Search for Names, Places and Biographies

Already layed Stumbling Stones

back to select list

Anton Wohinz * 1910

Hospitalstraße 82 (Altona, Altona-Altstadt)

Hamburg Gefängnis-Fuhlsbüttel
JG. 1910
TOT 16.2.1943

Anton Wohinz, born on 18 June 1910, imprisoned several times, from 24 Aug. 1940 onward detention in the Fuhlsbüttel penitentiary, died there on 16 Feb. 1943

Hospitalstraße 82 (Steinstraße)

The political prisoner Anton Wohinz, who was imprisoned because of his involvement in a Communist resistance operation against a Nazi torchlight parade on 6 Mar. 1933 in Altona, died in the Fuhlsbüttel penitentiary in 1943 at the age of 32, in circumstances entirely unexplained. Anton Wohinz was born on 18 June 1910 in Völkendorf, administrative district of Villach, in Carinthia; he was an Austrian citizen. He had three sisters, one of whom was called Christine, as well as a brother named Franz. His mother, Magdalena Wohinz, née Hoga, died when he was three years old. His father, Anton Wohinz, passed away in 1927. Following the eight-grade elementary school (Volksschule), Anton Wohinz attended the Bürgerschule, a municipal secondary school [for the middle classes] preparing for practical jobs in the commercial and artisan sectors for another two years. He worked and trained for two more years in a tropical fruit shop in his hometown. After his schooldays and training period, he traveled to Germany with a circus. In 1927, the Catholic parish office in Brackwede near Bielefeld found a place for him with Anna Wacker, who took the 17-year old in as a foster son. In 1928, Anna Wacker moved with her husband Friedrich Wacker, a sworn weigher employed with the public weigh house, and Anton to Hamburg, where he received commercial training. From 1929 until 1930, he was a commercial employee with a Hamburg company, subsequently earning a living as a worker. He lived with his foster mother in Altona-Altstadt, on the second floor of Lohmühlenstrasse 74 (today Esmarchstrasse) at the intersection to Steinstrasse (today Hospitalstrasse). He kept afloat doing casual work and often he was unemployed. He had a girlfriend, Lina Eberhardt, who lived at Dregerstrasse 75 in Altona; the couple intended to get married. Politically, in his youth Anton Wohinz was involved in the "Red Youth Front” (Rote Jungfront) and later in the [Communist] Alliance of Red Front Fighters (Rotfrontkämpferbund – RFB), a paramilitary defense association of the German Communist Party (KPD), which protected meetings and fought street battles with the Nazis. The Red Youth Front for young adolescents was affiliated with the RFB that was outlawed in May 1929. On 31 May 1933, 23-year-old Anton Wohinz was arrested "after a clash with the SA.” Based on an arrest warrant issued by the Altona District Court (Amtsgericht) dated 3 June 1933, he was first detained as a prisoner awaiting trial in the Altona court prison until the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court (Hanseatisches Oberlandesgericht) transferred the proceedings to the Senior Reich Prosecutor (Oberreichsanwalt) in Berlin. He charged Anton Wohinz with "preparation to high treason” ("Vorbereitung zum Hochverrat"). After the questioning of defendants and witnesses, including police officers as well as SA and SS men, the charges against Wohinz were stated more precisely in the "indictment against associates Schoop et al.”: Together with 23 other persons from the KPD milieu, allegedly he was involved in the "public forming of a mob” and had, armed as a "ringleader,” committed "acts of violence against persons.” An additional incriminating factor was his membership in the outlawed Alliance of Red Front Fighters and its secondary organization, the Red Youth Front. "The defendant Anton Wohinz […] has been a member of the Red Youth Front since the summer of 1931. According to testimony by all defendants and witnesses questioned on this matter, he was together with Hasselbring the senior leader of the Youth Storm [Jungsturm, the predecessor of the Red Youth Front] in Altona. According to testimony by the witness Mehnert, Wohinz was, by virtue of being the leader of the Youth Storm within the RFB, also a member of the inner gau [translator’s note: actually called Bezirk, i.e., district, within the Communist organizations] leadership of the Wasserkante gau of the KPD in Greater Hamburg. In November/December 1932, he participated in a course for the defense youth [Wehrjugend] taught by the functionary Switalla who has fled