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Wilhelm Bock * 1886
Hegestieg 14 (Hamburg-Nord, Eppendorf)
1938 Gefängnis Fuhlsbüttel
1940 KZ Sachsenhausen
Wilhelm Bock, born on 30 Apr. 1886 in Hamburg, died on 21 Aug. 1940 in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp
Wilhelm Bock was born on 30 Apr. 1886 in Hammerbrook, the son of a railroad official. After attending elementary school (Volksschule), he did an apprenticeship with a beer importing and exporting firm in Hamburg. He lost his father early and lived with friends of his parents after his mother died. Following his military service, Wilhelm Bock worked in Nigeria and Cameroon for three years. The inhumane conditions under which the locals worked first motivated his political activism, leading in 1911 to him joining the SPD. In 1913, Wilhelm Bock married Wiebke Krogmann. The couple moved to Eppendorf. Wilhelm Bock fought as a soldier in World War I and started up his own business after the end of the war by taking over a representation for textiles, subsequently for bicycles and car tires.
In the SPD’s Eppendorf party organization, he was elected district leader in 1923. Wilhelm Bock belonged to the "Black, Red, Gold Banner of the Reich” ("Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold) and was a member of the State Party Executive of the Hamburg SPD. Beyond that, he was active in a Hamburg Masonic Lodge. In 1936, Bock took over a business active in selling and renting out light narrow-gauge trains and conventional railroad trains. His self-employed work made him financially independent, enabling him to go on inconspicuous trips and maintain contacts related to resistance activities.
Wilhelm Bock probably participated in the so-called "Echo Meeting,” which took place at the editorial offices of the SPD party newspaper on 15 and 16 June 1933. The participants, numbering about 30, were arrested by the Nazis, mistreated, and released again after five weeks in prison.
The exact time Wilhelm Bock began actively participating in the resistance is not known. Following the ban of the SPD by the National Socialists, Walter Schmedemann built up an illegal party executive in Hamburg. The resistance organization established its own intelligence service, which systematically gathered data from all of Hamburg. This information system also provided news for the Rote Blätter, the illegal organ of the Hamburg SPD, produced weekly in a print run of several thousand copies and distributed beyond Hamburg as well. At the same time, the collected information was made available via couriers to the exiled executive in Prague. The news received there were published in the "Germany Reports” (Deutschland-Berichte) and smuggled back into the German Reich. By way of secret distribution channels, the illegal publications of the exiled executive were transported from Denmark or Czechoslovakia to Hamburg and distributed there.
After several waves of arrests, the illegal party executive in Hamburg stopped producing publications of its own. From Copenhagen, Richard Hansen coordinated resistance work on behalf of the party executive. Probably in 1936, by 1937 at the latest, however, Walter Siering from Eppendorf took over leadership of the resistance activities in Hamburg, organizing the exchange of information as well as the shipments of materials with Richard Hansen. According to Siering, Wilhelm Bock, who had numerous contacts ranging from the bourgeoisie to military circles, was his most important support.
In 1937, Bock met up with Richard Hansen for consultations in the Danish town of Kolding. On 1 Mar. 1938, Siering received word from Copenhagen that two days later a shipment would arrive that was to be taken on at Hamburg central station. Siering, worried by the arrest of a Social Democrat who knew of the activities, met with Bock to discuss the situation. Bock advised Siering to flee to Denmark immediately, promising to take care of the shipment of illegal materials.
Together with a fellow party member, the grocer Robert Finnern, who made his vehicle available for the transport, Bock intended to accept the shipment. When Finnern showed up at 7:30 p.m. on 3 Mar. 1938 for the transfer of the illegal shipment from Denmark by the Kiel-based Social Democrat Oskar Nielsen, the Gestapo struck. The suitcase with the illegal material contained 4,000 copies of the flyer entitled "Let the facts speak!” ("Lasst Tatsachen sprechen!”) as well as an unknown number of mail items. Wilhelm Bock was arrested that same evening. He had likely been under observation already, since a Gestapo informer had revealed all details and prepared the arrest well in advance. The two wives, Hilde Finnern and Wiebke Bock, as well as the twenty-year-old Wilhelm Bock junior were also detained for several days. Oskar Nielsen was not able to cope with the Gestapo methods, dying already after two days in custody. Wilhelm Bock and Robert Finnern were put to trial before the "People’s Court.”
On 23 Aug. 1938, the defendants were sentenced to one year and three months in prison for acting as accessories in the preparation of high treason. After the two men had served their sentences, they were not released but instead transferred to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Wilhelm Bock died there on 21 Aug. 1940 of "pneumonia, cardiac insufficiency, and enteritis,” as a telegraphic message said. His fellow party member Robert Finnern (see corresponding entry) had died in Sachsenhausen as well only a few months earlier.
In 1985, Wilhelm-Bock-Weg in Alsterdorf was named after the resistance fighter. The laying of a Stolperstein in front of his last place of residence at Hegestieg 14 took place in 2009. Another Stolperstein commemorates the Social Democrat since 2010 in front of the SPD party office at Kurt Schumacher Allee 10.
Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.
© Holger Martens
Quellen: StaH 351-11 AfW Abl. 2008/1, 9.2.1918 Wilhelm Bock, Junior; StaH 351-11 AfW Abl. 2008/1, 13.3.1894 Robert Finnern; Martens, Auf dem Weg in den Widerstand, in: Hamburg und sein norddeutsches Umland. Festschrift für Franklin Kopitzsch, Brietzke/Fischer/Herzig (Hrsg.), 2007, S. 354–376; Zur Widerstandsarbeit und den Vorgängen 1938 siehe den Bericht von Walter Siering an Hilde Finnern, 5.12.1949, Privatbesitz Beate Reis; Martens, Widerstand, in: "Alles für Hamburg", o.D. , S. 47–60.
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