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Otto Dreier * 1880

Lassallestraße 42 (Harburg, Harburg)

JG. 1880

Otto Dreier, born on 11 June 1880 in Reichswalde (District of Insterburg, East Prussia), died on 6 July 1946 of the effects of imprisonment

Harburg-Altstadt quarter, Lassallestrasse 42

Otto Dreier got married to Marianne Müller, born on 25 Nov. 1883 in Harburg. They had three children: Marie, born on 6 Oct. 1906; Otto, born on 21 Sept. 1907; and Paul, born on 4 Apr. 1909, all three of them in Harburg. In the 1920s and 1930s, Otto Dreier operated a fruit and vegetable store at Lassallestrasse 42, where the family had its home as well. Politically, he had joined the German Communist Party (KPD). In 1933, Lassallestrasse (named after Ferdinand Lassalle, the president of the General German Workers’ Association [Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein], founded in 1863) was renamed "Schlageterstrasse” (after Albert Leo Schlageter, a dynamiter around whom the NSDAP built a martyr’s cult). We do not know whether Otto Dreier went underground immediately and joined the resistance in 1933. Fact is that he subsequently was in contact with the illegal KPD Harburg-Wilhelmsburg subdistrict leadership headed by Felix Plewa. Several small groups existed in various quarters of the city and companies. As a rule, they did not print their materials themselves, instead getting them from the Section Leadership North (Abschnittsleitung Nord) of the KPD in Copenhagen, who had the materials smuggled to Harburg by couriers (see entry on Felix Plewa).

After the occupation of Denmark by the German Wehrmacht in 1940, the Gestapo succeeded from 1941 onward in tracking down and arresting several members of the former section leadership and their contacts in Germany. Otto Dreier belonged to this group as well. On 22 Oct. 1941, he was arrested on a vegetable market in Hamburg and charged with illegally sheltering resistance fighters and distributing Communist flyers and magazines.

He was committed to the Fuhlsbüttel Gestapo prison on 23 Oct. 1941 and then to the Hamburg pretrial detention facility at Holstenglacis (12 Nov. 1941 to 5 May 1942). Because of "preparation to high treason,” he was sentenced to three years in prison. He served his penalty in the Fuhlsbüttel penitentiary from 5 May 1942 until 29 Feb. 1945. It was interrupted, probably due to the heavy air raids in July 1943, from 3 Aug. to 3 Nov. 1943. After 29 Feb. 1945, the Gestapo placed him in police custody for another month.

He was able to enjoy his release only to a limited degree because he was ill and unfit to work. In May 1946, he had to be admitted to hospital. He died of the effects of imprisonment on 6 July 1946.

His two sons were also Communists and active in the resistance. Otto Dreier Jr supported the illegal KPD Harburg-Wilhelmsburg subdistrict leadership under its political head Erich Meyer (see entry on Robert Homeyer). In Wilstorf, he organized the local illegal cell in cooperation with Emma Quest and lived with his father at Lassallestrasse 42.

He, too, was arrested, held in pretrial detention in Harburg from 21 July 1934 to Feb. 1935, and sentenced by the Court of Appeal in Berlin (Prosecution D) to one year and eight months in prison. He served his sentence in the Rendsburg penitentiary from Feb. 1935 to 21 Oct. 1936. During the war, he was drafted in 1943 to serve in the 999th Division Probation Battalion (Bewährungsbatallion Division 999) (see entry on Fritz Dringelburg), trained at Heuberg in the Swabian Jura, and deployed in Greece. There, he was deported, probably due to unreliability, made his way to France, and worked there for the Nazis’ Organization Todt (OT). The OT organized strategically important construction measures in Germany and the occupied territories. At some point, Otto Dreier ended up in prison again. We have no information about the different stages, but his place of release was the Leipzig-Waldheim penal institution. He survived the Nazi period and died in 1948.

His brother, Paul Dreier, was held in pretrial detention in Harburg from 24 July 1934 to 13 Sept. 1935 and was sentenced to two years and three months in prison for "preparation to high treason.” He served his prison term in the Berlin-Moabit penal institution from 14 Sept. 1935 to 21 Oct. 1936. In 1942, he was drafted into the punishment ["probation”] battalion as well. At that time, he lived at Triftstrasse 4. He was deployed in North Africa and taken prisoner of war by the French, returning from captivity as an ill man in 1947.

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

© Hans-Joachim Meyer

Quellen: VVN-BdA Harburg (Hrsg.), Die anderen, S. 150; StaH, 332-8 Meldewesen, A46; StaH, 351-11, AfW, Otto Dreier; VVN, Komitee-Akten.

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