abroad (Switalla [Stanislaus] is also wanted in the Altona Bloody Sunday trial).” As of Jan. 1933, the indictment went on, so-called S-Groups, "sharp groups” or "fire groups” with armed fighters were formed. Allegedly, Anton Wohinz had instructed members in the use of firearms in the bar of Heinrich Brandt, a hangout of the Alliance of Red Front Fighters at Grosse Bergstrasse 89, heading the training in street fighting and building barricades during field exercises. Supposedly, when he was arrested on 31 May 1933, the authorities had found shooting instructions for infantry and a copy of "Training of infantrymen.” According to this, Wohinz also transported revolvers, e.g., for an assault on the home of an SA man. The indictment also mentioned the fact that Wohinz allegedly recruited comrades-in-arms, swearing them in upon joining the "Youth Storm” of the RFB with the reminder that they would be shot in case of potential desertion. The indictment elaborated that at this time the KPD intended to launch the "civil war.” The base of the RFB leadership in Altona, a "stronghold of Communism,” was the restaurant of the Rodegast couple at Lohmühlenstrasse 36 (today Esmarchstrasse), an "alarm quarter.” In late 1932/early 1933, it went on, the RFB undertook a series of attacks on individual National Socialists, also on so-called Sturmlokale ("storm taverns” of the SA) that were considered Nazi hangouts; the instances listed were "the attack on the SA tavern operated by Büttig in the fall of 1932 directed by the defendant Wohinz, the attack in Feb. 1933 on the tavern of Steffen in General Litzmannstrasse directed by the defendants Wohinz, Rathmann, and Hamann.” In the week before the Reichstag election on 5 Mar. 1933, the KPD allegedly issued "the third level of alert,” planning for 26 February disruptive action against an SA rally and a concurrent parade of the Reich Banner (Reichsbanner) [the Social Democratic paramilitary formation], for which Wohinz had been on high alert as well; however, due to logistical problems, the plans never materialized. Then, in the evening, an armed group headed by Wohinz intended to attack the Nazi "storm tavern" run by Rosa Erdmann at Breitestrasse 155; the presence of police officers deterred them from doing so. At the center of the indictment was the "armed attack” on the Nazi torchlight parade in Altona on 6 Mar. 1933. The Reichstag elections on the previous day had been accompanied by attacks by members of the Nazi party on political opponents. In the elections themselves, the National Socialist Party managed to increase its share of the vote by a considerable margin; though it did not achieve the absolute majority hoped for, it was able to continue its path toward dictatorship in cooperation with the national-conservative alliance partners. For 6 Mar. 1933, the National Socialist Party planned a "victory celebration” on the occasion of the "election victory” in front of Altona city hall, in which the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) was still the strongest parliamentary party of the city council. In the aftermath, a rally of SA and SS men organized as a torchlight parade through the historic downtown of Altona was to take place. The indictment states that the KPD had reckoned with a Nazi seizure of power by force and intended to prevent it; allegedly, all of the units of the "Youth Storm” had been put on alert. From houses and rooftops, shots had been fired on the rally and on advancing police detachments, in response to which the police and participants in the rally returned fire. Three people were shot dead, at least 16 persons injured; the injured included four police officers and three SA and SS members. Five days later, on 11 Mar. 1933, the SS occupied Altona city hall. The terror against political opponents and intimidation of the electorate were successful: In the municipal elections on the following day, in Altona, too, the NSDAP came to power in alliance with the German National People’s Party (DNVP). Along with five other men, the defendant Wohinz was established as the "spiritual father and instigator of the attack” on the propaganda rally on 6 Mar. 1933. The indictment read, "They discussed and prepared the attack in the quarters of their formation, designating the other defendants to participate in the attack and abusing their command and the influence they exerted on their subordinates to have their bloody and criminal plan carried out by them.” As the district leader of the Red