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Student worksheet
Do they have the right to commemorate?
Sources
Source 1: Memorial plate proposals for Oto Koch / Material for Group A:
a) ”Our dear father Otto Koch, Lord Mayor of Weimar 1937-45”
b) ”Otto Koch 1902-1947 As Lord Mayor of Weimar until 1945, he protected the city against American destruction plans - but not his own life
c) ”Our dear father Otto Koch (1902-1947), Lord Mayor of Weimar”
Source 2: Newspaper article, Thüringer Landeszeitung, February 5th, 1991
”His photo belongs into the town hall”
What happened to the former Lord Mayor of Weimar, Koch, and his family?
As a former citizen of Weimar, a reader from Olching is interested in the fate of former
Lord Mayor Koch and his family. According to his testimony, Koch protected the city
against American destruction plans. The reader also describes briefly his knowledge
about the camp at Buchenwald, which, according to him, people in Weimar mostly
hadn´t heard about during war time.
(...) The dark spot (in Weimar) is Buchenwald. During the war, the residents of Weimar
were told that on Etterberg hill exists a camp, for working and well treated prisoners of
war. Until we saw them in endless rows of human misery coming from Niedergrunstedt
to Weimar, over the Cranach street, where I lived. Those who could not walk any more,
were shot, their corpses thrown onto trucks – we should not notice what happened.
It was springtime 1945. Outside Weimar old men, and us, very young Hitler Youth - the
heap called Volkssturm – were waiting in contactor ditches, equipped with some
bazookas and a few guns against American tanks. The Americans were standing - a
tense situation. And then a man appeared on a bike, wildly waving a white flag. It was
Koch, the Lord Mayor of Weimar. So, Weimar capitulated. An American said laconically:
"If there would have been a single shot, Weimar would have been flattened by a bomber
squadron!"
(...) Koch was living just beside Gauleiter Sauckel, who later was sentenced to death in
the Nuremberg trial, and executed. (...) (Koch) was praised for his courageous act. Now
it is time to clarify, whether Koch was brought to Buchenwald and died there, when the
Russians replaced the Americans (in Thuringia). (...) My opinion is that the picture of
the "saviour of Weimar 1945" should be presented in the city hall of Weimar.” Wolfgang
Freidank, Olching
Source 3: Newspaper article, Thueringer Landeszeitung, March 3, 1994
”Never forget Lord Mayor did not act just good"
Wolfgang Freidank from Olching recently wrote a letter arguing that a picture of the
former Lord Mayor of Weimar, Otto Koch, shuld be presentet in the city hall of Weimar.
Two readers responded:
”It might seem that Lord Mayor Koch, in the very last moment, made an outstanding
contribution to Weimar, but let us not forget that in 1941 he actively supported the
expulsion of Jewish citizens from their homes (to prepare deportation). This was done in
order to monitor them better and to provide new homes for Germans.”Dr Stein, E.
Müller, Weimar
Do they have the right to commemorate?| Denis Detling | Page 1 of 7
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Source 4: Police Report
Police report from August 8, 1946 about the surrender and the behavior of Koch
"When it is said at any point that Koch prevented the city of Weimar from destruction
with his declaration of surrender to the American troops, that was his obligation, and
was only a small part of reparation for his active fascist activity."
Source 5:
Lord Mayor Otto Koch and the Persecution of ”Jews” in Weimar::
With the so-called "Arisierung" the Nazis started the systematic plundering of Jewish
property. Weimar citizens who were classified as "Jewish" according to the Nazi "race
law", had to leave their homes and "move into the so-called ”ghetto houses”. A letter of
Weimar’s Lord Mayor Otto Koch, dated July 4, 1941 reveales in undisguised openness
the brutal assertiveness, "to expel the Jews" : ”It´s important to me to free up suitable
living space still illegitimately occupied by Jews for German families. The Jews will have
to put up with being concentrated into a few apartmens. A law facilitating this doesn´t
yet exist, but I will ask the SD to support me for reasons of national security.” The
remaining Jews had no chance anymore to emigrate or escape. The Nazis organized
first transports to the death camps in 1942.
Source 6:
Proposals for a text in memory of Curt Rühle von Lilienstern
a) My poor beloved grandfather Curt Rühle von Liliensterns, on the 50th anniversary of
his death, died on Januay 8, 1946 His granddaughter Astrid Rühle. May he rest in
peace.
b) My poor beloved grandfather, Major General Curt Rühle von Liliensterns, on the
50th anniversary of his death, died on on Januay 8, 1946 His granddaughter Astrid
Rühle. May he rest in peace.
c) My poor beloved grandfather Curt Rühle von Liliensterns, on the 50th anniversary of
his death, died on Januay 8, 1946 His granddaughter Astrid Rühle. He was Major
General and victim of his obedience even to Hitler. I wish he would have refused. May
he rest in peace.
