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Erzählerin: Christine Jensen
Sprecher: Torge Schmidt
Felix Plewa
© Privatbesitz

Felix Plewa * 1906

Deichhausweg 2 (Harburg, Harburg)

JG. 1906

Felix Plewa, b. 1.31.1906 in Harburg, condemned to death and executed at Berlin-Plötzensee on 9.3.1943

Harburg-Altstadt quarter, Deichhausweg 2

The plumber Felix Plewa was the son of the worker Josef Plewa and had eleven siblings and half-siblings. Josef Plewa (b. 2.27.1886) entered into his first marriage with Antonia Majdiczak and, later, a second marriage with Stanislawa Michalak. All of them came from the Province of Posen which belonged to Prussia at that time. [Felix’s] brother Johann (b. 3.28.1895) was killed in the war on 17 April 1917. His sister Sophie (b. 5.28.1914) died on 17 November 1915. His brother Karl later helped Felix Plewa in his illegal political work. Of the remaining siblings, the following is known: Franz (b. 1.22.1911), Leo (b. 6.14.1913), Maria (b. 6. 20.1915), Gerhard (b. 10.28.1916), Josef (b. 8.4.1918), Robert (b. 5.4.1921) und Helga (b.6.14.1928).

When Felix Plewa was born, the family lived at Rudolfstrasse 4 (today, Gazerstrasse). Later addresses were Adolf-vom-Elm-Hof 4 (1932) and Niemannstrasse 30 (from 1934).

In the 1920s, Felix Plewa worked for the firm H. C. Meyer ("Stockmeyer") and other walking stick and chair tubing manufacturers. He also looked for work in Bremen and the Netherlands. In 1930, he joined the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and became the manager of Party literature for the sub-region of Harburg-Wilhelmsburg (which included Buxtehude, Lüneburg, and Uelzen). His job was to organize the sales of newspapers, brochures, and books. From 1933 until March 1934, he was held in "protective custody,” probably in a concentration camp. After his release, he found work at the Johns foundry (Schüttstrasse), but soon had to give it up because of lead poisoning. He started a new job as a plumber at the Breusted plumbing workshop in Heimfeld at Postweg 13 (today, Alter Postweg). He was married to Johanna Keyser, b. 4.19.1904 in Harburg on what is today Deichhausweg (then, Deichstrasse 11). They had a daughter named Lisa, b. on 3.26.1936, and another named Anke.

After a wave of arrests in 1934, the illegal Communist Party in Harburg-Wilhelmsburg needed to form a new directorate for the sub-region, which the Harburger Paul Oeltzner, on the staff of the Wasserkante regional directorate, organized. Since 1935, the Divisional Directorate North, in Copenhagen, coordinated illegal Communist Party work for the entire coastal region, from Ems to East Prussia. From Denmark, Heinrich Wiatrek (who was later "turned” by the Gestapo) made contact with Felix Plewa and appointed him to a new function, that of political leader for the sub-region. (The leadership of the Communist Party, as a rule, was "tripartite," with individuals in charge of political leadership, organization and agitation, and propaganda.) Plewa found comrades-in-arms in August Kerbstadt from Marmstorf, Heinrich Coors, formerly the leader of Harburg’s Youth League, Paul Reinke from Heimfeld, and Albert Karolzcak, a former member of the works‘ council at the Phoenix rubber goods plant. Soon there were again illegal cells in Harburg-City Center, Heimfeld, Eissendorf, at the Harburg oil refinery, Brinckmann & Mergell (Hobum), the Phoenix plant, and the Harburg iron and bronze works (later Krupp, ThyssenKrupp, and today, Harburg-Freudenberger). Plewa’s wife Johanna and his brother Karl helped with the illegal work.

Felix Plewa himself undertook spectacular actions. At that time, fireworks with timed fuses were for sale. Plewa filled them with 2 ¾ x ¾ inch pieces of paper with slogans written on them, such as, "Fight with the Communist Party against this murder-hunger-beggar regime” or "Strike in Vegesack, Husum, and Essen! Defend yourself!” In June 1935, he placed fireworks prepared in this way in the roof gutters of the employment office at Grossen Schippsee, with the fuses timed to go off when the office opened. In the middle of July, he did the same during the change of shifts at the F. Thörls United Harburg Oil Refinery (on 19 July at 2:30 PM, according to the Gestapo.) The Harburg Gestapo wrote about this in its daily log (20 July 1935). Johanna Plewa related that after these Harburg actions, this sort of fireworks was no longer sold. Presumably, their sale was banned.