Youth Front in the Wasserkante district, it went on, as the overall leader of the Altona Youth Storm and member of the "S-Group,” Wohinz had attended the decisive discussions. In his presence, the gunmen were assigned and armed in Rodegast’s inn. Together with other Youth Front members, he had established the route of the torchlight parade and he was out and about in the streets located in the area of unrest. Anton Wohinz denied all charges. His girlfriend, Lina Erhardt, testified that she had gone to the movies with him that evening. On 3 July 1933, she wrote to Wohinz, "Anton, hopefully I have testified properly in the matter. I could not have done otherwise than tell the truth. Anton, they grilled me, you have no idea, Anton, which movie theater we went to and what we watched. I said, So ein Mädel vergisst man nicht [A Girl You Don't Forget]. That was probably the right picture and then [they asked] the way we took and at what time, and why we took a shortcut at Erdmann’s. So I said, because all of them knew you and you were wearing the riding breeches [a pair of knee-length pants that had a military look to them]. Anton, I do hope that you will not get into difficulties because of this and that I testified properly about everything.” In the trial, this letter served as evidence that Lina Erhardt had constructed an alibi for her fiancé, without being able to provide the correct movie title, however. That Wohinz still was "an absolutely obstinate Communist,” the authorities argued, emerged from a letter to his mother dated 10 Sept. 1934: "Oh, I cannot write any more, I don’t know any more, that is, I do know more but I am not allowed to write it. I would really like to vent my anger about a lot of things but unfortunately, the situation calls for being silent. However, the times will change some day.” After two years in pretrial detention, in the trial against "Schoop et al.” the Berlin Court of Appeal (Berliner Kammergericht) sentenced Anton Wohinz, who had no previous convictions, to 12 years in prison for "preparation to high treason” on 8 July 1935. In this criminal case against the worker Heinrich Gustav Schoop and 20 others, mostly young men from Altona, predominantly workers and sailors, all of the accused were sentenced to long prison terms "for preparation of a treasonous undertaking” "in coincidence with attempted murder, aggravated sedition, and aggravated breach of the peace.” By 1936, the Gestapo in Hamburg had arrested several thousand members of the Communist resistance. In the 1930s, men and women belonging to the Communist resistance made up the largest group of prisoners in concentration camps and penitentiaries. Anton Wohinz was committed to the Rendsburg penal institution on 13 July 1935. In his life story, he emphasized, "I admit to being guilty of high treason only but not of attempted murder.” He had "committed” the deed "out of political convictions.” On 15 Aug. 1935, he was temporarily transferred from the Rendsburg penal institution to the Altona court prison. Apparently, he also served as a witness in the criminal case against "Schoop and associates.” The Chief Prosecutor with the Court of Appeal instructed the Altona court prison to prevent any communication between the witnesses, inmates, and defendants. "This is a treason case of particular significance in which all of those involved will probably seek any opportunity to obscure the facts of the case through collusion among each other.” On 18 Sept. 1935, Anna Wacker asked for permission to visit: "To the warden of the Rendsburg penal institution. My foster son, Anton Wohinz, is serving a sentence of 12 years in the penal institution, though currently he is in the Altona court prison as a witness, and I would like to request that you grant me permission to visit him. I am 62 years old and frail.” No visit was approved. On 23 Mar. 1937, Anton Wohinz was transferred to the Fuhlsbüttel penitentiary, where his foster mother was able to visit him. A note was added to his file indicating that from his balance, he had bought a diary, an encyclopedia, and an atlas. He was employed knotting raffia until, at his own request, he started working as a bookbinder. On 12 July 1939, Anton Wohinz was transferred from the Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel penitentiary to Prison Camp II, Aschendorfermoor, one of the Emsland camps. The camp was set up in 1935, initially for 1,000 prisoners and predominantly filled with persons sentenced to imprisonment with