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Richard Rosin * 1888
Nernstweg 10 (Altona, Ottensen)
Richard Franz Wilhelm Rosin, born on 15 Nov. 1888, from 18 Dec. 1935 imprisoned in Fuhlsbüttel, driven to his death on 7 Jan. 1936 after mistreatments
Nernstweg 10 (Schulstrasse)
Marie Hoppe stated in a letter to the advisory center for restitution claims in Apr. 1948, "In 1913, I got married to Richard Rosin and lived with him in a happy and companionate marriage. As anti-Fascists, we were active illegally against the Nazi regime and subjected to persecution. We had to endure repeated house searches. Eventually, my husband was arrested and, severely mistreated by the SS, taken to Fuhlsbüttel. I never saw my husband again.”
Richard Franz Wilhelm Rosin was born on 15 Nov. 1888 in Gumenz (today Gumieniec in Poland), District of Rummelsburg in Pomerania. His parents were the worker Franz Rosin and his wife Mathilde, née Gast. Richard Rosin belonged to the Protestant denomination. On 8 May 1913, he was married in Hamburg to Marie Sophie Helene Burmeister, also of the Lutheran faith, who had been born in 1891 in Eschede, District of Celle, as the daughter of the worker August Burmeister and his wife Anna, née Bergmann. At the time, Richard Rosin lived at Fischerstrasse 44 in Hamburg-St. Pauli, and his bride Marie lived in the neighborhood, also being registered with the authorities as residing in Fischerstrasse prior to her marriage.
In 1916, the married couple moved to Altona-Ottensen, initially to Am Felde 37, and in 1930 into an apartment on the second floor of Schulstrasse 10 (today Nernstweg). Richard Rosin worked as a stoker for the nearby A. L. Mohr Bahrenfelder Margarinewerke, a margarine producer, at Friedensallee 333.
He was a member of the German Communist Party (KPD) and known as an anti-Fascist. After the ban and smashing of the party by the National Socialists, former KPD members tried to establish structures underground. They collected money for political prisoners and their families, distributed leaflets and writings, and founded an emigrants’ commission. There was an attempt to build up a clandestine local in the Ottensen quarter. On 1 May 1935, 2,000 red carnations were distributed in Altona. When several youths were arrested, bills for posting with information and protest manifestos turned up. In this context, several men and women were arrested in turn, including Richard Rosin, who was committed to the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp on 18 Dec. 1935. On the next day, the Gestapo reported his arrest to Berlin. Before the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court (Hanseatisches Oberlandesgericht – OLG), he was charged with "preparation to high treason” ("Vorbereitung zum Hochverrat”) in connection with the proceedings against "Heldt and associates” (file no. OJs 192/36).
According to the indictment, the dockworker Johannes Heinrich Heldt was the leading KPD functionary in Altona. Overall, about 570 men and women from Hamburg and Altona were charged with having distributed illegal writings, organized illegal meetings, and building up resistance groups. They were accused of "having established and maintained organizational cohesion toward preparing high treason.” The public prosecutor’s office had detailed knowledge of conspiratorial meetings of the KPD functionaries, which obviously came from informants that the Gestapo had infiltrated into the resistance groups.
In one of the investigation files concerning the criminal case of "Heldt and associates,” one can read, "After the assumption of power by National Socialism, the old members of the KPD undertook to continue the banned organization or, as far as it had been smashed, to rebuild it. The exposure of this organization in the Greater Hamburg area is subject of these preliminary proceedings.” Indictment no. 33 dealt with the rebuilding of the Altona subdistrict in the old locals: Altona-Nord, Altona-Süd, Ottensen, Flottbek, Elmshorn, as well as Eidelstedt-Stellingen. Richard Rosin was accused of having been active as treasurer in the "Red Aid” ("Rote Hilfe”) from Nov. 1933 until Mar. 1934, an organization that supported detained Communists, union members, and other prisoners.
The Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp, set up in the former women’s prison in Sept. 1933, was infamous for the torture carried out there. At night or in the late evening, political prisoners were sought out by guards and beaten until they passed out with bullwhips, impact weapons that caused serious injuries, rubber truncheons, ironbound shoulder straps, or other striking tools. These ordeals recurred repeatedly. They often took place on orders to break political prisoners who had not testified as expected during interrogations. The basement cells were the scene of the most severe mistreatments. The number of deaths and suicides was extraordinarily high.
