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Kurt Garbarini * 1913

Simrockstraße 143-151 (Altona, Blankenese)

JG. 1913
VERHAFTET 11.11.1941

Kurt August Heinrich Garbarini, born 13.1.1913 in Hamburg, escape to Belgium, imprisonment from 11.11.1941, executed on 21.4.1943 in Berlin-Plötzensee

Simrockstraße 143-151

The Hamburg Social Democrat Kurt Garbarini was born on January 13, 1913, the only child of Heinrich August Garbarini (born 22.7.1886, death 13.5.1955) and Elise Emma Garbarini, née Deckert (born 21.6.1880, death 13.12.1975). His parents had married on April 12, 1909 in Gliessen in Ost-Sternberg County. The family lived in Dockenhuden in their own single-family house on Friedrich Ebertstraße, which was renamed Dr. Chemnitz-Straße in 1933 (today Simrockstraße). The father worked as a cabinetmaker or model carpenter. (The rural municipality of Dockenhuden was merged with Blankenese in 1921).

Kurt Garbarini attended the elementary school and then the secondary school in Blankenese until he passed his secondary school leaving examination. He actually wanted to attend the Hamburg Technical College to become a mechanical engineer. As a basis for this, he completed a four-year apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer at the company Fahrstuhlbau Friedrich Kehrhahn in Hamburg after leaving school. He completed this training at the end of March 1933.

Kurt Garbarini is said to have belonged to the Kinderfreunde movement (children’s friends movement) at an early age, and from 1930 to the SPD and the Socialist Workers' Youth (SAJ), serving as a group leader in the latter. In 1932 he also joined the Reichsbanner Schwarzrotgold.

Known as a Social Democrat and opponent of the National Socialists, Kurt Garbarini had to leave Germany shortly after they came to power. After completing his apprenticeship, he officially "went on the road", i.e. he fled via Czechoslovakia and Austria to Switzerland in May 1933, which, however, deported him again. He then went illegally via France to the Saar region. He took up his last domestic residence in Saarbrücken on Halbergstraße, where he is said to have sold Social Democratic newspapers.

After three weeks, he turned to Belgium via France, where he was accepted as a political refugee. He received material aid through the Mateotti Committee, an internationally organized aid committee that supported primarily trade unionists and social democrats.

During this time - according to his father later - his parents were monitored by the Gestapo in order to find clues to Kurt Garbarini's whereabouts, but this did not succeed.

At the end of 1936 - according to the later indictment - communist emigrants recruited him as a fighter for Spain. He himself gave a different account: he had met three Social Democrats (whose names were not mentioned) in Saarbrücken, with whom he went to Spain three years later, at the beginning of 1937. They wanted to fight with the International Brigades against the Franco fascists. The arrivals were assigned to the "Thälmann Battalion" there.

After only four weeks Kurt Garbarini was wounded by a chest shot. After a stay in a military hospital, he was not returned to the front, but continued to be used in the postal service.

GDR resistance research emphasized Kurt Garbarini's efforts to form a united front: he had been delegated to the Unity Committee at the end of 1937, which included three Social Democrats and three Communists. Its guidelines, which he signed, stated: "We form this committee because, out of the realization of the nature of the war in Spain and out of the common experiences from that war, we have more than ever a common goal: to defeat fascism in Spain through the united and popular front."

The German Reich denaturalized him in 1939.

Interned in the Saint-Cyprien camp in southern France after the Spanish War, Kurt Garbarini fled to Belgium either in early 1939 (restitution file) or 1940 (indictment file), as did the interned Communists Hermann Geisen and Max Stoye. Here he was initially interned as a foreigner, but was released because of the passport "Red Spain" had issued him.

He settled in Willebroek, was mainly supported by the municipality and did odd jobs, such as an elevator operator in a hospital in Brussels, where he was employed under the name de Geyter. He also dealt in cigarettes. According to later statements by his father, he is said to have had a partner and a child during this time, but they were expelled from Belgium at the beginning of the war. Kurt Garbarini's last residence in Belgium was (according to his death certificate) in Willebroek, Yaernemweg 28.

In Brussels, Geisen, Stoye and he, with the help of Belgian like-minded people and German emigrants, organized educational work among the German occupation soldiers. They published newspapers and leaflets. In them they appealed to the soldiers: "Do not let yourselves be misused for crimes against the Belgian population! - Do not shoot Belgian women and children!" Kurt Garbarini procured and distributed sticky notes with slogans, participated in illegal meetings that also dealt with possible sabotage, and he obtained chemicals to make an incendiary device on an experimental basis.

In the meantime, the Gestapo had received tips about the resistance activities, as evidenced by an internal report dated August 1, 1941. This was presumably through an informer in the illegal Brussels KPD leadership. On November 11, 1941, the Gestapo then struck and arrested Kurt Garbarini, Hermann Geisen and Max Stoye.

Very close to Kurt Garbarini's home in Willebroek was the Breendonk concentration camp, a fort that had been built around the turn of the century and now served the German security police as a reception camp for opponents of the regime and Jewish refugees. Here, where prisoners were mistreated, tortured and repeatedly interrogated, at least Hermann Geisen was imprisoned. Whether Kurt Garbarini was also there for a short time is not known.

In any case, he was then interrogated in the Aachen remand prison. We do not know whether he had to spend the entire time until the trial, more than a year, here or - like Max Stoye - had to embark on an odyssey through various prisons in Germany.