In 1936, discussions took place in Copenhagen between the Divisional Directorate North and resistance operatives. Felix Plewa also took part. His trip to Copenhagen was aided by his friend Karl Nieter, one of the liaisons between Denmark and Harburg-Wilhelmsburg.

The Gestapo soon had knowledge of these activities in the sub-region. However, it did not succeed in "rounding up" the organization, not even after the arrest of Paul Reinke, Otto Petrich, and a courier from Copenhagen. Felix Plewa remained well shielded.

After 1 September 1939, he was taken in. The Communist Party Divisional Directorate North was dissolved. Contact with Denmark was broken off. Denmark was occupied by the German Army in 1940. By July 1941, the Gestapo had seized many former members of Communist Party Divisional Directorate North. Karl Köhler, the Harburg Communist, later exposed as a Gestapo informer, had helped in the round up. Felix Plewa had been stationed in Uetersen. When his wife Johanna went to see him there, she learned of his arrest. She returned home immediately, informed his brother Karl, and got rid of the illegal material in the house. The Gestapo appeared but found nothing incriminating.

Karl Plewa was also a Communist and was involved in illegal work. He worked as a paramedic at the Phoenix plant. On May I, during a "Führer speech" he cut the radio cable. In the autumn of 1944, he received a summons from the Gestapo. He then went underground until the end of the war.

Felix Plewa was held in "protective custody" in the Fuhlsbüttel Gestapo prison from 22 April until 29 September 1942, then in pretrial detention at the prison on Holstenglacis in Hamburg. On 24 December, he was transferred to Berlin-Moabit. In his indictment he was accused of "preparation to commit high treason” and "military sabotage.” On 6 January 1943, along with Karl Nieter, he was condemned to death by the "People’s Court” in Berlin and remanded back to the Hamburg detention center. Pleas for mercy from family members and Deichhausweg neighbors were unavailing. On 9 March 1943, Felix Plewa was executed at Berlin-Plötzensee.

The Gestapo warned that a regular burial for Plewa in Harburg might provide an "occasion for demonstrations.” His corpse was therefore given to the medical faculty of the University of Berlin.

Felix Plewa’s last letter to his wife.

"Hamburg, dem 9.1.1943
Dear Hannchen

On 1.6.43, that is, on Grandpa’s birthday, I was condemned to death by the People’s Court in Berlin. The word "death” sounds terrible, but it must not affect you and you may not dwell on it. As loyal, truthful, courageous, and plucky as you are today, so must you also remain. Dear Hannchen, your honesty and integrity gave me strength and courage, and life at your side has really made my life worth living.

When you have read this letter, then think of the children and of the tasks you have yet to perform. Life belongs to the living, and my last wish is this, that you raise Lisa and Little Anke to be people who always stand up for the true and the good and who remain true to themselves.

Dear Hannchen! You are still young, your life lies before you still. Weep not, rather think about this. Your life belongs to the children and you must take from life what life offers: happiness and contentment. For that which you have given me as comrade and wife, I can only thank you here in words and will, as long as I still live, think of you and the children and remain to you what I was.

I must close now and ask of you to salute for me all our good and upright relatives and acquaintances. Don’t forget Kalli, Grandpa, and Sophie. For you, Lisa, and Little Anke many, many kisses. Your Daddy.

When I am no more, then forget me, for your life belongs to you, Lisa, Little Anke, and to all the good, honest, and upright people."

Translator: Richard Levy
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: February 2018
© Hans-Joachim Meyer

Quellen: VVN-BdA Harburg (Hrsg.), Die anderen, S. 149ff., 248ff.; Hochmuth/Meyer, Streiflichter, S. 177, 180, 185f.; StaH, 242-1-II Gefängnisverwaltung II, Abl. 1998/1; StaH, 331-1-II Polizeibehörde II; StaH, 332-8 Meldewesen, A44, A46; StaH, Adressbücher Harburg-Wilhelmsburg und Hamburg; Sta Stade, K 425/2; Bundesarchiv Berlin, FFBS Nr. 2543, 2544; VVN, Komitee-Akten; Heyl/Maronde-Heyl, Abschlussbericht; Totenliste VAN.

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