hard labor. From 1937 until 1940, the camp served above all for detaining convicts sentenced for "preparation to high treason” and other political offenses. The Emsland camps were a network of 15 concentration, prison, and POW camps on the border to the Netherlands, with the central administration located in Papenburg. The prisoners were forced to perform extremely hard labor cultivating the bogs, causing many of them to perish. On 18 July 1935, the Rendsburg prison doctor certified that Anton Wohinz was in a good state of health and that he had a strong constitution, attaching the stamp of "fit for work in bog cultivation” on the examination results. The working hours of the prisoners in bog work, which included drainage, road building, as well as digging peat, were up to 12 hours a day. Instances of harassment against the prisoners were the order of the day. Added to this were entirely inadequate nutrition, disastrous hygienic conditions, and an increasingly extensive exploitation of human labor. On 24 Aug. 1940, Anton Wohinz was transported from the Aschendorfermoor Emsland camp via Papenburg back to the Fuhlsbüttel penitentiary in Hamburg, where he worked as a bookbinder and dealt with literature. In June 1941, he wished to buy a French textbook; however, this was not permitted, as the book was supposedly out of print. In 1940, the authorities certified that he was an "industrious” worker and his conduct "impeccable.” The social worker reached the following assessment: "Intelligent, articulate in expression, owning up to preparation to high treason, denying to have acted as an accessory to murder, also denying that he was the spiritual father, is serving the sentence easier now because he sees clearly and is convinced of the necessity of harsh penalties. Says he has reached a positive point of view. I believe him. […] very open-minded and clear in his thinking.” In Jan. 1943, Anton Wohinz worked in the paper operation; in this section, too, the assessment indicated that he was "very industrious and reliable.” The chief administrative inspector (Verwaltungsoberinspektor) wrote about him on 16 Jan. 1943: "W. has conducted himself impeccably. He has a clean and pleasant appearance and he is very open-minded and clear in his thinking. With respect to high treason, he has confessed, but he denies having been an accessory to murder. He says that in the course of his imprisonment, he has come to inner insight and clarity about his wrong views. He has also come to understand the necessity of harsh sentences for political offenses, which according to him makes his imprisonment easier. In all probability, he will subsequently comply.” However, in contrast to this report was the testimony by a fellow prisoner in the penitentiary, according to which Wohinz was among the prisoners "the driving force of Communism.” Much too clever to betray anything to the outside, the testimony continued, he was masterful at playing the convert. The claim that he was agitating among the prisoners and that he played a leading role ideologically possibly spelled his death sentence. Perhaps he was mistreated to break him as a political prisoner and drive him to death; it is also possible that the prospect of no chance for a pardon or never reaching freedom again prompted him to take his own life. One month later, the section warden found Wohinz dead when unlocking his cell in the early morning of 16 Feb. 1943, allegedly hanged on a sisal rope he had supposedly misappropriated. His corpse was forwarded to the institute of anatomy at the Harbor Hospital. The file reads, "Found dead in his cell on 16 February. Hanged himself.” After calling on Anna Wacker, who had received letters from the prison and visited Anton Wohinz on a regular basis, the prison’s curator of the estate reported: "I called on Mrs. Wacker personally and gained the impression […] that she can still not comprehend the fate of her foster son.” Anna Wacker had Anton Wohinz buried in the Hamburg-Altona Main Cemetery.

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: April 2018
© Birgit Gewehr

Quellen: StaH 242-1 II Gefängnisverwaltung II, Ablieferung 13 (Strafhaftzeiten) und Ablieferung 16 (Untersuchungshaftzeiten); Gedenkstätte Esterwegen, Auskunft zu Anton Wohinz, 17.10.2012; Bundesarchiv Berlin, DY55/V287/667 (Abschrift der Anklageschrift gegen Schoop und Genossen, darunter Anton Wohinz, Zusammenstoß mit der SA 1933); Diercks, Gedenkbuch Kola-Fu, S. 63; AB Altona.

print preview  / top of page