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Already layed Stumbling Stones

Erika Ilse Etter * 1922

Alsterdorfer Straße 40 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)

KZ Neuengamme
gehenkt am 23.4.1945

further stumbling stones in Alsterdorfer Straße 40:
Werner Etter

Erika Ilse Etter, née Schulz, born 22 Sep. 1922 in Hamburg, beaten to death 23 Apr. 1945 in the Neuengamme Concentration Camp
Werner Etter, born 1 Nov. 1913 in Hamburg, executed 19 Feb. 1945 in Brandenburg-Görden

Erika Schulz’s family were staunch Social Democrats from Barmbek. Her father Adolf was a furniture maker, her mother Charlotte a housewife. Erika attended the Tieloh experimental school and the Langenfort Girls’ School. She was a member of the USC Paloma sports club. After her year of obligatory service, which she spent as household help, she apprenticed as a sales clerk. At her sports club she met Werner Etter, a prosthetic technician, and they fell in love. As a member of the leadership of the Uhlenhorst-Winterhude chapter of the KJVD, the youth organization of the German Communist Party, which had been banned in 1933, he was arrested in 1935 and sentenced to two years in prison.

Erika Shulz and Werner Etter married in September 1941 and moved to Alsterdorfer Straße 40. They were active in the Etter-Rose-Hampel resisitance group.

After the bombing of Hamburg in 1943, Erika Etter left the city. On 8 March 1944, her son Jan was born in the Wittenburg home for mothers. Her husband and mother visited her on the day of his birth. On the same day, her father was arrested in Hamburg and taken to the Fuhlsbüttel Concentration Camp. Her mother and her husband were sent to prison on 21 March 1944.

Erika Etter returned to Hamburg and learned that her parents and husband were accused of having harbored the Wehrmacht deserter Herbert Lübbers, who was a former member of the resistance group and had been blackmailed into acting as an informant. At the end of March her brother Erich and his fiancée Lotte Becher were also arrested. Erika Etter was now bereft of all personal and material support. When her infant child, only a few weeks old, contracted diphtheria, she wrote to the Gestapo requesting a furlough for her husband. The child died on 7 May 1944, without his father ever having seen him.

On 17 May Erika Etter went to the Civil Courts Building to speak on behalf of her relatives. There she coincidentally ran into Lübbers, who had betrayed her husband, and imprudently shouted at him "You’re responsible for my family’s fate!” She was arrested immediately and taken to the Fuhlsbüttel prison, where she was kept without being charged and without a trial. Shortly before Hamburg was surrendered to the British forces, her transfer was announced and she thought she was going to be released. In fact, however, she was on a list of 12 other women and 58 men who were to be executed before the capitulation. She and the others on the list were taken to Neuengamme. Gertrud Meyer writes of what happened there:

"The reports of those involved indicate the following: The murders took place in the nights of 21 to 24 April 1945. The women were the first victims. They were forced to undress. Then they were hanged in two groups of six. Erika Etter, the youngest, was not among them, as there was no hook free for her. [She was able to hide under a bench].
The men knew what was coming. They barricaded the doors of the bunker and fought back when the SS broke down the door. […] The SS finally threw hand grenades through the windows of the bunker. […] Then they found Erika Etter, whose foot was sticking out from under a wall. They dragged her out. Erika Etter was still alive. She was beaten to death with a stone.”

After the war, the urn with Erika Etter’s ashes was interred in the Memorial Grove for Resistance Fighters at the Ohlsdorf Cemetery. Erika-Etter-Kehre, a street in Bergedorf, was named in memory of this victim of National Socialism in 1985.

Werner Etter was born in Hamburg. His father was killed in 1915 in France, and his mother raised him and his brother Ewald alone. He became a prosthetics technician, joined the KJVD (youth organization of the German Communist Party), and was active in a workers’ sports association. After 1933, he and Werner Stender were the leaders of the Uhlenhorst-Winterhude chapter of the banned KJVD. As such, he was arrested on 16 June 1934 and, in January 1935, sentenced to two years in prison, which he spent in the juvenile facility Hahnöfersand. After his release he contacted his friends, among them Willy Haase, Max Kristeller, Ernst Hampel, and Lisbeth Rose – the Etter-Rose-Hampel resistance group. They met at the USC Paloma sports club or on hiking trips. It was during this time that he met his future wife Erika Schulz. Surviving members of the group later described him as a happy, strong person with clear political views and leadership qualities. The group members familiarized themselves with the political situation and developed strategies to avoid being conscripted to military service: "If being drafted can no longer be avoided, then the unit must be our political workplace.” The group’s goal was to end the war as soon as possible and to topple Hitler.

Werner Etter and Erika Schulz married in September 1941. They lived in an apartment at Alsterdorfer Straße 40. Werner was drafted to the Wehrmacht as a medic in February 1943, but was soon released from duty because he was needed to work in his civil profession as a prosthetics maker. He supported his parents-in-law when they harbored Erwin Ebhardt, a member of the Bästlein-Jakob-Abshagen resistance group, and Herbert Lübbers, who they didn’t know had been "flipped” by the Gestapo. On 21 March 1944, shortly after the birth of his son (8 March), Werner Etter, his mother-in-law Charlotte Schulz, and Willy Haase were arrested after being denounced by Lübbers. They were sent to the Fuhlsbüttel prison. He was transferred to the Neuengamme Concentration Camp on 31 May 1944. In December 1944 he was in the Potsdam State Prison. The trial of Werner Etter, Ernst Hampel and Lisbeth Rose resulted in the death sentence for all three. On 19 February 1945, Werner Etter was beheaded in the Brandenburg-Görden prison.

Translator: Amy Lee
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Ulrike Sparr

Quellen: AfW 220184; Rita Bake, Wer steckt dahinter? Hamburgs Straßen, die nach Frauen benannt sind. 4. aktualisierte Aufl., Hamburg 2005; Rita Bake u. Brita Reimers, Stadt der toten Frauen, Hamburg 1997, S. 309f; Herbert Diercks, Gedenkbuch Kola-Fu, Hamburg, 1987; Ursel Hochmuth, Niemand und nichts wird vergessen, Biogramme und Briefe Hamburger Widerstandskämpfer 1933–1945, Hamburg 2005; Ursel Hochmuth u. Gertrud Meyer, Streiflichter aus dem Hamburger Widerstand 1933–1945 Frankfurt 1980, S. 422ff; Gertrud Meyer, Nacht über Hamburg, Berichte und Dokumente 1933–1945, Frankfurt 1971, S. 106; Totenliste Hamburger Widerstandskämpfer und Verfolgter 1933–1945, Hamburg 1968.

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