Hermann Geisen as well as Kurt Garbarini and other arrested persons, among them a Dutch woman, essentially confessed to the "deeds" they were charged with, as the final investigation report of the Aachen Chief Public Prosecutor stated. He had investigated Geisen, Garbarini and their fellow inmate Herbert Neubeck. His preliminary work led to the opening of proceedings before the People's Court (Volksgerichtshof) against Geisen and Garbarini; Neubeck's and Stoye's trials took place separately.

Between 1934 and 1945, the People's Court sentenced a total of 5,600 people to death for political crimes, 1,400 of whom were subsequently executed in Berlin-Plötzensee. This was also the case for Hermann Geisen and Kurt Garbarini, who were held in the Berlin Moabit remand prison during their trial: The People's Court, presided over by Vice President Wilhelm Crohne, charged them with "disintegration of the German Wehrmacht, traitorous support of the enemy, and preparation for high treason in organizational and agitational form" (verdict). At the main trial, which took place on January 12, 1943, one day before Kurt Garbarini's 30th birthday, they were sentenced to death.

From January 14, 1943, they then waited in Plötzensee Penitentiary, in a cell annex adjoining the execution shed, to see if a plea for clemency would be filed and successful or if an early execution date would be set.

Kurt Garbarini's father, through attorneys from Blankenese, submitted a petition on January 22, 1943, requesting that the death sentence be commuted to imprisonment for his son. In it, he presented Kurt Garbarini as a straightforward, non-political person who had lost his way, but who would atone for his deeds in prison and afterwards through "hard labor.

However, on February 18, 1943, the Gestapo filed a summary letter objecting to a pardon on behalf of the chief of the Security Police (Sipo) and the Security Service of the SS (SD) in Belgium. Hermann Geisen and Kurt Garbarini were not to escape with their lives. In it, she also warned, "There are reservations about the release of the bodies." Normally, the bodies of the executed were handed over to the Anatomical Institute of the Berlin University and only cremated after their dissection.

Hermann Geisen as well as Kurt Garbarini were beheaded with the guillotine in Berlin-Plötzensee on April 21, 1943. The chief court bailiff conscientiously noted their execution that day on the pre-printed "Notification of the Departure of a Prisoner or Custodian."

Kurt Garbarini lived to the age of 30.

The costs of the executions in Plötzensee had to be borne by the relatives. The bill sent to them contained several items: for the detention (1.50 Reichsmark per day), the execution (300 Reichsmark), and the delivery of the bill of costs (12 pfennigs).

The vice president (briefly also president) of the People's Court, Wilhelm Crone, took his own life with his family in Berlin on April 26, 1945.

The ceramist Hermann Geisen (born 25.9.1899) is commemorated today by a street in his home town of Höhr-Grenzhausen. He too had emigrated in 1933. In the Spanish civil war he was member of the "Bataillion Thälmann".
Afterwards he worked as a member of the KPD-Abschnittsleitung Südwest in Brussels.

Max Stoye (b. Feb. 28, 1913) of Berlin, head of the Free German Youth in Brussels since 1937, was also sentenced to death and executed on May 20, 1943.

The Jewish Herbert Neubeck (born 30.3.1923) had emigrated with his family to Belgium in 1935, where he began teaching pharmacy. He too was active in the resistance, was arrested, sentenced to death on February 2, 1943, and executed on June 21, 1943. Stolpersteine commemorate the family in Düsseldorf.

Translation Beate Meyer

Stand: February 2023
© Susanne Rosendahl/Beate Meyer

Quellen: StaH 351-11_5035; StaH 351-11_8960; ancestry: Sterberegister Berlin Kurt Garbarini am 21.4.1943; (Zugriff 13.12.2021); ancestry: Sterberegister Berlin Hermann Geisen am 21.4.1943; (Zugriff 13.12.2021); ancestry: Sterberegister Berlin Max Stoye am 20.5.1943 (Zugriff 13.12.2021); 13.12.2021); (Zugriff 20.11.2021), siehe auch (wortgleich) Antifa-Rundschau 54 (2003 April-Juni); Kurt Garbarini, Vier Sozialdemokraten am Jarama, in: Hanns Maaßen, Brigada Internacionál ist unser Ehrenname... : Erlebnisse ehemaliger deutscher Spanienkämpfer, Berlin/DDR 1974, S. 306f.; Luise Kraushaar, Kurt Garbarini, in: Deutsche Widerstandskämpfer 1933-1945. Biographien und Briefe, Berlin/DDR 1970, S. 294f., Adressbuch Altona 1933; Biographisches Handbuch der deutschsprachigen Emigration nach 1933 – 1945, hrsg. Von Werner Röder u.a., München 1999, S. 213; Gedenkstätte Plötzensee (Hrsg.), Hinrichtungen im Strafgefängnis Berlin-Plötzensee. Katalog zur Dauerausstellung, Berlin 2019, S. 10, 26, 43; Udo Grashoff, Gefahr von innen: Verrat im kommunistischen Widerstand gegen den Nationalsozialismus, Göttingen 2021, S. 414; Gedenkstätte deutscher Widerstand, Sammlung Kurt Garbarini, wir danken Prof. Dr. Johannes Tuchel von der Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand herzlich für seine Unterstützung.

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