuhlsbüttel on 8 January 1944. Two days later she was joined by Johannes Paul and Emma Zill. The Zills had been tried for intent to commit high treason, with evidence brought against them that they had listened to foreign radio broadcasts, distributed leaflets, and collected donations for the widow of Professor Kurt Huber, who had been executed in Munich. In January 1944 their daughter Dorothea Zill was also arrested.

Margarethe Mrosek probably knew nothing about the White Rose leaflets and the political activities of the group around the Leipelts. There was apparently not enough evidence to try her. Her name is not included in the bill of indictment for the case of high treason against "Kucharski [Heinz], Leipelt and Co.” After the war, Alois declared to the Reparations Board: "My poor wife was taken into protective custody on 14 December, together with the Zill family, on charges of alleged high treason. Although the accusations were soon proved false, she was not released because she was the child of Jewish parents. […] I was harassed because of my so-called mixed marriage, and was conscripted to forced labor clearing rubble in Hamburg for the last six months of the war.” Mrosek, who was considered to be "of Jewish kin,” together with "mischlinge” and Italian and Polish prisoners of war, were forced to work as coal trimmers at the Neuhof electricity plant, and to work in the sewers and clearing rubble for the Erich Möller heavy construction company and other companies.

On 18 April 1945, two weeks before the British moved into Hamburg, Margarethe Mrosek, twelve other women and 58 men were taken from the Fuhlsbüttel prison to the Neuengamme Concentration Camp, which was nearly empty. Since the women had not been tried, they had no idea what was coming. They thought they were being released. But all of them were on the Gestapo’s liquidation list, and were murdered during the nights of 21 to 23 April.

Margarethe Mrosek and the other women were hanged on the night of 22 April 1945. Her mother Camilla Schram was deported from Ustinad to Theresienstadt in late 1942. She was nearly 70 years old and suffered from cataracts. She died in January 1944. Margarethe’s brother Walter Schram was deported from Turnau in the Czech Republic during the war, and ended up in Auschwitz, where he was murdered in February 1943. In 1948, Alois Mrosek discovered a picture in the Berliner Neuen Illustrierten which showed his brother-in-law tied up and being dragged away by members of the SS. Of all of Margarethe’s relatives living in the Sudetenland, only one cousin, Karl Korter, survived. He had emigrated to the US.

Hans Leipelt was executed. His mother Katharina Leipelt committed suicide while in prison, in order to avoid being deported to Auschwitz. Maria Leipelt suffered eleven months of solitary confinement in Fuhlsbüttel, Dorothea Zill ten months. After an odyssey through various prisons, the two girls, along with Emma Zill, were liberated in Bayreuth in April 1945 by US troops. Johannes Zill also survived. When he learned of Margarethe Mrosek’s fate after his liberation and return to Hamburg, he was appalled: "I know that Frau Mrosek didn’t have the least to do with this whole so-called high treason nonsense. She just happened to know one of the women who was arrested and her daughter. She is a victim of the whole racial insanity.”

A street in Bergedorf, Margarete-Mrosek-Bogen, was named in her memory in 1995.

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

Stand: April 2018
© Birgit Gewehr

Quellen: 4; StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 15275 (Mrosek, Alois); Hochmuth/Meyer, Streiflichter, S. 236, 389, 418, 420; Diercks, Gedenkbuch Kola-Fu, S. 54 f.; Hochmuth (Hrsg.), Gestapo-Gefängnis Fuhlsbüttel, S. 58; Bake, Wer steckt dahinter; Biographien für Hans und Katharina Leipelt in Günter u. a., Stolpersteine, S. 183–190; Sammlung Holger Martens, Vortrag am 9.2.1946 und Abschrift handschriftlicher Notizen von Johannes Paul Zill, Privatbesitz H. B. Zill; Daten zu Mathias Kuschinski, Emma Zill, und Henrike Göhl, Johannes Paul Zill,, Zugriff 28.8.2007; Gepräch mit Hans Bernhard Zill, Sohn von Johannes Zill, 20.9.2007.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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