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Already layed Stumbling Stones

Michael Pielen * 1893

Isestraße 61 (Eimsbüttel, Harvestehude)

KZ Ravensbrück
ermordet 11.07.1942

further stumbling stones in Isestraße 61:
Josepha Ambor, Else Baer, Hedi Baer, Ingrid Baer, Joseph Baer, Minna Benjamin, Rosalie Benjamin, Emma Dugowski, Henriette Dugowski, Hermann Dugowski, Ida Dugowski, Moritz Dugowski, Wanda Dugowski, Selly Gottlieb, Heinrich Ilse, Ella Meyer, Max Meyer, Otto Meyer, Gregor Niessengart, Sophie Philip, Gertrud Rosenbaum, Edmund Sonn

Michael Pielen, b. 5.29.1893, imprisoned 1927, 1937, 1939, 1940, d. 7.11.1942 in Ravensbrück concentration camp

Michael Pielen was born on 5.29.1893 in Dülken in the Rhineland, one of three sons of Marianne, née Neuhausen, and the shipping agent Arnold Pielen. After leaving secondary school he worked at first in his father’s business. In November 1914, he was drafted for military service and at his discharge was a non-commissioned officer.

In 1923 he traveled to Buenos Aires where he worked as a waiter. At the end of 1924, he moved back to Hamburg and served as a steward on great ocean-going steamships. In the Hansa City, he worked, among other places, in the first class waiting room of the main railroad station. In June 1940 he got a position as waiter in the Cafe Fatherland on Ballindamm Strasse. His weekly earnings there were 50 RM net.

He sublet an attic flat at Isestrasse 61 from the Ilse family, whose son, Heinrich, also fell victim to the Nazi persecution of homosexuals.

The fate that awaited Michael Pielen is exemplary of many other homosexuals who lived in desperate straits while trying to find a place to live out their same-sex desires.

Michael Pielen exposed himself to frequent punishment on account of homosexual dealings, the first time in 1927. In this year, he was fined on account of battery. Ten years later, for a similar infraction, he was sentence to two months in jail. Previously, he was held in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp from 26 June to 14 July 1937; he was sent there again from 13 to 20 December 1938. In June 1939, he was facing proceedings for violation of §175, which were suspended because of an amnesty.

At the end of August 1940, Michael Pielen again fell into the clutches of the Nazi persecution apparatus. The Hamburg criminal police visited various homosexual bars in the St. Pauli district, accompanied by the male prostitute Karl-Heinz Sp. (b. 1923). In the Gorge bar, he identified one of the guests, Michael Pielen, as one of his sexual partners.

As stated in an interrogation protocol of 26 August 1940: "This man is one of my partners. I recognize him with certainty. An error about this person is not possible. At the end of June or beginning of July 1940, we had a same-sex experience with one another. On the day in question, I spoke to him at the Neuer Pferdemarkt. I inquired about a little station to refill cigarette lighters. In this way we got into a conversation. He invited and then led me to a bar at the Neuer Pferdemarkt. He bought me a piece of cake, a cup of coffee, and a draft beer … After leaving the bar we went in the direction of Feldstrasse. On the way, we stopped at a few public washrooms. Nothing happened there. In the last public washroom we talked about the matter. I still remember that we could not agree on where it should happen. [Since neither had their own rooms, it was difficult to find a place in which to remain unobserved.] Finally, we agreed to go to the city park. We did that and also took the elevated railway from Feldstrasse to the Stadtpark station. It was getting toward dusk and still bright. We went past the Stadthalle [today: a beer garden at Freibad am Stadtparksee] into the park. There we sat on a bench in the outer ring. He then began to grope my … By chance a bicyclist passed by … Pielen [withdrew] his hand. He thought that we should find another place … Inside the park we found a secluded corner under a tree ... and then we went back to the elevated train. Previously, he had voluntarily given me 2 Marks for my favor. At the Stadtpark elevated station we both got on the same train. My partner, however, got off after a few stops. I continued my trip to St. Pauli ..."

On the same day that Sp. was arrested, Pielen was taken into "protective custody” by the police. He remained in police detention until 5 September 1940. Then followed commitment to the Hamburg City detention center.

Pielen’s trial began on 25 October 1940 in the District Court of Hamburg. For violation of §175, the accused received a one year prison sentence without reduction for the time spent in pretrial detention. From the judgment: "The accused has always been lightly punished by the court for his previous lapses. Herewith, that will cease. A year in jail seems appropriate. Since the accused has stubbornly denied his guilt, there can be no question of a reduction for pretrial detention.”

His sentence began on 30 November 1940 in the Fuhlsbüttel penitentiary. From there, Pielen was sent on 26 March 1941 to the men’s prison at Glasmoor, north of Hamburg, from which he was released on 25 October 1941 to the Hamburg police authorities; they imprisoned him again in the Fuhlsbüttel concentration camp from 6 November 1941 to 9 January 1942. He was probably shortly thereafter transferred to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where he was put to death on 11 July 1942.

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

Stand: February 2018
© Bernhard Rosenkranz (†)/Ulf Bollmann

Quellen: StaHH, 332-8 Meldewesen, A 50/1; 213-11, Staatsanwaltschaft Landgericht – Strafsachen, 777/41; 242-11II Gefängnisverwaltung II, Ablieferungen 13 und 16; 213-8 Staatsanwaltschaft Oberlandesgericht – Verwaltung, Ablieferung 2, 451 a E 1, 1 b und 1 c; 331-1 II Polizeibehörde II, Ablieferung 15 Band 2; B. Rosenkranz/U. Bollmann/G. Lorenz, Homosexuellen-Verfolgung in Hamburg 1919–1969, Verlag Lambda Edition, Hamburg 2009, S. 245.

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