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Max Heinrich Dahms * 1914

Zimmerstraße 47 (Hamburg-Nord, Uhlenhorst)

JG. 1914

Max Heinrich Werner Dahms, born on 14 Feb. 1914, died after a suicide attempt at the prison hospital of the Fuhlsbüttel police prison on 16 Oct. 1940

Zimmerstrasse 47

The seaman Max Dahms was born as one of four children of the married couple Heinrich and Helene Dahms, née Sassarath, in Hamburg. The family lived at Zimmerstrasse 45.

Politically active even in his youth, Max Dahms joined the German Communist Party (KPD). Later, he became a member of the Alliance of Red Front Fighters (Roter Frontkämpferbund – RFB) "Einheit” ("Unity”), which after the ban on the RFB continued to be active underground from 1929 onward. In the early 1930s, the RFB and the SA fought each other in bitter street battles. Starting in 1933, Max Dahms was involved in numerous operations of the RFB, for which he was subsequently charged and convicted.

On 26 Feb. 1933, he carried out a raid together with 26 other comrades on the Kirchmeyer SA meeting place on Alter Teichweg. This incident saw an exchange of fire between the SA and the RFB, in the course of which a few RFB members were arrested. The next operation took place at the beginning of March. Max Dahms was arrested for a short time on 5 Mar., the Sunday of the Reichstag election, because he was accused of propaganda. However, after half an hour at the police station, he was allowed to go home again. On the evening of that same day, the RFB members Max Dahms, Adolf Olsson, Werner Stockmann, Paul Krahn, and Rudolf Bramfeld gathered at the apartment of Bertha and Helmuth Buchholz between 7 p.m. and 12 midnight. In the course of the evening, the leader of the Second Unit of the RFB assigned them to protect Mr. Ledig’s RFB meeting place at Schumannstrasse 6. Until midnight, two of them at a time were on guard duty in front of the pub.

For the next day, 6 Mar. 1933, Max Dahms was again assigned to guard duty, since word was out that the SA intended to storm Mr. Ledig’s bar. The place they met up this time was Düe’s pub at Humboldtstrasse 100. At about 7 p.m., 17 persons from the youth detachment of the Second Unit and the Fourth Unit of the RFB assembled. Every member received a firearm whose distribution was carried out by, among others, Max Dahms, after a comrade by the name of Sonntag had procured the guns. Afterwards, all of them settled down to lie in ambush around Ledig’s tavern, waiting for the SA. The Nazi storm troopers did pass by the building at 8 p.m., upon which fire was opened immediately, with the SA returning fire.

Max Dahms lay waiting on a porch together with Rudolf Bramfeld when the exchange of fire began. Both fired on the SA squad but after only three shots, Max Dahms’s weapon jammed. Rudolf Bramfeld and Max Dahms then jumped up and ran toward the corner of Schumannstrasse and Beethovenstrasse. The other fighters of the Red Front also attempted to escape and go underground but most of them were arrested by police within the next several days. Max Dahms was among the few to succeed in fleeing.

Although Max Dahms actually had to hide from police, he was nevertheless involved in a number of subsequent RFB operations against the SA. On 21 Mar. 1933, he joined several comrades in attacking the SA man Angerstein in Barmbek-Uhlenhorst, an act of revenge, as a few days before the SA had dragged a Communist into one of their meeting places for the local detachment (Sturm-Lokal) and beat him up.

The last documentable action by Max Dahms took place in Apr. 1933. Dahms was among the masterminds behind the bombings of the Wucherpfennig bar on Barmbeker Strasse and on the Mühlenkamp ferry house. The backdrop to the attacks was the takeover by the SA of what until then had been a hangout for Communists. No one was injured in the operation.

Eventually, Max Dahms was caught by police on 28 Aug. 1933, imprisoned, and put to trial. After a two-month trial, on 23 Oct. 1933, the Hanseatic special court (Hanseatisches Sondergericht) sentenced him for, among other things, "breach of the public peace,” illegal possession of firearms, and attempted murder to serve a hard prison term totaling eleven years and six months. At this time, Max Dahms was only just 19 years old.

After seven years of imprisonment in the Fuhlsbüttel prison, Max Dahms attempted to commit suicide in his cell and died only a few days later, on 16 Oct. 1940, in the prison hospital as a result of his injuries.

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

© Carmen Smiatacz

Quellen: StaHH 213-11, Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafakten, L 17/38; StaHH 213-11, Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafakten, L 115/36; StaHH 213-11, Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafakten, 681/89, Bd. 1; StaHH 213-11, Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafakten, 818/41; StaHH 242-1 II, Gefängnisverwaltung II, Abl. 13 Ältere Gefangenenkartei; Diercks: Gedenkbuch "KOLA-FU", S. 61; Totenliste Hamburger Widerstandskämpfer und Verfolgter 1933–1945.

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