Source 7: Testimony of Astrid Rühle, granddaughter of Curt Rühle von
Lilienstern
My grandfather Curt was born on the 3rd of July 1881 in Danzing. He pursued a career
as an officer. He married Margaret Manja Lehmann, a German from Moscow. They had
a son, Gerd, missed in action since March 1945. (...) In 1933, Curt became the military
district commander in Meiningen. He was not a member of the NSDAP or any other
Nazi organization. In 1942, he retired as a General Major, but again at the same time he
was at the army´s disposal. In this position, he was probably responsible for the
recruitment of the ”Volkssturm”, but this is still not confirmed. (Volkssturm = German
national militia set up in the last months of World War II by the Nazi Party on the order
of Adolf Hitler, October 18, 1944. Conscripted were males between the age of 13 to 60
years who were not already serving in military units - Author’s remark. ) (...) In any
case, he was responsible for the recruitment of soldiers before his retirement. (..)
When the Russians occupied Thuringia, my grandfather was told that he might be
arrested, but he felt secure, because he didn´t feel guilty. One afternoon, in July 1945,
as my grandmother told me, two Russians rang at the door (...) and arrested him
immediately. (...) First he was arrested in Meiningen prison . (..., later, he) was taken on
November 5 to Buchenwald. (...)
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My grandfather was very fond of me when I was a little girl, (... e.g.) he had made me a
bed sheet. In January 1945 we escaped from Poznan and took shelter with my
grandparents. I remember his grey jacket sleeve, when my granfather carried me down
to the shelter room during an air raid. I felt safe with him and was not afraid.
For long I did not realize what Buchenwald meant. It was always said in the family that
my grandfather became a victim of the Russians. Later, when I took a critical look at
the Nazi history, the character of his imprisonment appeared pretty ambivalent to me.
His suffering and ours are still in the foreground, but his role during the Nazi era
became part of the picture. It is a fact, unfortunately, that his military engagement, even
so it might has ended in 1942 already, supported the German, illegl war of aggression.
(...)
In November 1995, 49 years aft my grandfather´s death, I got a letter from the
Buchenwald memorial foundation.(...) I received an almost blank sheet, as the other
names of the dead had been protected. On the bottom, written in Cyrillc letters, is my
grandfather's name and his date of death. January 8, 1946.
(On January, 8, 1996) I took the ribbon with two bunches of flowers (...) and drove with
my eldest son to Ettersberg hill. We went to the forest outside the former concentration
camp, to the anonymous graves of the Soviet special camp. I bound the ribbon around
a tree, laid one bougquet of flowers below. (...) Then we went across the former
concentration camp ground to lay down the other flowers at the memorial for those
from many countries, who became victims of German, naitionalsocialtistic cruelties.”
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Source 8: Picture of memorial plate dedicated to Oto Koch with full text script.
Text: Unserem lieben Vater Otto Koch Oberbürgermeister von Weimar 1937 – 45
Our dear father Otto Koch, Lord Mayor of Weimar 1937- 45
(Text on the cross behind: Ohne Verurteilung - Ohne Benachrichtigung Without
judgement – without information (to the family)
Source 9: Picture of Astrid Rűhle’s ribbon with full text.
Text of the ribbon: My poor beloved grandfather Curt Rühle von Liliensterns, on the 50th
anniversary of his death, died on January 8th, 1946. His granddaughter Astrid Rühle.
He was Major General and victim of his obedience even to Hitler. I wish he would have
refused. May he rest in peace.
Do they have the right to commemorate?| Denis Detling | Page 4 of 7
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Source 10: Graveyard of Buchenwald Special Camp No. 2
(The photo shows the place of private commemoration in front and metal steles marking
the anonymous graves in the background)
Source 11: Proposals for the memorial plate of Curt Grunick’s grave / Material for
Group E
a) Curt Grunick, Director at the District Court, Lived for Justice – died from injustice
b) Curt Grunick, Director at the District Court
c) Curt Grunick, Director at the District Court who dedicated his life to law
Source 12: Short Biography of Curt Grunick
Curt Grunick
Born in Magdeburg, 12th September 1886
Nationality: German
Marital status: married; two children
Profession: Director at the District Court
Professional training and career
1911 Passed the first state exam in Jena
1920 Passed the second state exam in Berlin
Participated in the First World War, released as a lieutenant
From March 1916 served as a court assessor
1918-1922 Member of “Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten” ("Steel Helmet, League of
Frontline Soldiers") , one of many paramilitary organizations formed after the German
defeat in the World War
1920-1922 public prosecutor
1924-1933 working as “Amtsgerichtsrat” at the local District Court Board
May 1933 Member of the Nazi party NSDAP
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1933 – 1939 working at the court of Halberstadt, later in Halle as regional court judge,
especially as director of the so called special courts set up to prosecute e.g. Jehovas
Witnesses as state opponents
since 1940 soldier with the German “Wehrmacht”
August 1945 arrested by Soviet forces in Halle because of his function as “Blockleiter“
(Block Leader: from 1933 the title of a lower Nazi Party political rank responsible for the
political supervision of a neighborhood), interned at Torgau and later Buchenwald.
Died in Buchenwald december 19th,1947
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Source 13: Picture of memorial plate dedicated to Curt Grunick with full text
script.
Text: Für das Recht gelebt – Durch Unrecht gestorben
Landgerichtsdirektor Curt Grunick 12.9.1887 -19.12.1947
Lived for Justice – died from injustice
Director at the District Court, Curt Grunick 12. 9.1887 -19.12.1947
Do they have the right to commemorate?| Denis Detling | Page 7 of 7

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