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Berthold Bormann * 1904

Reeseberg 90 (Harburg, Wilstorf)

JG. 1904

Berthold Bormann, born 25.11.1904 in Staßfurt, suicide after being summoned by the Gestapo on 23.11.1943

Stadtteil Wilstorf, Reeseberg 90

Berthold Bormann became a member of the German Communist Party (KPD) in 1931. In 1932 he became the chief treasurer of the Party in Harburg. He had already been convicted for breaching the peace. From 1932 on his address was Reeseberg 90. The address was originally Friedrich List Straße 18. According to the address book lists of 1942 he lived in Bonus Straße 24a, presumably his flat in Reeseberg having been destroyed by a bomb. He was married to Anna Reuter, born 2 Jun. 1905 in Harburg.

When Hitler became the Chancellor on 30 Jan. 1933, the German Communist Party was preparing for its relegation to an illegal status. Groups of three and five from the existing party cells were established. On 27 Feb. the Reichstag in Berlin was set on fire. The arsonist Marinus van der Lubbe was arrested. Whether he had a team of men supporting this action will never be known. The central government (Berlin) held the Communist Party responsible for this arson attack. On 28 Feb. a law introduced by the Reichstag President with the intention of "protecting the state and its people” annulled most of the fundamental rights of the Weimar Republic. Mass arrests aimed at communists and even the social democrats were deployed. Even government ministers despite their immunity were no longer exempted. The social democrats and communist press were banned, the Communist Party was in fact eliminated, yet the Social Democratic Party was never officially banned.

Berthold Bormann took part in the resistance movement of the communists from the very beginning. At the time parts of northern Lower Saxony from Buxtehude to Lüneburg and Uelzen to as far as Bleckede and Neuhaus belonged to the Communist Party of the sub-district of Harburg-Wilhlemsburg. Bormann, who set up contact to the illegal organisation in Winsen, Lüneburg and even Neuhaus on the right bank of the river Elbe, delivered newspapers (the "North German News” – Norddeutsche Zeitung - was produced in Harburg) and scripts there and collected money for the Party and the "Red Help”.

Even materials and equipment were sent by post under cover names to communists unknown to the police via the post, who in turn were required to pass on the materials. Bormann developed his own codes for written messages, which he clarified for his contacts in Winsen and Lüneburg.

On 24 Jul. 1933 he was arrested, from 1 Aug. to 19 Sept. he was kept in custody in the prison in Buxtehude Straße. On 18 Oct. after he was arrested once more and was imprisoned in the same prison. On 22 Jan. 1934 he was taken to the law courts prison in Lüneburg. In the so-called Lüneburg treason trial in the Supreme Court of Berlin he was sentenced to two years and six months imprisonment. On the 24th February he was discharged from the Emsland Börgermoor concentration camp with his "earnings” of RM 28,80 in his pocket. Borgermoor at that time was no longer a concentration camp, but a prison institution for the administration of justice. However the treatment of the prisoners did not differ from that of the concentration camps.

Despite his experiences in the concentration camp and prison Berthold Bormann once again took part in the resistance movement. During the war he belonged to an organisation formed around Bästlein Jacob and Abshagen (refer to Karl Kock). They had established political cells in several Hamburg companies, even on the wharfs. Bormann was the contact person to the leadership of the resistance group (via Oskar Reincke) in the Harburg factory cells. At the beginning of 1942 he set up contact with Karl Kock, who worked in the Phoenix factory at the time, with the aim of building up a resistance group. He assisted with the management of the resistance group as well as hiding and assisting Wilhelm Fellendorf , who was sought after by the Gestapo but managed to parachute into East Prussia (refer to Herbert Bittcher), enabling him to leave the country. In the series of arrests that followed from 15 Oct. onwards Fellendorf, together with many comrades-in-arms of the Bästlein organisation were traced down and arrested, among others Berthold Bormann. Karl Kock was able to evade arrest and found a hiding place with various friends and relations.

Berthold Bormann was placed in protective custody in the Gestapo prison of Fühlsbüttel from 21 Oct. 1942 to 14 Mar. 1943. He was subsequently released by the Gestapo on the condition that he trace down Karl Kock. He pretended to the authorities to do just that, visited Karl Kock’s wife in Wilstorf (Am Mühlenfeld 107) and showed her his finger that had been crushed by torture. He revealed nothing, presumably even Elfriede Kock was not aware of his hide-out. On 25 Mar. 1943 he was taken into custody on the Holstanglacis (street in Hamburg), was however released one day later, because nothing could be proven against him and the fact that his comrades-in-arms had not revealed Bormann’s direct link to the leadership of the resistance movement. On the 22 Nov. 1943 he was once again summoned to appear before the Gestapo. One day later he hanged himself in his apartment.

Translator: Peter Huggett
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg

© Hans-Joachim Meyer

Quellen: Hochmuth/Meyer, Streiflichter; VVN-BdA Harburg (Hrsg.), Die anderen; VVN-BdA Harburg (Hrsg.), Stumme Zeugen; Geschichtswerkstatt Lüneburg (Hrsg.): Heimat, S. 194ff.; StaH, 242-1-II, Gefängnisverwaltung II, Abl. 1998/1; StaH, 331-1-II, Polizeibehörde II; StaH, 332-8 Meldewesen, A46; StaH, 430-64 Amtsgericht Harburg II B 25; StaH,, Adressbücher Harburg-Wilhelmsburg und Hamburg; Mitteilung Männergefängnis Hamburg-Harburg vom 21.4.1949; Prozessakten Berthold Bormann und Karl Kock, Privatbesitz; Heyl/Maronde-Heyl, Abschlussbericht; Totenliste VAN.

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