Search for Names, Places and Biographies

Already layed Stumbling Stones

Margaretha Rothe * 1919

Heidberg 64 (Hamburg-Nord, Winterhude)

JG. 1919


Margaretha Erna Frieda Hedwig Rothe, born on 13 June 1919 in Hamburg, died on 15 Apr. 1945 in Leipzig of the effects of imprisonment

Until Easter of 1937, Margaretha Rothe attended the Lichtwark School. Her teacher, Erna Stahl, a very committed pedagogue, strove to uphold the school’s progressive teaching (reformpädagogische) tradition even after 1933. For this reason, she was transferred to a different Hamburg secondary school at Easter of 1935. She invited her former students to literary evenings at her home. In this reading circle, silent opposition against Nazism prevailed, though participants avoided political discussions. One of the participants, Heinz Kucharski, founded his own circle of friends in which Margaretha Rothe, Traute Lafrentz, and others did critical readings of the Nazi press, making efforts to get their hands on uncensored information from abroad.

Margaretha Rothe passed her high school graduation exam (Abitur) in 1938 at Klosterschule and began studying medicine in Hamburg. During this time, she got to know Alexander Schmorell, who studied in Munich and belonged to the "White Rose” resistance group.

Hamburg University was closed for several months in the fall of 1939, and Margaretha Rothe joined Heinz Kucharski and Traute Lafrentz in going to the University of Berlin, where they also had contacts to opposition circles. For the 1940 summer semester, Margaretha Rothe and Heinz Kucharski returned to Hamburg. Using a children’s printing kit, Margaretha Rothe prepared leaflets that she distributed in subway stations and phone booths. Using the headline of "Against Hitler and the War” ("Gegen Hitler und den Krieg”), she published the broadcasting schedule and frequencies of the "Deutscher Freiheitssender” ("German Freedom Station”). From Traute Lafrentz, who continued her studies in Munich, she received the leaflets of the "White Rose,” which she typed and duplicated, so that her circle of friends was able to distribute them.

From 1941/1942 onward, the circle of friends, later called the "Hamburg branch” of the "White Rose,” met in the basement of Anneliese Tuchel’s bookstore on Jungfernstieg. The meetings were betrayed. In Nov. 1943, Margaretha Rothe was arrested and taken to the Fuhlsbüttel Gestapo prison. She shared this fate with 30 other persons. According to the investigation file, they were charged with "preparation to high treason, undermining of military strength, aiding the enemy, and listening to and disseminating news from enemy stations.” Margaretha Rothe was described as the "seditious center of a loose association of enemies of the state.” During the investigation, she endured dreadful prison conditions. In Nov. 1944, she was taken to the Cottbus women’s prison; she was scheduled for indictment before the "People’s Court” (Volksgerichtshof).

On 10 Feb. 1945, she was taken, along with 300 other prisoners, in cattle cars to the Leipzig-Meusdorf prison. Seriously ill, she was admitted to the St. Jakob Municipal Hospital in Leipzig-Dösen on 6 Mar. 1945. There, she received attention and care in the private ward during the last five weeks of her life, dying of the effects of pulmonary tuberculosis on 15 Apr. 1945, at the age of 26.

In commemoration of Margaretha Rothe, a high school in Barmbek bears her name, and in Hamburg-Niendorf, a street was named after her. The Garten der Frauen ("Garden of Women”) at the Ohlsdorf cemetery features a memorial stone for Margaretha Rothe.

Translator: Erwin Fink
Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

Stand: October 2018
© Stolperstein-Initiative Hamburg-Winterhude

Quellen: Ursel Hochmuth, Gertrud Meyer, Streiflichter aus dem Hamburger Widerstand 1933–1945, Frankfurt 1980; Rita Bake, Wilfried Rottmann, Wer steckt dahinter? Hamburgs Straßen, die nach Frauen benannt sind, Hamburg 2000; (eingesehen 2.9.2007); (eingesehen 2.9.2007).

print preview  / top of page