Three weeks after his detention, Richard Rosin died in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp. In his death certificate, issued on 9 Jan. 1936, a note indicated, "The State Police gave notice that the stoker Richard Franz Wilhelm Rosin … was found dead on 7 Jan. 1936 at 6.15 in the morning.”
After her husband’s arrest, Marie Rosin suffered a breakdown in health and subsequently she ran into financial straits. Only occasionally, she received a modest amount of welfare assistance, making ends meet as a domestic help. In 1937, she got married a second time, to Heinrich Hoppe.
On 2 Jan. 1946, a former fellow prisoner, the lawyer Max Fink, described the circumstances of Richard Rosin’s death in a letter to the Committee of Former Political Prisoners (Komitee ehemaliger politischer Gefangener) as follows:
"The worker Rosin from Hamburg, born in about 1885, committed suicide one night at the turn of the year 1935/1936 (approximately at the end of November or in early December 1935) in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp in solitary confinement in the cell diagonally across my cell A III 37. I did not know Rosin and I had never spoken with him. I do not know why he was in protective custody. To my knowledge, the person guilty of his death is Police Sergeant [Wachtmeister] Ehnert, the son of a Hamburg police officer, (to my knowledge, formerly precinct police sergeant of the Wandsbeker Chaussee police station […]).
The day before Rosin took his life at night, it was spare time of Corridor [Flur] A III under the supervision of Sergeant Ehnert. He hurried Rosin, for no discernible reason, in the most revolting manner with the usual up and down exercises, leapfrogging, etc. through the wet muddy field of the concentration camp yard, causing Rosin, who was physically sluggish, to manage barely to keep himself upright. In on this baiting was also Sergeant Henningsen, who, if I recall correctly, was born in Friedrichstadt in Schleswig-Holstein, a cabinetmaker by trade. This nasty harassment must have done Rosin in. Even though he was clapped in irons, he managed to hang himself at night. Police Sergeant Wölm, who was on duty, found him hanged in the early hours.
I gathered Rosin’s particulars from the corridor register [Flurbuch] that I had to keep for the police sergeants later. The particulars of the police sergeants became known to me because I had to prepare their genealogical forms [Ahnenbogen]. I was told about the end of Rosin in his cell by Sergeant Wölm, when I asked him later.”
Obviously, Richard Rosin was mistreated and systematically driven to his death in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp because of his involvement in the Communist resistance. Leading up to the trial and during the preliminary investigations regarding the "Heldt et al.” criminal case, additional Communists perished in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp: Paul Bach, Wilhelm Hagen, Georg Neth, Callsen, and Podolski.
In the course of the restitution proceedings in Apr. 1948, witnesses confirmed that Richard Rosin was subjected to political persecution. Walter and Friede Reimann stated that Rosin "was active along anti-Fascist lines during the Hitler period until his death,” as did Lola Tech, to whom "comrade Richard Rosin” was known "as an active, upright anti-Fascist.” Ernst Pridlich explained that he had politically cooperated with him in 1935/36: "Richard Rosin supported me even during the time of my persecution at the hands of the Gestapo in the spring of 1935 by re-establishing my contact to the KPD leadership in Hamburg and providing me with funds from the organization.”
By 1936, the illegally organized resistance groups of the KPD were largely smashed, after most members had been driven into exile, murdered, or committed to concentration camps.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
Stand: April 2018
© Birgit Gewehr
Quellen: StaH 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung, 13534 (Marie Hoppe); StaH 241-1 I Justizverwaltung I, 2911 (Abrechnungslisten über Schutzhaftkosten des KZ Fuhlsbüttel); Bundesarchiv Berlin, PSt 3/826, Signatur 26; Recherche von Anke Schulz, Bundesarchiv Berlin, Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv (SAPMO) R 3018 NJ Nazijustizakten/12152; AB Altona; KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme, Komitee-Akte Rosin; Hochmuth (Hrsg.), Gestapo-Gefängnis Fuhlsbüttel, S. 67; Hochmuth/Meyer, Streiflichter, S. 167; Diercks, Gedenkbuch Kola-Fu, S. 35.