Monday, November 26, 2018

Commemorating Anti-Fascist Martyrs

Annamaria on Monday

This coming week marks a relatively unknown antifascist anniversary: the execution of the Gloeden family.  Here is Lilo Gloeden, and below at her trial on the 27th of November 1944.

Born Elizabeth Kuznitsky, Lilo was a lawyer who had married Erich Gloeden, ne' Loevy--an architect from a Jewish family.  Her husband had been adopted with the consent of his parents to mask his Jewish background.  Secretly anti-Nazi, during the Holocaust, Lilo and her husband gave temporary sanctuary in their Berlin home to Jews escaping persecution.  They got away with that.

Then came the aftermath of the attempted assassination of Hitler known as Valkyrie.  Thereby, as I am sure you know, hangs a tale of its own.  A greatly simplified version: the would-be assassins were almost all officers in the German army.  Their motivation was, generally speaking, not to rid the world of a ruthless, tyrannical leader and his dreadful deeds, but to save Germany of the humiliating defeat they saw coming.  They were not out to replace the right-wing government, but to extend it by attracting accommodations from the soon-to-be-victorious Allies.  Their method was a bomb in an attache case.  Which exploded.  The Fuhrer was then believed, by the escaping assassin, to be dead.  But Hitler survived.

In the chaotic immediate aftermath, some of the conspirators believed they had succeeded and began to put into place their planned new government.  Others, learning that Hitler lived, changed sides and began ratting out their coconspirators.

During the ensuing manhunt, the Gloedens took in and hid one of the Valkyrie generals, Fritz Lindemann of the Wehrmacht, whom they tried to pass off as a retired major and a journalist.  Eventually, the Gestapo got on to them and raided their apartment, killing Lindemann and arresting Lilo, Erich and Lilo's mother.

During their trial, Erich tried to save his wife and mother-in-law by claiming that they didn't know who Lindemann really was.  But the women stood up to the court and admitted their involvement.   On 30 November 1944, all three of the defendants were beheaded by axe.  Their punishment was widely publicized as a warning to anyone who would conspired against the already doomed Reich.

Lilo and Erich and her mother are commemorated with plaques near site of the apartment where they gave sanctuary.


  1. Replies
    1. No, of course not, Snidely. Just some everyday people who lived in the worst of times and risked their own lives to save the lives of others and paid the ultimate price. I think they deserve to be remembered.

    2. That was the point of my question mark, Ms. Do-Right. :)

  2. History. What a sad, uplifting, depressing, hopeful, mixed bag of marbles. Such are the stories of us.

  3. Bullseye, EvKa. There is great beauty and searing grief in the things people are capable of. But I believe that the saints outnumber the monsters.