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Paul Dreibrodt
© Privatbesitz

Paul Dreibrodt * 1905

Heinrich-Heine-Straße 30 (Harburg, Wilstorf)

Im Widerstand
verhaftet 05.03.1943
Zuchthaus Celle
ermordet 28.05.1945
Zuchthaus Bützow

Paul Dreibrodt, born on 19 July 1905 in Köllitzsch (District of Torgau), died in the Bützow-Dreibergen penitentiary on 28 May 1945

Wilstorf quarter, Heinrich-Heine-Strasse 30

The carpenter Paul Dreibrodt got married to Margarete Bergmann, born on 19 Feb. 1908 in Harburg. The couple temporarily lived in Horst near Maschen (District of Harburg) and from Oct. 1936 onward again in Harburg in what is today Heinrich-Heine-Strasse 30. During the Nazi period, the street was named Dietrich-Eckart-Strasse after a National Socialist writer. Their son Heinz was born on 27 Mar. 1929.

Margarete and Paul Dreibrodt were both Communists. Nothing is known concerning illegal activities immediately after 1933. In 1935, Margarete Dreibrodt helped her brother, the Communist Gustav Bergmann who was wanted by the Gestapo, escape from Harburg.

During the war, they supported the illegal German Communist Party (KPD) in Harburg and Wilhelmsburg headed by Oskar and Ella Reincke, and later the Hamburg resistance organization around Bästlein, Jacob, and Abshagen (see entry on Karl Kock). Margarete Dreibrodt listened to Radio Moscow, which also broadcast the names of captured German soldiers. Using disguised handwriting, she wrote to relatives of Hamburg soldiers, informing them that they were alive. This was important because the Nazis claimed that the Soviet army did not take any prisoners and shot the soldiers. If her activity had become known to the Gestapo, it would have been considered as "aiding the enemy” ("Feindbegünstigung”) and punished severely.

The Bästlein Organization had established company cells in many large-scale enterprises in Hamburg, for instance at the Phoenix rubber plant in Harburg. In Oct. 1942, the mass arrests against the organization began. On the Phoenix company site, Wilhelm Milke and Herbert Bittcher were arrested while at work. Karl Kock, wanted as well, was on sick leave and not at the company. Margarete Dreibrodt warned him and helped him flee to Hamburg. There, he went underground, staying at a number of addresses, for instance, with the Pappermann family on Süderstrasse, who were distant relatives of him. Margarete and Paul Dreibrodt visited him several times in his hideouts, bringing clean clothes and collected food stamps. Disguised as a hiker, Paul Dreibrodt came wearing a coat and hat and carrying a backpack. He also went to Lübeck to find a means of escape for Karl Kock by ship but without any success. No one wished to take aboard a fugitive wanted by the Gestapo, as the controls were very strict.

A person also helping support Karl Kock was Paul Dreibrodt’s sister Margarete Glissmann, née Dreibrodt (born on 4 Feb. 1909 in Anhalt). She and her husband Martin Glissmann lived a few houses away, at Dietrich-Eckart-Strasse 39.

Heinz Dreibrodt, 15 years old at the time, says today, "I had been raised by my parents in a humanistic and anti-Fascist way. Of course, I listened in on what my parents discussed. Repeatedly, illegal meetings took place in our home as well. My father had exhorted me not to name any names under any circumstances if we were to get a ‘visit’ from unpleasant people one day. It would be best, he said, if I suppressed and forgot the names. I took that to heart because my father was my great role model. Even today, I have a poor memory for names. That is a legacy from those days.”

One day, the Gestapo officer Henry Helms showed up at the Pappermanns’ home, dressed in an outfit similar to Paul Dreibrodt’s. By then, the Gestapo had found out about the hideouts, and someone already in custody had probably revealed, under torture, the password required from anyone wishing to get in contact with Karl Kock. The Pappermanns were arrested, and so was Paul Dreibrodt on 5 Mar. 1943 and one day later Karl Kock, who was hiding in Harburg at Kapellenweg 15 with August Quest at the time.

Paul Dreibrodt was committed to the Fuhlsbüttel Gestapo prison and then to the Holstenglacis pretrial detention facility. Margarete Dreibrodt received several summons for interrogations by the Gestapo at the Stadthaus. She pretended not to know anything, and those arrested remained silent as well. Thus, she stayed out of prison.

In May 1944, the trials against the members of the resistance organizations took place, six of them before the "People’s Court” ("Volksgerichtshof”), which for this purpose was in session in Hamburg. Paul Dreibrodt was sentenced to six years in prison and was transferred to the Celle penitentiary.

As the front edged closer, the prisoners were transported off from Celle, for according to the Nazis’ intentions, none of the prisoners were to fall into Allied hands alive. Paul Dreibrodt was taken away from Celle by train on 10 Apr. 1945 (one day later, US troops reached the town). The transport crisscrossed North Germany, constantly threatened by air raids. Eventually, the prisoners arrived at the Bützow-Dreibergen penitentiary in Mecklenburg. They received no or completely insufficient food. Many died of diseases, hunger, or exhaustion, even after the Soviet army had liberated them. Paul Dreibrodt perished there on 28 May 1945.

Excerpts of a letter by Paul Dreibrodt from the Celle penitentiary dated June 1944:
"Dear Mom,
How often in the past did we sing the beautiful Löns song [composed by Hermann Löns], ‘Es stehn drei Birken wohl auf der Heide‘ [‘Three birch trees are growing in the heath’], as we went hand in hand hiking in the heath, not thinking of anything bad – on the contrary, our hearts were overflowing – when we sang these words: ‘… in Celle stands a solid house, our love is over.’ This solid house is the penitentiary and I am in it now. I came here on Pentecost. (…)

My dear Heinz, let me firmly press your hands. I am happy that you are such a brave little guy. I am not worried about you, for you will surely make your way. Things are often not easy and sometimes quite hostile in life. But anyone who has the courage and a positive outlook on life will always find a source from which to draw the strength to overcome all difficulties. One thing we all must do: learn! Look here, everything you see – nature excepted, of course – is made by humans after all, beautiful houses, elaborate buildings, the machines, our railroad, the streets and the magnificent parks, and much more. Ultimately, it is nice being able to say: I have contributed to this work as an active member. What proud feeling, though, when one can say: This is my work, these are my thoughts, this is my creation; I have built this. Everyone becomes a master if only the will is there, Heinzi. You must always become the ‘hammer on the anvil.’ Your mother is helping you in doing so. (…)”

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

© Hans-Joachim Meyer

Quellen: VVN-BdA Harburg (Hrsg.), Die anderen, s. Personenverzeichnis; Hochmuth/Meyer, Streiflichter, s. Personenverzeichnis; VVN-BdA Harburg (Hrsg.), Stumme Zeugen, s. Personenverzeichnis; StaH, 332-8 Meldewesen, A46; Heyl/Maronde-Heyl, Abschlussbericht; Totenliste VAN.

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